Release Date: April 28th 2015
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Freedom Song
- My Anchor
- Everything Is Mine In You
- The Wondrous Cross
- Let It Be Jesus
- Who Can Compare
- Jesus, Rock Of Ages
- If You Never
- Leaning On You, Jesus
- Find Me At The Feet Of Jesus
- Wonderful Name
Christy Nockels is one of the lead vocalists and worship leaders at the Passion Conferences every year- and every year in March on a few tracks on each Passion live album we are graced with an offering or two from Christy and a chance to hear her exemplary voice shine. She also guest vocals on many worship albums such as with Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes, and Matt Redman. But what Christy is most well-known for is the lead singer of Watermark, from 1998-2006. However Christy and her husband Nathan have not shied away from the Christian music scene since the band split up almost ten years ago.
In fact, now she is much busier than ever! Christy has started a solo career, with her debut Life Light Up releasing in 2009, one of my personal favourite worship albums of that year. With hits like “No Not One” co-written with Brandon Heath, “Life Light Up”, “A Mighty Fortress” and the Brooke Fraser written “Hosanna”, I thought that the bar that this near flawless album produced could not possibly be matched or raised. But then Christy came along and blew me away with her sophomore album Into The Glorious in 2012, with smash hits and favourites galore, including “Everlifting”, “Sing Along”, “Waiting Here For You” and “Healing Is In Your Hands”. So I guess it’s no surprise that the third album, Christy’s first live project Let It Be Jesus, continues in this trend and is just as captivating and inspiring as the two predecessors. With the title track being one of my favourite songs from Christy ever, her talent as a singer, worship leader and songwriter is unparalleled, with this live album not only equalling the brilliance and the talent of her first two albums, but also exceeding all my expectations, as Christy musically and lyrically stretches the boundaries yet keeps her faith in Jesus the centre of her albums. This album is definitely a joy to listen to.
“Let It Be Jesus”, probably Christy’s most honest and vulnerable track and her best since “Waiting Here For You”, opens up with transfixing piano riffs and a commanding and stirring vocal- the subject matter being declaring Jesus to be on the throne, sovereign, reigning forever, and that ‘…for me, to live is Christ, for me, to live is Christ, God I bring Your name above everything, let it be, let it be Jesus…’. As Christy sings with passion, gusto and authority, letting us know that the name of Jesus is the only thing that matters in this world, that ‘…I’ll never need another, Jesus there’s no other…’, the song progresses to a natural crescendo and one that makes my hairs stand on my head, in the best way possible. Such a Holy Spirit influenced and inspired moment, the epic stadium live atmosphere alone is worth the listen on such a stellar and near flawless experience! Well done Christy on the first single on the album and my favourite song on the album as well!
If I would rate “Let It Be Jesus” as a song a 10/10, the other tracks are at least a 9.5 each- each one of them minister to my soul in one way or another! “Freedom Song” is a vibrant and celebratory way to start what is an enjoyable album. Amongst the hand claps and the acoustic guitar strums, Christy explosive declares that Jesus is the One who has set her free. Powerfully proclaiming that ‘…I will sing my God of Your great love, telling of the One who has saved my soul, I will shout it out to the mountain tops that You’re my freedom song…’, I can’t help but dance and jump for joy along with Christy and the crowd, as I immerse myself in the beautiful security and love that is Jesus Christ, a wonderful way to start the album.
A trio of stunning, refreshing and hauntingly beautiful ballads are next, each with the potential to become the next single. “My Anchor”, also present on this year’s Passion album Even So Come, is led by electric guitar and the mid-tempo ballad proclaims God being our anchor, that we can believe that God is always bigger and mightier than our struggles and circumstances, and with Christy emphatically reminding us that Jesus is ‘…my anchor forever, my shelter within the storm, You’re my deliverer, You never falter, cause You’re the rock I stand on…’; we can assuredly assert this ever true statement as well. Christy’s prowess as a worship leader is never clearer than in this song, and reminds me why she is one of today’s best female worship leaders currently.
With the 7 minute “Everything Is Mine In You” sounding somewhat repetitive in the verses (the good type of repetitiveness!), as Christy reminds us that everything we have is God’s because He is the One who gave all we have to us in the first place, the mesmerising drum loops and stirring vocals create an epic orchestral type anthem that suits Christy’s style of worship and begs me to press the repeat and play again button! And the hymn like “The Wondrous Cross”, not to be confused with the Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin melody “The Wonderful Cross”, has an extremely captivating melody and inspiring message, as we are gently reminded that Jesus is all we need. In fact, the chorus is probably the best refrain on the album, with Christy singing such simplistic words and phrases, yet also utilising them to the best effect, crying out ‘…O the wondrous Cross where the Prince of Glory died, O the glorious Cross, where Your mercy bled for us, You overcame the grave, waking to a world to save, O the wondrous Cross…’. What such emotion evident in this song, well done Christy for highlighting to us your passion and heart for Jesus!
“Jesus, Rock Of Ages” and “Leaning On You Jesus” are altered renditions of well known and loved hymns. While the former is an acoustic guitar driven stripped down country influenced contemplative ballad with Christy proclaiming that Jesus is our security and our foundation, that ‘…I rest my soul on the Rock of Ages, and my feet stand firm on the sure foundation, and all my hope in this salvation, Jesus, Jesus, Rock of Ages…’, the latter is a timely reminder of holding steadfast to Jesus and His promises during the trials of life. One of the lesser known hymns, this modern rework is a personal standout, as this soft ballad swells to a grandiose crescendo of epic proportions, due for multiple listens, and as Christy emphatically cries out that ‘…the same grace that saved me is the same grace that keeps me, leaning, leaning on You Jesus, leaning on the wonders of the cross…leaning on the Everlasting arms…’, I am once again immersed in the presence of the Holy Spirit, worshipping God for who He is and the marvellous love He has for us.
Standing tall at 7 minutes, the gentle and soft piano led ballad “Who Can Compare” has Christy eloquently reminding us that no one can compare to God, and His holiness and sovereignty is unparalleled, as ‘…no one compares to You my King, no one compares to You my Lord, no one compares to You my friend, I looked and I found and you’re the one I needed all along…all I need is You Lord…’, beautifully sung in the verse, and Christy once again brings the tempo up, with the hand clapping joyous occasion of “If You Never”, a country influenced banjo prominent celebratory melody where we can proclaim that ‘…if You never give another thing to me, it will always be enough that You set me free..’, an assertion that is confrontational just as it is complex and comforting at the same time, as Jesus’ presence in our lives should be the only thing we need and desire. The final two songs though, wrap the overarching theme of the album, of drawing close to and surrendering to Jesus, together, and reiterate Christy’s deep relationship with Jesus and her heart to see others enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The penultimate track “Find Me At The Feet Of Jesus” finds Christy as vulnerable as ever, as she passionately cries out to God in a moment of total and utter surrender, eloquently expressing about how she longs to be at the feet of Jesus, a notion familiar to us from the story of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Full of power and weight, the piano is front and centre to this soft, reflective masterpiece, and is a fitting prelude somewhat to the final melody on this exquisite work of art. “Wonderful Name” ends the album at the same place it began, with uninhibited, unbridled worship to our Father and Saviour. A radio friendly ballad, Christy ardently and emotionally relays an arena and stadium like atmosphere, as she powerfully declares that God’s name has authority and power, that ‘…He is master, the prince of peace, He is unchanging, the God who sees; He is Jehovah, mighty to save, He is Jesus, the name above all names…’; a beautiful way to end her most personal and emotional album to date!
Christy Nockels’ third album has taken me by surprise and has exceeded all of the bars that were set by her first two albums (and they were set pretty high!). With a sublime voice and stellar song-writing in my opinion in the same league as Audrey Assad, Lindsay McCaul, Kari Jobe and Nichole Nordeman, it clear that Christy is a rising star, and set to be a force to be reckoned with in the worship industry in the coming years. Hopefully Christy will receive a Dove Award for her albums and/or vocals soon. In any case, do yourself a favour everyone and buy this album right away on iTunes! It’ll be the best $10-15 you’ll spend in April (alongside albums from Matthew West, Lauren Daigle and Chris August). Well done Christy and Nathan, may God give you abundance in everything He wants to in 2015 and beyond!
4 songs to listen to: The Wondrous Cross, Let It Be Jesus, Jesus Rock Of Ages, Wonderful Name
RIYL: Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Meredith Andrews, Paul Baloche, Michael W. Smith
Be sure to check out the inspiration behind Christy’s new songs and the making of the album below, and check out the album when it releases on April 28th!