As a worship leader and frequent collaborator with The Porter's Gate collective of artists, Wendell Kimbrough has spent nearly a decade reimagining Psalms for the current worshipper. You Belong is his newest full-length project, and its ten tracks (like the two albums preceding) are drawn from a different Psalm each.
Isaac Wardell of the Porter's Gate takes on producing duties and helps capture the crackling organic energy that a live performance would bring. It's in these upbeat moments that Wendell and his vocals shine best. With a country shuffle here, a southern gospel piano line there, or an Americana styling, You Belong is as widely varied in genre and tone as the biblical Psalms they draw from. The band supporting is top-notch and each player breathes unmistakeable talent into each track.
Playful jubilation is heard from the first drum hit and piano of "The Lord's Become my Salvation (Psalm 118)" and rolls straightaway into the front porch hoedown that is "I Will Lift Up the Cup of Salvation (Psalm 116)." The extended instrumental jam outro was fun and my favorite musical moment of the whole record. Two downtempo highlights come from the title track "You Belong (Psalm 87)" and the gentle slide guitar found in "We Are Waiting (Psalm 33)." Lastly is the closer "Bring God's Children Home (Psalm 68)" which ends the album on a tender and wistful note.
All in all, You Belong is well done, but only half of it is arresting enough to keep me coming back. I found myself wishing for more of the extended instrumental jamming and uptempo moments similar to the great one-two punch of the openers. Additionally, after multiple listens, the album is largely missing the simplicity and immediate "hook" that congregations need. Granted, some might not see this as a downside, with the need to push churchgoers beyond the lowest common denominator. That said, perhaps a better application for the songs would be for individual devotional worship times.
Ultimately, regardless of this reviewer's experience with the album, Wendell Kimbrough is doing a great service for his congregation and the worldwide Church. You Belong fulfills a great need for theologically solid music and is worthy of a listen. This one could be for fans of The Porter's Gate, Shane & Shane, and Keith & Kristyn Getty.- Review date: 7/18/23, written by Josh Balogh of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Integrated Music Rights
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