Bethel Music calls on female vocalists in “Starlight” release
“Starlight’s” passion and powerful lyrics make up for its lack of originality. | Courtesy of Hallels
Over the past couple of years, Bethel Music has risen to the top tier of the contemporary worship music scene. With hits such as “One Thing Remains,” “God I Look to You,” “This is Amazing Grace,” “Closer” and “You Make Me Brave,” Bethel Music has cemented their place as one of the leading contemporary worship groups. After the success of their 2014 album entitled “You Make Me Brave,” Bethel Music follows it up with “Starlight.” Just like “You Make Me Brave,” “Starlight” features all female vocalists, but is unique in that it is Bethel Music’s first album recorded on tour.
the closeness of God
Title track “Starlight,” sung by Amanda Cook, serves as the anthem of the entire record. The song focuses on God’s presence in nature that surrounds his children during every moment of every day. It speaks of an intimate and affectionate closeness that God shares. Cook sings in the chorus, “And there's no heart unseen / There's no space between / You and I / You and I / You are closer than / The very oxygen I'm breathing in / Oh, I breathe You in.” Throughout the album, the songs focus on the closeness of God and how that affects us, even pushes us to love the world.
However, the album has more to offer than just a strong opening track. “Starlight” guest stars the Grammy award-winning Francesca Battistelli singing “There’s No Other Name” and “God I Look to You.” While we have heard the latter before, “There’s No Other Name” is a stirring song about the power of Jesus’ presence and name, even though the chorus can be a little cliche, using lyrics found in other popular songs.
“Extravagant,” sung by Steffany Gretzinger, is another beautiful song about how unbelievable and selfless God’s love is. The chorus thunders with the lyrics, “It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense / We’ll never comprehend, the way you love us / It’s unthinkable, only heaven knows / Just how far you’d go to say you love us.” A highlight of the album, an acoustic version of this song, also appears, which amplifies the emotion and message this song attempts to convey.
The structure of the album remains pretty straightforward. It does not start off with the same kick “You Make Me Brave” did — rather, it eases its way into things. Most of the songs have a similar tempo, making it difficult to distinguish between them if one does not pay attention to the lyrics. There is a noticeable lack of any upbeat praise songs, which were typical of Bethel’s style up until this point.
Musically, the album provides nothing unique. It sounds very similar to their past albums. The record relies on synthesizer and dynamic guitar chords to make the songs more memorable. However, it strikes a pleasant balance with entertaining chords that are not overbearing. Bethel Music features a large cast of talented female vocalists, which gives them no shortage of singers to call upon. One of the best parts of listening to the album while enjoying the graceful yet powerful voices of Amanda Cook, Steffany Gretzinger, Francesca Battistelli and Hannah McClure.
“Starlight” does not quite stack up to its predecessor “You Make Me Brave,” but it focuses on a different message. It depicts themes of God’s love, power and how that affects the listener, transforming them and making them new.