Prime Cuts: Save Me, Sing Me Back Home,Oxygen
Overall Grade: 3/5
Avid followers of Bethel Music would be familiar with name Steffany Gretzinger. Not only has she fronted Bethel Music by taking on the microphone, she has also penned songs for her team ("Pieces," "Extravagant," "Be Still" and "Mercy") as well as for other Bethel's associated artists, including Cory Asbury ("Born Again") and Jeremy Riddle ("All Hail King Jesus"). On the side, she has also released her own solo efforts. "Blackout" is her sophomore release following on the heels of her critically acclaimed debut "The Undoing." "Blackout" even more so than her debut is a gentle worship album made not so much for the congregation to sing. Rather, it's a personal worship album that is more reflective and introspective than her Bethel Music compositions.
"Blackout" bears the marks of many singer-songwriter albums where it's personal with equal portions of emotions and intelligence. This means that Gretzinger is coterminously ruminative as well as theological. Creatively utilising the current craze for Marvel comic's super heroes, "Save Me" austerely points out that no hero can ever save us from self-destruction but Jesus. Pundits of Gretzinger's ballads will have a field day with "Confident." Clad in smouldering notes and Gretzinger's hypnotic alto, "Confident" has a way of soaking us in the presence of Jesus.
Prepare for some tear-jerking moments with the tender piano-led "Sing Me Back home"--- though the melody isn't the most striking but there's so much emotions in the way Gretzinger sings that you can't help but be moved. Similarly, "Oxygen" is a nudge to the heart. Featuring Gretzinger's starkly naked vocals with the simple twinkling of an electric piano, the way she sings "sometimes my best is only my weakest yes" is spine-chilling. While the cinematic sounding title cut "Blackout" sounds like an invitation into a sci-fi drama with its staccato electronic drum beats.
Nevertheless, as with most singer-songwriter albums, this album has a major weakness. Listening to these 13 songs back to back can be tedious. Not only are some of the songs lengthy, they can also sound similiar. There aren't enough specific melodic hooks to set them apart. This means there is really no song that will makes you want to hum along or urgently re-visit. Save for "Save Me,""Sing Me Back Home" and "Oxygen," there is not much that makes you want to press "play" again. The sentiments, the content, the emotions and the passions are all here, but vitally missing from the mix is the magic ingredient called strong melodic hooks.