Music Monday: On My Side by Kim Walker-Smith
Release Date: April 21, 2017
So I’m sitting here listening through the opening tracks on the first solo studio release by Kim Walker-Smith, On My Side and there’s a smile on my face. And it’s because the songs and truths contained within simply make me happy. Like “I want to dance, sing, and shout” kind-of-happy!
Don’t get me wrong. I love worship music and can often feel uplifted and encouraged by singing praises to God. And I know it’s not all about how the music makes me feel. I love several genres of music but so often I come back to and am drawn to worship because it really is the only type of music that can bless heart, soul, mind, and spirit all the while glorifying God. Kim Walker-Smith (KWS) has created something that touches each of those areas deeply and puts a smile on the face of the listener. And that’s such a good thing!
“Brave Surrender” is the opening cut and gets the ball rolling nicely. Full of drive and passion, it’s hooky chorus grabs you upon first listen and gets you singing along:
I’m letting go, brave surrender
I’m taking hold of life eternal
On the other side I will find You
Leaving my fears behind
A great theme to start off with, Brave Surrender points to the hope we have in Christ and the means we have to step out in bold faith because of that hope.
Track two is “Glimpse”, a synth-pop number with blips and beeps harkening back to something from the 80s (I’m a child of the 80s so it’s totally up my alley). It’s in the lyrics where we really get a look into Kim’s heart, which bleeds worship and a closeness to the Father. And remember that smile on my face? The bridge gets me every time:
You are greater than my wildest dreams
You are more than any song could sing
I can’t contain all the joy You bring
Oh, I’m dancing
Oh, I’m dancing
Up next is “Throne Room”, a song that is already making waves for its use in congregational worship. Taking a Revelation-influenced peek at the scene around the throne room of God, KWS draws us in to worship along with angels and saints: “My heart can’t contain the weight of Your name. And all I can say is holy, holy, holy are You God.” Obviously for a studio project like this, Throne Room is well-produced, glossy, and BIG in every way. But I could totally see a worship team stripping this one down to just an acoustic guitar and/or keys and making it just as big and impactful in such a setting. Co-written by Lindsey Sweat, Jacob Sooter, Mia Fieldes, and Walker-Smith, Throne Room gives us a glimpse at a place every heart longs for and every soul longs to be.
Taking several cues from the traditional hymn “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand”, “I Know” is an upbeat song of trust and dependence upon Christ. Maybe as a listener or even as a worship-leader, you need to find songs that convey truth while asking ourselves to step out boldly in faith; trusting in the promises of God. I Know would work perfectly in that context as it proclaims: “I know nothing is impossible. I know every chain is breakable. I know on Christ the solid rock I stand.”
After the worshipful “Awaken Love”, the album segues into an ambient spacey interlude which leads into “Just One Touch”; inspired by the story of the woman with the issue of blood who reaches out to Jesus (Luke 8:43-48): “Here at the end of me, You are are my victory. I’m trading my scars for all that You are, for just one touch.” In focused abandon upon Christ, this song would work well at an altar call or a time of prayer following a sermon.
Despite the joy that accompanies much of the album, there is also a steadfast confidence in God despite life’s burdens and hardships. From jesusculture.com, Walker-Smith states “The past 4 years of my life have been a journey with God through incredible joy and overwhelming grief, birth and death, pain and betrayal, right alongside hope and resurrection.” It is this dependence upon God which comes out in songs like “You Define Me” which calls forth identity in Christ alone, the bouncy “Rise” (In the pain there is beauty), and title track “On My Side” which confesses that in tragedy, Christ grieves with us and is always and ever for us.
Closing track “Fresh Outpouring” bookends this album nicely with the opening sentiment of a “brave surrender” to Jesus. No clearer petition is made by KWS for a renewal and fresh move of the Holy Spirit among His people. Written by Mark Alan Schoolmeesters, Bryan Fowler, and Walker-Smith, Fresh Outpouring is a song that comes with a built-in heart cry. It makes me wonder if we really sang these words and trusted in the Lord more fully, would we be ready for His move upon His church? My heart is hopeful.
There is fire stirring in our bones
A shout is rising, rising up inside
Soak the Earth, come and fill our hearts
Your voice is calling, calling us to life
We need a fresh outpouring, unleash a fresh outpouring
I’ll be honest. In knowing Kim Walker-Smith as a lead vocalist in Jesus Culture, I was unsure what a studio project would sound like and if it would resonate as deeply as the live recordings she has been a part of. Let’s face it, there is often energy and momentum that a live album brings that is hard to replicate in the studio. But the songs on this album do not suffer from not having a live audience in the room. And every listen gets me more excited to hear what these songs will sound like live. From jesusculture.com: “Although a departure from her live recordings, Kim's unforgettable, soulful voice continues to capture exhilarating moments of worship through both nuance and strength as she weaves together this beautiful collection of songs.”
Indeed it is a beautiful collection of songs and I hope you will give On My Side a listen as it will bless, inspire, and encourage you. And in listening to worship music, there’s nothing wrong with being encouraged as we sing and give praise and glory to God!