Review: Steffany Gretzinger – The Undoing

SteffanyGretzingerThere’s a word that’s bound to pop up in multiple reviews for Bethel Music’s Steffany Gretzinger’s latest recording, The Undoing, and that word is “intimate.” Gretzinger’s music here plays out like a discrete peek into the artist’s prayer journal, offering up looks into the life of a real person doing life with God, struggles and all. The result is something poignant and supremely beautiful and well worth a multitude of listens.

That intimacy, and the title’s meaning, is birthed out of a year’s worth of transition for the worship leader. Enjoying the growing pains of a new marriage and living in a new country with unfamiliar surroundings and making new friends and new family, alongside the joy of being pregnant with her first child, and Gretzinger found herself searching through the moments, seeking God through the moments and the mundane of life.

And seeking to be undone before God in these moments has yielded an eleven song collection of confessional lyrics, authentically allowing a look into the life of a believer living through the ups and downs of life.

“Some songs began in spontaneous worship, others started as personal prayers or were written for friends,” she shares. “These songs are the in-between Sunday’s stuff, when no one else is watching… learning to worship and sing truth over yourself until you believe it, not just because you do.”

Things open sparse and quiet with “Morning Song,” Gretzinger singing against a rising soundscape grounded in hopeful piano notes while “Constant One” finds a warm acoustic backdrop framing lyrics like “In the moment I am hiding/Your love it seeks me out” and “It’s amazing how You take me/Just for who I am.” It’s honesty like that, buoyed by the grace and truth there as well, that marks the whole of the record with powerful songs like “Out of Hiding (Father’s Song)” echoing those sentiments with their own brand of emotional honesty and hope and earning that track a place as a “must-listen” here.

Honesty colors the short but moving “I Spoke Up,” Gretzinger simply allowing a simple piano to frame her vocals, elevating them to a quiet simmer while “Cecie’s Lullaby” is an appropriately subdued and beautiful track in its own right. “Letting Go” maintains the quiet tone with some stark acoustic guitar and an arrangement that recalls work by The Swell Season as “Promise I Always Will” offers up one of the more musically eclectic moments on the album, Gretzinger offering a look into the highs and lows of covenant relationships, seeking to maintain that innocent bliss of the early days.

“Steady Heart” beats with an almost ethereal pulse, rich strings and a resonant beat that presses things forward as Gretzinger sings sublimely over the arrangement before seguing into the more familiar piano backdrop of “No Fear In Love” where she prayerfully sings, “Stir in me a love that’s deep/A love that’s wide/A love that’s sweet/And help me Lord to never keep it to myself.” That’s followed by the simple yet powerful refrain of “Open Up Let the Light In,” strings soaring to a crescendo of beauty before “Getting There,” the most upbeat track of the record, reminds listeners that “there’s a reason for the journey” and “there is purpose in the learning.”

With The Undoing, Steffany Gretzinger offers listeners a glimpse into her life and invites you to get up close and personal with her as she wrestles with doubt, cries out to God, and finds him faithful. These eleven tracks are hauntingly beautiful, lyrically strong, and musically compelling. And, perhaps most importantly, these are songs bound to draw those that hear them into places of worship and reflection, which is exactly what’s at the core of Gretzinger’s music.

 

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