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Rebecca St. James
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WORSHIP GOD (2002)
Worship God - Click to view! I went to watch Spider-Man tonight. What on earth has this got to do with Rebecca St. James and her new CD? Merely this: As I was driving back from the theatre I thought, "So that was a cool movie and all, but what exactly was its significance in the bigger scheme of things?" Now don't get me wrong here, it was top-notch entertainment. It's just that I couldn't help thinking about the insignificance of Spider-Man as a phenomenon in the larger scope of, well, the life, universe and everything. And this is exactly what excites me so much about Rebecca's latest project; here is an artist and an album that knows exactly what it all is about: God.

Rebecca and producer Matt Bronleewe return to her rock roots (after the distinctly techno-pop sounds of Transform) for her own contribution to the Worship scene. When you fist pick it up the cover gives a clear indication of what you can expect from this album: no artist name, no CD title, simply a photo of Rebecca standing with her hands outstretched while the rain falls down.

The first track kicks off on exactly the right note with "Let My Words Be Few" from Matt Redman. Almost the first sound we hear is Rebecca's voice singing "And I stand in awe of you, Jesus / Yes, I stand in awe of You". It is as if Rebecca wants to say right at the start that "I'll let my words be few / Jesus, I am so in love with you". This is a beautiful song excellently performed. And if that isn't enough, Rebecca's voice is also accompanied by a heavenly string arrangement.

The next song, "Song of Love" is one of three worship songs penned by Rebecca and Matt Bronleewe for this record. It is bound to become a worship classic in churches all over the world. Sporting beautiful lyrics and a great tune this song is one of the highlights on the album and one of the best new worship songs I have heard in quite a while (amidst a market flooded with worship music, it has to be said).

Track 3 is the well-known "Breathe" originally from Vineyard UK's Hungry. While the song is well performed, it adds nothing more to the original except for Rebecca's soaring voice. In fact, except for the intro of the track, it sounds remarkably similar to the original (which is not a bad thing).

"Breathe" is followed by another recent worship favourite, "God of Wonders" from the first City On A Hill project. The song is by this time a bit overplayed and over recorded - it has lost some of its sparkle. Still, this is not a bad version, although again nothing new or interesting is added, except for atmospheric guitar work by Matt Bronleewe (who's name seems to pop up everywhere...).

"Lamb of God" is the second of the songs written for this album, and it comes the closest to the sounds of Transform, especially in the intro. In essence it is still a rock song, and a very good one at that. With lyrics that proclaim "Lamb of God / Holy / Lord you are / Holy" set to a powerful tune, this could very well be another worship classic in the making.

"Above All" starts off slower, but builds up to a great climax. Check out the lyrics. "Better is One Day" is another Matt Redman song and a personal favourite. This is a thomping good version. "Quiet You With My Love" is the third original song on the album, and the best track on the entire album. The lyrics come from Zephaniah 3:17: "He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." The amazement comes with the music - this is rock at its best (featuring some great cello music). A truly addictive song (you were warned). "More than the Watchmen" is a simple but remarkably striking song that simply says, "More than the watchmen wait for morning / My soul it waits for you".

The next song is a (pleasant) surprise. It is a recording of that timeless church classic "It Is Well With My Soul" that has gotten the rock treatment. This does not explain why it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, though. The full story is told by the sleeve notes, where Rebecca writes, "I recorded this song on September 11, 2001. While the world reeled at the horror of this day, I sang of God's hope." Do you now understand why I say this album knows what life is all about?

The last track, "You", is the weakest song on the CD, though probably the most expressive. It is still an amazing proclamation of desire for Jesus that can be the anthem of any believer.

A remix of "Omega" from the album Pray is included as a hidden track at the end of the album, something that is somewhat unnecessary. While it is short, the CD as a whole seems complete without this track. It actually detracts a bit from the rest of the album - the musical style does not quite fit in.

This album proves that Rebecca St. James is not only a diva of Christian music, but also a Woman of God, and that indeed is admirable. Her passion and desire for Jesus radiates from every note and every word. Prepare to be amazed. Prepare to truly "Worship God".
- Riko Eksteen
June 2002
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