Prime Cuts: Desert Bloom (featuring kalley), Travelling Light, Fall Back
Overall Grade: 2.5/5
Rebecca St. James doesn't sound like Rebecca St. James. While she used to have a big pop-rock edge to her vocals making her soar on hits such as "Wait for Me" and "Breathe," now she sounds like a mechanical caricature of her old self. The use of auto-tune throughout the record makes her sound like she's singing in front of a fan! And who chose these songs for her? Instead of letting her own identity to shine, she has tried to fit in with her brothers (the famed for KING & COUNTRY) by crafting a sanitized CCM pop offering. Though many of her tunes were birthed out of St. James' own miscarriages, there's not much warmth or sincerity in them. They just sound cliché and tired.
This new album of 11 tracks (with a prelude that last for only 26 seconds) also comprises of her 6-song "Dawn" EP. This means that there are only 5 newly released songs. Best among the new cuts is St. James' duet with Bethel Music's kalley "Desert Bloom." A beat ballad that speaks of how God can bring beauty from ashes, "Desert Bloom" isn't bad. Based on Psalm 121, "Travelling Light" has a delightful pop synth beat that is quite infectious. "Kingdom Come (featuring for KING & COUNTRY)," with its big anthemic chorus and booming percussion, sounds more like a for KING & COUNTRY track than something tailored for St. James.
The title "Praise" says it all: it's non-descript, generic, and so frustratingly trite despite having Phil Wickham as a co-writer. St. James tries to showcase her ethereal side with "Cover Me." But the song is hopelessly lost on the melodic front. After Michael W. Smith's "Surrounded" and Bethel Music's "Raise a Hallelujah," do we still need "Battle is the Lord's"? On the other hand, the tender "Fall Back" is not bad. But why does the producer Seth Mosley need to filter her vocals through the computer? Does he doubt her ability to sing?
"Middle of the Fire" and "Dawn" suffer from slothful song writing: both songs utilize the most common metaphors for suffering ("fire" and "night") without any attempt of breathing any new life into these overwrought images. It is sad that though this is St. James' first full-length album since 2011, it's not worth the hype and waiting. St. James should just ditch all the so-called big named writers and producers and she should write from the heart. Find a producer who lets Rebecca St. James be Rebecca St. James. And please Rebecca St. James doesn't need auto-tune!