Homecoming: Overlake Worship
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Nov
- Coming Home
- None Like You
- At the Name of Jesus
- Strength of My Soul
- We Belong to Jesus
- Thank You for the Cross
- Ancient Voices
- Raising the Dead
- The Phoenix Hymn
It's not unusual for new artists to see their careers fizzle and fade as quickly as they began, but some get the axe prematurely and deserve a second shot. Jesse Butterworth is a perfect example of the latter. His band Daily Planet debuted with strong buzz in 2002, but they failed to ignite due partly to personal injury and a subsequent lack of touring.
Since then, Butterworth has focused his time on family while serving as a worship pastor at Overlake Christian Church near Seattle. During that tenure, he's released some independent projects with a worshipful focus, most recently Illuminate Live in 2007. But at long last, he's come up with his first fully-formed studio project since Daily Planet—an album he's been itching to make since Hero.
The effort shows on Homecoming: Overlake Worship, an album that doesn't have Butterworth's name anywhere on the outside, but it's clearly his baby as primary songwriter, vocalist, and producer. Admittedly, this album would have had more of an impact 5 years ago when modern worship was still considered fresh. By today's standards, it'd be easy to dismiss this as more of the same at first listen—like NeedToBreathe performing in the style of Chris Tomlin and Tim Hughes.
It's nevertheless impressive that a self-produced indie recording can sound this good, on par with the heavyweights on Christian radio. As with Daily Planet, Butterworth infuses his melodies with interesting chord changes, giving each song a different hue. With "Strength of My Soul," an AC ballad co-written with Scott Krippayne, he breaks slightly from convention by subtly adding some accordion and banjo to the pop mix. Lincoln Brewster contributes his soaring electric guitar to the heaven-focused rocker "Coming Home." And "At the Name of Jesus" is truly impressive, punctuating the praise with a synth orchestra, giving an otherwise typical worship anthem some alt-pop punch. The only misfire is "Ancient Voices," which initially sounds sickly in attempting world music similar to Sting's "Desert Rose."
Though the song titles may strike some as clichéd and overused, Butterworth avoids relying on the same tired expressions in his lyrics. "Thank You for the Cross" smartly ties together John 3:16 and several other scripture references to form a thoughtful song of gratitude rooted in God's Word. The ballad "Prodigal" takes a familiar parable and phrases it like a hymn: "Long I've flirted with the flame of sin's entice/All my wandering has yet to satisfy/Oh jealous love, I'm through walking away from You." And "We Belong to Jesus" boldly reiterates the universal need for Christ, no matter who/where we are: "Religious and indifferent, busy and bored/Bright-eyed and jaded, loved and ignored/Rebels and soldiers, lined up and cracked/Straight and gay, white and black."
The production, writing, and performances all add up to a successful Homecoming—as an expression of worship and an artistic comeback for Butterworth.