Shining Bright| Posted May 19, 2015
For The Spark, worship is more than a moment that occurs in a limited Sunday morning timeframe. The group's music grew organically from a lifestyle deeply involved in their local church in Kenosha, WI, and its corresponding School of Worship. Members Chris Marvin, Rosalie Marvin, Nick Kraeuter and Mike Berea have completed several worship albums over the past several years, leading up to 2015's crowd funded Burning Hearts. The group's origins in serving the local church and focusing on both the Word and the movement of the Spirit still hold fast, forming the foundation on which this project is built.
Opener "Burning Hearts" sets the tone for the album with its wide-open musical landscape and lyrics balanced to be powerful both in personal moments of worship and in congregational settings. The bridge lays the thematic groundwork: "I was the broken, I was the orphan / then You revealed Your love / I was awoken. / We are the burning hearts, set apart to shine like stars."
Much of the album is celebratory in tone, focusing on the big picture redemption of Jesus Christ. "Your Love Goes On," which has an electronic vibe and beat-driven structure that reminds of Hillsong Young & Free, is one such anthem, and an album highlight. "Sing Out" also focuses on deep joy in response to His love, suitably backed by upbeat instrumentation.
The Spark also excels however in quieter moments of reflection, in recognizing the presence and praiseworthiness of God in the valleys of life. "When You Call" leans more on acoustic guitar and a gentle melody to offer the reassuring affirmation "when I walk through the valley of dark / I know You're with me. / Under the shadow of death / You are my strength." Similarly, "I Belong to You" is a gentle but determined statement of devotion and longing.
Closing Thoughts: Burning Hearts displays an adept awareness of how to help focus a congregation's voice, a skill that can only be honed through earnest on-the-ground experience in the local church. It's also an extremely rare accomplishment for an independent, grassroots group to be able to achieve massive anthem sounds that could stand shoulder to shoulder with Hillsong alongside reflective, Spirit-driven contemplation reminiscent of Bethel. Somehow The Spark manages to find footing there without feeling pretentious. This release may not have the international awareness surrounding other worship acts, but it would be a mistake to pass this album by.
Song to Download Now:
"Your Love Goes On" (Get it on iTunes here.)