Release Date: April 1st 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- The Stone (with Dan Haseltine)
- Shepherd Me O God (Psalm 23)
- I’m Putting On The Love Of The Lord (Ode 3)
- The Stone (Radio Version)
Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jonathan Noel and his wife Amanda are worship leaders and they tour the country promoting their independent albums. Though little much is known about Jonathan online (I tried to find a bio on the internet with no such luck), what Jonathan is famous for though, is writing “The Stone” that was covered by Dove and Grammy award winning pop/rock band Jars Of Clay, and it is this song that forms the anchor and basis for the EP The Stone, which released in April this year, and is aptly titled. Having released an album in 2003, now it’s time for Jonathan to step back into recording albums again, and it is the 11 year break between projects that I think gives Jonathan a fresh sense of focus and determination, as his yearn for Jesus, worship presence and honesty flows through quite brilliantly on this short but sweet EP.
I didn’t know that much about Jonathan Noel as an artist however it was his song “The Stone”, which I stumbled across while browsing through band camp that has wowed and amazed me during the past few months. Now understanding and realising that the song was actually sung by Jars of Clay on the compilation album titled City On A Hill: Songs Of Worship And Praise, released in 2000, makes it all the more fitting and the most sense, to hear Dan Haseltine sing with Jonathan as a guest vocal. With 2 of the 4 songs on the EP being the title track, with track #1 the original studio version and #4 a shortened radio version (with the second chorus omitted completely at the end); the vertical worship ballad starts off acoustically and later kicks off into full band mode. As Jonathan and Dan sing in harmony with each other and passionately cry out in worship to our God, giving him honour, and glory, evident in the chorus where we sing ‘…ascribe greatness to the Rock so high…’, all instruments work together in this vulnerable, poignant and heartfelt melody, with Jonathan showing us why he is set to be future star, and an artist to look out for in the coming years, regardless if he becomes signed or not.
The final two tracks are “Shepherd Me O God (Psalm 23)” and “I’m Putting on the Love of the Lord (Ode 3)”. “Shepherd Me O God”, the ‘spirit in song’ hymn like melody originally written by Marty Haugen, is an acoustic guitar driven and hauntingly honest melody vividly recounting Psalm 23, and reminds us that Jesus is our Shepherd, our Refuge, and our Everything. With Jonathan singing and giving us his best Matt Hammitt impression, this contemplative and emotional track segues into the famous Ode “I’m Putting on the Love of the Lord”, a laid back worship melody that proclaims that Jesus is Lord and that He reigns forevermore. Driven by keys and containing a choir as backing vocals to create depth and authenticity, it is Jonathan’s heartfelt vocals and fervent zeal and joy flowing through this track that makes it one of my favourites. A ‘call-and-response’ track where Jonathan sings a line then the choir, I would definitely recommend this EP to everyone from this song alone!
Only singing one original song and two cover traditional hymns; Jonathan Noel’s reintroduction into Christian music is just about as smooth as can be, and hopefully his name can be a name that we all can remember in the coming years as more original material is released and recorded- Jonathan is sure to garner a large following of fans. Similar musically to Sanctus Real, Jars of Clay and Caedmon’s Call; these small batch of songs have me eagerly anticipating more. Well done Jonathan for a compelling and captivating EP that ministers to my soul and encourages m to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus!
3 songs to listen to: All of them! (not including the radio version of “The Stone”!
RIYL: Sanctus Real, Caedmon’s Call, FFH, Jars Of Clay