Prime Cuts: By the Grace of God (Brian Johnson), Peace (We the Kingdom), Goodness of God (Jenn Johnson)
Overall Grade: 5/5
Different seasons call for different types of songs. In this anxious age caused by the coronavirus pandemic, worship songs are not to be viewed as tools of mere entertainment. Rather, in the light of scripture, they are weapons God has chosen to establish his sovereign reign in our lives. Bethel Music understands this truth. This is why they have conspicuously dropped their new record "Peace." Almost released without much fanfare, "Peace" has quietly appeared on many streaming portals. This album of 12-songs is a timely crafted album delivered to equip us with weapons to fight against the enemy's fiery darts in this virus-infested milieu.
Of note is that producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe) has enveloped these songs with a "bilateral" sound, which is scientifically proven to bring about healing to traumatised minds. The songs themselves can be divided into three categories: (1) Bethel favorites that have re-recorded, including Cory Asbury's "Reckless Love," "No Longer Slaves" and "Raise A Hallelujah" by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. (2) Popular non-Bethel worship songs that have been re-cut for this album, including Kari Jobe's "Surrounded (Fight My Battles)" and We the Kingdom's "The Blessing." (3) Bethel favorites that have been re-arranged, including Jenn Johnson's "Goodness of God," Josh Baldwin's "Stand in Your Love" and Amanda Lindsey Cook's "King of My Heart" (4) Absolutely never been released new material, including We the Kingdom's "Peace," Jenn Johnson's "I'll Be Your Everything" and Brian Johnson's "By the Grace of God."
Of the trio of brand new songs, the best has to be Brian Johnson's "By the Grace of God." Instead of relying on elevated octaves and an avalanche of instrumental sounds to hype up the song, "By the Grace of God" finds Brian Johnson reflectively singing with a minimal backing. Quietly and assuringly, Brian Johnson sings about the love of God: His arms are strong enough to carry me/through it all/By the grace of God. We the Kingdom's Franni Rae Cash's vulnerable yet affecting soprano makes the title cut "Peace" a must-hear. Despite the gorgeous Maren Morris-esque vocal inflections, Jenn Johnson's "I'll Be your Everything" is a fraction below her usual lofty standard.
Of the more familiar material: Jonathan David and Melissa Hesler are to be commended for giving "Raise a Hallelujah" an absolutely different makeover. While the original was a powerhouse anthem set at a charging warlike pace, in the Heslers' hands, it's much slower and it's almost sounding like a new song. Setting "Reckless Love," "Stand in Your Love" and "King of My Heart" at a decelerated velocity with a fuller cinematic sound, these songs become movie-like narratives of comfort inviting us to engage in. Of the many songs that speak of God's goodness, Jenn Johnson's "Goodness of God" excels. Rather than just stating this divine attribute, Johnson invites us to live in God's goodness; a truth so profound that it's worthy of our rumination. A bit on the redundant side are Kari Jobe's "Surrounded" and We the Kingdom's "The Blessing." Though both are powerful moments of worship, Jobe and Kingdom don't bring anything novel in their attempts.
Overall, "Peace" lives up to its titular. These 12 cuts are carefully curated, crafted and projected so that they function to bring us to worship God with a surrendered posture. And as a much-added bonus these songs are performed by a red carpet list of some of the best worship leaders.