On July 8, 2016, Kari Jobe posted to Facebook that she had just started recording her latest album the previous day--a day which she described as "one of the darkest days in America since I've been alive." The event she alluded to was the shooting of five police officers by a sniper in Dallas. Our nation and our world were turbulent then, and they are still turbulent now. Many are growing weary, and believers are looking around and wondering "Where is God in all of this?" There are no easy answers, but what Jobe shows in her latest offering, The Garden, is that those who are longing for rest can come and find it in the surest, safest place--the presence of God. Jobe has shown through her past albums her desire to usher listeners to that place, and The Garden is no different.
The album begins delicately with quiet piano notes and Jobe softly sharing memories of despair: "I had all but given up / Desperate for a sign from love…." As the chorus begins, the tone of the song shifts with a cinematic swell: "Then I saw the garden / Hope had come to me / To sweep away the ashes / And wake me from my sleep." It's an atmospheric track, which builds up beautifully to a crescendo towards the end, and the intricate nature imagery and use of "I" statements in the lyrics hint to the listener that The Garden is a more intimate outing than Jobe's last effort, Majestic.
There are a few glimpses of corporate worship on this album. "Let Your Glory Fall" has a singable chorus, "Heal Our Land" has a timely message of restoration and revival, and "Fall Afresh" begs to be sung by a congregation, with lines like "Let this be a place where You long to come / As we make a way for Your love...Fall afresh on us." However, the majority of the album falls into the personal worship category. "Speak to Me" is a unique track, punctuated by quiet moments which stand out against an electronic soundscape. Album highlight "Lover of My Soul" is one of the most romantic worship songs this reviewer has ever heard, and it drives home the message that our relationship with God is one that lasts for eternity. Other highlights include the triumphant anthem "I Will Sing," hymn-like closer "The Cause of Christ," and the Elevation Worship cover "Here as in Heaven" (one of three solid bonus tracks on the deluxe edition).
Kari Jobe's The Garden is a moving, almost mesmerizing ode to God, making it perfect for times of personal worship and waiting on the Lord. The music and lyrics here encourage the listener to slow down and focus on God, something very necessary in the chaotic times we live in. The use of traditional instruments alongside electronic beats and synths gives the album an ethereal (albeit occasionally overproduced) sound. There's not much variation in tempo from track to track, however, and the lack of fast songs may not appeal to casual listeners. Even so, those who are bored with radio-friendly worship pop and are longing for something deeper will want to visit The Garden, as it will exceed their expectations.- Review date: 2/6/17, written by Nicole Marie Vacca of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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