Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: October 23rd 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Kari Jobe– The Blessing (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Heaven Invade
- Let The Light In
- First Love
- Embers (Spontaneous)
- Obsession (Spontaneous) [feat. Cody Carnes]
- The Blessing
- Favorite Place
- Love So Holy
- Your Nature
- The Wind
- No Fear
- Amen (Simple Gospel)
- Throne Room
- Anthem Of Praise (Spontanous)
About The Blessing (the album): It’s the first time for me to talk about it. It’s going to be a live album, which is pretty crazy because I’ve had to ask God, “Really? Like, right now?” Everything is sort of different. We haven’t even been able to be in inside the four walls of the church building, but I felt like God told me to just keep moving forward, to record this year and so in a few weeks we’re pressing record. It’s going to be a more intimate setting than it probably would have been before, but I’m actually excited about that. The Church at large isn’t always in the same room at the same time. So my heart would be thinking of those that even aren’t in the room as well. There’ll be about… what? A hundred people? I feel like it’s just going to be a really beautiful thing to capture in a season of where the Church is right now. The big gatherings are not what’s happening right now. It’s powerful that I get to record in a season that just looks different and wrap my heart around that. I’m excited.
Kari Jobe, associate worship pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas; is one of my favourite female vocalists over the past few years, and has had quite a few busy years, garnering praise, accolades and fans in both the Christian and mainstream industry. It’s been 3 years since Kari’s highly successful and respected album The Garden was released to critical acclaim and top spot on the Billboard charts; while Kari also released her live album Majestic to rousing praise as well, with all the tracks being brand new, and recorded at the historic Majestic Theatre in her hometown. In 2015, Kari capitalised on that success, as she also unveiled Majestic Revisited in 2015- the same 13 songs from Majestic but re-recorded in a new light in the studio, with more piano, synth and soothing and calming effects. In 2012, Kari released what I personally still reckon is her best album to date- Where I Find You; and now it’s time for a brand-new album. Kari’s latest offering (released in October 2020) was a ‘live’ project titled The Blessing (not really that ‘live’, as it was recorded with COVID-19 safety restrictions!) and though I for one am not that enamoured by live projects that seemingly drag on and on and on in duration; Kari’s new project is solid- although not spectacular- as we are ushered into praise and adoration for our Heavenly Father and Saviour, giving Him honour, glory and praise, which we need to especially during these turbulent and uncertain times. With the title track anchoring the project, The Blessing is a must for fans of Hillsong Worship, Jesus Culture and Bethel Music; and even if you aren’t a fan of these artists- guaranteed there is something that you’ll find beneficial about these heartfelt and prayerful melodies! A disclaimer- these songs are scarily on the long side- however if you’re a fan of these aforementioned artists, then I’d say The Blessing is right up your alleyway!
About “The Blessing” (the song): We had planned to lead worship at Elevation Church that weekend and we all had the idea to come together a little earlier and just write. We actually wrote a different song for eight hours that day. We were about to demo that song and Pastor [Steven] Furtick picked up a guitar and started with the idea of “The Blessing.” It was like one of those moments where we were like “We should lean in on that! That this feels really, really special!”
So, another five hours of writing. But it was so beautiful. It felt like we were all just sitting around reminding each other of the promises of God that we all believe and that we to throw into a song. We got another idea when we saw people like posting on socials these 10 or 15-second clips and everyone sharing those and reposting those and tagging. I had never seen friends do like that on social media. We walked around the hotel where we stayed at that Sunday night and we were like in a daze. This was a week or two before the pandemic so nothing was shut down, life was normal, we had no idea what was about to take place but if I look back to that whole experience it felt like the calm before the storm.
It felt like God was giving something for people to be able to hold on to in the midst of something that was about to take place. Never before have we like felt so strong to go ahead and put it out either. So by the time we put it out, it was 10 days after we wrote it that it came out on YouTube. So pretty crazy. Pretty crazy.
‘The Blessing’ was written by Kari, her husband Cody, as well as the team at Elevation Worship as well as their pastor Steven Furtick- ‘The Blessing’ has become one of the fastest viral worship songs of 2020 thus far, and alongside melodies like ‘Another in the Fire’ and ‘WayMaker’, are the cornerstones of worship melodies in 2020 thus far. The song itself is a like a scripture-in-song melody- music put to words straight from Scripture- Numbers 6:24-26 to be precise. The song is a declaration of hope during such a difficult time as this- Kari and Cody perfectly blend their voices in this song, one that has taken off globally, with its popularity unparalleled (perhaps still second to ‘Way Maker’) in 2020 so far. The message? A declaration of God’s blessing upon us, even when it may look like there is none because of this pandemic and virus situation. Nevertheless, ‘The Blessing’ has been a great hit commercially and in homes too, as this track is reminder of how simple lyrics and a heart for worship may be all that you need to impact the world in a time like today.
With the first excerpt above being Kari and husband Cody’s thoughts on the recording of the title track, their smash hit song, and the second excerpt being my brother Jon’s thoughts on “The Blessing” as he reviewed Kari’s EP earlier this year; there isn’t that much more to say about such a Holy Spirit anointed and God breathed track- one which has provided comfort and reassuring of God’s goodness during the much uncertain 2020. Yet with this album not just being about “The Blessing”, we are also treated to more heartfelt and explosive worship anthems from Kari- songs that fit on Sunday mornings at church, and other songs that fit personal worship. Album opener “Heaven Invade” is a high octane and energetic pop track, as Kari ardently relays and declares that ‘…heaven invade, there’s freedom in this place, every heart awaken, everything is changing now…’– a track that would be at home musically in a Planetshakers album, as we praise God for his ever present presence in our lives; while “Let The Light In” is a track originally released on Cody Carnes’ album Run To The Father, as Kari fervently declares an authoritative and prophetic prayer, asking heaven and the angels to ‘…fling wide you heavenly gates, let the King of glory in…come ride in on Your people’s praise…’– a track that is melodically captivating, however gets old quickly because of the nearly 8 minute duration.
“First Love”, “Embers” and “Obsession” are next, and were marketed as one track of 22 minutes- as a promotional single earlier on in 2020- with this ‘medley of sorts’ being a personal highlight here, with “First Love” being a reflective and reverent piano ballad declaring God being our first love; and the spontaneous “Embers” following that flows quite well. However my favourite part of this ‘medley’ is “Obsession”, not just because it’s originally by Delirious? (one of my favourite bands ever!). It’s simply because this cover is a well-recorded live cover- with intense passion and raw emotion present throughout. First track post-“The Blessing” is the 11 minute piano led “Rest”- unnecessarily long, yet nonetheless still powerful and poignant, with Kari’s vocals being at the top of her game, and the track lyrically being a declaration of rest in the presence of our Father, Saviour and Friend; while “Favorite Place” is a nearly 8 minute strings led spontaneous-like melody which basically declares that Jesus’ presence is our favourite place. “Love So Holy”, another worshipful melody stretching close to 8 minutes, is another proclamation, letting us know that Jesus loves us abundantly, with an everlasting and unending love so holy; while “Your Nature” is a compelling and powerful melody, whereby Kari prayerfully relays that ‘…there is no desert that Your streams can’t run to, there are no ruins that Your love won’t make new, You tell the wasteland that it will bloom again, ’cause it’s Your nature, You will restore the years that shame has stolen, You keep the promises that You have spoken, I know this wasteland will be whole again, ’cause it’s Your nature…’, …however the song is 10 minutes long, and sadly doesn’t hold my interest for the entire duration. The strings led instrumental “The Wind” is next. Maybe this song is supposed to emulate the sound of the wind… but again the track sadly doesn’t hold my interest- because it doesn’t build at all.
If by now you’re wondering why these tracks are so long- and asking the question of whether this album would’ve been much more impactful if the songs were slightly shorter and hence punchier and weightier; well you’re definitely not alone in your thoughts. I am a fan of Kari Jobe’s worship songs… but this album is unfortunately long, and unnecessarily so. The trend continues with the 9 minute “No Fear”, a piano led ballad which starts well with Kari reminding us to have no fear- to ‘…turn your eyes upon Jesus, right here, right now…’, a track which could’ve easily been a highlight, but drags on and on and on- like most of these songs on The Blessing. “Amen (Simple Gospel)”, despite the 7 minute length, is however one of the rare bright spots here, with Kari vividly describes the gospel of Jesus Christ, similar to Phil Wickham’s “Living Hope”, and powerfully declaring the eternal truth of Jesus Christ rising from the grave; while the slow-paced, reflective and moving ballad “Throne Room” is the perfect way to end the album, as Kari sings about the intricacies of what the angels in heaven sing about Jesus, which is simple the declaration of ‘Holy’. Unfortunately, The Blessing ends with the really, really unnecessarily long 15 minute spontaneous track “Anthem Of Praise”. I mean’s it’s great free worship in the moment… but it sounds like it’s overdone and not needed! Anyone else feel me here?
If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Kari Jobe’s albums before and are not sure whether to give her music a go, then I would say The Garden is the best way to start, and then maybe work backwards through her discography. Yep… apart from a few tracks (inclusive of the title track!), The Blessing is only ‘okay’, and unfortunately doesn’t live up to The Garden, Majestic or Where I Find You! However if you resonate with long-ish tracks and songs akin to Jesus Culture, Bethel Music and Kim Walker-Smith; then this project should be for you. I don’t know why, but I find myself irritated by these songs on the whole knowing their absurd durations… however I am certain that I could enjoy these songs at a later date in the future. As it stands now… I’d say that Kari has recorded exactly what she set out to- an album used to facilitate us all into worship, however I don’t think The Blessing (the album, not the song!) has enough staying power. I could be wrong… but I reckon this album might fizzle in the long run. Will I check out Kari Jobe’s next album though? Yes, yes I will. As for this one- I’d say cherry pick a handful of tracks, then move back into the awesomeness of both The Garden and Where I Find You!
3 songs to listen to: The Blessing, Amen (Simple Gospel), Throne Room
RIYL: Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Meredith Andrews