One Man In The Middle brings you regular, unbiased and honest reviews of music albums and EPs from Christian artists and musicians in the UK and worldwide. Here we have The Garden by Kari Jobe with an overall review score of 8.1 out of 10.
It’s said for everything there is a season. Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. One by one, we experience these seasons throughout our lives. Our souls grow dark and weary in the thick of winter, and just when we think we can’t endure another cold night, we recognize the first signs of spring. Slow and unexpected, welcome shades of green break through the frozen ground.
Sometimes our Creator uses His own creation to remind us that even amidst winter’s chill He is always at work. For it’s in the unseen where life’s most beautiful moments take shape. Worship leader Kari Jobe knows this to be true in her own life, and on her fourth album, The Garden (Capitol CMG), she invites listeners to drink of the wellspring of hope she’s found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.
It’s been a while since I have written anything so what better way to re-start than with the very familiar Kari Jobe. Only it’s not quite the Kari that we are used to! “The Garden” is Kari’s 5th studio project, but I think this is a new Kari that we are seeing with this release. Gone are the overly pop-infused songs and we find a more reflective, and more mature sound, on this album.
“The Garden” opens with the title track and this is a great track straight out of the box. There is a story behind this song which relates to something that Kari and her family had to walk through. Her sister had a still-born baby at 7 1/2 months pregnant – as you can imagine this is a heartbreaking situation, if you have ever been in that situation you will be familiar with the despair and lack of hope that can settle in. It settled on Kari but then she looked out at her backyard and was inspired that in all God could turn the situation to good and use it for His purpose, even when we can’t see it.
“The Garden” is a very atmospheric track, there is a lot of soft instrumental and also atmospheric effects laid over the vocals. It’s a far cry from those pop-infused tracks that you might be looking for from Kari. This pretty much the case throughout the album, a lot of echo and ambience, there are some sections that move a little faster, but as a whole and as a concept this album loses itself in it’s own sound – and sometimes it is hard to really make any distinction between one track and another. Kari’s voice is as fantastic as ever but gets a little bit indistinct and lost behind some of those aforementioned effects at times.
There are a couple of tracks that do stand out on this mainly original collection. “Speak To Me” is one of the best moments on the album. It’s 8 minutes of passionate pleas for God to speak to us. Reminiscent of that story of Samuel as a boy in the temple asking God to speak, this track allows us to dwell in the moment and wait for God to speak. This is a moment made for personal worship.
There are some strong individual tracks for personal worship, another highlight is the romantic worship track, “Lover Of My Soul” which really delves into something of the intimacy with which God loves us. Speaking of an intimacy, another track that has this theme is “Closer To Your Heart” which features a duet with her husband Cody Carnes and this is a natural progression for this couple who worked together for a number of years prior to getting engaged and then married the same year.
The album as an overall concept feels a little over-produced and if I hadn’t been listening to it over and over in the last few weeks then I probably would have written it off, but there are some excellent individual tracks and moments on this release. I still feel that there could have been less production and I, for one, would have appreciated a more raw sound on this album. If you are just picking up individual tracks then they sit better than the full album.