Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kari Jobe's The Garden CD Release
I was recently given the opportunity to review Kari Jobi's new CD, The Garden Deluxe Edition, I was excited to review this as I had greatly enjoyed her previous work, Majestic. It was eclectic, up beat and something I wouldn't mind listening to over and over. So it was with excitement I listened to The Garden.

The Garden Deluxe Edition starts off quite nicely, albeit a bit too much electronic music for me. I understand that is a stylistic issue which one either likes or doesn't but there is a definite worship style within the style that has been built on her experience as a worship leader. It was her work within the Christian market that ultimately had her being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Album and 4 nominations for the Christian version, The Dove Awards of which she won 3 Doves.

In my experience with Christian music from both a reviewer since the early 1980's and with working in the music industry since that time there is definitely a place for the Christian audience and The Garden will appeal to that audience. It has some great worship tunes that are easy to listen to and can easily lead one into an attitude of worship. As to a non Christian or non follower of Jesus, the project will be something they don't quite get as it is most definitely a project specifically directed towards the Christian audience, it is if you will a Christineeze (speaking in the language primarily only Christians understand) project. I don't blame Jobi for that, she and her handlers most likely understand this is her market. There are other artist however, like Mary Kathryn who have taken on this role but the music keeps the attention and the vocal variations for the non Christian audience can be entertaining. In that regard Jobi's project is a bit lacking.

www.thevirtualpew.comI found myself experiencing a bit of monotony as I listened to this CD a number of times. That feeling was supported by others who listened with me with comments like "I like the songs, but after awhile it all sound the same."  That has me at a strange place as I review this project, while I am a fan, one that loves her previous work, I find myself loving two or three songs at a time but after that, so it sounds so much alike. I think this is for a variety of reasons. The project seems to be heavily driven by electronics and studio effects along with the same vocal and musical styles. I personally prefer that live sound, feeling and variety included in the production and mixing process. I just don't feel that, in some ways it falls as short for me as another artist I love, Amy Grant, whose electronic remix of her hits was somewhat of a travesty.  While The Garden is a ways from being a travesty, it is quite good with highlights in individual songs, it is just repetitive and in my opinion not her best work.

I think the CD will do quite well because each song on its own is quite nice and acceptable for radio air play but accumulatively, as a whole, it falls short for me and those who listened to it as a collective with me agreed. Again, please understand, not because it is bad, it is just so repetitive.

www.thevirtualpew.comI know there are Christians as mentioned earlier who have excelled in the worship style who have found a way to draw in the non-Christian listener. This is a great thing to work towards as I believe this also allows the non-Christian to get a taste of what following Jesus is all about. One can see and hear a sincerity in the music, lyrics, and yes, delivery of the song. Jobe does a great job, but the non-Christian listener is one I believe who also needs more instead of less in some regards. King David is a perfect example in his writings of the Psalm's. Many around the world, even those from varying faith groups read and memorize those passages because they hold so true to the things in life they are going through. For many, the agony, difficulty and hard times is as much a part of the worship experience as the "Praise God" concepts are for others. Unfortunately, we focus within Christendom sometimes more on the "Praise God" parts and entertainment aspect for each other than we do with an understanding of those hurting, even Christians, often surrounding us. It is for this reason, among others, that I would have preferred more than I got. 

On a scale of 1 - 10, I just found this CD to unfortunately be somewhat mediocre, so for that reason, I given a mediocre 5.

To hear a sample of the album, click on the video below, if the video doesn't appear, click on the link.

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