With this brand new album, Kari Jobe brings heartfelt animation to the word "majestic." "Majestic" is not only the title of her latest live worship album, it's also the titular lifted from one of the songs on the record "How Majestic." But more than that, "Majestic" is also a reference to the historic Majestic Theatre in Dallas, Texas where these songs were first recorded. History buffs would know that the Majestic Theatre was built in 1918 and it was (and still is) the grandest along Dallas' Theatre Row along Elm Street. Over the course of its history, the Majestic Theater housed some of the nation's most memorable acts such as Houdini, Mae West and Bob Hope. Such a historic backdrop certainly adds reason to pick up Jobe's DVD. But more importantly, it is the way Jobe leads worship that leaves one basking in the majestic beauty of the Lord. Just like Kim Walker-Smith and Darlene Zschech, you can sense her heart and devotion pulsating underneath every syllable that comes out of her mellifluous soprano.
Kari Jobe is no stranger to contemporary Christian music. With one Grammy win and three Dove Award nominations, Jobe's debut album made a long jump to the penthouse position of iTunes' Christian chart. Her rendition of "Healer" even crossed over to Billboard's Soft AC chart in 2009. After two full length studio albums, two Spanish-language albums, and an acoustic EP, there's a lacuna that is waiting for Jobe's "Majestic" to fill. Though Jobe is the associate worship pastor of Gateway Church, she has yet to release her own live worship album until now. And with "Majestic" she has enlisted a string of Who's Who in Christian music to assist her in the making of this project. At the helm in the producer's seat is Jeremy Edwardson (Jesus Culture, Bethel Live) and joining her on her scripting note pads are SESAG's Songwriter of the Year Jason Ingram, Hillsongs' Rueben Morgan, Mia Feldes and Marty Sampson, and notable worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Paul Baloche, Chris Tomlin, and Brian & Jenn Johnson.
So, with all the heightened fanfare and name dropping, how do the songs fare? If you are a fan of Jobe's styled of worship that features lots of keyboard riffs and heavy bass line that starts off slow before building up to an explosive climax, then you would be a very happy camper. In this regard, the Rueben Morgan, Kari Jobe and Jason Ingram composed "Always Enough" is top drawer material. Embedded with such variegated emotions, you can feel Jobe's heart as she sings this song of surrender. "Forever" reminds one of Darlene Zschech's "Victor's Crown" (also co-written by Jobe) which also traces the narrative of Jesus all the way from the Cross to his resurrection. Paul Baloche, Jason Ingram and Jobe join hands in penning "Look Upon the Lord" which has a hymn-like chant that is hypnotic.
However, there are three big caveats: first, despite the presence of so many talented co-writers, all the songs seem to canvas the same tempo and style. There's nothing wrong with ballads but to have 13 back to back ballads that run for over 80 minutes is quite a test of one's patience. Second, given that this is a live worship recording, repetitions are unavoidable. But as a piquant reviewer observed, to have the bridge of "Hands to Heaven" repeated 13 (yes, no kidding) times is a tad too indulgent. Third, if this is supposed to be an album made for congregational worship, the hooks of many of these songs are not prominent enough for the average person in the pew to catch on. This means many of the songs lack the sing along quality that is so essential to congregational singing. Further, songs like "When You Walk in the Room" and "I Am Not Alone" sound more like material for a solo performance than for a whole church to sing along to.
"Majestic" has its share of magnificently written ballads sung tenderly and passionately by Jobe, but whether or not this album works well for congregational worship is another issue.