Review: Jonathan David & Melissa Helser – Beautiful Surrender

jonathandavidmelissahelserSurrender is typically seen as a negative within the thinking of our world, the term indicating the defeat of one against another, evoking thoughts of failure and more. Yet, within the Christian faith, surrender is seen in a wholly different light, one of positive encouragement as believers are challenged to lay down not only their burdens but their lives before the conquering Christ. Of course, the beautiful caveat is that in losing our lives we are bound to find them and it’s this truth which provides the heartbeat of Bethel Music’s latest act, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, and their debut for the label, Beautiful Surrender.

It’s a heartbeat that comes natural to the longtime couple, who’ve been immersed in the faith since their early years. Both artists are the children of ministers and that foundation has stuck with them through thick and thin and influences each and every track.

With production by Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, NEEDTOBREATHE), the record boasts a rather radio friendly sound, perhaps unlike other Bethel Music recordings have before. The title track is a perfect example of this, featuring a driving beat and Melissa’s rich voice declaring, “You can lead me where you please” before being accented by jangling guitars and more throbbing drums. It’s a great formula for radio and is equally good for corporate worship and the Helser’s use it to their full advantage.

A track destined for big things, “You Came (Lazarus),” follows hard after and is a passionate declaration of God’s power with a perfectly melodic hook while “Find Me” draws from a more acoustic template and is accented by a prayerful lyric. “Outrageous Love” is a mid tempo celebration of God’s love, enhanced by poignant keys and swirls of strings and the declaration that “There’s nothing that I could do/That could make You love me more/There’s nothing that I could do/That would ever make You love me less.”

“Strength” opens subtly but builds, driven by Melissa’s powerful vocals while the two come together for the grace-filled passion of “The Gospel,” one of the record’s real highlights. “So Much Grace” builds on that truth and revels in the grace of God, Jonathan’s voice reflecting a sense of awe as he sings before Melissa takes over vocals on the almost haunting ballad, “Beautiful Jesus.”

Slow builder “First Love” showcases the couple’s warm harmonies, their lives and faith entwined beautifully together and follow that with the emotional surrender of “Abba (Arms of the Father).” A rousing percussion sets the tone for “Catch the Wind,” framing the duo’s voices and swells of electric guitar in praise while the record comes to a close with a remix of the duo’s hit song, “No Longer Slaves,” a fitting conclusion as they sing, “I am no longer a slave to sin/I am a child of God.

On Beautiful Surrender, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser live out the meaning of their album title in song. A passionate, emotional set of songs infused with lived in truth, this album pulses with a life that can only be found in Christ.

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