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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Brand New Day

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 May
Brand New Day
Sounds like … a worshipful blend of contemporary R&B, smooth jazz, and gospel that recalls George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Anthony Hamilton, and Israel & New Breed.At a glance … Brand New Day is a terrific display of how to do a gospel-worship album right, as well as another strong entry in Jonathan Butler's expanding Christian repertoire.Track Listing Brand New Day
Brand New Day (reprise)
Gonna Lift You Up
O Magnify the Lord
You Are My Everything
Mercy (with Jodie Butler)
Let the Redeemed Say So
I Love to Worship
We Love to Praise Your Name (prelude)
We Love to Praise Your Name
He Said He Would
I Believe
Tell Me (Do You Still Love Jesus)

In South Africa, Jonathan Butler is clearly a superstar. There's a moment towards the end of Israel & New Breed's acclaimed album Alive in South Africa when worship leader Israel Houghton asks Butler to come on stage. Immediately, the crowd goes nuts.

The light-jazz singer and guitarist is not exactly a household name in the States, aside from two pop hits in the '80s ("Lies," "Sarah Sarah"). But he's made a name for himself in the urban, smooth jazz, and adult markets in his native Cape Town, as well as the U.K., which he called home for seventeen years while apartheid ran rampant in his homeland.

Now that racial separation in South Africa has been abolished, Butler seems to have experienced a spiritual renaissance, at least musically. Worship music has become his new calling, and Brand New Day represents his latest entry into the genre. The album furthers what he began with "Falling in Love with Jesus," his beloved collaboration with smooth saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and The Worship Project, his debut with Maranatha! Music.

Much like his usual smooth jazz output, there's a sense of quiet restraint and beauty to this album. Butler is never showy, rather letting the simple words and uncomplicated melodies to do the talking. Take the unassuming "He Said He Would," a delightful keyboard-led piece that sounds like Stevie Wonder performing gospel. Though much of it involves the usual praise and exhortative sentiments heard before, the song is so credibly soulful that it's hard to fault it.

Part of the credit goes to producer Luther "Mano" Hanes (Andraé Crouch, CeCe Winans), who helps Butler perfect his gospel renderings. Together they form a sound that's funky ("O Magnify the Lord"), worshipful ("You Are My Everything"), inspirational ("Mercy"), and even symphonic ("I Believe"). It all amounts to one of the best gospel-worship discs of 2007 and another impressive notch in Butler's eclectic career.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.