|Solid Modern Worship | Posted January 24, 2012
With his album Forevermore, Jon Bauer makes his American debut. But this Canadian Modern Worship artist is no newcomer to the music world. Prior to Forevermore, he released four CDs in Canada, and in 2008 was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the Canadian Gospel Music Association. For help with his introduction to American listeners, Bauer enlisted popular producer Rusty Varenkamp.
Bauer opens with "Our God." A guitar riff and drum hook begins the song with energy, but the lyrics aren't original enough for the song to be particularly memorable. So the catchy riff and "Oh, Oh, Oh" vocal stand alone as my favorite part of the song.
The second song, "Light of Another World," might have served as a better opener. This minor-key gem feels more inspired and is more compelling. Written from the point of view of a believer praying, "Jesus, help me search for answers in a world that's not my home," the song touches on what Heaven will be like, reminding us that this world is our temporary home. Fans of mid-tempo offerings from Jeremy Camp and Kutless will delight in this track.
"Come and Save Us" brings the tempo back up. Here the verses present different adjectives and descriptive phrases for Jesus (Glorious, Marvelous, Infinite, Merciful King of Love, God of Grace, Wounded Healer), while the chorus is a hopeful entreaty to Jesus to return and save us. Though commercial and easy to listen to, the track is not as lyrically memorable as the slower "Beautiful Name" which offers up the nice line: "There is a name that we can call on and whisper through the roar."
Although "Chasing After Me" sits in the middle of the record, it's the highpoint and the song you'll not want to miss. A poppy, bouncy ukulele tune à la Jason Mraz or Francesca Battistelli, Bauer sings alongside songstress and fellow Canadian, Laurell. The pair brings genuine energy on this loose, joyous ditty about a God who pursues us: "There's nowhere I could ever hide 'cause you keep coming / Your love is chasing after me / And I don't know what I've been running from."
Next, Bauer reminds his listeners that Jesus is "A Prayer Away." While the production is polished and prime for radio, this song may been more effective had Bauer chosen to present it stripped down. The more intimate "Fall Over Me" which follows is produced more lightly, allowing Bauer's gentle vocals to shine on this prayerful number as he confesses, "Lord, I'm on my knees / I need your love to fall over me."
Title track "Forevermore" begins spare and open, allowing the words to come to the foreground. The atmospheric production is a good lyrical accompaniment as Bauer sings: "to the One who carved oceans with His hand / to the One who gave His life to ransom man/ Be blessing and honor and glory and power/ Forevermore." The song builds before finishing with a chorus singing to a full band-backing. This Chris Tomlin-style anthem should earn Bauer steady radio play.
As Forevermore wraps up, Bauer gets contemplative with "Life of Worship" in which he pledges to worship God, not just through song, but with his life. The CD concludes with an energetic rendition of Paul Baloche's "Hosanna" that stands out as one of the album's strongest cuts. This is a great closer.
While the familiar sounds on Forevermore will find favor with many fans of modern worship, the album may be a little lackluster for those looking for something new and different. More consistency and originality in the lyrics, as well as a little more variety in tempo, could have produced a stronger record. Highlights are "Light of Another World", "Beautiful Name", "Chasing After Me" and "Hosanna."
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