Release Date: May 27th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- You are In Control
- Pour It Out (feat. DJ Maj)
- Great Are You Lord
- Brother (feat. TobyMac)
- Should’ve Been Mine
- Be With Us
- Never Alone (feat. Shonlock)
- You are With Me
- Love Never Fails
- We Won’t Back Down
‘…we want to be part of helping our brothers and sisters recover their courage, develop their character, grow in their understanding of the biblical worldview and connect with God on a daily basis through study and worship. We want to use the gifts and tools God has given us—in the context of singing and making music—to serve and encourage the Church, as well as to take part in the renewal He is bringing about that will enable us to stand firm and impact our spheres of influence with the Gospel in a day when culture is set against us…’ Seth and Nirva, the latest duo to release music in the year of 2016, under the label of Integrity Music, have offered up a set of worship songs that are honest, hopeful, encouraging and poignant as this husband and wife team present one of the most underrated worship album of 2016 thus far. Duos have thrived in the industry throughout the years, artists from Love and the Outcome, Capital Kings, for KING AND COUNTRY, All Sons and Daughters and Gungor have all found success over the years, and Seth and Nirva, from their extended play I Need You in 2013 and their Integrity debut now, are sure to follow suit. Seth and Nirva are certainly a duo to take notice of in the upcoming months as this collection of worship tracks are as enjoyable as any song you’d hear in a Sunday morning worship service. Endorsed by TobyMac himself, Nirva is not a stranger to music, having been singing backup for Toby and his band for a while- and with their worship album debut, this husband and wife team infuses together gospel, pop, R&B, worship and hip-hop all within the same album, which is a feat in and of itself. Never Alone is an album certain to be enjoyed by listeners who have loved Toby’s material of the past enjoyable, or if you enjoy other artists like Ayiesha Woods, Mandisa, Britt Nicole or Group 1 Crew.
One of the most familiar worships songs of late, the All Sons and Daughters written “Great Are You Lord” is given the Seth-and-Nirva duo treatment, and while I personally reckon that no version of any song beats the original recording (well…maybe Hollyn’s version of “All I Need is You”), the husband-wife duo make a great stab at the song, as Nirva leads a track that presents to us a theme of God’s great strength, that ‘…it’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, to You only…’ “Great Are You Lord” gives us hope and courage, that, amidst the light acoustics, a prominent keyboard riffs, and a Caribbean infused musical atmosphere; we find a 5:26 long moment of worship, and one that’ll stand out amongst all the 11 songs on the album.
“Brother”, not a cover of the needtobreathe hit, but rather a cover of the song originally recorded by The Brilliance; is another standout, with the inclusion of CCM/rap powerhouse singer/songwriter TobyMac. “Brother” is as comforting as it is confronting, as the first lines of the song, sung by Seth, echo out the sentiments of how ‘…when I look into the face, of my enemy, I see my brother…’, and what we need to think about moving forward- who are our brothers and sisters? Only those who are in Christ, or do they extend to those who don’t know about Him, but are seeking, on the cusp of knowing His unending love? Is it our enemies, those who scorn and ridicule us, for just being who we are? These questions are raised in this song, making this one of the must-hear tracks on Never Alone– in fact, dare I say, that this is the song to listen to if you could only listen to one!
With Seth leading “You are in Control” which such enthusiastic fervency, the great harmonies of this husband-wife duo relay a message of God being in control and constant, being a God that holds the world and us together with just one word uttered and spoken. An amazing concept for us to grasp our minds around as the first song on the album, both Seth and Nirva continue to deliver song after song of worship and heartfelt inspiration, with a radio friendly “Should’ve Been Mine”, a melody that presents a heartfelt and humble truth, that everything that Christ endured on that cross should’ve been ours and ours alone to own- yet when Jesus took it upon Himself to be the ransom in exchange for our freedom, we are indeed reminded of the gravity of this exchange, and this song hopefully allows us to further reflect upon this very statement, that ‘…Christ the Saviour, now and forever, glorified, by Your death, I’m raised to life…’ Sounding very Mandisa-like in this track, Nirva Ready powerfully asserts her powerhouse vocals making the song one of my favourites and standouts on the album.
“You Are With Me” follows a sleek worshipful radio format as Seth takes the fore and leads a song with a theme of God being with us in all circumstances, being with us all our days and working in all situations for our good; while “Pour it Out”, the longest song on the album featuring DJ Maj, presents a French horn and a reggae-funk-gospel presentation of asking the Lord to pour out His goodness and mercy upon us, all the while in a musical surrounding that is reminiscent of something from a gospel choir. “Unconditionally”, another Seth-led song (no, it’s not the Katy Perry track), picks up the pace a bit, as gang vocals and looping percussion overlay a track with a simple message of God loving us unconditionally irrespective of our own choices and decision making processes; and “Never Alone”, the title track featuring Shonlock, brings to us a more subdued track, full of vocal performances rather than instrumentation, as gang vocals in the chorus present a theme of never being alone in Christ, that ‘…we are a generation, we’re not afraid, we are a generation, we’re not ashamed, we know we’re not forsaken, our God is strong…we are never alone…’ And while I may not have heard Shonlock rap before, his rap segment in the track is impressive to say the least- well done to both Seth and Nirva, and Shonlock for the title track and a favourite of mine on the album.
“We Won’t Back Down” is a call for every one of us to stand our ground as this worshipful track with dance elements is just what this album needs as its closing song- diversity, while the two longest tracks (aside from “Pour it Out”), “Love Never Fails” and “Be With Us”, each convey the loyalty and trustworthiness of Christ Himself, that His love covers us in abundance, and that He is present, moving and acting in the very lives He looks after and oversees. While I myself seemingly found that these two song somewhat drag on a bit, both Seth and Nirva’s hearts are in the right spot, even if both these songs aren’t necessarily for me. Still, the duo should be commended on boldly creating songs that are intentionally long in song length.
Nevertheless, this is a great album if you enjoy the musical talents of TobyMac, Mandisa, Group 1 Crew, Capital Kings, or Royal Tailor. Seth and Nirva’s first full length album is one to be listened, if only for the unique musical arrangements and the collision of genres like pop, funk, rap, hip hop, soul, gospel and worship, making Never Alone one of 2016’s most impressive debuts. And while it may come at a surprise that this duo is not on Gotee Records (which TobyMac owns), but choosing to release their music on the hope of worship music, Integrity Music; this husband and wife duo certainly have given just enough to at least warrant a listen on Spotify whenever the listener has a chance. With Seth and Nirva’s music hopefully being enjoyed by those who love other similar artists like the ones aforementioned above; this is a duo to look out for in 2016 as their music will certainly be captured and played by Air1, K-Love, Way FM, or a number of other Christian music radio stations around America and over the world. Well done to both Seth and Nirva for delivering to us an enjoyable and heartfelt album of devotion and praise!
3 songs to listen to: Brother, Great Are You Lord, Should’ve Been Mine
RIYL: Warr Acres, TobyMac, Group 1 Crew, Capital Kings, Royal Tailor