Release Date: July 29th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Love Takes Over
- Say the Word
- Rule in my Heart
- Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration)
- Arms of Grace
- Hold On
- Make the World Dance
- Kingdom Come (Live)
- Lectio Divina
Worship leader. Artist. Part of Soul Survivor, one of, if not, the biggest, worship ministry in the U.K. (similar to how Hillsong is to Australia, and Passion, Bethel and Jesus Culture are to the U.S.A.). Enter in British artist Beth Croft, one of the worship leaders at Soul Survivor’s annual events, leading worship fervently year after year. An event also birthed the music careers of artists like Matt Redman and Tim Hughes, as well as former worship leader now turned blogger, social activist and newscaster Vicky Beeching; Beth’s first album, releasing on July 29th, is a gem to listen to if you love British music, her work from Soul Survivor, or even just worship music in general.
With a musical landscape of acoustic worship/anthemic pop being the emphasis for much of her songs on this 10 track album; Rule in My Heart is a reminder that God rules in our hearts as we make a way for Him to move through the people He has placed in our paths on this journey we call life. From the familiar “Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration)” (previously recorded and on Rend Collective’s The Art of Celebration), to the upbeat “Love Takes Over” and the reflective title track, Beth’s first album is certainly one that’ll standout amongst British worship albums in 2014, and hopefully compete on a larger scale internationally, as people discover that some of the best worship songs and albums come from the people across the Pacific Ocean.
One of the worship leaders at annual Soul Survivor events, Beth’s vocals still shine in studio format, and with the acoustic-electronic first song “Love Takes Over”, you’d know you’re in for a treat with this U.K. singer/songwriter. Singing about how love takes us over and all we can do (and hopefully ought to do) is just respond in awe, reverence, and honour; Beth’s powerful vocals carry such emotion and hope as we hear the theme of surrender sung with celebration in the powerful words of how ‘…when love takes over, I can feel You here with me, as love takes over, there’s no place I’d rather be…’ With eclectic acoustics, synths and a steady guitar strum; it is when we feel God’s love in us and through us that we can show good works out of the love given to us.
An excellent song to start off the album with, this upbeat melody flows into a variety of musical styles- one of which is “Boldly I Approach”, a co-write with Rend Collective (and as also on Rend Collective’s The Art of Celebration). A song that encourages us to approach the throne of God with boldness, yet also knowing the fullness of who He is and what He can do in whatever situation we find ourselves in; Beth fervently sings the melody with the same passion as Rend Collective, and in all seriousness, makes this rendition of the song much more enjoyable and impacting. With much more strings, powerful guitars and impacting drums throughout the crescendo of the song from the bridge onward compared to Rend’s; Beth gives us great highlights in both “Boldly I Approach” and “Love Takes Over”; 2 of the anchors and standouts on Rule In My Heart.
“Say the Word”, a song that encourages us all to trust that God will say the word and we will be free to do His work and will; is one of Beth’s most famous melodies of late- recently being a fan favourite at Soul Survivor concerts and a standout track on the Soul Survivor 2013 album. A light electronic introduction that rouses up into an epic anthem that brings the fullness and life of the live version right into the studio, Beth’s fervent passion, not only evident in this track but throughout the album as a whole, brings the poignancy of this melody to light. Strong drums, powerful guitar strums and Beth’s passion all continue to make this melody usurp many others on Rule in My Heart as my favourite Beth Croft ballad ever.
Reflecting on how ‘…at Your Word, mountains are moved, seas that are raging will calm when You say the word…’; “Say the Word” leads us onto a plethora of great music by Beth, one such being the topic of surrender that is brought to light in “Rule In My Heart”, a piano prominent track that reminds us all to ponder the lyric of how Beth wants God to ‘…rule in my heart forever, high above any other, come and take Your place…’. “Arms of Grace”, recorded for Soul Survivor 2011, is another melody that translates well in a studio setting. Starting with a stirring electric guitar introduction reminiscent of something electronic mixed together with Indian or Middle-East music; Beth continues the theme of surrender- with the song firmly standing on the notion of unending grace that is showered to us by God our Father. Singing the words ‘…I’m running into Your arms of grace, with no reason to hide away…’ can seem worrisome and daunting, yet we should know that we are already children of God- clean and transformed into the godly men and women ready to influence the world we are in.
“Purify”, sung by Jamie Rodwell on Soul Survivor 2013’s Momentum album, is sung powerfully and flawlessly by Beth, and with the layered vocals, light keyboards, ethereal background vocals, and drums and percussion that form the musical backbone of the song; “Purify” is one of the most ingenious melodies on the album, reminding us of the theme of purification in the sight of God, and that ‘…I am waiting, Holy Spirit move, do what You want to do…’ “Hold On” is an aspiring drum and bass prominent ballad that presses into the theme of holding onto the cross and the promises of God in all circumstances and trials, while “Make the World Dance” is a dance melody through and through- along the lines of the vibrancy and power of Christy Nockels’s “You Came to My Rescue” and the theme of dancing as we fully understand that ‘…it’s Your grace, You make the world dance…and with Your grace…You make me come alive…’
Ending the album with a live version of “Kingdom Come” (the title track of Soul Survivor’s annual 2012 album) and the electronic vocal distorted “Lectio Divina” (a song which I thought would be sung in a language like Latin, but nevertheless was a song very much sung in English with a theme of trusting in God our Father); Beth’s first album is a powerful worship album, and one of my favourite worship records of 2014 so far. Alongside other standout worship albums by artists like Crowder, Bellarive, All Sons and Daughters, Michael W. Smith, Rend Collective, Cadence and Kim Dexter; Rule In My Heart stands with some of the best, and continues to assert my assumption that sometimes the best worship albums come from artists that are not necessarily American. Well done Beth for such honesty, vulnerability and encouragement in one of my favourite albums in July 2014!
3 songs to listen to: Say the Word, Boldly I Approach, Arms of Grace
RIYL: Rend Collective, Delirious?, Tim Hughes, Soul Survivor