Prime Cuts: Should Have Been Mine, Brother (Featuring TobyMac), Great Are You Lord
Historically, Integrity Music has always chartered for congregational worship via albums produced by megachurches (Planetshakers, Hillsong) or prominent internationally renowned worship leaders (Darlene Zschech, Paul Baloche). Rarely have they taken a fancy for more "individualistic" artists unless they are extremely sublime. Case in point being the recent signings of the Brilliance and All Sons and Daughters. Add to this prestigious tally is Seth and Nirva. The couple are not actually newbies as far as Christian music is concerned. Nirva was a member of the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers and has also been a featured vocalist with such artists as Mandisa, Natalie Grant and Nicole C. Mullen, among many others. Seth, on the other hand, began his singing career with Gospel music guru Kirk Franklin. Seth's vocal talent has also supported the likes of Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans and Chris Tomlin, among others.
Produced by Bryan Fowler (tobyMac, Aaron Shust) and featuring song writing collaborations with Michael Farren ("Let It Rain"), Mia Fields ("Savior King"), Jacob Sooter, Israel Houghton, tobyMac, Victor Oquendo and BJ Putnam, Seth & Nirva's faith-empowering "Never Alone" picks up where their 2013 EP "I Need You" left off. For starters, the first thing to say about "Never Alone" is that Seth and Nirva are not locked in to any style of worship. Album opener "You Are in Control" is a slice of delicious pop with its skittering drum beat and a hooky chorus. "Pour It Out," on the other hand, has a brassy-horns-led Motown R&B feel where Nirva croons with a Diana Ross-esque lilt over a Jesus-exalting words.
Those who hunger for more traditional congregation worship would love the couple's take of All Sons and Daughters' "Great Are You Lord." Bringing in a tingle of reggae in the song's bridge, Seth and Nirva certainly add signature to this beloved worship ballad. Nirva makes a bull's eye for the heart of the Gospel with the beautiful "Should Have Been Mine," a Biblically informed exposition of Jesus and his sacrifice. Labelmate Brilliance's "Brother" where the couple sings in tandem with former boss TobyMac is another highlight. "Brother" is quickly become a modern day worship classic that speaks of how Christ revolutionizes our relationships, including how we need to forgive like Christ forgives us. Seth and Nirva's deliveries are just spot on: measuredly restrain yet poignantly nuanced.
"We Won't Back Down," on the other hand, is an ear-opener. Utilizing a pulsating EDM drumline, "We Won't Back Down," though not perfect melodically or lyrically, is the couple's foray into electronica. Much better is the title cut "Never Alone" which is meeting of a trio of musical streams: atmospheric balladry, R&B, and rap. "Never Alone" is not your typical Gospel or Christian album. It's a potpourri of styles, influences, and traditions undergirding well-crafted and God-centered lyrics.