Release Date: September 18th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Steven Welch- Color of Love (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
Dream Records has always been at the forefront and also very creative of signing many new artists, with their roster filled this year with debuts from Marlene Brehm, Luke Dowler, Evan Craft, Nicole Croteau, Cindy Leigh Boske, and Submission Red to name a few, as well as Hannah Rose and Steve Hare for 2013. Now, Dream Records have signed alternative indie worship singer-songwriter Steven Welch, and his label debut was originally slated for release in May, but has been pushed back to September. At first the mesh and quirkiness of his styles and genres was a bit of hard for me to fathom- this album is certainly out of the box and not like CCM at all; with Steven giving out a Pete Murray acoustic type vibe in many of the tracks. Nevertheless, Color of Love is a journey full of twists and turns; and with thoughtful lyrics along the way, and experimental music as well; Steven’s debut is interesting to say the least, as well as bold, unique and different.
To say that this album is well worth my time to review and listen to is not really my place to tell, as my forte in reviewing albums is the artists that are firmly planted in the CCM industry. However Steven Welch’s album has opened my eyes to the indie scene, and not all artists who are in the spotlight are of the best quality- sometimes the artists that often go unnoticed also have something good to say! Color of Love, as an album is of pretty good quality, but had I not been open enough to listen to it, I’d have never heard the unique sounds and not known how indie worship sounded like. It’s funny how God works sometimes! The title track starts of with an 80’s guitar riff throwback, and Steven’s distinct vocals crying out ‘…The color of love invades my heart, the color of love takes over my soul; I’m resting in the love, in the love that You have shown…’. God is compared to a colour, and that imagery is very vivid and profound. Such a song like this is a good opener, with many instruments coming at me from many different directions; as the vertical worship coupled with the comparison of God to a colour, makes me look at creation and marvel at what God has made. The time warp in terms of the music is fun as well. “You See Hope In Me” is much more upbeat, and a danceable track with stirring gang vocals in the captivating chorus. Steven places on his ‘Tim Hughes’ hat as he sings about God seeing hope and love in the most dire of situations- even when everyone has doubted and turned away from us, God remains. What a sobering and inspiring thought that ‘…You see hope in me that no one else could see…’!
The guitar prominent ballad “Waiting” has an ethereal feel, and together with the piano orchestral like “I Want To Love You” and the imagery heavy “Waves”; form a force to be reckoned with as we approach the middle of the album. “Waiting” is a touch over 3 minutes, yet is a slow piece, with Steven declaring in Josh Wilson like fashion that Jesus is waiting for us to return to him. In the song he references the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32), which is one of my favourite parables. What Steven has deftly done in this track is masterful storytelling and poetic descriptions in the vein of Steven Curtis Chapman or Jason Gray. This storytelling is also carried onto the instrumentally stunning “I Want To Love You”, where I can just see this track in my mind being played in a big stadium; as Steven vulnerably cries out ‘…A million times I’ve said that I love You, yet I’ve wasted not a breath; Lord I need You, The only thing that’s left, I want to love You…’. And “Waves” seems like a power ballad, and an anthem destined for the radio, with soaring synth and mesmerising drum loops; as Steven skilfully compares God to a wave, like The Wrecking in their song “Tidal Wave”- ‘…like a wave Your grace covers me; reaching in, to every part of me, if it wasn’t for Your kindness, I don’t know where I’d be…’. Lyrically this album is a gem, with many treasures to be found, and we’ve just reached half way!
“Love Reaches Me” sounds like a 70’s beach party with the electric guitars and the beats taking me back in time, along the veins of Delirious? “The Pursuit of Happyness”. This Tim Hughes like rock like power ballad also gives out some words of wisdom as well as a catchy tune! Steven’s passion for Jesus is evident in this track, as he tells of how God’s love is the highest of all and covers a multitude of sins! Amen to this upbeat track! “House of Secrets” lyrically is like Tenth Avenue North’s “House of Mirrors”, and is an acoustic track speaking about keeping secrets and how we do not have to run with our baggage from God, and that God is waiting for us- His grace overcomes even the darkest of our lies and our ability to think we can do life on our own. Singing from two points of view (ours and God’s), Steven’s poignant lyrics speaks to the core of humanity, with an uncomfortable yet necessary issue posed in the chorus ‘…Look into My eyes, look here one more time; don’t run don’t run, I’m right here waiting for you…’. The captivating guitar solo at the end segues into “More”, a vulnerable track about brokenness, one which is essentially a prayer, where Steven prays to God to invade his comfortableness, and thus we can be more like Jesus. This is a song that is a reminder that we all require more Jesus in our lives, so that we can emit the love of God to those around us- ‘…Come my Savior and help me; come my Savior and speak to me; only You can save me…’.
“Send Your Light” is one of the album highlights, with Steven proclaiming and asking God to send His light so that we can be closer to Him and thus be conduits of His love and mercy. This guitar driven happy melody has the potential to be an album single, and Steven’s fervent and enthusiastic vocals are at their peak in this lovable track! “The Day” rounds off the 10 track album, as a piano song with a enchanting crescendo. With such simple lyrics of Steven describing vividly how God feels when one of his children come to believe and start a relationship in Him; this rollercoaster journey is finished with a sublime and epic track that feels just as home on Christian radio and a soundtrack release for a movie! Well done Steven for a bold and reflective album full of many musical genres.
With worship styles similar to Sonicflood, Jeff Deyo, and Rend Collective Experiment, and vocals similar to Tim Hughes, Josh Wilson, and Aussie artist Pete Murray, Steven Welch’s debut is a solid album full of surprises. However it may fly by under the radar and become lost in the shuffle amongst the high profile albums of Remedy Drive, Marlene Brehm, North Point Inside:Out and Esterlyn, amongst others, which all release on the same day, as Steven Welch’s style isn’t an ordinary style that you would commonly hear. However, Steven’s album pushes the boundaries of worship music, and his courageous musical styles, as well as his distinctive voice is merit for this album to be at least looked at and investigated, and hopefully appreciated for the diversity that it brings to Christian music. While not as inspiring as other CCM albums on first impressions, Steven’s album seems to be like wine- as the years progress; the album is bound to feel and sounds better!
- Color of Love
- You See Hope in Me
- I Want to Love You
- Love Reaches Me
- House of Secrets
- Send Your Light
- The Day
Favourite Tracks: You See Hope In Me, I Want To Love You, Love Reaches Me, House Of Secrets, Send Your Light