Filled with elegance, balance, and a crafted lyrical-and-musical prosody, The Garden is high quality in, and because of, its worshipful and artistic foundations. Prayers of proclamation, declaration, confession, hope, and invocation are offered to and about the redeemer of all things and are elevated by the subtle yet beautifully orchestrated electronica styled tones. The Garden is a rich tapestry of prayer, and it’s more than just praise; there is a clear sense of moving through a season of difficulty. But even so, it’s not a place for fixating on the valleys of life. The title track reminds us: “I can see the ivy growing through the wall, ’cause you will stop at nothing to heal my broken soul.”
“This album was written out of experiencing God’s closeness, goodness, and mercy even through a season of great loss for my family,” says Jobe. “He can redeem any situation we are going through. I was reminded of his desire for intimate, real relationship with us like he had originally designed back in Garden of Eden. If we look up and around us, we will realize that God has been tending to the details of our hearts and souls throughout our entire lives. He is much like a gardener, knowing what to prune and what seeds to sow that will grow in due season and be life-giving to us. The Garden is all about seeing the beauty and kindness of God in the midst of the difficulties. He’s not distant or disconnected from our pain; in fact, he’s been right here the whole time, turning ashes into beauty.”
Her last offering, Majestic, was a live album. And this time, it was a good choice to move in a different direction with a follow-up studio project. Where there is a certain power and grandeur to Majestic, here the music is more delicate and nuanced with the swells and tones available in a crafted studio situation. Jeremy Edwardson (Jesus Culture, Hillsong UNITED, Jon Foreman) produced both approaches and his breadth is fully appreciated—this growing partnership between the two is one that promises to bless many in the church. The Garden gathered other worship partners, as well, including her husband and worship leader Cody Carnes, Brooke Fraser Ligertwood, Martin Smith, Jason Ingram, and many others.
The standouts start off with her first radio single, “Heal Our Land,” a song topic certainly on the hearts of many. Because of the diversity of the church, it’s a balancing act to write on this theme, but Jobe’s lilting tones and Sprit invoking words ensure the humble supplication of “Heal Our Land” falls perfectly in line with the gospel: Christ is the answer and the renewal of all creation.
Anyone acquainted with grief can hopefully understand the intimate nature of faith during such seasons, and The Garden absolutely reflects that aspect of worship as well. “Speak to Me” is a prayer/plea for the Word of God to invade a personal need and move us to live for his glory. Then “I Will Sing” is a confession of pain and a request for God’s presence and follow through on his promises to us and concludes with a declaration to praise even when we can’t see a way out of our circumstances.
In “The Cause of Christ” the personal focus moves outward from what we receive in our engagement with the Father to one that spurs action on the part of the worshiper. It’s a song of Sacrifice and hope in the cause that is God’s redemption of the world. Jobe also spends a couple of tracks on covers of Elevation Worship’s “Here as in Heaven” and Jesus Culture’s “Miracles”; the result is a nice take on some powerful songs already impacting the church.
The Garden is accessible and musically forward where song after song the Spirit is heavily present and the power of Christ to be the change that recovers the world is the foundation. This is the gospel, and it is musically rich coming together as sacred art.
One of the best worship albums of 2017 has already been released: Kari Jobe’s The Garden.
Sounds Like: There is a subtle electro-pop grace to this offering. Think Moby meets Kari with all the attention to electronic detail and all the power of Jesus-culture-esque anthemic worship songs.
Most Singable: “The Cause of Christ”
Strongest Biblical Content: “Here as in Heaven”
The Whole Package: “Heal Our Land”
– Jeremy Armstrong