Much art created in 2020 understandably reflects division, anxiety, and loss. But please let me know if any offer a healing balm as timeless, sincere, and beautiful as Rachel Zylstra’s On Faith.
In a little over 37 minutes, this album moves like a church service in the best sense of our Reformed tradition (liner notes to "On Faith" even include a shout-out to Church of the Servant CRC). "Dayenu Lord," opens the album/service on a note of gratitude. “Romans Doxology” closes with blessing. In between, the album is saturated with Scripture (songs 3-5 are verbatim New Testament passages), story (“Jonah,” "Perfume"), and a sense of spiritual vitality. It feels familiar and fresh, as ancient Scripture, traditional Spirituals, and original songwriting meld together into one work that invites worship.
Musically, Zylstra’s timeless piano and vocals are front and center, while string and horn arrangements on tracks like “Psalm 65” (one of my favorite tracks of the past year) add to the beauty of the whole. Speaking of which, in an era of digital singles, this album deserves to be entered into and experienced as a whole. "On Faith" was released Jan. 1 on rachelzylstra.com.