Prime Cuts: A Better Word, You Satisfy, Way Maker
Overall Grade: 4/5
When Integrity Music decided to work with Tyscot Records a few years ago, they have rightly extended the boundaries of worship music to include more color and soul. They have now included more worship leaders of color and their execution of worship come with more fluidity and spontaneity. Benita Jones' debut record "The Entreating" for Integrity/Tyscot is a prime example of this. Not only is this record choked with songs that the church could sing along to, but there are lots of unrehearsed expressions of worship that make you feel like this isn't just a record. Rather, it's an experience of meeting the Almighty God.
"The Entreating" may be Jones' debut live album, but she doesn't sound like a novice. She comes into the worship experience with a heart already packed with Holy Spirit-power. Bursting right out of the speakers with her soulful Yolanda Adams-esque alto, she invites us to worship on the exuberant "Joy." The slaying synth lines and the pulsating dance beat make this song the perfect album opener. Then she immediately moves into ultra catchy Gospel-ish "Good God." The album's apogee is the current single "A Better Word." Though the song shares the same titular as Leeland's title cut of their latest release, it's a different song. Jones' "A Better Word" is a careful exposition of Hebrews 12:18-24 of how the blood of Christ speaks "a better word" than the blood of the old covenant. Lovers of songs that unpack great theological truths ought to check it out.
Jones excels when it comes to the ballads too. "You Satisfy" and "Broken Things" find Jones bearing her soul displaying both her vulnerability and her delight in God. Not to be missed is the title track "The Entreating." Unfolding like a great cinematic piece, Jones takes her time to build up to the song's crecendo. One has to be a tad careful when it comes to songs like "Never Let Me Down." In the overall scheme of God's sovereignty, it's true Jesus will never let us down. But it's also true that Jesus never promises to give us everything we want; and in this sense, he will and does let us down. Thus a song like "Never Let Me Down" need to be nuanced for greater clarity.
Another highlight is Jones' cover of Sinach's "Way Maker." Though the song has fast become a staple where it has invited countless covers, Jones does a fantastic job with her rendition. She manages to ride on the song's hook without overdoing it. And the song's message of how God is an expert road carver is brought out powerfully through Jones' commanding vocal prowess. For a debut live album, Jones truly excels. This is an album of great worship songs executed with soul and vulnerability; it's time worship music becomes this colorful.