Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Steph has an amazing testimony of God's gracious deliverance in his life and the themes of redemption and thankfulness that permeated his previous album, 'Light In The Darkest Of Nights', continue in his very personal songwriting here on this digital only release. From the outset it's clear that these are not just songs, they are living stories of grace in the life of a sinner, and you feel Steph's heart is being poured out. He again covers a range of styles, so he can't easily be pigeonholed, but he reminds me of both Michael Card and Chris Rice. "My Father catches me no matter how fast I'm falling" kicks off, a quiet, emotive piano, acoustic guitar and vocal meditation on God's goodness. The easy country rock feel of "Lightbeams" takes us into a celebration of the freedom that Jesus brings, where "I can hear your heartbeat beckoning me and everything glows." The acoustic folk "Jesus is Lord, Lord of my heart, Lord of my soul" is a beautiful, simple song of surrender with rich vocal harmonies and rich finger-picked guitar. "Immanuel" is an uplifting celebratory rock track with resonances of Runrig, boldly declaring "We march forward in the name of Jesus/Immanuel, God is with us/We will cry the name of love, the name so high and far above any other." It seems a bit lacking on the bottom end though in terms of the mix. A passionate, personal perspective on "The Passion" closes the CD, covering Jesus' death and resurrection as "an act of love such as the world has never seen" with the result that "now I know life." Steph is highly accomplished guitarist and his playing is faultless, the musical arrangements are well crafted and well balanced, and his rich, resonant voice well suits his style, although there is some harshness in tone in the high sections of the last track which could perhaps be smoothed a little. This is a brilliant collection of songs, and I am left wanting more than five!
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