ReVue: Kari Jobe

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l92640840250_7610Welcome to another “ReVue” from TheWorshipCommunity.Com – where we ask several worship leaders to give their thoughts on albums and resources for worshipers.

Kari Jobe:  Kari Jobe (Integrity Music)

For over 13 years, Kari Jobe has been involved with worship groups that have ministered around the world.  In April 2006, she took a position as a Worship Pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake,Texas, where she serves on a regular basis. As a singer/songwriter Kari has written impactful worship songs that congregations sing weekly. Kari’s debut album includes songs co-written with Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Paul Baloche, Klaus Kuehn and Mia Fieldes.

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The ReVue Team

From Kim Bontrager, Director of Worship at First Mennonite Brethren Church, Wichita, KS

I have been a fan of Kari Jobe since first hearing her on live worship recordings from Gateway Church. Her distinctive voice carries some of the most beautiful moments on those projects; her songs focus on the intimate relationship between God and his children. On this solo album, Kari retains these distinctives, but in a context of a studio-produced recording. Of the twelve tracks, four are new arrangements of songs previously released on live worship projects. The new songs retain Kari’s singular focus of creating vehicles of praise; a few would be good to feature as special music in worship, but I don’t see them as great choices for congregational songs. Overall this album is great for personal listening and private worship more than it is a source for corporate worship songs.

From Mike Mahoney, Children’s Network Pastor and worship musician at Gospel Light Community Church, Bridgeport, CT

I don’t have a lot of female artists on my .mp3 player.  That’s just how I roll. I sing in the car and can’t hit soprano parts.  So I was unsure what I was going to get with this album. What I got was a record that is clearly produced to be listened to, not to inspire congregational worship.  In a way, this quiet, thoughtful, contemplative album is the antithesis of Gateway Worship’s big stadium sound – and for the most part, it works.  This record would be great to play during devotional time. In fact, I just might.  Of course, Kari Jobe could sing a Denny’s menu to the tune of Pachelbel’s Canon and it would be worth listening to.  But one thing is clear; Kari Jobe is a worshipper, and lets you hear her heart on this record.

From Joel Klampert, “Music Director, Worship leader, Youth Director, Marketing and Design Guy” at Lifepath Church in Middletown, RI

I have been waiting for this CD for years. Ever since I heard Kari sing with Klaus Kuen and then later with Gateway I have been enthralled with her simple yet powerful voice. The tracks I have from her are some of my most treasured worship songs and I just love sitting with my ipod, volume up to 11, listening and entering into worship with her. So needless to say when I heard that Integrity was signing her as a solo artist I was stoked!

From Chris Vacher, Director of Worship at Orangeville Baptist Church, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

I’m familiar with Kari from ‘Revelation Song’ and this CD does nothing to sway my opinion that she is one of the most talented singers we have heard in a long, long time. Her voice is featured over and over again on this album with really nice songwriting and instrumentation. The production is top-notch, which is no surprise coming from Ed Cash. While everything about this album is very nice, I found myself a little disappointed with the repetitive nature of the songs and the lack of diversity overall from beginning to end.

Track List

1. I’m Singing

Kim:  Good opener, both the tone and the theme of the song.  Sets up Kari’s unwavering focus of praise. Seems like a viable choice for a radio single

Mike:  Clearly the lynchpin of the record. Bright and airy, and easily listenable.

Joel:  This was a major departure from what she has been known to sing, but I love this song. My first listen I wasn’t impressed but I can’t stop singing this song now.

Chris:  This song is a nice opener. Really sets the stage for this CD. The production work on this album starts out fantastic. Nice to see that Kari has had some good co-writers on this project – here with Ed Cash and Chris Tomlin.

2.  Healer

Kim:  First time I’ve heard a studio version of this song. Definitely has a place in congregational worship depending on your church’s view of healing. :) This arrangement seems more accessible for most worship teams than some I’ve heard; it seems to take the emotional edge out of it, but leaves the straight-ahead truth intact.

Mike:  I give props to Kari for including this song, given all the controversy it has generated in the past year.  I truly love her interpretation of this song, which I think is one of the better ones on the record.

Joel:  First off. WOW. I still do this song in my services, but after last year I am surprised they recorded this. I absolutely love her voice on this and it is very close to her Live sound.

Chris:  I remember hearing that Kari was doing this song on her album but forgot until it started playing. As soon as it began, all of the memories of the story surrounding this song came back to my mind. It took me a while to just focus on Kari’s performance but once I did I was reminded of how incredible this song is. Her version of this is beautiful and progresses really nicely from beginning to end. If Integrity plans to push this song to radio, it will be a hit.

3.  Everyone Needs A Little

Kim:  Good hook, a well-produced track. Pulls Kari out of her ‘leader of intimate worship songs’ genre. This is the song that kept playing in my head the day after listening to the entire project.

Mike:  Nice groove with approachable vocals. I like this tune.

Joel:  Again this was not what I expected, but honestly this is my favorite track on the CD. It has a real Sarah Groves feel to it and I love it.

Chris:  Kari’s voice is amazing on this track and is featured so nicely. The melody on the chorus is very sweet and I LOVE the ‘everyone needs a little’ hook. Again, a nice co-write with Ed & Chris.

4.  Joyfully

Kim:  Not a stand-out track for me.

Mike:  Can’t fault a song that echoes Psalm 23.  Nice, easy melody, catchy hook.

Joel:  This has such a 90’s sixpence or Sarah McLachlan feel to it. It is a great song. I am a real sucker for this kind of sound.

Chris:  This is where I really started to notice a similarity with another favourite female singer of mine, Brooke Fraser. Definitely sounds like someone at the label wanted the final product to sound like her. The vocals on this song are way out front – but who am I to argue with Ed Cash?? There were a couple of spots in this song where the lyrics left me a little confused – ‘Your gentle mercy washing over me’ – not sure what that means.

5.  Beautiful

Kim:  New arrangement of a song previously released on a live worship project. This song (not necessarily this arrangement) might translate to corporate worship with the right vocalist and the right set of music/scripture around it. A great example of Kari’s thematic & stylistic focus.

Mike:  Can you co wrong with Paul Baloche as a co-writer? Not on this song.  Great lyrics, and some of the most heartfelt vocals on the album.

Joel:  This is on the last Gateway DVD that I can’t stop playing. This song actually tears me up. I like the live version better, but this song is so amazing.

Chris:  Wow! This is a killer song. This definitely takes the right moment, the right feel, the right voice to pull it off – and Kari does!! I love the production – very airy and dreamy, reflective and worshipful. So layered and so much open space at the same time.

6.  My Beloved

Kim:  Beautiful blend of lyric, melody, instrumentation, and vocal style. This is an intimate love song from God to his children.

Mike:  Tender and sweet.  Beautiful arrangement.

Joel:  This song is on a CFNI CD. It was good then and it still is. Again I think I like her live on this one better though. A beautiful song.

Chris:  If you read my review of Freddy Rogriguez’s album then you know how much I like the romantic lyrics.  I gave this song one listen but that was about as much as I could take.

7.  Singing Over Me

Kim:  Thematically, a brilliant choice to follow ‘My Beloved’.  Unusual perspective about God’s songs never stopping as He sings over us, and that being a catalyst to our faith.

Mike:  Nice, middle-of-the-road pop ballad.

Joel:  This is probably my least favorite on the CD. It just doesn’t work for me. I love the pre-chorus though.

Chris:  I love the vibe on this song. The CD was starting to slow down a little bit but she picks it up here. This girl’s voice never gets old!! Wow.

8.  No Sweeter Name

Kim:  Previously released as a part of a live worship recording (Gateway Worship “Living For You’). A simple, truthful song of praise constructed of two melodic hooks & a bridge. Easily singable for a congregation and allows for flexibility in instrumentation.

Mike:  Another Gateway rehash.  Simple and repetitive. Nice vocal arrangement.

Joel:  Another song from the CFNI days. A very simple worship song. I like this one and it really works with her voice. It is however one of my least favorites on the CD. I think It would sound great as a tag on to another song.

Chris:  All I can think of when I hear this song is that it must have come out of a personal worship time for Kari. Definitely has that vibe to it. I wonder if she’s posted song stories online anywhere? I really like this song but some of the little lifts in the melody line get a bit repetitive.

9.  Be Still

Kim:  A beautiful, sweet song based in scripture; a gentle exhortation to ‘be still’.  The quintessential combination of ethereal vocals & writing that is distinct to Kari.

Mike:  Practically “a capella,” this song brings Kari’s amazing voice to the forefront. Gentle, intimate guitar ballad.

Joel:  The is a great meditative song. It’s great song for your prayer closet. I’ll probably use this one for Holy week. The Cello in it is fantastic.

Chris:  I’m starting to want an epic, rocking song right about now. Kari’s voice is amazing, these songs are nice and the production is impeccable but I’m needing something to hang on to and I’m just not getting it.

10.  Sweep Me Away

Kim:  Not a stand-out song for me, but definitely in keeping with Kari’s signature style.

Mike:  Nice little percussion groove.  Soaring vocals. I could see myself playing this to accompany someone.

Joel:  I really like this song. Something in the production of it though falls flat for me. I’d love to hear this one done live.

Chris:  All I wrote for this one was “Same old, kinda.” Yikes. She’s starting to lose me.

11.  Revelation Song

Kim:  This has become of my favorite corporate worship songs, one that is so powerful it should be used carefully & thoughtfully.  This arrangement explores ethereal tones for much of the song, which sets up Kari’s vocals perfectly and makes the eventual full rhythm of the instrumental bridge even more powerful. That’s where I got chills. :)

Mike:  How many times are we going to hear this song? To me, “Revelation Song” is an anthem, meant to be played big with a lot of dynamics.  The gentleness of this version’s beginning  gives way to a powerful ending far too late in the track for my tastes.

Joel:  To me this is the song that got her the solo deal. It’s such a powerful song. I did not like the simulated bag pipes in the song. To me they messed it up. I think everything else is pretty close to the live version. I love this song.

Chris:  This is the song that people are most familiar with from Kari. The intro off the top is really nice and let people know that this is going to be a bit different than what they are expecting. I love the really simple piano lines on this record – understated and very tasteful. We haven’t done this song yet at my church but I need to change that. Killer words and beautiful melody! The build to the instrumental is a beautiful moment.

12.  You Are For Me

Kim:  This might be my favorite song of those new to me. It’s a beautiful, piano-driven proclamation of God’s love for us. Kari’s raw, emotional vocal artistry is amazing on this song. Reminds me of Nichole Nordeman’s early songs.

Mike:  Wow.  Very heartfelt and powerful.  You can really sense the love she feels from God in this song.

Joel:  This song is ok. The lyrics are great and so is the beautiful string arrangement, but overall this wasn’t my favorite song on the album.

Chris:  Really nice epilogues to the album. Sounds like it’s a personal prayer from Kari straight to God. Really beautiful but, again, more of the same. I’m really wishing there was just one flat out high energy rock song.

Publisher’s Summary

Fred McKinnon, Founder/Publisher of TheWorshipCommunity.Com

As the Publisher of TheWorshipCommunity.Com, I had the privilege of hearing this CD as well.  Our “ReVue” team typically gets one, maybe two good listens before they submit their review.  I originally planned on being one of the “ReVue” writers but time got the best of me.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would review the album after my first couple of listens.  One theme that quickly emerged from listening to this new album was one of personal, intimate worship.  I found myself relating more to Chris’ review, wondering “is there more”.  The laid back, soft, intimate vibe began to lose me.

That was a few weeks ago, yet this CD hasn’t left my player in my car.  There’s something sweet, personal, authentic, and intimate in this worship.  It brings me to the point that I’ve realized – there is a desperate need for this kind of worship in our lives.  In our culture of “lights, camera, action” at church with expensive moving lights, hazers, loud guitars, and rock-star-style performances, we lose sight of that “secret place” where we find an intimate time of soft, tender worship with God.

I would agree that many of the songs featured on Kari’s album are geared to personal worship.  I’ve concluded that this is a great thing.  What an opportunity for individuals to slip away with their iPod and a warm cup of coffee in the mornings and just “rest” in God.  How much stronger would our CORPORATE worship gathering be if our congregants spent some time listening to this music and worshiping along with Kari Jobe in that secret, quiet place of their personal “prayer closets”.  That is my prayer and desire – that this album would touch the lives of individual worshipers, igniting a passion in them for more time in that sweet, peaceful Presence of Almighty God.

Have you given it a listen?  Share your thoughts on Kari Jobe’s “Kari Jobe” release below.



Fred McKinnon is the Founder and Publisher of TheWorshipCommunity.Com. He’s also the Worship Director for St. Simons Community Church, a husband, father of 4 wonderful kids, an e-biz owner, and a self-professed web2.0 addict, blogging at www.fredmckinnon.com.