Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
As the whole Church must surely now know, the revivalists from Redding, California, have become internationally influential. This CD and DVD package is intriguing in that it was recorded live on a mountaintop overlooking a stunning view of Shasta Lake near Redding, the band playing on a scaffold stage on the edge of the hill with people standing alongside singing and praising God. The filming/recording began in daylight, continuing through the sun setting and into the darkness of night (with extra lighting), which I imagine would have been pretty atmospheric. The tone is a little different to some of Bethel's other CDs; there's a sweet, reflective tenderness throughout, with only the occasional more upbeat moment at the climax of a song. The band comprises two violins, cello, a pair of drummers/percussionists, acoustic and electric guitars as well as a couple of keyboard players and a few background singers. Along with this, each song is led by its writer, resulting in a variety of instrumentation and voices. It's hard to highlight best songs, but for me the outstanding track is "Who Can Compare To You", a gentle song of adoration sung in a delicately understated manner by writer Matt Stinton; "I am undone/For you see all that was and all that will be/Yet you've set your vast affection upon me/By your voice the world was made/Still you call my name" brought a lump to my throat. On top of that, the pure sound of Matt's falsetto bridge passage declaring God's unchanging nature made my hair stand on end! "Jesus We Love You" is a simple, poetic song of adoration led by Paul McClure; it's one of those songs you can't help joining in with and the rich vocal harmonies of the acapella ending are particularly effective. "No Longer Slaves", led by Jonathan Helser, is a simple, wondering song of deliverance, "I've been born again into a family/Your blood flows through my veins...My fears were drowned in perfect love/ You rescued me so I could stand and sing/I am a child of God." If you know Jesus and understand the magnitude of what he has done for you there is such a deeply personal expression of love and adoration in these songs, the opportunity to be alone revelling in his presence for an hour. Having the DVD bundled with the CD makes listening even more immersive, proving the opportunity to appreciate the context and location of the recording and, joining in with the people hanging out on that hillside, my spirit was lifted up in wonder and praise.
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