By Joshua Stevens
‘Behold the Lamb of God’ by Andrew Peterson
From the history of Moses and the Israelites to the birth of Christ, Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” isn’t an album. It’s a Biblical history lesson.
Eight months after the Christian singer/songwriter spoke and performed at Cedarville University, Peterson has released his newest album. It showcases his unique songwriting ability, while also putting a spin on a Christmas classic and other old favorites.
“Behold the Lamb of God” tells a story, and the structure of that story is the album’s biggest strength. The first few tracks highlight Moses’ and the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. When the beautiful instrumental version of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” hits, the album quickly switches its theme to the birth of Christ. It encapsulates important Scriptural moments, and ties it up with a nice bow.
The album is an immersive experience into the mind and soul of a great songwriter. Peterson avoids Christian music clichés by creatively telling stories Christians have known since childhood. The track “So, Long Moses” might be the best example, but there is evidence all over the album that proves Peterson can write a worship song in a new and fresh way.
Peterson also brings in some help on some tracks, and allows the guest artists to completely take over their tracks. The best guest feature is Jess Ray, who fully channels her inner Joni Mitchell on “Passover Us.” Her unique voice and the song’s flow complement each other nicely.
Peterson ably blends several different genres on the album as well. The Old Testament-based songs utilize Middle Eastern influences and instruments, while the fun “Matthew’s Begats” is an undeniably foot-stomping bluegrass tune. But it’s the stripped-down songs with just Peterson, his guitar and a few background vocals that really push this album forward.
While this album has excellent lyrics and instrumentation, it may not be for everyone. It’s a relatively slow-paced album, and does not have some big sing-a-long worship song. Instead, Peterson takes a simpler approach and relies on subtlety instead of a big, powerful anthem.
Overall, “Behold the Lamb of God” is a wonderfully crafted album, showcasing Peterson’s songwriting prowess, sense of structure and creativity.
Josh’s Rating: 8.6
‘Rescue Story’ by Zach Williams
The cover of Zach Williams’ sophomore effort “Rescue Story” displays a cross on a hill, leaving little debate about who the title refers to.
This album is the follow-up to Williams’ 2016 debut “Chain Breaker,” with breakout hits like “Fear is a Liar” and “Old Church Choir.” This project carries forward themes of Jesus’ saving power.
“Rescue Story” is a solid album for fans of pop-contemporary Christian music. There is great lyrical content and messaging on this album, with examples being “There Was Jesus” (his duet with country singer Dolly Parton) and the opening “Walk with You.” The latter delivers probably the best line of the entire album: “In this running with the devil world, I’m gonna walk with you.”
Williams’ vocal delivery also shines on this album. The power and emotion in his voice boost his proclamation of God’s goodness.
Two or three tracks on the album flirt with other genres. The duet with Dolly Parton is an obvious example, with just a little bit of a country sound, due in large part to Parton’s vocals. Two of the better songs on the album, “Slave to Nothing” and “Baptized,” have a bluesy, soulful feel to them, which complements the overarching gospel-pop sound that encompasses the album. This blending of genres keeps the album interesting and distinct from other contemporary Christian sounds.
A few of the songs on this album are inconsistent with the tone. The undeniably groovy yet wildly out-of-place “Stand Up” is jarring, and “Heaven Help Me” lacks the lyrical inspiration of the other songs on the album. These two tracks weigh the album down and hinder its flow.
Besides a couple of outlier tracks that don’t quite work, “Rescue Story” holds up as a good Christian album with deep, theological lyrics, and some great instrumentation and vocal performances.
Josh’s Rating: 6.3
Joshua Stevens is a senior journalism major and sports writer for Cedars. He enjoys rooting for the Tennessee Titans and listening to old-school music.