Posted March 22, 2017
By PhillFeltham_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Worship leaders such as Paul Baloche and Darlene Zschech have paved the way for many of today's musicians. Their peer and music veteran Rita Springer is no different, leaving her influence on many of today's worship leaders. In recent years, Springer has experienced a number of setbacks, resulting in losing the original recordings of her previous 2011 album The Playlist. Springer was fine with just helping up and coming artists hone their craft, never recording a new album--but God had different plans.
In 2014, once again she found herself back in the studio recording a new album. Springer used her tough experiences as the backdrop for her latest effort, Battles, which features new material with collaborations with songwriters such as Kalley Heiligenthal from Bethel Music, David and Nicole Binion from Covenant Worship and Mia Fieldes from Hillsong.
The album's title track opens the new collection of songs with a fresh, vibrant sound, continuing it on the subsequent piece "I Believe in You." The song opens in dramatic fashion and then segues into a radio-friendly pop tune once Springer's signature raspy vocals chime in.
"Never Lost" is by far the album standout, a fantastic anthem that rallies listeners to stand on their feet and raise their hands in worship. Springer's vocals are genuine, singing praise with complete reverence: "Jesus defeated the darkness, he has never lost the battle."
Springer shifts gears on "Defender," a sensitive duet between the singer and her piano, evoking a sense of intimacy. Battles is a live recording, which means that audience applause is commonplace throughout the album. Audiences at a concert can experience the music's intimacy with all the senses; however, the album listener must use only their ear to properly connect with the music. The applause can stop the listener from connecting with the song on an intimate level, which is unfortunately the case in "Defender." On the song however, the background vocals flow beautifully with Springer's voice.
On the first-half of the album the instrumentation is varied, which is evident on "Our God is With Us," keeping the listener glued to the music. The latter half of the album falls into a repetitious formula--with the exception of "It's Okay"--which causes some ear and mind fatigue. Many of the songs also sound so close to a Bethel Music or Lauren Daigle collection that at times it is hard to tell the difference.
The Bottom Line: Overall, Battles is a welcome musical experience. Rita Springer is, without a shadow of the doubt, a pioneer in the modern worship field. She helped establish the Daigle and Bethel sound, which contributes to the strong similarities. It is a plus that she collaborated with some of today's songwriters to keep her sound fresh. Springer deserves an applause for a solid album that connects the listener to the Master of the Universe. However, unfortunately the similarities to others often eclipse the unique nuances in Springer's work. She will have to evolve her sound in order to truly transcend her contemporaries.
Song to Download Now:
"Never Lost" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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