A Jesus record to help God’s people remember and rehearse his story

A King & His Kindness
Artist:Caroline Cobb
Publisher: Integrity Music
Length: 9 tracks/37 minutes

A King & His Kindness by Caroline Cobb is her Jesus record. If you are familiar with Rich Mullins, you may recall that prior to his untimely death he planned to release a batch of songs about the life of Christ. After his tragic accident friends and fellow musicians completed the The Jesus Record. Cobb accomplishes something similar here in every song.

It’s also fitting that the final song, “Let It Be So with Your Church,” is like a benediction for Christ’s church. Having heard about and coming to know this Savior, now follow in his steps. This encouragement is in harmony with what bible scholar N. T. Wright has envisioned. The community of God is to be characterized by love, sacrifice and service as expressed in the song: “As Jesus bent low to serve in love/So with us let it be.” It’s such a fitting application to a beautiful depiction of the life of Christ spread across the preceding eight songs.

Christ’s gentleness is even expressed through the music. “Who Is This Jesus?” opens to the sound of gentle strumming of stringed instruments, including mandolin for a gorgeous sound. Light pedal steel sounding as if far-off in the distance adds to the lovely texture.

It’s ironic that the songs with little or no percussion, like the aforementioned, carry the most weight. They are quiet but stunning in their impact. Similar to “Jesus …” on The Jesus Record. Ashley Cleveland, the lead singer, is most often associated with rock but here the soft vocals make this ballad all the more powerful.

Count “Jesus, Full of Compassion” in the same category. There is a soft interplay between acoustic guitar and piano. The latter having a slight echo and combined with the sparse setting creating an ethereal background.

Here Cobb identifies with a variety of desperate people whose stories are in the gospels: “I am the outcast leper/Falling helpless to my knees … I am the bleeding woman/Desperate reaching for your robes.” How often as readers do we fail to see ourselves in these stories? We might see ourselves as far removed when we are just as needy, though in different ways. The repeated identification in the song with the lowliest is arresting, helping me to see that like them I’m in need of grace.

This brings me to the wonderful concluding and repeated lines in “Find Rest (Matthew 11)”

All the work is done, it is finished
No, you’re not enough, but it is finished

What a sense of relief comes with the realization that though I will never be enough, what Christ has done on my behalf is more than enough to satisfy my deficiency.

So as not to leave the wrong impression, the songs alternate between a minimalist approach and ones with a full-bodied sound. Either way it’s not morbidly introspective. Some like “Turn the Tables” and “Don’t Want to Miss Your Heart” are mid-tempo and lively. The former is anchored by a joyful piano hook.

The opening “The Year of His Favor (Isaiah 61)” has a gospel-flavored chorus courtesy in part from Resound, a gospel trio. What strikes me too is the drumming on this song. Drummers who don’t overplay are rightly lauded for their restraint. That’s what I thought of when I heard the steady beat here and elsewhere. The same might be said of all the musicians and the production in general. It’s never overdone.

If Rich Mullins was here to express it, I think he would approve of this Jesus record. He would probably want Cobb to join him on a tour highlighting the life of Christ. Artists like Steve Bell, Carolyn Arends and Sandra McCracken would also fit right in. And since Bruce Cockburn was recently found anonymously playing in a worship band, let’s invite him as well.

If you are looking for biblically-rooted songs expressed primarily in straightforward arrangements and organic sounds, don’t miss this one.

Michael Dalton