Prime Cuts: Passion (featuring Andrew Holt), Come Alive (Resurrection Power) (featuring Hope Darst), Always There (featuring Natalie Grant)
Overall Grade: 4/5
The Belonging Co's "Here (Live)" is a vast improvement compared to last year's "See the Light (Live)." While their 2021 effort was long (clocking in at 2 hours and 3 minutes) with a whooping 17 songs, "Here (Live)" only has 9 tracks with a running time of only 1 hour and 8 minnutes. Unlike their previous album where the songs are mostly ballad manufactured out of the same template, there's more of a variety on this new effort. Moreover, the songwriter is stronger with hooks that are more prominent. This means the listening experience is far more eventful, rather than a torturous marathon of never-ending flow of similar-sounding songs.
For the unacquainted, The Belonging Co is a Nashville-based church founded in 2014 by Henry and Alex Seeley. The church started in the basement of their home, with only four people attending the very first meeting. Now, The Belonging Co sees thousands of people gather each weekend in Nashville, TN., Columbia, TN., and online locations. It is also a church where Hope Darst, Natalie Grant, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and many other CCM artists call home. "Here (Live)" is their fourth live recording.
Andrew Holt starts off the record on a powerful note. With a refreshing gush of adrenaline, "Passion" is a thumping pop-rock Jesus exalter. In a genre where well-crafted upbeat worship anthems are getting fewer and fewer, "Passion" is a song worship leaders would do well to check out. Speaking of leading worship and with Easter around the corner, Hope Darst's "Come Alive (Resurrection Power)" and Henry Seeley's "Because of Christ" are worth considering. Seeley's "Because of Christ" thoughtful reflection on how Christ's resurrection changes us is particularly rich and affecting.
Ben Cantelon sings his heart out on the ballad "Supply." Based on Philippians 4:19, "Supply" is a passionate reminder that our God does take care of his children. Natalie Grant returns with "Always There." Though the song is melodically average, Grant has a way of elevating its status with her thoughtful and earnest delivery. One can only wish Grant will cut a live worship album someday. Hope Darst's "No Turning Back" tries to contemporize the hymn "I Have Decided" with disastrous effect.
Having also cut by Maverick City Music, Cody Carnes' "Firm Foundation (He Won't)" is the most well-known track off the album. It is a high energy power ballad with a big anthemic chorus, which is not bad, but a little overdrawn. Though not perfect, "Here (Live)" is a big improvement compared to their previous album. It's more focused, more varied, and certainly more memorable.