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Vibrant Freedom
Posted October 01, 2016
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer

Bethel Music's vibrant ministry continues to see soaring growth, and Jonathan David and Melissa Helser are one of the most recent additions to the family. The North Carolina-based couple are best known for creating "No Longer Slaves," a Dove Award-nominated anthem featured on Bethel Music's 2015 release We Will Not Be Shaken.

For any who have been stirred by "No Longer Slaves," the Helser's new album Beautiful Surrender will provide freeing soul-songs in a similar vein. "You Came (Lazarus)" revels in the joy of a heart that has known resurrection, celebrating simply "You came / I knew that You would come / You sang / My heart, it woke up."

Many of the songs stand in a position of the absolute freedom that comes from surrendering to who God is. "Outrageous Love" is a tender prayer of acceptance of God's overwhelming love, backed by gentle yet intricate instrumentation. Following directly after, "Strength" speaks of what happens when we embrace that love. These integral relational truths are captured beautifully in "Abba (Arms of the Father)" as well, which sings "Closer than the skin on my bones / Closer than the song on my tongue / Your thoughts define me, You're inside me / You are my reality."

Sonically, this project does not stray too far from the sound of recent Bethel albums Have it All and We Will Not Be Shaken, but Jonathan David and Melissa do flavor their music with a little more of a raw and personal edge. The album's first half carries more energy, while the second half tends towards the contemplative. "Find Me," "First Love" and "So Much Grace" seem to hold a hint of influence from the pair's North Carolina home, carried by the collective of musicians who back them (known as Cageless Birds). The strings that surge beneath songs like "Outrageous Love" and "The Gospel" add a beautiful, dreamy texture, an effect also achieved by the slowly searching piano phrases in "Beautiful Jesus." 

The overall auditory landscape, paired with vivid imagery in the lyrics, makes Beautiful Surrender feel musically more like an indie folk-influenced release than most contemporary worship records. The album wraps with the inclusion of a radio version of "No Longer Slaves," serving as a nice reference point and also providing a musically tighter, more upbeat rendition of the powerful track.

The Bottom Line: Beautiful Surrender's thematic hub is the freedom that comes from full surrender to the true Gospel, the fullness of Jesus's love and grace. Those timeless concepts are expressed in often delightfully unexpected ways both musically and lyrically, establishing the Helser's unique and vital role in the Bethel Music worship family.

Song to Download Now:
"You Came (Lazarus)" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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