Prime Cuts: Let It Be Jesus, Wondrous Cross, Freedom Song
Christy Nockels has found her life's calling. Though she has been dabbling in Christian music through various career permutations, "Let It Be Jesus" is her first ever solo live worship album. This record stridently cements her as one of the church's premium worship leaders, escalating her to the lofty heights of female worship stalwarts such as Darlene Zschech, Kim Walker-Smith and Beth Croft. Together with her husband Nathan Nockels, they first came on the music scene when Michael W. Smith invited them to sign on to his recording label. Known as Watermark, the Nockels lovebirds released five albums and they received several Dove Award nominations, including Female Vocalist of the Year for Christy and Producer of the Year for Nathan in 2007. Christy went on to record two solo studio albums both of which scored within the Top 10 of Billboard's Christian Album chart.
It was only when the Nockels moved to Atlanta, GA, when Christy became involved with the Passion Church, where Louie Giglio serves as senior pastor. Ever since 2008, Nockels has been a featured worship leader on Passion's live perennial albums. Nevertheless, what we hear from Nockels were just one or two tracks off an entire live worship experience; it was only a sliver of her magnanimous talent waiting to be unveiled in its entirety. "Let It Be Jesus" garners a few of such performances that have already been released on previous Passion CDs (such as the title cut "Let It Be Jesus" and "My Anchor") and augments it with newly crafted entries. While Nockels has been known for belting out many of Passion's slower worship ballads, album opener "Freedom Song" is a pleasant surprise. Featuring a sundazed disposition with a swirling Samba tilt, the ultra-catchy "Freedom Song" shows us that Nockels can be just as affective on a propulsive number.
Lifted from last year's "Passion: Take It All" album, the title cut "Let It Be Jesus" takes the on Lordship of Jesus and applies it to our raison d'etre. If you ever wonder what it means for Jesus to be "the Alpha and the Omega" of our lives, this worship ballad gives perspicuity: "Let it be Jesus/The first name that I call/Let it be Jesus/My song inside the storm/I'll never need another." File "Wondrous Cross" in the same category as Darlene Zschech/Hillsong's "Worthy is the Lamb" or Chris Tomlin's "At the Cross," the Cross of Jesus gets an unabashed glorification that truly makes the Gospel come alive. "Jesus, Rock of Ages," on the other hand, gets a 70s-rock feel with a chorus that has hooks sinking deep into our consciences.
Never one to just perform for the sake of the house lights and the glamour, "Find Me At the Feet of Jesus" has a touch of broken and vulnerability that adds an affinity of dependence on Jesus when all else seems to fail. However, if there's a tooth to pick, it's that the album is far too heavy on the ballads. Other than "Freedom Song," all the songs here don't really pick up a beat. Such a move only stereotypes the current trend in worship music where women are given mostly the slower songs. Are women's voices so fragile that they can't wail over an electric guitar riff? Are they not agile enough to dance to a barnburner? Other than that, "Let It Be Jesus" is a rich, thoughtful and worship experience led by one of the genre's best female leaders.
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