Artist: Jonathan Seller
Title: Great Exchange
Release Date: 6/26/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- You Reign
- Fully Surrendered
- All I Am
- Great Exchange
- All Glory to God
- For Me
- Come to the Water
- A Little Closer Tonight
- Heaven Home
Independent worship artist Jonathan Seller has surprised me (in a good way!) with his sophomore album release of Great Exchange. Born and raised in Canada and now living in Detroit, Jonathan has been able to open for artists such as Aaron Shust and Matt Maher; having a graduate degree from Moody Bible Institute, as well as Bethel College with his M.A. in Ministry. Now releasing Great Exchange after his debut Love Has a Name, I am able to draw direct parallels between him and fellow artist Jadon Lavik, reminding me so much of his singing and writing style. With hit singles ‘Fully Surrendered’ and ‘You Reign’, Jonathan’s album is a worship musical journey at heart, as we are met with the theme of the Father’s unending love for His children, and how our response ought to be true surrender for the King who gave everything for us to be back in His presence!
Starting off the album is first radio single, ‘You Reign’; showcasing a similar theme to MercyMe’s same-named song on All That is Within Me in 2007. With Jonathan singing from first verse that ‘…I’ve been waiting for the answers to come…’, listeners are hit with a song that relates, showing that there are times in our lives when we don’t know what is going to happen, can’t see what is ahead, but in all our uncertainty, God is longing for us to still trust and praise Him. Translating his worshipful sense into the songs focus, our mindset is shifted from us to God as we drop our worries and waiting when we proclaim His reigning above everything. Using a strong piano undertone and a looping percussion beat, we are given one of the most heartfelt songs on the album as Jonathan sings to the maker of the universe ‘…Lord have Your way…’, and though vulnerable and uncomfortable as we are giving up the control we long to hold onto; we understand that God’s ways are higher than ours, and in the end, His ‘…plans are for my good…’ Congratulations Jonathan for creating a song certain to be sung in churches soon.
Both ‘Great Exchange’ and ‘All I Am’ are candidates is being a potential radio single for Jonathan, with plenty of guitars, keyboards, and gang vocals creating anthemic sounds for these two tracks. Starting off with a reverbing guitar, Jonathan cries out in ‘Great Exchange’ about how ‘…You are Lord and I am not…’ Giving us reassurance that God works everything in our lives, good and bad, to further His kingdom, we are in awe as Jonathan gives us a timely reminder of God’s great exchange, giving up His beloved Son for our freedom. This should never be taken for granted and through this song, I am able to reflect upon how ‘…out of Your grace, I stand humbled and amazed…[about] how You made the great exchange…’ ‘All I Am’ is in response to ‘Great Exchange’, that as we understand His sacrifice for us, we cannot help but give everything that we have, even as a token of our gratitude as we delve deeper in relationship with Christ. Together with soaring guitars and vocals unmistakably similar to Jadon Lavik, Jonathan is able to carve a heartfelt worship offering, from the sinner to the Saviour as we come to realisation that all we are in existence is because of our Father and Saviour. Well done Jonathan for an emotional track!
With a running theme of worship, Jonathan is able to show some of his most personal moments throughout the rest of the 10 track album. ‘Fully Surrendered’ is a ‘breathing-dry-bones-to-life’ type Ezekiel song, where we long for God to ‘…awake the dead that lives in me, in the parts that I don’t see…’ so we can be fully transparent before our Father, giving Him the things we’re struggling with as we are continually renewed to be like Christ. With a massive introduction of guitars into the second verse, Jonathan has created a song that churches will certain latch onto in the near future. ‘All Glory to God’ seems something Tim Hughes would sing, vulnerable and honest, with a piano undertone as Jonathan shows how small we are, and how awesome He is. As we are reminded that though He is God, He still wants to invest in relationship with humankind, we are able to fall on our knees and proclaim ‘…all Glory to God…take what I am, only clay in Your hands and cause me to stand…’
‘Forever’ is a song of adoration to God as we proclaim our intentions to give our praise to Him forever. With a synth and guitar introduction, Jonathan relays that the praise on our hearts and minds should be the most important thing we ought to say to the God who has done everything for us. Plenty of guitars are certain to draw in the rocking listeners as we are met with an invitation to ‘…celebrate Your name…’ The next track, ‘Come To the Water’, is reminiscent of Matthew 11:28, and shows Jonathan’s stripped back musical side as the song employs acoustics and hand claps, a more subdued track as we reflect on God’s promise as we are able to strip everything aside and ‘…come to the water…[knowing] He’s all we need to be satisfied…’ Lastly, Jonathan gives us a reason for us to be followers of Christ in his most personal song, ‘Heaven Home’; with the piano once again the forefront musically. Speaking about someone close to him that has passed away, Jonathan longs for the day that he will see them again in heaven. Understanding that this is not our permanent home, we are given the hope and reassurance that even if we miss our loved ones, we will look forward to when ‘…we will dance to the chorus of Heaven, in the arms of our Saviour, and there we will call heaven home…’ What a fitting song to end an album as we look forward to the eternal prize set before us, giving us encouragement as we move along with our Christian life!
Overall: Worship music has been a forefront in recent months, with albums from Paul Baloche, Bluetree, Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, even new artists Bellarive as well as the annual Passion movement albums. Jonathan Seller’s Great Exchange is worthy enough to stand tall amidst these veterans as we are able to worship along with him to these 10 heartfelt melodies. Certain to be signed to a record deal soon, Jonathan’s honest writing and vulnerable singing has led me to declare this album as one of my favourite of June 2012 (along with Bellarive!). Well done Jonathan for a satisfying worship experience!
RIYL: Chris Tomlin, Jadon Lavik, Starfield, Tim Hughes
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3