London Gatch is a worship leader and songwriter making her major label debut with New Stories. The ten-track studio album is a mixture of praise songs extolling the power of Jesus to save us and resting in His comfort for times of trial. The record grew out of a time of life where changes faced Gatch at every turn. With this offering, she simultaneously confronts anxiety felt during that season and turns her eyes to her Savior in reverent worship.
From a musical standpoint, there's nothing particularly unique about the sound and yet it manages to feel fresh in its own way. Thankfully, Gatch steers the band away from mimicking the more synth-driven sounds popular among worship artists today. Most of the tracks fall in the mid-tempo range with a couple upbeat tunes (such as the title track and "You Never Walk Away") and slower ballads ("Shepherd" or "Oh What Perfect Love") to balance things out. Pulling the sound together is Gatch's voice, which is stunning in its range and passion. There aren't many guest vocalists on the album, which is probably good since Gatch can carry herself just fine and put most worship singers to shame. Although only one track falls below the 4-minute mark, the album moves along at a nice pace and never feels like it's dragging on. What helps this is measured repetition and additional bridges or verses late in the songs. These twists and turns make for an enjoyable listening experience. Everything here (musically, at least) feels "just right" and doesn't teeter too far one way or another.
If Gatch's voice and music are the highlights on New Stories, the weaknesses lie in the lyrics. Most of the words sung here are strong, poetic, and moving, but there are times where cliché phrases, sentiments, and rhymes are used that pull the listener out of the moment. It should also be noted that the title track gives some strong "Name it, claim it theology" vibes. For some, this won't be a problem, but for others it might make the track skip-worthy.
Overall, this record is a strong debut and London Gatch is clearly a talented artist. Not all the songs lend themselves to corporate church settings, but it's not a bad soundtrack for personal devotion. Most listeners will find much to enjoy and sing along to here. Others may have to skip around, but they would be remiss to pass on this project altogether. Although New Stories doesn't quite live up to the "new" in its title, it feels fresh enough and shows the heights to which Gatch can soar in her music.- Review date: 2/20/19, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: BEC Recordings
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