Capitol Christian Music Group / Jesus Culture Music
Release Date: September 11th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Bryan And Katie Torwalt– Café Sessions EP (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Freedom Is Coming
- My Hallelujah
- Praise Before My Breakthrough
- Arms Of Grace
- Prophesy Your Promise
- Your Will, Your Way
Especially true in 2020 when we are all in quarantine and in lockdown and we’re all still stir crazy, there’s a concept that has been as old as the dawn of time itself that sometimes we as humans forget. And it is this. That remembering is key for our human experience and as we recall our enjoyable and beautiful memories, sometimes we end up feeling very nostalgic and very optimistic about life, even in the midst of trials and suffering. In 2020 we do need to remember the good times especially; yet sometimes we as Christians frequently forget the promises of God- though sometimes through no fault of our own- which we should remember. Sometimes we fall prey to our fears and insecurities, as we fail to remember that God is with us and that He will never leave our side. With the concept of remembering being the heartbeat and the main message of Bryan & Katie Torwalt’s latest studio EP Anticipation (which is reviewed here!); the husband and wife duo have been one of the mainstays and veterans on Jesus Culture, having wowed us before, with songs like “I See Heaven”, “Shores”, “When You Walk Into The Room”, “Mountain”, “Let There Be Light” and “King Over All The Earth” to name a few. Yet it is only recently that I have stepped out and intentionally listened to their music. Sure, I’ve listened to a few songs on Spotify, but with Praise Before My Breakthrough being my first release of theirs that I have fully listened to, for one reason or another (and such a release that I have loved- as well as Anticipation after that!); it’s time to dwell upon Bryan and Katie’s next EP- Café Sessions whereby they release acoustic versions of 6 hits. That EP, though musically more subdued, is yet another winner!
And what is my assessment, after listening to this project several times over? Well, it’s pretty good. In fact, the opening track “Freedom Is Coming” is just as compelling as the studio version from Anticipation! As I’ve mentioned before, “Freedom Is Coming” has some serious Rend Collective vibes musically and vocally (definitely a good thing!), and this is also evident on the acoustic version here; with Bryan singing with passion and determination that Jesus undoubtedly will provide us with freedom, even though we may be feeling like in the pit of despair with no way out. Hopeful and inspiring, Bryan and Katie deliver a promise of redemption and assurance, without the song feeling cliché or tacky.
“My Hallelujah”, as with the previous full band studio version, is the heartbeat of the project, as Katie leads this melody with aplomb and professionalism, ardently stating that nothing can take away her fervent praise to Jesus- not even darkness, not even death, not even the most difficult time ever. Reminding me of Romans 8:38-39, and then extrapolating that from ‘nothing can take away God’s love’ to ‘nothing can take away our praise to Him’; Bryan and Katie have recorded a real emotional and hard hitting anthem here, as we dwell upon and ponder the weight of who God is, leading us to worship Him in any and all circumstances. Musically abundant with strings and haunting synth, “My Hallelujah”, though lyrically cliché at times, remains one of my favourite songs of 2018, and I’m sure will resonate with others perusing this song as well. The 5 minute somewhat imposing piano led melody “Praise Before My Breakthrough”, emphatically and authoritatively relays to us that because of what Jesus has done in the past, we can worship Him before we ever tangibly have evidence of the victory; while the strings and acoustic guitar led “Arms Of Grace” is next, as Bryan majestically imparts to us the notion that we can always run back home into Jesus’ arms- the arms of grace.
The exquisite, beautifully sung and compelling mid-tempo anthemic ballad “Prophesy Your Promise” is next- and Katie makes known the realisation that even though we aren’t sure about the future, we can indeed speak out with confidence and prophesy Jesus’ promise to the world and to our friends and family. Because we know that He is true and He is faithful, Jesus’ promises hold weight and significance, and therefore declaring something over someone that we’re unsure about on our own, but confident in Jesus; is something that shouldn’t be uncommon, but rather encouraged. Café Sessions then ends with “Your Will, Your Way”. Originally a radio friendly CCM-like tune, this musically different tune (tempo slowed down and using the acoustic guitar more prominently!) is a sort of modern hymn that is destined to be imprinted on our hearts for a long time- vocally Katie is at her best, as we are met with a declaration of admission of fault and surrender to the Almighty, asking Him invade our hearts and move in our lives so that His will be done…not ours.
And after this near-flawless track and overall hopeful and worshipful project (which we’ve heard these songs before, but it doesn’t make it any less poignant nor impacting!) that basically showcases the best of Bryan and Katie Torwalt vocally, lyrically and musically; Café Sessions ends…which is a fact that has to happen. But the ending has to happen for us to eagerly wait for the duo’s next project; as I am now convinced that this release is near-flawless, whereby listening to Bryan and Katie compels me to investigate the rest of their discography (which I didn’t do last time, but I will do next time!). No doubt you’ll be inspired to check them out also. With both husband and wife at the top of their game here, sky’s the limit for these two. So what are you waiting for? Let us all declare the good things we remember about Jesus, and let us be changed by one of the more hopeful and impacting releases I’ve heard this year!
3 songs to listen to: Freedom Is Coming, Praise Before My Breakthrough, Your Will Your Way
RIYL: Bethel Music, Phil Wickham, Leeland, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman