Album Review: “If The Lord Builds The House” by Hope Darst
- She did not sign with a label until she was thirty-nine. The reason? Hope stays true to her priorities, and she is uncompromising. And that’s reflected in her new album, If The Lord Builds The House.
Hope Darst has followed the road less traveled into the worship music industry. She did not sign with a label until she was thirty-nine. The reason? Hope stays true to her priorities, and she is uncompromising. And that’s reflected in her new album, If The Lord Builds The House.
In this followup to her GMA Dove nominated debut album, Peace Be Still (2020), Hope brings authenticity and conviction. According to those who know her, Hope’s character is marked by humility, and that’s reflected in her songwriting. There is no doubt where she places the genesis for her inspiration, creativity, and success; squarely on the shoulders of God.
As a worship leader at The Belonging Co. Church, Hope is committed to writing and producing music in the context of the church. Writing the album was not easy. Hope said, “I had to dig really deep, and for a long time for new songs. And at the end of 2021, I was ready to quit trying, but I felt God ask me to gather a few of my favorite friends and collaborators and give it one more shot.” The result is an authentic collection of worship songs that reflects her faith.
Hope’s powerful vocals are the foundation of this album, where she addresses struggles, victories, and the realities of her journey of faith. Hope says her goal is to worship God in everything, and states, “I am completely sold out to letting Jesus be the master builder of my life.”
The title track, If The Lord Builds This House, comes out of the gate with heavy drums and airy pads. Her strong alto voice rings out with confident conviction that what God has built, no one can tear down. The bridge pulls straight from Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” In the latter half of the tune, a gospel choir backs Hope over a bluesy piano that lands the song with soul. If The Lord Builds This House sets the stage for the rest of the album.
Honey starts with a simple strummed guitar and an affected piano. The accompaniment remains straight forward, letting the song’s story take the lead. This is one of those times when the musical accompaniment needs to remain subdued to serve the melody and theme of the song. The lyrics reflect Psalms 119:103, where King David is expressing his love for God. Hope takes this scripture and weaves it into the tapestry of an unabashed love song to our savior. Accessible, authentic and heartfelt, this is a powerful song of worship.
Breakthrough’s Coming is a bit of a mixed bag. With a gospel choir, Hammond B3 organ, and grooving rhythm section, the song is fun to listen to. It has abundant energy and draws the listener in, however, the theme of ‘breakthrough’ will resonate with the more charismatic folks, but it will get push-back from the more theologically minded. The lyrics lean into the Word of Faith movement, so some will love this song, some will not.
The production is solid throughout the entire project. The instrumentation stays consistent and conservative. This serves Hope’s purposes most of the time, like on Honey, Coming Back, and Never Walk Alone. But in songs like If The Lord Builds The House, and Breakthrough, there is room for more. A blazing harmonica solo, bluesy guitar line, or creative runs on the Hammond would bring the instrumental elements of the album up to the level of Hope’s vocals.
If The Lord Builds The House is an inspirational project that is well executed and a great listen. This sophomore album continues the upward momentum started with Peace Be Still (2020). Even with what some would consider a late start, Hope says she feels like she is just getting started and you can see that in this offering. With her God centered perspective, we can hope to see more from her in the future.
Her strong alto vocals, composition and authenticity make this a strong offering.
Some songs could shake off the studio veneer and go-for-it!
More from Hope Darst:
Hope Darst on Defining Worship
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Christopher Watson is an author of six books, both fiction and non-fiction. He is also a musician and composer with a B.A. in Music from Azusa Pacific University. For several years Christopher led worship at The Springs Church while attending Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas Texas. He's been involved with worship in a number of churches in California and the Pacific Northwest both as a musician and in production and technology. Now he lives and writes in Washington State with his amazing wife, wonderful daughters, and highly intelligent dog, Ellie Mae.