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Jesus Culture - Emerging Voices, CD Review

Jesus Culture - Emerging Voices, CD Review

By Ed Rotheram on July 31, 2012

It is now easy to hear the mention of “Jesus Culture” and immediately think of Chris Quilala, Kim Walker-Smith, Melissa Wise et al. Yet having established this band (and the Jesus Culture movement as a whole) over the past few years, Banning Liebscher [pastor of Jesus Culture] explains the move forward (and therefore the rationale behind the new album Emerging Voices:

“We believe that there are emerging voices being raised up around the earth right now, and these voices are going to be used to see entire nations awakened to the love of Jesus. Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala and Melissa Wise-How were worship leaders who were young and involved in our youth group and that the Lord began to anoint to see their voice stir the hearts of the Church and awaken people to Jesus.

This album is just a handful of these emerging voices; ones that are close to us: Derek [Johnson], Mary Kat [Ehrenzeller], Nate [Ward] and Justin [Jarvis]. I’m convinced that God is going to take their lives, songs and anointing to impact an entire generation.”

Of the first 3 tracks, I leaned most towards “I Belong to You” - a song that describes the attributes of God’s greatness and glory in the verses, and then reminds us in the chorus that we belong to Him - we are His and His alone.

Also of note here is Mary Kat Ehrenzeller’s “Mighty Fortress” - the words of Zephaniah 3:17 have always resonated with me (“He will rejoice over you with singing”). This song is a great example of Jesus Culture’s attention to arrangement - Mary Kat’s vocal line sits perfectly atop a pounding backbeat and ethereal keys & guitar to create a wonder in sonic architecture.

One of the hallmarks of the Jesus Culture movement (and, for that matter, the Bethel Worship team as a whole) is the time devoted to spontaneity within worship. Several notable worship songwriters (including Bethel’s own Brian Johnson) have brought to light the fact that their best songs were birthed in spontaneous worship times.

To that end, I was drawn immediately to “Be My Love” (and the ensuing reprise “We Just Love You”) - nearly 11 minutes of continual worship to get yourself lost in. What starts out as a lively worship song transforms over the time into a chorus of spontaneous song - all blanketed under the theme of God’s unending, never failing love.

“Who Can Compare” brings something rarely seen to a Jesus Culture album - an acoustic guitar. This reflective, responsive, song brings something of a new dimension to the Jesus Culture sound - the picked acoustic guitar and the soft padded keys create a pleasing ambiance.

This song leads into my standout track of the album - Derek Johnson & Jeremy Edwardson’s “You are My God”. I have had something of an on-and-off relationship with the octave-shift worship song over the years, but this is a masterclass of how to make it effective. Starting on something of a mellow tone, this song explodes mid-way through into a powerful anthem speaking of the greatness of God our Father.

At Bethel Church, Redding (home of Jesus Culture) their underpinning subtext is “excellence in everything”. Do everything He’s called you to do with all your heart. It is evident in this, and every other Jesus Culture release I’ve heard that this is what drives them: a deep-seated love for the Lord, and a passionate, burning desire to see His people worship Him. If this is where Jesus Culture is headed, I, for one, want in.

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