Prime Cuts: Beautiful Love, Ask, More and More
BJ Putnam has a glorious voice. When he sings with his soul-filled tenor he commands attention. And when he croons there is an intimacy that makes his songs breathe with life. Such a voice is vital for a good worship leader. This is why Grammy Award winner Israel Houghton has taken Putnam under his wings. Despite Houghton's busy schedule, he has taken time to co-produceMore and More with Putnam. Houghton not only helped helmed this project, but he even co-wrote four cuts here. Further, Putnam was also invited by Houghton to sing on former Hillsong matriarch Darlene Zschech's latest album "Revealing Jesus." Putnam will tour with Houghton and Zschech this spring. Putnam first rose to attention when he wrote "Eres Asi" for Freddy Roriguez and later contributed the song "More and More" to Houghton's Billboard #1 smash record "Jesus at the Center." Currently, Putnam serves as the worship leader at the Church for the Nations in Phoenix. And More and More is a live worship project recorded at Putnam's church.
The album starts off with a high-octane praise fest or should I say dance fest with the song "Dance." Calling to mind Chiris Tomlin/Martin Smith's "God Great Dance Floor," "Dance" is a Godly romp ready to get the laziest of feet dancing. With swirling electronic grooves and irresistible synth riffs, worship comes alive with "Dance." The electrifying energy goes on a full funk overdrive with "Glorious." With its encompassing God-centered lyrics and a soulful build up to the chorus, "Glorious" has a great congregational vibe that could easily be a worship staple in days to come. Not sure why, there are two songs with the word "beautiful" in them. "Beautiful' lives up to its title.
The ballads here are just as gorgeous. Released on Valentine's Day this year, the lead single "Beautiful Love" (co-written by Jennie Lee Riddle) has one of the most arresting opening lines: "My past was silenced at your command/When my broken heart was healed in the palm of your hand." "Beautiful Love" is a love song to Jesus with a difference. Instead of just painting a rosy picture, Putnam admits that our love is often flawed by sin. Yet the very fact that Christ accepts our love is just grace manifest in its fullest beauty. The electric guitar laden slow burner "Ask" is another poignant piece when Putnam sings: "You say ask and you'll give the world." While "Here for You" continues the stretch of ballads creating a string-laden worship atmosphere that calls to mind Darlene Zschech's (also produced by Houghton) "Magnificent."
Putnam reprises the cut "More and More;" a song he contributed to Houghton's "Jesus at the Center" project. Putnam's rendition runs to over 10 minutes where he takes the time to minister to his congregation (and to us). Don't let the length of the song deter you; the anointing is so powerful that it would be a shamed if it were missed. On the whole, More and More is a well-balanced worship collection that bears all the greatness of the Israel Houghton touch but still allowing Putnam to shine. But more importantly, Jesus is at the center of all the songs, and when Jesus is exalted this way, we can't help but want more and more.