Where His Light Was - Review

Posted by Aaron Lewendon  ·  Be the first to comment

Where His Light Was

A second chance at a first album, Where His Light Was is a remarkable release from recent Bethel Music addition Kristene DiMarco. Having already shown vocal ability and a passion for worship on the You Make Me Brave and Starlight releases, there was a high-bar going into this new album.

To this date, I have never heard an album opening quite like the first three tracks of Where His Light Was. Doxology (a short hymn of praise) is an unexpected opener for the album. A short vocal track that with a gentle whisper recites the classic “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”, a short Psalm almost 400 years years old. Given that Bethel Worship are known for contemporary songs replete with big refrains, contemporary lyrics, and ‘woahs’ aplenty, this was the first sign of an album catching me off guard.

And then we just forward into a futuristic second, and titular, track with Where His Light Was. Again, we begin with nothing but Kristene DiMarco’s voice, this time modulated into an ethereal yet electronic pitch. (A sound that I have come to love since first hearing it used by Bon Iver in the beautifully haunting song 715 - CR∑∑KS). I fully understand that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I implore you: listen to it, give it a chance, and let it sink in. It encourages you to look back, much like in the poem Footprints, to look back to where God’s love was in your life.

Where His Light Was Album

Thirdly, in the album's opening salvo of surprising songs is Fear Not. After ancient hymns and technological poignance, I was excited and expecting to be surprised once more. Fear Not is a Gospel-inflected jam. That’s right, Bethel has gone Gospel (if only for this album). The simple, catchy lyrics, old-school organ backup Gospel choir is as much a contemporary Gospel jam as it is a rousing call to courage. And I dare you not to love the moment the choir are brought in.

And there we reach a theme of this album, which carries straight into the next track. Courage runs through this release like a gold streak: sometimes a shining presence, sometimes a detail, but always there. Fans of Starlight may recognise where DiMarco goes next as Take Courage makes another appearance here and, I’d argue, fits in much more appropriately.

For anyone who likes to get lost in their worship albums, and worry that the album is all style with no atmosphere, the second half settles into the ballads that are much more akin to the core of Bethel Music’s sound. Could You Be This Good, for example, features the enormous vocals that fill rooms and create a space of pure worship. The same goes for You Love Stands Alone, which is pure rhythm, keys, and power that is a direct descendant of the kind of songs Kim Walker-Smith is known for. It’s a song to shout to (but maybe take a deep breath first!).

Despite being only most of the way through 2017, I am calling it: Where His Light Was is looking to be my album of the year. It is a unique release that allows Kristene DiMarco to try new things, to create songs that are memorable, striking, and distinctive without coming across as mere surface.

Where His Light Was review


21st September

September 21st, 2017 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon

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