“Your love is like springtime.”

Label: Centricity Music
Length: 10 songs/40 minutes

“Springtime” is such an appropriate opening for Let the Ground Rest by Chris Renzema. Not only does it coincide with the current calendar season, but it offers hope for what ills the world “’cause death is dead and gone with the winter.” That may seem like wishful thinking in light of the news but even now “We will sing a new song … Reaching towards the light/Your love is like springtime.”

Despite the brokenness in the world, Renzema has reason to hope. “I want to believe that your love makes everything better,” he sings on “Better.”

On “17,” an age when he saw in just two shades, he wonders what the person he was would think of who he is now. Was he wiser then? He does not shy away from honest evaluation. Those who condemn themselves over failure will appreciate the resolve expressed here. Since I like to surprise, I won’t reveal it. You have to hear it!

I found it difficult to compare him to another artist but he reminds me of Jason Gray. Overall, I might describe this as thoughtful lyrics with an acoustic base and a touch of indie and alt rock sensibility.

The rustic sound of the piano stood out to me. The production is excellent providing a warm, rural sound. Synthesized elements are more in the background.

Authenticity is more than a buzzword. It includes not hiding the true self. The lyrics seem genuine and often self-revealing, which has been a primary source of attraction.

“Maybe this is the End” makes me smile. When Renzema sings “surely this is the end” I can’t help but think about the current predicament. But so the reader won’t be tempted to think he is a purveyor of doom, he quickly adds, “for the end is just another door.” This is a perspective that I need. Singing against an indie rock background, it’s a panacea and downright ebullient.

The first part of the opening stanza is just acoustic guitar and drums. The second stanza is even wilder with just bass and drums and a slightly different rhythm.

“I never saw it coming …,” he sings. We often don’t!

“You’re everything … and already more.” Why does it take a crisis to reveal it?

Clearly a favorite, recommended against the stay-at-home blues. It’s not really the end.

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 ESV). It is essential! Oh, to be able to look back and say with Dylan, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

Renzema poetically extols to piano accompaniment some of the attendant wonders of childhood. What a tragedy when we allow life to make us “older than our God.” “You are forever young Bright Morning Star,” he sings on “Older Than Our God (Forever Young).” “Love is always new! … How can anyone stay old in Love’s presence?” asks Hadewijch, a thirteen century woman from Belgium.

“Keep me as a child,” Renzema tenderly asks. “Teach me, dear Lord, to have ... a child’s love,” Bryan Duncan sings in agreement. It’s the conversion that you need Jesus says.

Far from fear, Martin Luther once exhibited a holy disdain for the devil. I hear an echo of that on “Steal Back Your Joy.” “Go on steal back your joy. The destroyer’s plans are all that are being destroyed,” Renzema sings. “If the thief comes to steal your flame, go on take it back again.” The only music you hear is a finger-picking folk style on acoustic guitar.

In “Let the Ground Rest” Renzema points out, “God he made four seasons and only one spring.” Why expect a perpetual summer? God has reasons for letting the ground rest. The different seasons produce the maturity that he desires.

The music is earthy: basic instruments without a lot of embellishment. It’s a fitting finale.

Hopefully, these words give you a glimpse of an artist in awe of God. I think we are fortunate that it often comes dressed in the garb of roots music. Salt of the earth sentiments join with organic sounds for a timeless snapshot.

Prior to this Centricity Music debut, Renzema released I’ll Be the Branches, an independent recording. Now based in Nashville, he comes from Grand Rapids, MI.

Michael Dalton