Album Review :
Kim-Walker Smith And Skyler Smith - Home
Artist: Kim Walker-Smith & Skyler Smith
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 7/16/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Your Voice
- Unstoppable Love
- Face to Face
- Forever Praise
- Christ The Rock
- Beauty of Your Presence
- Oh Beautiful
- Relentless Pursuit
- My One And Only
One of the most distinct vocals and lead singers of internationally renowned worship movement Jesus Culture, Kim Walker-Smith has been ‘the voice’ of the Jesus Culture band for many years, releasing and leading songs like ‘Your Love Never Fails’, ‘You Won’t Relent’, ‘Rooftops’, ‘You Won’t Relent’ and ‘Revelation Song’ throughout her career with this globally renowned and recognised worship movement. Kim’s heartfelt melodies and passionate enthusiasm seen through her years leading worship conferences for Jesus Culture is enough for anyone who loves any musical genre to be at least a little bit interested in her new album Home, this time released as a collection of songs she recorded and sang with her husband, Skyler Smith. Kim’s distinct vocal presence alone is a big factor to what has led Jesus Culture to where it currently is, and Home and the musical and vocal style it possesses is nothing different. Already releasing her 2nd album Still Believe back in January 2013; Kim’s heart for delving deep to commune with the Lord in reflective worship is something to behold. While this album is a departure from the live material both Kim has done in a solo capacity and with Jesus Culture in the past, Home is a collection of songs that remind listeners of the home they long to be in (our heavenly home) as well as reminding us that we shouldn’t take our earthly home for granted just because we know we are travelling to a perfect place. Homes can be something that can be downplayed as we assume that we’ll always have one. The life of a musician, a touring one, can be gruelling, and as Skyler lets listeners of Home know that ‘…we’ve always travelled so much, we’ve known that ‘home’ would have to be wherever we found ourselves…’, we are able to grasp the notion that home is with people and with the Lord, much more so than in a place. A certain purchase if you enjoy modern corporate worship a la Jesus Culture or Bethel Music, Kim and Skyler lead on different tracks as we witness one of the most organic, acoustic and poetic albums being delivered to listeners in 2013 so far.
Presenting a studio recording can have its challenges, more so than a live recording, because of how much production goes into making a record as opposed to recording live on the night. Studio-sounds can be more polished and in some ways, lose a bit of the rawness and authentic nature the live recordings bring. However, Home doesn’t seem to suffer from this, due to the great harmonies between husband and wife, as well as Kim’s powerful vocals that seem to drown out anything that is the slightest bit wrong with the studio recordings. From first track to last, each one tells of the home each one of us longs to be secure in- Christ our Lord and Saviour. Leading 5 tracks and co-leading another 2; Kim’s desire to see lives changed is echoed in each track. With ‘Unstoppable Love’ the first track on the album she sings, we are met with a anthem like introduction with percussion, cymbals and strong drums as Kim declares that ‘…God you pursue me with power and glory, unstoppable Love that never ends…’ Something that needs to be understood, that God longs for us to draw near to Him and that He will pursue us with His love until such a time that we can understand the lengths and sacrifice He chose to bear for us to be with Him; ‘Unstoppable Love’ is a song that will hopefully reach its way to the church in the near future. One of my favourite songs on the album, ‘Unstoppable Love’, full of poetic moments of longing, hope and expectation as we sing along with Kim, declaring God’s unending love for us in the guitar driven bridge of how ‘…no sin, no shame, no past, no pain can separate me from Your love…’ Well done Kim for such a compelling and worshipful song, and one of my favourite on Home!
Both ‘Forever Praise’ and ‘My One And Only’ invite us to proclaim how much God means to us in the acoustically driven and piano focused melodies accordingly. With light acoustic, a keyboard prominent musical backdrop and a heartfelt Kim Walker-Smith vocal, we are met with a song that provides us with great intimate worship as Kim declares that Christ is her one and only, ‘…the king of glory, it’s you I desire here…’ With a build-up in musical instruments in the bridge, we witness one of the rawest and poignant moments of the whole album, with Kim declaring with abandon that ‘…forever, forever, forever praise…’ With acoustic guitars, keyboards, violins and a nice guitar hook, we are swept away to experience a moment of transparent honesty. ‘My One And Only’ on the other hand, though with similar theme to ‘Forever Praise’; is much more subdued, with an acoustic guitar and strings present to portray a call and response technique, with Kim portraying us humans and Skyler singing from the point of view of God. As we hear Skyler’s ethereal vocals remind us that God is ‘…always by your side, for you I live my life to give…’; we are at a moment of either acceptance or defiance as we try to grasp onto the fact that God’s love is much more than we can ever comprehend. A solemn and reflective moment to end the album on, both ‘My One and Only’ and ‘Forever Praise’ bring forth a similar theme- understanding that Christ is everything we ever need, and out of that realisation fervently praising Him like how Kim and Skyler did. With both these songs stand-outs on an album that’s full of moments of spontaneous praise and powerful instrumentation; these two songs bring forth a well-received moment of selfless praise to our King.
‘Christ The Rock’ starts off with a piano riff introduction as Kim delivers a hymn-like melody with lyrical references and elements towards the well-loved hymn ‘The Solid Rock’, and we are met with a song that showcases Kim’s love for Christ the fortress, rock and foundation of our lives; while the country styled musicality of ‘Home’ is something that drew me right to the song ever since first melody and note listened when I heard the song a few days ago. The title track on the album, the song expresses the joy and hope found in Christ and the home we have in His presence that cannot and will not be found elsewhere. The poignant and powerful chorus amidst the light acoustics and nicely harmonised backing vocals is a great highlight, as is the lyrical moments of the chorus too, and how ‘…I have found my home in You, the one that I was made for, I have found my home inside Your love…’ Kim also leads on ‘Relentless Pursuit’, a sombre moment of fervent praise and declaration as the keyboard’s reverbing effects is amplified in a song that throws away inhibition and caution to the wind to deliver a melody that’s certain to find its way in churches soon. As we witness the heartfelt moments in the song of how ‘…I won’t hold anything from You, every part of me I’ve surrendered to You…’; I am able to sing along with Kim, reminded the song’s lyrical similarity to Tim Hughes’s ‘Holding Nothing Back’, and how we are able to witness a great moment of true worship with abandon and adoration.
Skyler also leads some songs on Home, from the acoustic first song ‘Your Voice’, a melody describing how all we want to do is hear the voice of God and press into His presence; to ‘Face to Face’, a song declaring through honest and heartfelt lyrical moments that staying and basking ‘Face-to-face’ in the presence of God is something that we were called to and made to do by God Himself. ‘Beauty of Your Presence’, another Skyler-led song, somehow fails in comparison to the other two, with the music providing us a upbeat song while the lyrics sound at first listen like they could be more suited placed to music at a slower pace. Despite this, the song is still great musically and lyrically when analysed separately, with the song employing strong drum beats, as well as poignant lyrical stanzas about how we should ‘…let the beauty of Your presence rest here in this place, let the power of Your goodness overcome all my weakness…’; but when they are placed together, the song seems to be less stronger than the others. Nevertheless, someone else my find the song pretty great, and as a first listen (and subsequent listens) for me, ‘Beauty of Your Peace’ does a decent job in delivering a 3 minute 7 second melody delving into the theme of letting the Lord’s presence consume every aspect of our lives as we offer it all up to God as a sacrifice of appreciation and thanks.
Overall: Home may not necessarily be the first worship album I would’ve purchased had I have been safe and not inquisitive about this album, but it does provide listeners with some great worship songs that will hopefully find their way to homes and churches soon. Refreshing and vibrant, hopeful and encouraging, both Kim and Skyler have a great ability to deliver songs in poetic and poignant fashion. While I have to be honest and say that the album sadly doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor that moves the rating from a ‘3’ to a ‘4’ (only a few worship albums this year were rating 4 and above, from Carlos Whitaker’s Fight, Joanna Beasley’s Loud Love, Meredith Andrews’s Worth It All and Hillsong UNITED’s Zion to name a few); Kim and Skyler have given their all into this project, and their effort ought to be commended. A must-purchase for any worship album fan who’s been a fan of Bethel and Jesus Culture, Kim’s distinct and heartfelt vocal is something to behold, and while the project as a whole may not have delivered a ‘perfect’ style rating, her vocals is perhaps one of my favourite (in terms of quality) in the Christian worship music industry currently. Full of songs to lament upon and others to join along in upbeat exaltation, Home is going to be a classic in the eyes of many Kim Walker-Smith enthusiasts and modern worship music lovers alike. Well done to both Kim and Skyler for such a poignant and necessary album to convey to us where our home is and forever will be.
RIYL: Passion, Hillsong UNITED, Jesus Culture, Bethel Live
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3