Title: Grace and Mercy
Artist: Jonathan Butler
Label: Rendezvous/Mack Avenue
Format: CD, MP3
Release date: September 25, 2012
Jonathan Butler, the South African-born contemporary urban jazz artist, has been creating gospel music with his jazz guitar since his 2004 release The Worship Project. The tracks “Brand New Day” and “Falling in Love with Jesus” are much loved by worshipers. Now his new album, Grace and Mercy, will surely be added to worshipers’ lists of favorite music, with R&B-driven songs such as “You’re All That I Need,” “Who Is Like the Lord,” and “Grace and Mercy.” Butler proves the power of his simple lyrics for prayer in “I Stand on Your Word,” as he sings “No matter what the situation, I believe, I believe. No matter what the circumstances, I believe, I believe:”
The second half of the album will take listeners deeper into a worship atmosphere with ballads like “Lay My Head On You” and “I Know He Cares.” The true masterpiece of the album is the medley “Moments of Worship,” with Butler blending three older worship songs. His vocal improvisations flow over a simple guitar and keyboard/organ accompaniment, lending a unique voice to his storytelling.
Butler’s simple but emotional, heartwarming melodies help us absorb the messages in each song. As he explains: “Through living you come up with stories to talk about and songs to write. These songs are personal experiences. I’m hoping these songs will affect people in a positive and wonderful way.” Certainly, Butler’s strong, warm voice will reach a lot of people who listen to this album seeking happiness and encouragement.
Reviewed by Yukari Shinagawa