Release Date: February 12th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Great Love
- Awake My Soul
You know when you check out an artist through a link of a link on iTunes, and then you’re listening to an EP that, along with Erik Nieder’s The Narrow Sea, has become one of your favourite EPs/albums from an independent artist since Julie Elias’s Unbroken? That is how it was when I started listening to new worship artist Rebekah White. With a vocal reminiscent of other artists like Kristine DiMarco, Lexi Elisha, Taya Smith of UNITED, and Sarah Reeves, Rebekah is one of these artists that have popped out of nowhere, and that is a good thing. And after hearing this collection of 5 songs, I’m sure that anyone who hears this EP will agree, that she has an amazing vocal talent, and a heart to bring to us music that inspires, provokes, encourages, confronts and comforts as we are reminded through these songs about the bold love our Father in heaven has for us, His creation. As spoken by Rebekah herself, ‘…writing for me has never just been about putting words on paper or singing melodies. My songs have always been stories of my life, my love in my heart. I wrote this EP ‘Bold Love’ after a transforming encounter with my Father, in which He wooed me all over again, to grasp the greatness of His love, not only for me, but for the human race…’ And in some ways, it’s good to jump into reviewing an EP/album with virtually no understanding of the artist whatsoever. Because without a knowledge there can be no bias, and therefore as I say that Rebekah’s music is some of the most emotional, heartfelt and compelling worship music I’ve ever heard in a very, very long time, that’s saying something. The only downfall is that I wished the EP would’ve been longer. From the pseudo-title track “Great Love” to the ever encouraging freedom song aptly titled “Freedom” and “Awake My Soul” (no not the Chris Tomlin or Martin Smith penned hits); this is an EP you don’t want to miss, especially if you enjoy artists like Bethel, Passion, Hillsong UNITED and Jesus Culture.
Where do I start when I talk about the EP? The song that has impacted me the most? Or the one that is the most CCM friendly? No matter what song I’ll talk about first, this is an EP where each song is as captivating and compelling as the one before, and where there isn’t really any song that is ‘better’ than the other, but rather each song offers something unique and different. And don’t let the lengths of the tracks scare you. I myself am partial to songs that don’t necessarily drag on for a while, so when I saw the length of the first song “Great Love” being 7:35, I shuddered a bit, thinking ‘Gee, this song is going to go on and on’. Boy was I totally wrong. “Great Love” is one of my favourite songs on the album, and with the minute and a half electronic introduction as Rebekah’s ethereal vocals channel both Sarah Reeves and Kari Jobe in the process; Rebekah relays the theme of us being who we are because our debt has been paid by our Father. It is a simple yet effective theme, and “Great Love” and the orchestration of the song in and of itself is careful, considerate and comprehensive. With the usage of string instruments and more reverb than the average CCM track, track 1 on Bold Love is boldly different from any worship song I’ve heard in recent memory. As Rebekah repetitiously declares ‘…how great is Your love for me…’, we are encouraged by this statement, making this song one that’ll hopefully carry through this theme into the remainder of the songs on the album.
Experiencing something for the first time can be marvellous and wonderful. Being wide-eyed at the endless possibilities of a certain task, or just being impressed with a certain someone can make our days and change them from mundane to challenging and exciting. This is what happens when we experience Jesus. “Higher” speaks about this theme of being captivated by the Lord, and to never lose sight of the time when we are wowed by our Father for the first time. The repetition continues by Rebekah in the form of ‘…for it is You I love…’, as we are constantly reminded of how we love our Father, not out of duty or obligation, but out of a reverence in light of His sacrifice. As the prayerful piano piece presses on into a powerful anthem, Rebekah channels Kim Walker-Smith as the anthemic line is declared of how ‘…Your name be lifted higher…’ (in and amongst the electric guitars and the emotion that comes out of an instrumental bridge), encouraging us all in the process. “Boxes”, an unusual song title for a worship track, is quite possibly one of the most uplifting and challenging tracks on the EP, as we are called to not confine God into a box where we think He behaves and acts in a certain way when in fact He doesn’t. “Boxes” is borne out of a moment of realisation that the rules and structures we have used to place God where we want Him to be will soon become irrelevant as God shatters our own perceptions of what we believe Him to look like and behave in certain situations and build from the ground up what we really should see God to be- God who can’t be contained. Heavy on the strings and layered backing vocals, the song is serene, yet still poignant and hard-hitting.
“Awake My Soul”, not the song written by either Chris Tomlin or Martin Smith, is still equally as emotional and compelling, and from the first line, we know the song is going to be great- ‘…what am I doing, why am I standing here? Out on the frontlines, facing all I fear, something is stirring, I cannot turn back now, and with everything in me, I was made for this moment somehow…’ Encouraging and uncomfortable, powerful and life-changing, this 6:51 song is a calling for our souls to be awakened, to purpose and God’s destiny for us, for us to believe fully into the fact that we are His and that He is ours, that nothing we can do or say will change that. And this is where my favourite song on the EP, “Freedom”, comes into it all, thematically.
Standing at 5:53, this second track is a classic reminder of freedom and all it stands for- that being free is just that- free from judgement and shame, free from performing and longing to be accepted because we already are. Freedom from believing that God will only love us if we undertake certain tasks. It is the chorus that places things into perspective, that as Rebekah declares amongst the piano, ‘…where the spirit of the Lord is…there is freedom…’; listeners are able to take heart, that God’s spirit that is everywhere is what is needed for freedom in all its facets to take place. And while Rebekah isn’t as recognisable compared to other artists, I’m sure after Bold Love EP, Rebekah will be more of a household name. Bold Love is a revelation and a brilliant work of art, as we as listeners hopefully are challenged in our own lives as we listen to this album. Well done Rebekah for such real emotion and powerful vocals (in “Freedom” in particular), channelling artists like Kari Jobe, Sarah Reeves, Lexi Elisha and Taya Smith from UNITED; comparisons that I reckon will bolster the career of Rebekah in months to come!
3 songs to listen to: Freedom, Higher, Awake My Soul
RIYL: Lexi Elisha, Kari Jobe, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, UNITED, Sarah Reeves