Release Date: June 3rd 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- A New Creation (feat. Paul Colman)
- Heaven’s View
- Worth The Fight
- Diamond in the Rough
- Dressed in White (The Wedding Song)
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Eternal in the Everyday
- Come and Find
Australian artists are often few and far between in terms of popularity when it comes to a Christian music industry that is still predominantly American. While I will always have my favourite bands and artists like Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli, TobyMac, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Delirious? or Tenth Avenue North; nothing beats listening to an Australian artist. I have grown up in Australia, and to see fellow Australians succeeding in an industry which is sadly more competitive and cut-throat than what it needs to be, is a comfort to myself as I support these artists and bands that come from the outback- from for KING AND COUNTRY, Rebecca St. James, Newsboys (I’ll stop saying they’re an Australian band when Duncan leaves), and Paul Colman, to Alabaster Box, Charmaine, Steve Grace, Roma Waterman and Nathan Tasker; Australians have been blessed to hear great Christian music from the land down under.
This is the same with Bel Thomson, an Australian singer/songwriter from Queensland before moving to Coffs Harbour after her marriage. With her music starting to receive a great amount of radio airplay these last few months, Bel’s new album A New Creation is a great blessing to anyone who loves Australian music, and similar CCM artists like Rebecca St. James, Paul Colman or Natalie Grant. An album to listen to if you enjoy acoustic, reflective or contemplative music, Bel has shown us what Australian indie artists can accomplish, while also showing us that there is more talent than artists that come from the U S of A.
While Bel’s name may not be known now, with the success of her radio single “A New Creation” (a duet with ex-Newboys guitarist Paul Colman), her name might just be known by publicists and anyone else who may be a Paul Colman or a PC3 fan back in the day. Singing with Paul is such a big deal (frankly, Paul’s one of my favourite Australian artists period!), and Bel took it to task nicely in the song. With both singers delving into the theme of us knowing fully that we are a new creation in Christ, Bel and Paul cry out in the chorus that ‘…I’ll run to him and I’m welcomed into the arms of the king, saved by grace cause he took my place and died for my sin…’, a moment where we ourselves realise the extent of God’s forgiveness for us as we hopefully sing alongside Bel in one of the most powerful and easy-to-sing worship songs of the year so far.
With a heavy piano presence, not only in this track but throughout the album, we are shown a Michael W. Smith/Nichole Nordeman atmosphere when it comes to music influences, and one that’ll hopefully bring in more listeners in Bel’s music. A great song to set the scene musically and thematically, Bel invites us all into a hope that ought to be cultivated daily- that ‘…now He sees a brand new me, set apart and holy, everyday His love will stay for I have become a new creation…’ One of the upbeat songs on the album, Bel uses her voice and piano well to emphasise that sometimes the tracks that speak to us the most are the same ones that are musically lacking as well.
“Heaven’s View”, though one of the shortest songs on the album, is also one of the most poignant. Of the back of an earnest and fervently enthusiastic “A New Creation”, Bel invites light electric guitars to accompany a theme of seeing things from God’s point of view in a song that ought to give us perspective on our trials and troubles. One of the most powerful female Australian voices I’ve heard since Roma Waterman and Rebecca St. James, this second track has become one of my favourites on the album, and one that’ll hopefully bring comfort to those seeking perspective. “Worth the Fight” begins with a piano riff again as we once again are given comforting words in the theme of how certain our convictions and declarations of truth are worth the fight and necessary struggles we can often face, because of what or whom we stand for. A song that’ll hopefully give us conviction to keep moving through adversity because of the fruit that comes from being obedient to God’s calling; Bel’s start can’t be that much better with the three standout songs on “A New Creation”, “Heaven’s View” and “Worth the Fight”!
There seems to be a great simplicity to songs with just some light electric guitar, acoustics and a serene vocal- not too much autotune, or electronics, to make the track seem modern, hip, or even at times, unbearable to listen to. This is what Bel has done with her music- made it accessible for listeners to hear as we see a glimpse into acoustic/worship music, one that is actually pleasant on the ears and not necessarily as intense as something like Planetshakers or even Elevation Worship at times. Nevertheless, all worship groups do have their place, and Bel as well.
The rest of the album showcases a wide range of themes and genres as one thing is for certain- Bel uses everything she has to show us what a good life Christ as called us to lead. “Diamond In the Rough” calls us to the piano as we hear a Beth Croft quasi-imitation as Bel highlights her Australian accent (which can seem similar to the British, considering our ancestors do come from there) in a song that reminds us all about the diamond in all of us- that ‘…his promise remains even when life is blur, though you don’t see it, you are a diamond in the rough…’; and “Dressed in White (The Wedding Song)” is as intimate as you get- a song written and sung about Bel’s wedding day- complete with organs, synthesisers, and a calm serene feeling, as if you were there amongst the crowd just listening to it.
Standing at 3:21 minutes, “The Greatest of These is Love” speaks about how love is greater than everyone and everything else as Bel sings a song of adoration to God of how ‘…every good and perfect gift comes from above, many blessings God bestows, the greatest of these is love…’; while Bel also delves into themes of comforting little children who may need the assurance that Christ is with them (“Lullaby”), assimilating the eternal in the everyday and mundane to make life more enjoyable, whimsical and fun (“The Eternal in the Everyday”), and finding hope, encouragement and healing in the Word of God (“Come and Find”). With “Stars” another standout from the album, with Bel showing us a nearly 5 minute song with acoustic guitars and string instruments and a message of knowing we are loved and accepted by God just by looking up at the stars and the world we are in, Bel’s passion for her music will certainly move her farther into the CCM community, and one that’ll hopefully see us be challenged, changed and compelled to create circumstances of comfort and comprehensive compassion to anyone that comes into conversation with us on a daily basis.
This ten track album is one to remember if you are a fan of Australian music (or even come from Australia like myself). While you always hear about the next big CCM band from America, you rarely hear about a Christian artist or band from Australia (because they have all moved to America, or they’re playing local gigs they’re aren’t noticed as much). Enter Bel Thomson, for me I reckon one of Australia’s talented new CCM artists of the last few years. With A New Creation shooting up to be either within my top 20 or top 15 albums of the year so far, this is a must have if you love soft acoustic/reflective/worshipful music similar to artists like Alabaster Box, Roma Waterman, or Rebecca St. James. Bel ought to be proud of herself for the album, and especially standout tracks like “A New Creation”, “Stars”, “The Eternal in the Everyday” and “Heaven’s View”. One that’ll certainly stand out in its release month of June 2014, Bel ought to be commended for an album well done!
3 songs to listen to: A New Creation, The Eternal In the Everyday, Stars
RIYL: Paul Colman, Rebecca St. James, Roma Waterman, Alabaster Box