Kristene DiMarco's new release is one that may have escaped your attention up until now.
Bethel Church's Jesus Culture are not simply a band, but a movement birthing a new solo album every few months.
Whether it be Kim Walker-Smith or Jake Hamilton's solo albums, the team at Redding, California have been promoting plenty of new music in recent months.
But there's something refreshingly different about Safe Place. Take the album opener for example. It's less than three minutes long (unusual considering the majority of Jesus Culture songs tend to clock in at around 7 minutes) and very understated, yet incredibly beautiful.
A simple clean electric guitar tone reverberates before Kristene's unique and pure voice sings about falling into God's hands. Rather than building the song up into an anthemic chant, Kristene lets her voice shine through. It's a testament to the strength of her vocal ability that little instrumentation is needed to give the beginning of her album plenty of impact.
The second track is more typical of modern worship music. But Kristene's voice remains distinctive, although it is perhaps comparable with Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash.
It's suprising to witness Jesus Culture back an album more suited to radio and individual devotion than congregational singing. But it's a welcome suprise, as Safe Place is full of well crafted songs that not only speak to the heart, but are interesting to listen to.
Believer is one of the strongest songs on the album. Featuring an infectious melody, minimistic instrumentation, an angelic sounding choir and unusual chord progressions it's everything you could ask for in a song and more.
A Lonely Carpenter also has a memorable tune. But Kristene's songs aren't just about the music. Her lyrics are thoughtful, provoking and clever. "Did we see heaven today / Or did it get lost again in our ordinary ways?" The song talks about the lonely carpenter climbing a mountain and praying. Presumeably referring to Jesus, Kristene asks whether people will understand his message. "Or did they cling tighter to the darkness that denies you?", she challenges.
Deanna's Song is a catchy ditty you'll catch yourself whistling not long after listening to the lyrics "Make it new / Make it real / Make it more than I ever thought possible". Asking, "Show me that your glory dwells / in the ordinary", the instrumentation includes more guitars, piano and a fantastic organ sound.
It's very difficult to find fault with the album. Every song is strong and unique, both in sound and message. While Kristene has developed her own style, she avoids the pitfall of making an album that begins to feel samey once the halfway point is reached.
If you're looking for a chilled pop album this spring, Kristene DiMarco's offering is exceptional and as close to perfection as you're likely to find. From the happy and cheesy "Say Goodbye" to the serious minor key vibe of final track "Hope", there's plenty to be enjoyed.
She may be easily overlooked and undiscovered by much of the Church, but Kristene DiMarco has demonstrated an exceptional talent and gift for writing emotive, powerful and beautiful songs that will bless many across the world.
Rating: 10 out of 10
May 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes