Kari Brooke Jobe was born on April 6, 1981 in Waco, Texas. She released her self-titled major label debut in 2009 which included the now popular ‘Revelation Song’. Fast forward to 2017 and she released her fourth album, THE GARDEN (Capitol CMG). It was produced by Jeremy Edwardson. Half of the album was recorded in Redding, California, and half in Nashville. In February of 2016 Kari and her husband had Canyon Carnes. A few months before this, Kari’s sister gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Kari’s bio states: “Most of THE GARDEN’s 14 tracks speak to hope in the midst of loss, peace in the midst of uncertainty, and God’s presence in the midst of pain”. In the liner notes Kari writes: “I pray that these songs would help you find the strength to lift your voice and worship again just like they did for me. God is kind, strong, loving, compassionate, and He will draw near to you as you draw close to Him”. Here, I am reviewing the Deluxe Edition of THE GARDEN.
First up is the title track, ‘The Garden’, penned by Kari, her husband Cody Carnes, and Amanda and Jacob Cook of Bethel Music. It’s a sweeping worship anthem of testimony: “I can see the ivy reaching through the wall/’Cause You will stop at nothing/To heal my broken soul/Faith is rising up like ivy, reaching for the light/Hope is stirring deep inside me/Making all things right/Love is lifting me from sorrow/Catching every tear/Dispelling every lie and torment/Crushing all my fears”. ‘Let Your Glory Fall’ is an adult pop song with these prayerful words: “Oh, let it rain/Let Your glory fall/Overwhelm my soul/Let Your presence flood my life, O Lord/Break upon me now/Let Your love crash down/Let Your glory fall”.
‘Heal our Land’ was the album’s second single and was written by Kari, Cody, and Brooke and Scott Ligertwood. It’s a wonderful adult contemporary song that asks God to move amongst us: “Redeem, revive/Spirit of God, breathe on Your church/Pour out Your presence/Speak through You Word/We pray in every nation, Christ be known/Our hope and salvation, Christ alone”. Martin Smith is a co-writer on ‘Lover of my Soul’, which contains these words addressed to God: “You’re my one true love/Every breath is Yours/Hear my greatest song/I love You, Lord (2X)/Jesus, all my heart belongs to You/Jesus, every heartbeat longs for You/Lover of my soul/Hold me in Your arms forever/It’s You and You alone/Burning in my heart”.
‘Speak to Me’ is the longest track at over seven and a half minutes. This one has an atmospheric sound to it and cries out to God: “I’m in awe that You would come to me/In awe that I can hear You speak/Speak to me (2X)/I’m listening.../I hang on to every word You say/I live to hear You say my name”. ‘Fall Afresh’ includes these wonderful words: “Let these hands be clean and this heart be pure/Blameless as the bride You’re coming for/It’s the power of Your presence that changes us/Your glory all around us and we’re undone/You open up the heavens and fall afresh on us”.
‘I Will Sing’ was the first song written for this album. It was written by Kari while she was still pregnant. Her co-writers are Jason Ingram and Ben Fielding. It’s a passionate song of spiritual maturity: “I need to hear Your voice/Speaking to silence all my doubts/Your Word won’t return empty/You will break through every darkness/Even when my breath is weak/I will sing, I will sing/Even in my suffering/I will sing, I will sing”. ‘Miracles’ is a cover of a Jesus Culture song. It’s a pop song about God’s power: “The One who put death in its place/His life is flowing through my veins (2X)/I believe in You (2X)/You’re the God of miracles”.
‘Closer to Your Heart’ features Kari’s husband Cody Carnes and is a soothing song: “At every facet of Your beauty/My heart responds with ‘Holy, Holy’/Oh, You never cease to amaze me/And it’s only just the start/Oh, it’s only just the start.../Holy, I get lost in Your love/I get lost in Your love/Holy, full of awe and wonder/Full of awe and wonder”. Kari, Cody, Mia Fieldes, and Josh Silverberg wrote ‘Oh the Power’, a modern Easter hymn: “There on the hill/You surrendered Your will/’For they know not what they do’/Grief in Your heart/Your hands bear the scars/Of a love that led You to the tomb/Calvary, where Heaven met me.../Oh, the power of the cross/Oh, the power of Your blood”.
Kari, Benjamin Hastings, and Bryan Fowler wrote the album’s first single, ‘The Cause of Christ’. This adult contemporary song concludes the standard edition of the album. Kari lets us know what she wants her legacy to be: “For this cause I live/For this cause I’d die/I surrender all/For the cause of Christ/All I once held dear/I will leave behind/For my joy is this/Oh, the cause of Christ/It is not fame that I desire/Nor stature in my brother’s eye/I pray it’s said about my life/That I lived more to build Your Name than mine”. The Deluxe Edition of the album includes three bonus cuts, the first of which is ‘Here as in Heaven’, a cover of an Elevation Church song, featuring Cody Carnes. It includes these optimistic words: “A miracle can happen now/For the Spirit of the Lord is here/The evidence is all around/That the Spirit of the Lord is here”.
‘Come Alive’ testifies: “You are great yet You let us see Your face/You are strong yet Your eyes are full of kindness/You are wise/But like a child You let us come/You are great, yet You let us see Your face/I come alive, I come alive/In Your presence (2X)”. Finishing things off is ‘On the Throne’, a song of spiritual determination: “I will walk through the trial/Walk through the valley of fear/I will walk through the storm/I won’t be overcome (2X)/For the Lord is/He is able, He is faithful/Higher than the mountains that I face/Every season I will press on/For God alone is on the throne”.
I can’t find much fault with the lyrics on THE GARDEN. They exalt God and show gratitude for who He is and what He has so selflessly done for us. They also speak of the joy, peace, and strength God provides us. Kari has a pleasant voice to listen to and you can tell that she is really feeling the songs. My beef with THE GARDEN is that there are so many slow songs on it, that they end up sounding too similar to each other. More fast-paced songs should have been included to add some variety. This album will either usher you into the presence of the Lord or put you to sleep. I’m rating it 84% and recommending it to fans of Lauren Daigle. For more info visit: www.karijobe.com.