Prime Cuts: Deep and Wide, Costly, Song of the Lamb
Overall Grade: 4/5
Harvest or Harvest Parker is a worship artist who colors outside the lines. Her songs are messy, eclectic, unpredictable, and genre-bending but they certainly feed a lacuna in worship music today. For those who are tired of those stadium-filling sounds with those trite "I love you Jesus" platitudes, will find "Preachers" a much needed breath of fresh air. Calling to mind a post "wrecking ball" Emmylou Harris and a more introspective Rend Collective, Harvest incorporates hues of grunge rock, string orchestration, folk-balladry, country, pop, and deep Southern Gospel into her sonic palette. The resulting sound is definitely messy but it's artful, poetic, raw, honest, and most importantly, it gets into our psyche challenging us to greater holiness through her piercing lyrics.
Harvest brings in her brother and worship leader Daniel Bashta (known for his hit "Like a Lion") to handle the production chores. While Bashta's own records adopts a more aggressive rock demeanour, her sister's effort is more subdued. Title cut "Preachers" sounds like a track submitted for the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. Mysterious, penetrating and drenched in the muddy waters of New Orleans mash, "Preachers" is a haunting cry for men and women to step up for our faith. Featuring strings and piano by the Brilliance, "Anchor" is a slow and pensive ballad of prayer for God's abiding presence in the midst of our storms.
"Deep and Wide" has a sepia-tone gloss to it. In a creative collage of both the past and the present, Harvest deftly integrates the lyrics of the hymn "There is a Fountain" into this self-composed hymn-like reflection of God's forgiveness and mercy. "Song of the Lamb" is a lyrical masterpiece. Few, if any songwriter, ever pay attention to the passages from Revelation of how sufferings and worship interact. Moreover, this is one of Harvest's most emotionally intense pieces where she lets her emotions out in affecting proportions. "Costly" is a somber reflection of Christ's sacrifice and how our sacrifices pales in comparison to Jesus'.
While Harvest has a hand in co-writing or writing 7 out of the 8 cuts, she saves one spot for her beloved brother. "Pursuit," written by Daniel Bashta, is more in line with most of the worship songs out there. Though Harvest is a careful and thoughtful writer, perhaps the only drawback for this record is its utility. If Harvest has the church in mind, many of these songs may be too nebulous in its melodic structures for the average congregant to catch on. And if you do not want to take the time to invest in listening, these songs may not be as accessible or as engaging. In short, this is a deep and meaningful record that requires time for the listener to ruminate and digest.