Prime Cuts: Back into Your Arms, Reveal Yourself, You Have Won My Heart
Soulfire Revolution's internationally released debut album "Revival" was a sizzling jaw dropper. How many relatively new artists can actually get Jesus Culture's Kim Walker, TobyMac, and Martin Smith on their album? And with songs like "Count the Stars" and the title cut "Revival," churches have subsequently adopted the songs of Soulfire Revolution as a de rigueur part of Sunday morning worship. "Revival" has thus become a lodestar of a record as far as worship music is concerned. With their sophomore internationally follow-up, they have taken a radical shift away from the glamour and the glitz. Instead of surrounding themselves with a red-carpet of Who's Who, they have decided to make this a solely Soulfire Revolution project. (Though Martin Smith's name does re-surface again as a co-scribe on two of the album's tracks.)
Moreover, with album #2, Soulfire Revolution have partnered with the enterprising DREAM Worship Records, the imprint of other burgeoning acts (Warr Acres, Revive Worship) and veterans (Cindy Cruse Ratcliff & Press Play). Yet, before we delve into a careful exposition of "Afterglow," for the sake of the uninitiated, it's worthwhile saying a word by way of introduction about Soulfire Revolution. Soulfire Revolution is a worship team emerging out of MCA (Mision Carismatica Internacional) in Bogota, Columbia, a church founded by Cesar and Claudia Castellanos. Starting with merely eight worshippers, over the last 30 years, the church has grown to seventy thousand souls.
One thing to note about "Afterglow" is that it shows more depth and dimension compared to their preceding effort. Rather than just riding on the coattails of what's hip and dashing, the team have got deeper in articulating our soul's deepest desires for God and His Kingdom. Though they still adhere to their patented sound of synth-driven pop with lots of elongated beats, what's most surprising about this record is that more than half the tracks here are contemplative ballads. And this is a plus considering that Lorena Castellanos' voice has the versatility to convey both vulnerability and strength conterminously. She's particularly effective on ballads such as "You Have Won My Heart," "Reveal Yourself," and "Back into Your Arms." In fact, if you adore the quieter worship ballads a la Hillsong's "Broken Vessels," you'll fall in love with "Reveal Yourself" on first listen.
Yet, when the beats swirl and the tempo accelerates, lead single "Set the World on Fire" will not only get the disco ball dazzling, but our souls will also be caught up in the worship of God. If you are looking for a song that defies convention, give "Arise" a listen. Merging an acoustic sound with the progressive infiltration of electronic beats, "Arise" is both raw as well as slick at the same time. If there's any criticism, it's that the lyrics of the songs often suffer from a lack of a sustaining metaphor as well as a lack of blatant integration of Scripture. As a result, many of the offerings sound more or less like love song bereft of stronger Biblical echoes directed to God.
Nevertheless, despite such a quibble, the team does go deep to explore and express an array of emotions before God through their engaging and passionate delivery. Worship leaders may do well to take note of tracks such as "Reveal Yourself" and "You Have Won My Heart," they are bound to be the soundtracks of the worship of countless churches in a matter of time.