Heritage Music Group
Release Date: March 25th 2022
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Middle of the Fire (feat. Josh Baldwin)
- Kingdom Come (feat. for KING & COUNTRY)
- Ready For the Rain
- Dawn (feat. Luke Smallbone)
- The Battle is the Lord’s (feat. Brandon Lake)
- Desert Bloom (feat. kalley)
- Fall Back
- Travelling Light
- Alleluiah Jesus
- Cover Me
Rebecca St. James has been very instrumental in my life in terms of her music, as it was her, alongside artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin, and Newsboys; that were able to branch out my musical tastes into the wider, broader ‘genre’ of CCM. Her songs like ‘God’, ‘Stand’, ‘Song of Love’, ‘You are Loved’, ‘Expressions of Your Love’, ‘Pray’, ‘Mirror’, ‘I Thank You’ and the cover of Hillsong’s ‘Take all of Me’ were all highlights from hers throughout my teenage years, and her music has been impacting me ever since. I even wrote a blog post about her around a couple of years ago as part of a larger blog series about impactful and influential artists in modern music history, and the blog post can be seen here. In an overall sense, the return of Rebecca to music has been a welcomed surprise for me, an avid fan of her whole career. Rebecca’s new comeback single ‘The Battle is the Lord’s’ debuted back in June 2020, alongside her first EP/album release since I Will Praise You; Dawn, that debuted in 2020 as well. Both of these have been reviewed for our website, and can be seen here and here respectively…and so I won’t really go into much detail about her songs on both Dawn and this full-length album release (because I have, in that review), but what I will say is this- Rebecca’s return to music is celebrated wholeheartedly- after 9 years of inactivity, her return is nothing short of being miraculous, as it brings back a lot of nostalgia of my own youth.
With a fair amount of her songs present here on Kingdom Come originally from her last EP, songs like ‘Battle is the Lord’s’, ‘Dawn’, ‘Middle of the Fire’, ‘Fall Back’ and ‘Alleluia Jesus’ make up the backbone of this new album from Rebecca- I wrote about these songs when I reviewed Dawn, and what I wrote back then, I still stand by now. We are reminded in ‘Battle is the Lord’s’, that the battle is certainly the Lord’s to fight, not for ourselves in our own human flesh. For the fights we face, maybe even on a daily basis, are often spiritual by nature, and as we sit back and remind ourselves that God fights for us on our behalf, even if we may believe that we have to go in there alone and fight this insurmountable task on our own; is a great comforting thing to know. The battle is not ours to win; but is a reminder that we can’t undertake such things by ourselves- we need our God with us, and for us, and championing us, and working alongside us, as we’re shaped and refined through the process of the fight as well. ‘The Battle is the Lord’s’ is a joyous song of remembering that our fights need not to be fights on our own- we have the God of creation by our side, fighting the good fight with us- what more can we long for? Going through difficulties and trials isn’t always fun; but knowing that Christ is with us makes it better, as we know that through these dark days, we will emerge with a much more appreciative nature not only for ourselves and the world around us, but appreciative of God for going to great depths to bring us back to Himself.
Throughout the rest of the album, Rebecca continues to deliver powerful melodies with her trademark voice alongside more collaborations and a musical sound harkening back to her 2002 Worship God days. ‘Middle of the Fire’ features fellow Bethel music singer-songwriter Josh Baldwin as Rebecca’s collaborative partner and is declaring of a trust that is with confidence and boldness that it is in the Lord- belief in the fact that even in our most difficult of trials and tribulations, He never leaves us and is still working our very own situations for our good and His glory. ‘Ready for the Rain’ is littered with autotune and electronic layering of the vocals (leaving the actual musicality of it, much to be desired), yet the lyrics still present to us a great theme of us being ready for whatever the Lord has in store for us- in this song, rain: God’s presence, His outpouring of His Spirit, and maybe even rain in a physical sense too. ‘Fall Back’ is as soothing as it is tranquil as it features string instruments, while the song itself creates a space where we reflect upon the fact that we can indeed fall back into the arms of Jesus, because we can trust Him with our lives and our very being; while songs like ‘Dawn’ and ‘Alleluia Jesus’ both round out the songs that were present on Rebecca’s EP a couple of years ago. ‘Dawn’ is about a persona who is at the end of their rope, struggling in their life, but still declaring God’s faithfulness and singing alleluia, because they know beyond their feelings, that He will bring a new dawn and a fresh rebirth, after the trials and difficulties that is being faced right now; while ‘Alleluia Jesus’ showcases with a moment of vertical worship, full of sentiment and biblical truth, that God deserves all the glory and honour, that we can declare alongside Rebecca the powerful, freeing and refreshing words ‘alleluia Jesus’.
‘Kingdom Come’, ‘Travelling Light’, ‘Desert Bloom’, ‘Praise’ and ‘Cover Me’ are the remaining new tracks on this full-length album, and while this album as a whole, impresses upon the backbone of tracks introduced to us from Dawn, these five new tracks nevertheless deliver powerful truths and continue to carry on lyrically from the release of her 2020 EP. ‘Desert Bloom’ features a collaboration with Bethel Music artist Kalley as we see this track remind us of the things that Christ is doing in this time and age…for such a time as this. As we see in the emotive and poignant chorus, Rebecca relays that ‘…You are joy to the broken, You are spring to the garden, You bring beauty from ashes, You are peace where there’s no resolve, You are hope where there is none, You repay every ransom, You reclaim what was stolen, You are making my desert bloom…’ A testimonial song of sorts, we see Rebecca remind us that if we see and know that Christ did these things in the past, then He can do so again. ‘Travelling Light’ continues to tread the line of pop and electronic, as Rebecca brings this theme of travelling ‘light’ in life, and how that would look like in our lives today. Travelling light isn’t necessarily a bad thing- it just means that we only hold a few things as doctrine- (the death, resurrection, and divinity of Jesus, the existence of sin, heaven, and hell), and the rest is willing to change throughout our lives…because once we hold tight to a lot of things to be true and certain, we’ll become forced to believe that we have all the answers to everything- even when we really don’t. ‘Praise’, a pre-release track that was unveiled to the public around a month ago, is a great worship song a la Passion, as Rebecca alludes to this understanding that we were created utmost to declare the praises of our Father. That is our ultimate joy- singing songs to our King, because we understand the weight and gravity of our sin, and what He undertook for us to be reconciled back to Him. The album then ends with ‘Cover Me’, again another song littered with electronic reverb, as we see Rebecca impart this theme of Christ covering us with His wings, comforting us in our time of need, and shaping everything that happens in our lives, for His glory and our good.
Then there’s the title track, ‘Kingdom Come’, a collaboration between Rebecca and her brothers, for KING & COUNTRY (Joel & Luke). Releasing also as a pre-release track late last year, this song speaks of how God’s ways are higher than our own, and knowing full well of who He is and who we are, why wouldn’t we say, ‘let your kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’? Rebecca recently undertook an interview with NewReleaseToday about the song. In it, she relays the story behind the track and the ultimate message of the song in general- ‘…there’s a thought being spread throughout the world right now that God’s Word and His way is restricting freedom, and it’s the opposite of that. His way, His Word, and the biblical mandate we are under in the Kingdom of God is life, freedom and joy. The boundaries that God has given us are for our good and for His glory. There’s a call within the church right now to cling to biblical values, like children who know where the lines are to play safely and be safe with their lives. And our world is desperate right now. Great revivalists have said if you want to see revival, draw a circle on the floor, step into it and pray for revival to begin there. Let it start with us…for me personally, I know that’s God’s Word doesn’t return void, so there’s instant power in that. It’s important to me that the Bible is in the song. We were in the middle of COVID and all the confusion of that at the time. We know people are very broken right now. They are poor in spirit because they feel beaten up by the past two years. The song begins in an inspired way because God knew we would need that right now. He wants us to come to Him.
I think we can hide away in social media in an inauthentic picture of ourselves that isn’t our whole selves. We don’t show the weaker and less put together sides of ourselves. That’s damaging to us and our connections if we aren’t being real and authentic with people about the challenges we walk through. We need each other and we need to be real with each other. God called me back to music a few years ago, and it was a profoundly moving, and transformative moment where I felt God’s Holy Spirit leading me back to music. God’s Kingdom coming to earth for Christians looks like trusting His heart for us and turning to Him in all circumstances in our lives, surrendering to Him as often as we can remember to surrender to Him, moment by moment. Ask God to use you today, in your parenting, in your relationships, at church, in every action of my life, let His kingdom come and His will be done. If we are walking in His will and His way, revival comes from that…’ It is in that quote that I’ve come to love the song even more, a definite standout track on the album, and one that’ll hopefully become an anthem for people around the world, in the upcoming months ahead. Well done Rebecca for this powerful song, one of my favourites of 2022 thus far.
Rebecca St. James has been a part of my own childhood and teenage years, and it was a great nostalgic feeling for myself to hear Kingdom Come (and DAWN preceding that). The album as a whole has a more worshipful feel to it, similar to that of Worship God or I Will Praise You than her other albums of the past. And though I still feel that this album in and of itself feels a little too ‘Bethel’ for my own liking, and less of the RSJ flavour of the past (and in some ways, too electronic), these songs nevertheless still impact and encourage. With songs like ‘Battle is the Lord’s’, ‘Praise’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ being standouts of mine, this is a must-have if you love Rebecca’s music of the past, or if you are into some nostalgia from yesteryear, or both. Well done Rebecca for this emotive and heartfelt album, and a great bout of 1990s and 2000s nostalgia; hoping and praying that these songs minister to people in the months to come, especially during this uncertain and difficult time on a global scale.
3 songs to listen to: Kingdom Come, The Battle is the Lord’s, Praise
RIYL: Rachael Lampa, for KING & COUNTRY, Bethel Music, Hillsong UNITED