Review: The Loft Sessions by Bethel Music
Thanks to Kim Castro and Mat Reames for sharing their thoughts and insights on Bethel Music’s newest release, The Loft Sessions, which releases today.
Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, and other artists met to create an experimental and authentic worship experience made evident in this latest project, The Loft Sessions. At once moving and original, this work displays the talent and emotion of those wishing to praise the Almighty through music. Worship sessions were recorded in a refurbished loft, and this passionate, driving work shines with creativity.
As a burgeoning pianist, the opening strains of One Thing Remains drew me in like a moth to a flame. The light piano riff sets the tone for a song both cheerful and contemplative. The mix of instruments and voice is wonderful. The song starts strong-it begins with lead vocals and wailing background vocals that are supported by a strong percussion section, then circles back to end with the piano. This song may be somewhat difficult for an inexperienced or “green” worship team, but if well done, is an excellent choice for corporate worship. It is beautiful and compelling.
I love the first person perspective of God’s voice in Come to Me. The strong vocals backed by acoustic guitars, then piano, brings to the worshiper a tone of authenticity. I also like the difference between verse and chorus-verses are rhythmically dancelike, but the chorus is soaring and smooth. I, personally, would love to try this song, a simplified version at least, while leading corporately. I believe it offers a lot in terms of setting an atmosphere of worship. Very thoughtful and lyrically simple, it’s as if God himself is speaking.
Walk In The Promise follows on the heels of Come to Me, and is in every way as strong as the other tracks on this album. This song is very atmospheric and almost touches on an environmental style. It speaks of “hope and healing…with fire and with wind…you fall on us again.” It is a song that implores God to come and fulfill His promises. There is definitely a beseeching tone to the song, and I would recommend this song be used in towards the end of a worship session, as it is emotionally wrenching. The arrangement and quality of voice and instrument is, in my opinion, flawless. It ends with a simple phrase, “We lift you up!” – a fitting way to end.
One of the final tracks on the album is This is What You Do. Upbeat, with acoustic guitars, hand clapping, and a small chorus of voices, this song reminds me of modern folk. It is simple, yet charming. It is a song that invites people to stand and sing, even dance. I love it. The chorus is repetitive, but this definitely adds to the ease of singing along.
“This is what you do, this is what you do…you make me come alive!”
Again, this is a selection that would fit perfectly into a contemporary worship service. Even the most conservative of worshippers will be tapping their feet to this one!
The Loft Sessions, for me, is one of the most enjoyable worship projects yet. Musically, everything is strong. Vocals are almost flawless, and instruments are manipulated beautifully. The recording quality is gorgeous. Overall, a beautiful offering in the world of contemporary worship music.
Kim Castro is a worship leader and songwriter hailing from central California. Her heart is to obey the Great Commission and to serve others as God leads.
The Loft Sessions is a very powerful intimate worship album. A lot of which comes from the smaller intimate setting with only friends and family involved as opposed to a large church night of worship.
This album will really help churches that do not have huge teams with lots of high tech equipment. While this isn’t an acoustic album, it has a much more stripped down feel. The high energy praise songs still show a softer side that almost any team can use. It has a feel at times that reminds me of Benjamin Dunn and friends or Rend Collective Experiment with the liberal use of banjo and xylophone tones.
I loved the song My Dear which just drips with the overflow of love between God and man. The high energy of this song makes it perfect for really getting a congregation on their feet. We all know that it’s a Bethel album so all the songs are for corporate worship and will make their way into church repertoires all over the world. So just assume that fact applies to all the songs. Hunter Thompson really marks his place on the Bethel family with this offering.
You Have Won Me is a song I have heard in live sets at Bethel, but this recording take it to a whole new level. The Benjamin Dunn influence is very strong in this especially in the intro with the banjo and the vocal “Whoa.” I am very excited about this song and now have to go buy a banjo and subsequently learn to play it just for this song.
Newcomer to the Bethel Worship family Stefany Frizzell just breaks out with her song You Know Me. It has a classic feel to it with soft vocals, piano leads with cello undertone. The lyricism in this song just brings me to my knees. This may be her first Bethel outing, but I am eagerly anticipating when she gets to release her own solo album. This must be played in our churches; the passion is palpable in a way few songs have achieved.
I could discuss every song on this album in depth, but I don’t want to spoil all of your fun when you hear the album for yourself, because you know you want it. It’s fresh, its new, and its something spectacular.
It’s a full 5 star album.
The final song This is What You Do is a great song that closes out the album with excitement. Its upbeat with clapping as percussion instead of heavy drums. It is about how God causes us to live. It’s a great ending to a great album.
So go to itunes or your local worship music retailer and get this. If you don’t like it, give it to someone because if you don’t, I know the next guy will. It’s just that good of an album.
Mat Reames is a worship leader at Eagle Rock Church in Lawrence, Kansas and blogs at www.matreames.com.