Producer: Brent Milligan, Chris Bevins, and Jason Kyle Saetveit
Label: Integrity Music
I am always like a kid at Christmastime when Selah releases new music. They are one of the few true artists in gospel music. Each song they deliver is a brilliant masterpiece of music and vocal delivery, each with it’s own distinct personality. That said, I was a little unsure about this one when I found out they were taking a slightly different direction than the norm. Combining a new record deal, new producers and a new musical direction can either spell disaster or create a magical piece of art. While the Praise & Worship genre isn’t my forte, I went into listening to this with an open mind and before it was over, I was breathing a huge sigh of relief. While it’s a bit edgier and takes them down slightly different musical paths, it’s still “Selah Music” and it is still rooted on a “Firm Foundation”!
The uptempo, “LET THE SAINTS SING” is a joyful proclamation of praise in song to the Lord and leads perfectly into the pop-infused and funky feel of “JESUS IS KING”, which features Todd. Both songs really set the mood for the recording, and you’re ready to hunker down for what else is in store!
Amy steps up to sing the soulful title song, “FIRM FOUNDATION”. With its big choir sound, this powerful song of great faith in these troublesome times reminds us…“when the threat of darkness has come breaking in, and the force of fear blows like a violent wind, when confusion strikes and clouds of chaos hit, I know that my heart cannot be held by circumstance, for my eyes are locked on the God who sees the end, so when this world around me cries out, “Who can stand?”, I know I will not be moved, for my feet are planted in You…a firm foundation, my Solid Rock…”
The tempo gets kicked back up as Todd delivers the goods with the fun and infectious, “ALWAYS GONNA BE” before slowing down as Allan sings, “MY SOUL BE SATISFIED”, which features a bit of an Appalachian feel.
“YET NOT I, BUT THROUGH CHRIST IN ME” features all three members of Selah. A modern hymn, the song is a declaration, “To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus, for my life is wholly bound to His…When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat, yet not I but through Christ in me!”
Amy steps up to sing her own composition, “THE SOUND OF LOVE”, which was co-written with worship leader, Corbin Phillips before Todd steps back up to sing, “I BELONG TO JESUS”, which he co-wrote with Michael Farren and Travis Ryan, and is a highlight of the recording.
Allan, Todd and Amy each take a verse of another modern hymn, “HE WILL HOLD ME FAST”. By the time we get to the final chorus, Amy is belting out the refrain…“He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast, for my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast”.
One of the highlights of the recording is the worshipful, “NO SWEETER NAME”. In a day and time when society seems to be repulsed by the name of Jesus, the song boldly states, “There’s no sweeter name than Jesus…He’s the Savior of my soul, by His blood I am forgiven…there’s no greater name than Jesus, at its mention darkness hides, all creation stands in wonder, and heaven glorifies.”
With it’s haunting violin intro, “BENEDICTION (AS YOU GO)”, is an appropriate closing with a prayer for peace, to go in grace as well as a call to action for the church.
Call me stubborn to change, but there are a couple of elements that are hallmarks of Selah that were missing here…due to Todd’s deep roots as a missionary’s kid from the Congo in Africa, each previous recording has featured a song translated into the Congolese dialect; they also have always included hymns on each recording (granted, I suppose some of the “modern” hymns included here could count); they have always included individual thoughts on each song, usually sharing why they included a certain song, what it means to them, etc. All three are important elements that have always set Selah apart and I missed them here. But make no mistake, the music and the message are still the same. While their 2014 release, You Amaze Us, is the crowning jewel of their career (in my opinion) and my measuring stick, this latest recording ranks as one of their finest efforts and could be viewed as a defining moment in their career; time will tell. It’s edgy, it’s lyrically strong and it vocally showcases Selah in all the right ways.
(stars denote personal favorites)
Let the Saints Sing**
Jesus is King
Always Gonna Be**
My Soul Be Satisfied
Yet not I, But Through Christ in Me**
The Sound of Love
I Belong to Jesus**
He Will Hold Me Fast**
No Sweeter Name**
Benediction (As You Go)**