Friday, August 19, 2011

Selah: Hope of the Broken World Review

Selah is well known for their contemporary gospel music, but now the trio is back with their eighth studio album, Hope of the Broken World. Delivering driving worship songs and hope simultaneously, the stunning harmonies and music of this group makes this a wonderful praise and worship project.

Amy’s impressive vocals open up Hope of the Broken World with “On the Mountain.” Speaking of the journey of life in allegorical form, this beautiful upbeat track speaks of finishing our life’s call and getting to heaven: “I’ve been climbing my whole life and I’m only at the bottom of the mountain… though my hands can’t reach it, and my mind can’t comprehend, but my soul is gonna get there one day.” The key changes and switches between Amy and Todd’s awesome vocals made for a perfect opening track. Then, borrowing lyrics from Genesis chapter 1, the title track paints a gorgeous picture of creation and then speaks of who God is: “You are the Dayspring/ You are the Morningstar/ Creation’s splendor speaks of Who You are/ You are salvation/ You are the joy of the earth/ Restoration comes, hope of the broken world.” The bridge of this track was gorgeous, especially as Amy lets out a high background note that harmonizes Todd and Alan’s vocals perfectly.
The gospel track “Shelter Me” showcases Todd Smith’s astounding vocals, in a track based on Psalm 91, speaking of resting in the shelter of the Lord. But honestly, “Coat of Many Colors” didn’t seem to fit in the flow of Hope of the Broken World. A narrative track, Alan sings of a poor mom sowing together pieces of rags of various colors and tells her son the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Though the story wasn’t bad, it just didn’t seem to flow, nor did I particularly care for the music of this track.

“Hold On,” a gorgeous track about how God will hold us through all the storms in our life, was a duet between Amy and Todd, making for a spectacular listen. Amy’s soaring vocals definitely made the track. Following, “ Be Still,” still a slower song features strong guitars that help make this track about staying in God’s presence and receiving restoration a very strong one.

“Moments Like These” speaks of how life flies by too fast, and is a prayer that we will soak in every minute of it, instead of getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. The string backing was absolutely beautiful, and helped add to the serene feel of this track. “I Turn to You,” which follows nicely, sounded remarkably similar to what one would expect from Casting Crowns – strings, strong guitars, sharing of vocals between Todd and Amy, and even a combination for the chorus. This track was simply gorgeous, after which comes Selah’s rendition of “’Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,” which turned out very wonderfully. The group even sings an entire verse in African, harmonies and everything! The acoustic guitars, strings, and of course, the strikingly awesome vocals make this popular hymn come alive for Selah.

“Threshold of Glory” has a classic feel to it, reminding me of Sandi Patty’s smashing hit “Via Delorosa,” building up adrenaline and bursting by the arrival of the chorus. A favorite part for me was the high piano scales added to build the melody. “Look to You,” mostly strings and piano, speaks of looking to God when our strength is gone and we can’t find a way out. Amy’s angelic vocals and interjections from Todd were absolutely perfect for this track, as this peaceful track paves the way for the closing track “When Love Was Slain.” This peaceful, acoustic track was unique in that all three vocalists of Selah chipped in at once. “When Love Was Slain” put a wonderful ending to Hope of the Broken World, speaking of how we were bought with a price and freed from the power of the grave.

Selah’s Hope of the Broken World is a wonderful project. The stunning vocals, amazing lyrics, and mix of praise and worship with country songs make for Selah’s best project yet! This is definitely a project that fans of slower worship music will want to add to their collection, as will long-time fans of Selah.

Rating: 4/5
Release date: August 23, 2011

Track listing:
1. On the Mountain
2. Hope of the Broken World
3. Shelter Me
4. Coat of Many Colors
5. He’ll Hold You
6. Be Still
7. Moments Like These
8. I Turn to You
9. ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus
10. Threshold of Glory
11. Look to You
12. When Love Was Slain

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