Prime Cuts: Homecoming (Featuring Gable Price & Cory Asbury), Send Me (Chris Quilala), Back to Life (Featuring Zahriya Zachery)
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Every Bethel Music release is worthy of attention. 2021's release Homecoming (Live) is no exception. It does not take a prophet to predict that latent in this 16-song, there are going to be countless worship classics that are going to be sung across the globe in the years together. This is because most of the songs are not only congregational in its execution, but there is also attention paid to ensure most of their songs are memorable and singable. However, there is a major departure for this album, Brian and Jenn Johnson have taken a back seat. The couple are only featured as lead vocalist on one song each; a shame when the Johnsons are so integral to the face of Bethel Music. In their place, Cory Asbury, Dante Bowe, and Zahriya Zachery are the names that appear on more than one cut.
Let's start with the cream of the crop: Jenn Johnson and Chris Quilala's "Send Me" is exceptionally stunning. Taking the response of the prophet in Isaiah 6 and applying it as a response of our love for Jesus, Jenn Johnson's delivery is heartfelt. Newest Bethel signee Zahriya Zachery makes her debut with "Back to Life." Calling to mind Hillsong's "Praise the Name" and Bethel's own "Goodness of God," "Back to life" utilizes the hymn-like structure to bring out the meaning of what Christ's resurrection does in us. Zachery, who has a booming Gospel-esque voice, gets to duet with Brian Johnson on "Hymn of Heaven." "Hymn," written by Johnson and Phil Wickham, has also been cut by Wickham. Considering that Brian Johnson has only one spot to shine on the record, it is disappointing he chooses a track that has already been recorded.
Not to be missed is the title cut "Homecoming." This pop-centric anthem, written during the pandemic, is a call for the church to come back together rallying around the Cross. Matt Redman appears as a co-songwriter and co-worship leader on "Son of Suffering." The song bears many of Redman's signature chord build-ups and changes which is affecting but not innovative. Bethany Wohrde revives Jeremy Riddle's "All Hail King Jesus." The song has such a memorable and powerful chorus, that worship leaders can hardly go wrong in including this track in their song set.
Taking a break from the big and dynamic, Kristene DiMarco's "Wherever You Lead" is a piano-led and reflective meditation of what it means to follow Jesus. On the more non-descript side is the McClures' "I Belong to Jesus." Emmy Rose's "Standing in Miracles" is much better. The haunting electric piano and Rose's delicate vocals make the song especially endearing. As expected, Homecoming (Live) doesn't disappoint. Though not all the songs are perfect, there's enough here to form the soundscape of worship for both the church and individuals.