Bellarive (meaning "Beautiful River") has been an independent band for a few years now, but now they have released their debut project with Sparrow Records. The new album The Heartbeat features several of the songs off their independent release The Being Human Project...Start Listening, as it talks about knowing God and wanting heaven to come down on earth.
Immediately, with the album-opener "Heartbeat," the vocals sound comparable to Adam Young's (AKA Owl City). The band speaks of wanting to bask in the presence of God ("I just want to stay here"), and also speaks of "bearing the mark of our Creator." This opening track is very powerful with nice choirs and their acoustic, organic worship, making Bellarive comparable to David Crowder* Band, Rend Collective, or Benjamin Dunn.
"Love Has Found Us" follows, celebrating the love of God that alone can satisfy our heart: "It's so beautiful how only You can satisfy this heart for You will always be the life I need." The track builds very nicely after the chorus, stating elsewhere: "Breathe in deep this love" -- a wonderful message!
"Hope is Calling" is the first of several songs that speaks of how grace is the rhythm that makes our heart beat, followed nicely by the single "Taste of Eternity." It has a nice acoustic feel to it and is therefore very relaxing, as it speaks of how we have a taste of eternity when believers sing together in unity! I agree whole-heartedly with this track's lyrics.
Nice harmonies provide a perfect backing for "Measures of Rest," where we learn that true rest comes from the arms of Christ. I enjoyed how the track comes from the opposite point of view, however, stating "My heart needs to settle down," speaking of the times of stress and anxiety where it is hard to find Jesus' peace that is always waiting for us. An instrumental, simply titled "Sing" concludes "part one" of this album, having a futuristic feel, complete with guitars and glockenspiels.
Part two of Bellarive's debut begins with "The Father's Heart," and "Here We Are," which both speak about finding God's heartbeat and beating along with it. The first is very upbeat with pounding drums, while the latter has a nice piano background and an enjoyable irregular drumbeat.
"Tendons" was honestly my least favorite track on the whole album. It is repetitious and slow, and then features sermon-like talking for the second half of the track. It seemed to rudely interrupt the prayer for God to open our eyes and let us see. This track lost my interest, and I wasn't sure if I was going to appreciate the rest of the album because of it. Thankfully, the last three tracks on the album were good songs.
A gentle prayer that God would shine His light on us, "Shine On" is definitely better than the preceding track, stating: "I've been beaten and bruised/ I've forgotten love/ but Your sunrise glory remains/ we will arise." Really nice harmonies accentuate this section of the song, very glorious (as the song states.)
"I Know You" has beautiful piano, and the album closes with "Stories," an eight-minute track. Speaking of the stories we read of Christ in the Bible and wanting a piece of heaven on earth, the track has a clever line: "Could heaven come down to make room for the least of these?" Some listeners may be annoyed with the duration of the track, but it isn't repetitious and does have many interesting elements that kept my attention throughout the whole thing.
I have to admit, I wasn't very thrilled with Bellarive's The Heartbeat the first listen through. I had read many rave reviews myself and looked forward to something better than what I heard. The second time through, I found many enjoyable elements, particularly the album's predominant message of calling heaven down to earth, living in God's presence at every minute of every day, as well knowing Him so well that we hear His heartbeat and beat along with it. The Heartbeat may not be my favorite release of the year, but it's a great album to add to your collection if you're a fan of the organic worship projects we've been hearing lately from Benjamin Dunn, DCB, Rend Collective Experiment, and the likes.
Release date: June 19, 2012
2. Love Has Found Us
3. Hope is Calling
4. Taste of Eternity
5. Measures of Rest
7. The Father's Heart
8. Here We Are
9. Tendons (The Release)
10. Shine On
11. I Know You