Release Date: August 5th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- We’ve Got A Love
- Come Alive
- Burn Bright
- Great Are you Lord
- Live For You Alone
The Canadian worship band Starfield, previously signed to Sparrow Records, are probably one of the most underrated bands within the past decade- they are also one of my favourite worship bands also. Their hit songs “I Will Go”, “Filled With Your Glory”, “The Saving One”, “Rediscover You”, their cover of Hillsong’s “Hosanna”, and the most recent single “The Kingdom” have all blessed and inspired me in many different ways and at various points in my life. Yet this Canadian duo of Tim and Jon Neufeld has sometimes gone by unnoticed, and their albums have time and time again slipped under the radar. Though this does not diminish the songwriting prowess of both brothers Tim and Jon; so when I heard in 2013, that Tim Neufeld was releasing his solo album Trees, and that the band is taking a break from intensively touring, I didn’t think much of it. But now, with Tim forming a new band called Tim And The Glory Boys, Jon Neufeld has also decided to unveil 5 songs he has recorded as a solo artist. The new EP Burn Bright releases this week, and I guess if that is not the nail in the coffin of Starfield’s career, then Tim & The Glory Boys’ debut release probably will be. Though for me, this is a sad day, as both Tim and Jon exhibit a worshipful enthusiasm not present in many worship leaders, and they always provide us more-than-adequate melodies and stories of God’s love; I believe that this new chapter will be just as exciting as Starfield records themselves! So does Burn Bright live up to the previous Starfield albums? Well first of all, Jon’s worshipful heart for Jesus, and voice, are both similar to Tim’s, so in some respect, listening to these ballads and worship anthems that Jon excels in so much; it seems like Starfield never left…
Opening the track list is the radio friendly pop guitar prominent tune “We’ve Got A Love”, which speaks about our freedom, security and assurance we have in Jesus. Driven by explosive electric guitar pop riffs, and a contagious beat and tempo, Jon launches into a Switchfoot like verse (that reminds me of “Meant To Live” by the 5 piece rock band from San Diego), before bringing the chorus back to all about Jesus, as he cries out ‘…we’ve got a love that will never fade away, we’ve got a hope in the only One that saves, we’ve gotta know all our sin has been erased…’. With similar singing style and lyrics to his brother Tim in Starfield, Jon has given us an opener with heart and meaning, as we delve into the unending love of God and what that means for us as Christians. God’s boundless love is dwelling in us, so with Him we can be confident and courageous to tackle any adversity that comes our way.
The rest of the track list is just as poignant and inspiring. “Come Alive”, an electric guitar radio friendly worship anthem, and Jon eloquently sings in the chorus of how he sees and hears God- in the sun, moon, stars, mountaintops, in the lives of people who believe in Him, in the seas, widows and orphans, as well as in songs, the rain, and the sounds of the trees blowing in the wind. Containing quite a lot of imagery, and Jon also showing us a great enthusiasm and passion for Jesus, especially as he sings the bridge, that ‘…all the earth reveals Your majesty, here I stand in awe of You Oh God…’, this song sets the bar even higher than the opener. The musically upbeat rock melody “Burn Bright”, the title track, is next, and is a call to action, a prayer asking God to send revival. The song is also a declaration, that we will burn bright for Jesus, which reminds me of Matthew 5:13-16, the verse about the salt and light of the earth. As Christians, it is our love for God and His for us that should prompt us to outwardly show our faith to others, and this song is as perfect as can be for us to pray, though it is not as catchy nor lyrically imaginative as the first two tracks.
The song to me that epitomises Jon’s heart for Jesus and is the pinnacle of the 5 song in my opinion, is the All Sons And Daughters cover of “Great Are You Lord”. While simple in its theme and lyrics, as Jon remind us of God’s greatness and faithfulness, it is the sheer emotion and evident heart for Jesus that really gets me excited. Though the anthemic and epic like piano led chorus is sonically sublime, it is actually at the start, where Jon exuberantly and profoundly offers up the prophetic words, that gives me chills ‘…You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness, You give hope, You restore, every heart that is broken…’. As the song kicks off with a bang, it then proceeds from there to create a massive God moment, clearly evident in the bridge, and later on in the song with big booming drums being introduced. Lead by the stirring keys, Jon sings just as powerful and heartfelt as David and Leslie on the original version, as we are transfixed by the message of God’s greatness and sovereignty, and I find myself pressing the repeat button again and again! The final song is the more subdued acoustic guitar led ballad “Live For You Alone”, where Jon fervently cries out that he lives for Jesus alone and no one else. Taking a overt stand like that is awesome, and this song is a great way to end am EP that I never really wanted to end, it’s just so rich in lyrics and music that I was lost in the words and swept up in Jesus numerous times!
Probably more enjoyable than Tim’s covers album Trees, Jon Neufeld’s Burn Bright is a pleasant surprise. Though I don’t know the future of Starfield now, Jon’s work deserves multiple listens as Jon is such a gifted musician that brings his trademark charisma and passion for God in every track, enhancing them as well- maybe he’s even a better singer than Tim. With Tim and the Glory Boys releasing their debut album soon, I am sure that many listeners will be blessed with Jon’s and Tim’s individual albums- I know I am and will be. Well done Jon for blessing us with your singing and worship to Jesus!
3 songs to listen to: Great Are You Lord, We’ve Got A Love, Burn Bright
RIYL: Starfield, The Afters, All Sons and Daughters, Leeland, Chris Tomlin