Prime Cuts: No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus, Remember, Great Assembly
Overall Grade: 4/5
Quietly and without fanfare, Steffany Gretzinger has dropped her debut solo album "Forever Amen" on us. This is her first full-length album since her departure from Bethel Music last year. In the same manner as the way the record was released, the songs (8 newly recorded worship numbers and 1 instrumental) are on the quieter side rifled with lots of slower and contemplative moments. Yet, what's the drawing power of the record is not in the tempo of the songs. Rather, it's the way these songs have a way of drawing us together before the feet of Jesus. In this time of social distancing where many are already feeling the desolation associated with this isolation, this disc presents lots of heart connecting moments with the Savior.
"Remember," the album's leadoff track, sets the tenure for the record. Gently leading us to the Upper Room, "Remember" allows us to re-live the last supper of our Lord again. More intimate moments with Jesus avails in Gretzinger's duet with Gospel artist Chandler Moore "More to Me." However, like most singer-songwriter albums, the track can get a tad too indulgent and tedious. The same can be said of the title track "Forever Amen." Much better is when Gretzinger takes a recess from her piano balladry sound. Case in point being her guitar-driven folkish duet with fellow worship leader Matt Maher, "Center of All History."
The best song the set has to be "No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus." This is not the same as the hymn that shares the same titular. Rather, it's a new piano-ballad co-written by Gretzinger, Jason Ingram, Dante Bowe, and Chandler Moore. Performed with an angelic fragility, Gretzinger sounds so tender and so heartfelt when she sings: His faithful hand has held me all this way/ And when I'm old and grey, and all my days/Are numbered on the earth/Let it be known in You alone my joy was found. The vulnerability of Gretzinger's vocal disposition and the song's well-crafted melodic progression make this song exquisite.
Worthy of a mention is the instrumental "The Olive Grove." This song was written right after the sudden death of Bethel Music's Kalley Heiligenthal's two year-old daughter Olive. Intertwining the haunting violin sounds with the brighter synth riffs, the song conveys the message that God's greater story redemption always intertwine our sometimes morose narratives. And when we know that our story ultimately meets His, life becomes hopeful again.