Album Review :
Nathan Jess - Love Stands Forever

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Artist: Nathan Jess
Title: Love Stands Forever
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 5/21/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. No Limit to Your Love
  2. Burning Heart
  3. God is Love
  4. Be My Obsession
  5. I Am Redeemed
  6. Lead Me Home
  7. When All Your Mercies
  8. Come Lord Jesus, Quickly Come
  9. Forever And Always
  10. Broken Hallelujah
  11. My Jesus
  12. Prayer

Already toured in 2013 with Rend Collective Experiment, Phil Wickham and Ben Cantelon, as well as earning himself a spot as a supporting artist at the 2013 Big Church Day Out, worship leader Nathan Jess has released his debut album Love Stands Forever, amidst critical and commercial acclaim across many professional reviewer sites. Nathan’s album is the latest to release under the Kingsway/Integrity Music joint label, and as with many albums which release to America from Britain, there is a sense of awe and passion present in an amongst British worship leaders that seems to be lacking amidst the American ones. Not really sure what it is, and I can’t really put my fingers on it, but I guess there’s a reason why Rend Collective Experiment, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, Delirious? (and in turn Martin Smith) and Philippa Hanna are well respected around the world for their heartfelt melodies and anthems. From ‘History Maker’ and ‘I Am Amazing’, to ‘Second Chances’, ‘Happy Day’ and ’10,000 Reasons’; British bands and artists have been succeeding in delivering world-changing and heart-transforming anthems for everyone to listen to, and Nathan Jess’s album Love Stands Forever is of no exception. Released towards the end of May, this collection of 12 songs have a great amount of raw honesty and fervent worship shown by Nathan that propels this album to be one of my favourite worship albums of the year, alongside fellow British artist Martin Smith’s debut album God’s Great Dance Floor Step 01, Meredith Andrews’ Worth It All and Hillsong UNITED’s ZION. From the heartfelt prayer of ‘I Am Redeemed’ to the declaratory first track ‘No Limit to Your Love’, each melody reminds us of God’s closeness and unending love for His creation. With some intimate acoustic guitar moments on a vast majority of the tracks, Love Stands Forever is a perfect gift for someone who adores British music, or loves some sombre and subdued worship melodies to soak into and reflect upon.

‘No Limit to Your Love’ starts the album off in great fashion, and listening to the song for the very first time, I can tell that it’s either going to be a radio single in the near future, one of my favourite songs from Love Stands Forever, or maybe even both. With the concept and message of the song reminding us that God’s love knows no end, we are met with the continually repeated phrase of how there’s ‘…no limit to Your love and grace…’ and some nicely choreographed percussion and light acoustics, with an ability to draw people into this anthem that builds up to invite in more instrumentation part-way through the song. A great start to an album that echoes the emphasis and theme of the first track, ‘No Limit to Your Love’ incorporates the album title within the song, as we are reminded that love stands forever, and that as God is love and love within us, Christ stands forever faithful towards us and in us, as we live our lives with Christ’s love overflowing within us, just bursting to escape and permeate whoever we meet. ‘Burning Heart’ follows on from the album-opener, and reminds myself thematically like Jesus Culture’s ‘Burning Ones’. As Nathan cries out to God ‘…we are Your burning heart…all for Your glory here, Lord let Your fire fall, God let Your kingdom come…’, we are invited to hear some of the most honest words sung on the entire record. As we realise that it is when we lay down our own ambitions and inhibitions that we can truly find freedom, peace and hope as Christ begins a work in us and uses us for our good and His glory; we too can sing along with Nathan, giving thanks that He has made us a heart that longs and burns for Him and His presence. A worship song that will hopefully be sung in churches in months to come, ‘Burning Heart’, alongside ‘No Limit to Your Love’, anchor the album and pave the way to bring to life moments of hope, awe and wonder as we rejoice alongside Nathan and remind ourselves and others that love indeed stands forever.

Throughout the rest of the album, the central theme of Christ being exalted and declared worthy to stand above all other is echoed through ever song succeeding ‘No Limit to Your Love’ and ‘Burning Hearts’. ‘God is Love’ is the first radio single from the album, and is presented with light acoustics, hand claps, xylophones and a mesmerising and powerful choir to portray the theme of how ‘…there is no one stronger than our God, You love it overcomes and heals my broken heart…’ At times sounding like David Leonard from All Sons and Daughters, Nathan uses a lot of keyboard prominent sounds and percussion instruments to create a symphonic feel in many of his songs (‘God is Love’ included), and while many listeners of contemporary pop or electric guitar infused melodies may have quite of an adjustment in terms of listening to the track and the album as a whole; the poignant words ought to overcome preconceived ideas of what the album should be. ‘I Am Redeemed’ is another single-like song that tells the tale of God’s sacrifice to us and presents the truth that ‘…there is no greater love than this…’ Immediately reminding myself of Jason Ingram when he started to sing ‘I Am Redeemed’; this 4 minute 47 second track delves into a melody that ‘…proclaims our redemption, boldly and confidently that we know our King who came and gave Himself up so that we can know Him. That is the real identifiable part of the song, simply singing hallelujah and rejoicing over that…’ Something simple yet so profound; ‘I Am Redeemed’ ought to be a song heard by many longing for intimate worship or even others who just want to dive deeper in relationship with Christ on a regular and daily basis. Also touching on themes like us longing for God to be our obsession and affection through the eerily refreshing electric guitar reverb sounds in ‘Be My Obsession’, as well as reminding us that even when all God’s mercies are refrained from being given to us, He will still be praised (‘When All Your Mercies’); Nathan’s talent to describe everyday issues in relatable lyrics and soothing musical undertones highlights a great quality about the album.

From ballads to rousing anthems, fans of British music and worship music will feel at home listening to Love Stands Forever, and while these songs may take some time before they are well known because of the unfamiliarity of Nathan’s music within the Christian worship music industry; the album still delivers sonically and lyrically as we are challenged to live our lives solely for Christ. ‘Come Lord Jesus, Quickly Come’ is presented with light acoustic guitars and a heartfelt prayer for God’s presence to come and manifest amongst us and remind us of His unending love and mercy, while ‘Forever and Always’ is an acoustic ballad with a Celtic-style edge complete with recorders that reminds us that God has stayed with us even if we could wonder away just like the prodigal son. Humble and vulnerable, Nathan shows us that even if we may stray from our maker, His love covers everything that we have done, and that He is with us always, and forevermore. Ending the album with ‘My Jesus’ and ‘Prayer’; both these songs encapsulate the heartfelt cry of Nathan as he longs for God and His love beyond anything else. Despite most of the fervently upbeat songs towards the beginning of the album, it is in the stripped-down moments of these last two songs that Nathan opens up and unveils his true heart and soul through song, as we witness a humble experience hopefully destined to change whoever who listens. Well done Nathan for such album-enders full of heart, soul, passion, emotion and hopeful promise as we witness melodies that finish on the same note as the first- declaring whole heartedly that we cannot live without the love of Christ and empowerment of His peace and encouragement upon us!

Overall: Nathan Jess is a welcomed addition to the Integrity Music roster, and while his name may not be famous, after Love Stands Forever, I’m sure many other listeners and critics alike will sit up and take notice. With his music reminding myself personally of music by similar artists like All Sons and Daughters, The City Harmonic and Rend Collective Experiment; fans of either of these artists will love Nathan Jess and his acoustic-folk worship style music. Another album that’s certain to be a highlight of mine that has released in May 2013, Nathan’s heart for writing songs for the church is something that will become crucial and central in the months ahead, with many churches longing for new and fresh melodies, biblically sound and easy to remember and learn. From the hit songs ‘God is Love’ and ‘No Limit to Your Love’; Nathan depicts a message of love and grace shown to be one of the most difficult yet equally reward tasks undertaken by God, and something us humans somewhat downplay as we struggle in this world in whatever we do. A collection of melodies that can minister to the listener regardless of their own musical preference, well done Nathan for such a compelling and encouraging album, and something to listen to on repeat basis in weeks and months ahead!

RIYL: All Sons and Daughters, Rend Collective Experiment, One Sonic Society, The City Harmonic

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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