Christy Nockels “Captivate Us (Live from Keeper’s Branch)” Album Review

Christy Nockels

Prime Cuts: Knees to the Earth/I Surrender All, Already All I Need/Grace Flows Down, Breathe/Let It be Jesus

Overall: 4.75/5

Christy Nockels is no novice in worship music. More than 20 years ago, she and her husband teamed up to form the duo Watermark. Together, they recorded five albums and scored seven No. 1 radio hits. Nockels later became a founding Passion City Church member, serving on the worship team with Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Kristian Stanfill. It was also during this time Christy released her first solo album on sixstepsrecords, Life Light Up (2009), followed by Into the Glorious (2012), and the live worship album, Let It Be Jesus (2015). Captivate Us (Live from Keeper's Branch) is her "greatest hits" of sorts. The 12-track album gathers worship songs she has recorded during her time as one-half of Watermark, her days as Passion's worship leader, and her solo recordings. Instead of regurgitating them, she re-recorded them live on her ranch. She often tagged them with popular hymns and worship songs. 

The result? It's a must-listen collection for anyone who loves worship music. Newer fans, unfamiliar with Watermark's canon, will be surprised that the duo wasn't just some fluff-filled pop-CCM duo. Instead, hidden in their pop-laden records are many worship gems. In the days when worship music wasn't quite popular, it's surprising how songs such as "Knees to the Earth" and "Captivate Us" perfectly fit today's worship format. With heartfelt lyrics that express self-surrender before Jesus, "Knees to the Earth" can easily make its way to a new Passion record. "Captivate Us," one of Watermark's biggest hits, gets a stripped-down and dreamy interpretation. The simpler backing so appropriately brings us the song's lyrics about being captivated by our Lord's goodness. However, "The Purest Place" isn't the strongest track despite Steffany Gretzinger's added vocals.

Some of her solo efforts are the best: "Already All I Need/Grace Flows Down," two ballads from her 2012 album Into the Glorious, are her most tender moments of worship. However, instead of singing both songs back-to-back, she could have intertwined the two songs together. The same goes for "Breathe/Let It Be Jesus." Michael W. Smith's "Breathe" is a gorgeous songlet, but it does not warrant so many repeats, and it feels disjointed to have it tagged with Nockel's own "Let It Be Jesus." Also, from her 2015 effort Let It Be Jesus is "Everything is Mine in You," which boasts Nockels' best lyrics to date: "Everything is mine in You/Even when my heart is breaking/Everything is mine in You/Even when my hands are empty/Everything is mine in You."

Album opener, "Waiting Here for You/Holy Forever," represents her time with Passion. Here, she is joined by her fellow co-worshipper, Chris Tomlin. Tomlin, bless his heart, does not just come to sing his hit "Holy Forever." Instead, he tries to integrate the two songs with his vocals. As aforementioned, it would be so much better if the two tracks were intertwined and not sung one after another. More forgettable is "A Mighty Fortress," which was Nockels' contribution to 2010's Passion: Awakening (Live).

In sum, Captivate Us (Live from Keeper's Branch) is an excellent overview of Nockels' career as a worship leader, and one has to say she and her songs have been a gift to the church. More importantly, on this album, Nockels has inspired us what it means to worship through her cadences and vocal postures.



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