The beauty of unrealized service

Label: Awaken Saint Records and The Fuel Music
Length: 4 tracks/16 minutes

On Selah Tori Harper sounds utterly broken when she sings the chorus of “The Wreck,”

Where are you Lord? Where are your Lord?
In the middle of the mess
Lord show me how, to live faith out
In the middle of the wreck
In the middle of the wreck

I can hear the sadness. Those who are questioning and grieving might find comfort in it being voiced with a haunting keyboard-driven melody.

In reflecting on his latest book, God and the Pandemic, Bible scholar N. T. Wright sees lament as a suitable response to grief. In naming her release Selah, might Harper be pondering losses and pouring out her heart to God?

It’s what she does from the opening lines:

I’ve made a mess of things,
And broken my own heart
What’s left of me,
Is wounded and scarred
And lesser things, wouldn’t leave such a mark
But I believe, there’s hope in the dark

Like many of the Psalms in the Bible, it grieves but leaves room for hope.

I find it fascinating that in living faithfully, we can be unaware of how God might use our service. A woman in Scripture was criticized by others for anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, but Christ said, “she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Matthew 26:12b). In making this recording Harper probably never imagined its relevance in expressing grief and hope during tumultuous times.

It doesn’t hurt that like Harper’s voice, the music on this EP is soothing. It’s consistently keyboard-driven and embellished with a seamless mix of organic and synthesized sounds.

Often the intensity builds to a crescendo that ends with quiet sparse notes. Their is a judicious use of strings that lends an elegance and dignity. This is ornate pop.

In “Resurrect” Harper argues from the greater to the lesser as is found in Scripture:

If you can walk on water
If you can make the blind see
If you can raise from the ashes
You can resurrect me

In the next line I hear the joy of discovery in her voice, “And I’ve tried to find how to get the life but you’ve been here all along.” It reminds me of A. W. Tozer’s thought that we often ask God to do what he has already done. We may feel abandoned but God is with us.

The buoyant melody is a delight, so that even though lament is present, there is also praise. Like the Psalms these tracks run the gamut of emotions. Each one is addressed to God, providing an opportunity to worship in different ways.

Fans of hip hop will hear a familiar rhythm in “Hiding Place.” Whereas the strings on “Closer Than” bear a classical influence. Its whimsical nature making it a fitting close.

This is the twenty-one-year-old’s second EP. Seasons debuted in 2018, generating several charting singles. In addition to co-writing with Cindy Morgan, Mia Fieldes and others, she has sung background vocals for Chris Tomlin and Tenth Avenue North.

Michael Dalton