Rebecca St. James was born Rebecca Jean Smallbone on July 26, 1977 in Sydney, Australia. In 1994 she put out her self-titled major label debut. aLive IN FLORIDA (2007, ForeFront Records) is her second live album. This CD/DVD combo hit No 43 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart. It was recorded at First Assembly of God in Fort Myers, Florida on March 31, 2006. Rebecca’s backing band is: Kevin Holvig (drums), David Childress (bass), Gregory Everett and Scott Murray (guitars), Frederick Williams (piano/keys), and three of her siblings, Joel, Luke, and Libby Smallbone (backing vocals).
The live concert CD begins with ‘God Help Me’. This heavy rocker speaks of total life transformation: “I don’t care who stares/Never want to be what I have been again/Grace has taken over and drawn me in and I am embracing it/’Cause now I see Your light drawing me close/Overwhelming love I don’t deserve/But I’ll take the hope You bring/You hold it out to me”. ‘Lamb of God’ is another great Christian rock song. This one makes me think of what eternity will be like in Heaven: “I hear a voice of many people/I hear a voice like mighty thunder/Singing Alleluia for the Lord He reigns (2X)/Lamb of God/Holy/Lord You are/Holy/Lamb of God/Holy/You are/Holy”.
‘Wait for Me’ is Rebecca’s signature song. She encourages her future husband, whom she has not yet met, to stay sexually pure: “Darling did you know that I dream about you/Waiting for the look in your eyes/When we meet for the first time/Darling did you know that I pray about you/Praying that you will hold on/Keep your loving eyes only for me/I am waiting for/Praying for you darling/Wait for me too/Wait for me as I wait for you”. Next up is a stripped down acoustic version of ‘You are Loved’. It encourages us to extend grace and mercy to others rather than judging them: “This is what I want to say to you/If I had one chance to speak to your heart/You are loved/More than you could ever know/This is what I want to say to you/If I had one chance to tell you something/You are loved/More than you can imagine/Imagine”.
‘Beautiful Stranger’ is a great melodic pop song. It reminds us to look for Jesus in everyone we meet: “Won’t you tell me now when did I see You in need of water?/Oh, and tell me now, when did I see You hungry on the street?/God, I hear You calling out to me/In the voices of the least of these/Calling me to reach beyond my world/To the beautiful stranger/Beautiful stranger”. ‘Reborn’ is one of Rebecca’s best songs ever! Matt Bronleewe co-wrote it with her. Musically, it is a Madonna style dance number. The lyrics are ones of joyful testimony: “If you see a change in me don’t wonder/There’s Someone in my life/And peace I can’t describe/For I’ve been reborn/If you see a change in me don’t wonder/I’ve found a whole new life/And hope that I can’t hide/For I’ve been reborn”.
Rebecca describes ‘Thank You’ as having a funky feel to it. It is catchy. Her brother Joel performs the rap break that Toby Mac delivered on the studio recording. This is a song of genuine gratitude towards God: “I’ve got so much to thank You for/You opened the door/Turned my sorrow to joy/In this world that I am in/Your wonders never end/You define hope/Thinking of all that You have in store for me/I am in awe/I have got to stop/And thank You for the love I have found in You”. Next, Rebecca’s brothers Joel and Luke, who would later form for King&Country, perform one of their originals. ‘Without Love’ has a brooding feel to it musically. Here are some of the words to this decent rock song: “We’re falling into a darker grey/We’re walking through the rain/Don’t act like everything is okay/Can’t you see and feel the pain?/When the future becomes the past/You will see that it is never gonna last/I’ve got some things to tell you/Cause I can’t stay the same/Without love, we’ve got nothing at all/Now it’s time to change/Without love, we’ve got nothing at all”.
‘Lion’ is a pleasant rock ballad penned by Rebecca, Cary Barlowe, Jamie Moore, and Shaun Shankel. It is from The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack and finds one reflecting candidly on their relationship with the Lord: “Mysterious/That’s what I call You/I’m curious about You/I’m scared and I’m not sure that You are safe/But Your eyes seem to say that You are good.../Wise eyes, You see the core of me/Your gentleness melts me/And now I know that words cannot describe/The power that I feel when I’m with You”. ‘Take all of Me’ testifies to God’s goodness: “You stand on mountain tops with me/With You I walk through the valleys/You gave Your only Son for me/Your grace is all I rely on/Love that’s stronger/Love that covers sin/And takes the weight of the world”.
Matt and Beth Redman’s popular ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ follows. It reminds us that we should praise the Lord regardless of our circumstances: “Blessed be Your Name/In the land that is plentiful/Where Your streams of abundance flow/Blessed be Your Name/And blessed be Your Name/When I’m found in the desert place/Though I walk through the wilderness/Blessed be Your Name”. ‘Forgive Me’ is a quiet, confessional, worshipful track. It starts with these words we should really pray daily truth be told: “For all the times I’ve failed You Lord/Forgive me/For all the ways I’ve fallen short/Lord, forgive me now/God, I’m so in need of grace/I fall upon my face/Forgive me/Take my fear, Lord take my shame/Lord, forgive me now/Purify me, make me new/Like only You can do/Forgive me now”.
‘Alive’ is an energetic pop/rock song that contains the following words of wisdom: “You make me come alive/You make me come alive/I found the secret/It’s only when I let go of what I want in this life/You make me come alive/I used to think that me, myself, and I/Were all that mattered/But You’ve shown me all this world can give/Cannot compare to the joy that comes from/Giving away”. As a bonus track on the CD fans are treated to ‘You are Loved (hisboytroy’s funk house mix)’. It is ready for a Christian dance floor.
The accompanying DVD of the concert is awesome! Rebecca is dressed stylishly and makes good use of the stage. There is good crowd participation and applause. The DVD is shot well, making good use of lighting and camera angles. During the concert Rebecca shares about a spiritual makeover she got in the Swiss Alps, and about Compassion International, and the child she sponsors. The concert includes an altar call. She encourages new believers to read their Bibles, engage in prayer, stay close to Christian friends, get rid of the junk in their lives, and to get involved in a church and grow. The DVD also includes a couple of concept music videos.
Rebecca St. James is truly passionate about her Lord Jesus Christ! She is a good role model for young Christian ladies. She does not compromise her beliefs. She is also an ambassador for God’s love for all people. I’m rating the CD 87% and the DVD 95%. For more info visit: www.rsjames.com and www.forefrontrecords.com.