Monday, November 4, 2019

Music Review: Firm Foundation by Selah

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great songs of encouragement
Cons: Not quite as strong as normal
The Bottom Line:
Selah offers praise
To God Who is foundation
In newest CD

Selah Builds on Their Firm Foundation

Over the past two decades, Selah has become known in Christian music circles for their encouraging music.  Since I’ve become a fan (and yes, I was late to the game), each new release has become a must buy.  So, naturally, I pre-ordered Firm Foundation.

Longtime fans will notice two things missing from this disc.  The first is well known hymns.  Their first few releases were almost all new arrangements of hymns, but they have slowly been including more original songs (or at least non-hymns) on their releases.  This isn’t that surprising because they have already covered most of the well-known hymns.  I’m sure there are some out there they have touched yet, but none are springing to mind.

The other things missing is a song partially in Kituba, the African language that group founder Todd Smith grew up speaking as a missionary kid.  I’ve enjoyed that offering over the years, so I missed that.

Now that I’ve covered what isn’t on this new release, let’s take a look at what is.

The disc opens with “Let the Saints Sing,” an upbeat song of praise.  Simple praise to God has been a repeated theme in their songs, and that is true here again in other songs such as “I Belong to Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)” and “No Sweeter Name.”  “Jesus is King” is another such song, and it is a fun song to sing along with.

The title track is the closest they get to one of their soaring anthems.  It makes sense sing these anthems have been the title tracks of their last few releases.  “Firm Foundation” at once reminds us that our hope needs to rest in God as well as celebrates what that means when the floods of life come.

The most fun you’ll have on this disc is “Always Gonna Be.”  It’s also the song most likely to get stuck in your head.  Here, the trio is singing about the fact that hard times will come into every life, but God will always be there to help us through it.  It is a very comforting reminder.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel the disc is as good overall as their last few discs.  The problem comes in the second half that features several slower songs in a row.  Granted, this is Selah, a disc known for their contemplative songs.  No, they aren’t a contemporary worship group as such.  They are one of the few holding down the inspirational sub-genre of Christian music these days.  But I find myself struggling to focus on these songs when I get to this point in the disc.

Which is a shame since there are some great lyrics here.  “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me” is a song packed with theology.  While it is a modern song, it feels like a long-forgotten hymn.  However, it really takes some concentration to follow the thoughts presented.  “He Will Hold Me Fast” fits in thematically with the title track.  “Benediction (As You Go)” is nice.

I think the heart of my problem is expectations.  I have come to set some pretty high expectations when it comes to a new release from Selah.  This CD is good, but since it isn’t as great as their normal releases, it feels like more of a letdown.

While Firm Foundation isn’t quite the home run I’ve come to expect, from the group, it is still good.  Their many fans will find more songs of encouragement here, which is why we continue to love their music.

CD Length: 47:10
1. Let the Saints Sing
2. Jesus is King
3. Firm Foundation
4. Always Gonna Be
5. My Soul Be Satisfied
6. Yet Not I, but through Christ in Me
7. The Sound of Love
8. I Belong to Jesus
9. He Will Hold Me Fast
10. No Sweeter Name
11. Benediction (As You Go)

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