Release Date: July 10th 2012 U.S /August 28th 2011 internationally
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Katie Gustafson- Introducing Katie Gustafson EP (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
With songs “Isaiah 55” and “Be Still My Soul” covered by Sixpence None The Richer’s Leigh Nash, Integrity Music has unveiled the debut EP of Alabama singer songwriter Katie Gustafson on July 10th to the U.S. market. Releasing to the international market in August of 2011; from listening to this humble and short EP from this up and coming young artist a number of times, I can safely say that Katie, a trained therapist, will take the CCM and worship market by storm in the next couple of years. With a diverse array of genres encompassed in this vertical worship experience to God; this digital EP is not to be missed.
“Isaiah 55” is the opener, and it is fun to watch the captivating music video, with Katie playing multiple instruments, on top of singing; in the same studio! This video probably took months to shoot! This song is inspired straight from Isaiah, and is one of the most stirring and moving openers since Big Daddy Weave’s “Jesus Move”! Driven by an electric guitar riff, Katie’s folk type vocals reminiscent of KristeneDiMarco, dive straight in, as she proclaims Jesus’ goodness and love for His children- ‘…We will bless the Lord, and we will be lead forth, there’s nothing You can do, there’s nothing You can do oh Lord, we will sing Your praise, on You we fix our gaze…’. It’s evident through the Nichole Nordeman type songwriting and earnest and engaging lyrics; that Katie is here to stay! Well done Integrity on a smart and clever signing! The bridge ‘…all blessing, all honour, all glory, Yours; all power, all wisdom, forevermore…’ is a sure sign that Jesus is the centre throughout this 7 track worship venture!
“Amazing God” and “Beautiful Jesus (Love Over Me)” follow. While one is upbeat with guitars and piano and other electronic effects employed to create a unique yet worshipful track (“Amazing God”) and the other is a reflective and contemplative piece played acoustically and accentuating Katie’s soothing vocals and the eternally true lyrics (“Beautiful Jesus (Love Over Me)”); both describe and give the listener a truth that is everlasting: that Jesus reigns above all and He is to be praised! While the subject matter may be a tad cliché, Katie’s prowess as a writer is shown heavily in these treasures, and confirms her quality as a writer and performer. Speaking about how we are to wait on God as he fulfills to promises He said to us, in His timing ‘…we will wait for You, most holy God; we will hear Your voice, it’s calling…’; this danceable yet also calm track has themes linked to the 3rd track also! The reason why we can rely on God’s promises is due to ‘…Your love over me, it drives away fear, it dries every tear…it draws me to You, and everything’s new…’. He loves each one of us unconditionally, and Katie is to be proud of these two gems with a myriad of relevant issues present.
Musically, the song “Wonderful to Me”, is the most bold and courageous track on the EP; with many layered synth sounds and loops, reminiscent of Owl City and Rend Collective Experiment. Katie’s jovial worshipful spirit is also present in this track that could be musically home alongside many high profile mainstream acts. However it is these lyrics that sets Katie apart from her mainstream contemporaries, with a Psalm 139 like description of how God loves us unashamedly present- ‘…on the far side of the sea, You are there, You are there; in the valleys dark and deep, You are there, You are there, there’s nowhere too far Your love can reach…’. With this track as a taste of what is to come musically, Katie has set the bar very high for her sophomore effort!
Just after the halfway point in the album is “Hallelujah to the Lamb”, a radio pop-worship track with Katie once again giving praise to the One who gave her and all of us breath! Singing a song of praise because Jesus has risen from the grave, this celebratory big stadium feel anthem brings us all into a place of personal and corporate worship! No doubt Katie’s stellar effort will be sung in churches globally in the next few years, as we proclaim ‘…Hallelujah to the Lamb that was slain, before time, before nations, Your name is glorified…out of sin, out of darkness Your love broke through the night…’!
As the album winds down to a close, I am met with the honest and emotional highlight- the slower 6 minute “Be Still My Soul”. With a solid guitar introduction, this steady paced hymn like creation showcases Katie’s writing and vocals brilliantly. No doubt this ‘modern hymn’ will be sung alongside songs like “In Christ Alone” in churches everywhere soon, with this gorgeous and haunting track already covered by Leigh Nash in 2011. Lyrically standing tall amongst hymn favourites “How Great Thou Art”, “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”, Katie encourages listeners to be still in God as only He knows the future, so we do not have to worry. With a theme similar to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Be Still and Know”, Katie serves up a modern hymn to remember, and remember why wouldn’t you? With lyrics such as ‘…Be still my soul, the hour is hastening morn; when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappoint, grief and fear are gone; sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored…’ this insightful journey is one to repeat!
The finisher for Katie Gustafson is the truthful and sincere love song “Back To You”. With the first lyrics of the first verse straight up declaring ‘…this is a simple song of love to You, of how you sought me out and made me new…’, this testimony relates to any young Christian or anyone who feels far from God. He loved us so much as Jesus died on the cross and rose again; thus God personally seeks us out, where we are at; and moulds us to be more like Him. With the piano in the forefront, it’s easy to get lost in the worship to Jesus of this simple yet effective compelling and gripping folk masterpiece. The perfect last song on a near flawless debut EP, Katie’s full length debut should be one to anticipate…
What more could you ask for an EP? Katie’s efforts are even more remarkable given the reputation of her songwriter father. If there were any naysayers about her singing career before, there certainly shouldn’t be any now. In my mind Katie has silenced many critics, lived up to her family name, and given us listeners much food for thought, and many anthems to sing to God! Keep up the stellar work Katie! For fans of Nichole Nordeman, KristeneDiMarco, and Vicky Beeching.
- Isaiah 55
- Amazing God
- Beautiful Jesus
- Wonderful to Me
- Hallelujah to the Lord
- Be Still My Soul
- Back To You
Favourite Tracks: Isaiah 55, Beautiful Jesus (Love Over Me), Hallelujah to the Lord, Back To You