REVIEW: Kari Jobe – THE GARDEN

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Dove award-winning worship artist, Kari Jobe, returns with her first solo project as both a wife and mother since releasing her live worship album, Majestic, in 2014. After marrying fellow Gateway worship leader, Cody Carnes, later that year – she went on to experiment with a new sound in, Majestic (Revisted). This would serve as a preview of what we could expect to hear in her most recent musical accomplishment, The Garden.

For fans of her earlier years, this may come as a disappointment. While it’s true, The Garden is a clear departure from the pop-driven, soaring anthems that were found on her 2012 Grammy-nominated album, Where I Find You. The goal of this album has not changed from her previous – lifting up the name of Jesus.

Under the influence of producer Jeremy Edwardson (Jesus Culture, Bryan and Katie Torwalt, Hillsong UNITED) and co-writing with artists like Jacob and Amanda Cook of Bethel Music, Brooke Fraser Ligertwood, Martin Smith, Ben Fielding and Jason Ingram, to name a few – what Kari exceeds at accomplishing in The Garden is a cinematic and ethereal worship experience. Both musically and lyrically, the direction is beautifully orchestrated and Christ-centered.

Tracks such as the Hillsong UNITED-esque, “Let Your Glory Fall,” duo with musical hubby, “Closer to Your Heart,” and the radio-friendly, “Lover of My Soul,” are stand-outs for their catchy melodies and worshipful, yet, intimate lyrics.

Also standing out, for their familiarity, are the congregational anthems, “Here as in Heaven” and “Miracles,” both of which were first penned by popular worship bands, Elevation Worship and Jesus Culture, and are a perfect addition to The Garden’s prayer-focused theme.

While many of the songs may not find their way into congregations, they are sure to resonate with listeners. “Fall Afresh” is asking for God to come. “Speak to Me” is written from a posture of listening. And with the state of our world, where divisions and prejudices run rampant, what Kari offers in one particular song is certain to be the prayer of all of our hearts – Lord, “Heal our Land.”

The album starts to get sleepy around the middle, as the songs begin to blend together under a proverbial synth. It kicks back in strong with the congregational anthem, “Oh the Power,” magnifying the gospel and the power found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and follows up with “The Cause of Christ,” a declarative anthem that could be summed up as the “mission statement” of Kari’s life.

But, perhaps the song that will have the most lasting impact on its listeners – or at least, it has for me – is the beautifully crafted title track, “The Garden.”

It’s impossible to listen and fully appreciate, “The Garden,” (both the track and the album) without knowing the painful story behind its birth. After the heartbreaking loss of her sister’s stillborn daughter, James Ivy, Kari – who was four months along carrying their first child, Canyon – was absolutely devastated.

It just shattered my heart. It was so, so hard,” Jobe shares. “It wrecked me—just the weight of unanswered prayers. I was trying to walk in peace when I didn’t feel peaceful and find my rest when my spirit didn’t feel rested.

And then, just like God would have it, He gave her a sign of comfort that only He could prepare. One day, while she was holding her son and looking out the window of their new home – she caught eye of a garden full of thick, green ivy lacing its way around an archway in the backyard. She smiled as she remembered her niece’s namesake.

“Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving. Those seeds were planted years ago for it to be the way that it was that day for me.” she observes. “Something in my spirit started to rustle. Life was coming back. What felt dead in my heart was starting to wake up. It was like I’d been in this place of being numb in my walk with the Lord, but something just started blooming in my heart.

And what bloomed from there, was a collection of beautiful, melodic offerings comprising The Garden.

 

Cassidy Robinson is a singer-songwriter and worship leader at Chets Creek Church in Jacksonville, FL, where her husband, Josh, serves on staff as a campus pastor. She just recently released an EP entitled Storms. She is also a part-time photographer and full-time mom of two little ones.