TUESDAY REVIEW – DANIEL BASHTA (THE SOUNDS OF DANIEL BASHTA)

Daniel Bashta – The Sounds Of Daniel Bashta
Many of us became aware of Bashta when the David Crowder*Band released the artistic, rollicking “Like A Lion.” Now, listeners can find a full-length project form Bashta courtesy of Integrity Music. The record has been the center of a large-scale online marketing plan to spread the word about Integrity’s new artist.

Bashta is a creative writer, passionate worship leader and somewhat of a spokesman for the state of young adults of faith in our culture. The Sounds Of Daniel Bashta is revivalistic modern rock work, focusing on the “change” that’s coming to the church.

DREAMERS
This ambient opening track features quick section changes a lot of ambient crowd noise. It’s a prophetic opening call to the “dreamers” to awake and be free to dream “the dreams of Him.” There ample artistic imagery here, complete with church organ accompaniment. The song definitely sets the tone for the record’s themes of revival and revolution. Instrumentally, the song seems pretty easy to pull off. A nice march with big arpeggio guitars. Halfway through the song, the march turns into a floor tom, crowd anthem along the same lyrical lines with a U2-like “Whoaaa” crowd vocal. In our church, we don’t really sing songs as revivalist as this one and the melody is pretty hard to follow. I’d expect the lyrics to go over okay, but learning the actual song would be a challenge for my people. Especially since I don’t have other musicians with vocal mics or a choir to help with the big ending.

FREEDOM CALLING
Kinda’ more of the same. The song seems to have two themes. The first is that the time is now, and is built around Bashta’s refrain of “Miracles are coming / Yes, I believe.” The second is a musical analysis of God-honoring worship; that when we sing and dance unashamed, freedom “falls.” There’s also a third and final act to the song, which is a corporate gratitude for what God does. Each of the thematic sections on the song is solid theologically and is done well, but the overall songs switches back and forth and feels a bit jaunty. If I were to use this song, I might simplify it by saving one of the section for a different version or add as the song is learned. The song also builds to a rollicking yell-vocal anthem like the previous tune. Stylistically, this is an attribute of Bashta’s new record, but yell-vocals aren’t that accessible where I lead.

THE SOUND
This rocker starts with nice, overdriven electric guitars playing through an emotive minor-chord progression. Musically, it’s definitely a rock song, complete with a nice, broad drum part that any drummer would love to play! Lyrically, the song is directed toward hell and darkness; Bashta (and choir) are asking “Hell, can you hear me…Darkness do you fear me?” I was naturally intrigued by this song. A song that addresses darkness and hell is a rare thing among corporate worship tunes. But I was discouraged to find that Jesus and his role as victor over death and the grave is noticeably absent in the song. In fact, the refrain of the song tells “hell” that this is the sound of a “generation rising up.” As a pastor, I’m concerned with songs that are all bravado and boldness, but don’t point the church back to where our victory comes from – Jesus! The absence of a clear picture of our victory in Jesus makes this a song I wouldn’t do at my church. My thought is that we’re already selfish and try to make everything all about ourselves naturally…I need Jesus!

HEAVEN
A laid back acoustic pop tune that sounds musically akin to the recent Glory Revealed project. And rightfully so! Mac Powell of Third Day shows up on Verse 2. Song has a good, singable melody and a nice string section. Also love the roomy brushkit on drums. The choir shows up again to enforce the chorus. Lyrically, this is the most random. The song starts confessing that we’ve found a life worth living for – a great theme. But the chorus is a repeating line of “Heaven come down / Heaven fall down on me.” The chorus and verse just don’t fit thematically. The end refrain then says “I’m not looking for just another touch / I’m just looking for the real Jesus” which is yet a third concept to introduce. So far, the songs have been creative, but the revivalist nature of the songs is getting a bit overwhelming. I’d definitely pass on this one.

PURSUIT
This Crowder-esque ballad features Kim Walker-Smith of the famed Bethel Live recordings. It’s a atmospheric and melodic – a beautiful song that showcases Kim’s wonderful voice. The bass line is pretty great, too! Thematically, the song is pretty plain – we can’t live without God’s presence, so we pursue that. Phrases like “pressing in” and “breaking through” are abundant, as well as “I will not be denied.” The song arrangement is simple and would be pretty easy for most teams, but gets pretty high toward the end. I don’t want to read too much into the song, but I’m not sure God’s presence is so evasive and difficult that I need to sing that I have to break into it or that I won’t be denied. My two cents.

HE’S LIKE A LION
This is a spoken word of a prophetic word from God. Toward the end it changes tenses and foreshadows the song further in the set.

POTTER’S WHEEL (REFLECTION)
This moody, piano piece features Jason Morant in the first half and Bashta at Verse 2. Lyrically, pretty straight forward tune for God to refine us. I think the phrasing on the chorus is really nicely done and I like that the chorus ends with “You see Your reflection.” I’m not blown away by the song, but I’d use it for a prayer service or maybe worship targeted toward a younger crowd. A good musical prayer.

OFFERING
Love the vibe on this one. Great synth and a cool choir element in the song. It’s basically just a chorus stretched over a massive rocking ballad. It’s a short song – more of an interlude than an actual album track. It could be done in congregational worship, possibly as a more quiet song to play before mission focus or another ministry element of a service.

WITH EVERYTHING
Ah…a straight ahead rocker. Sorry. I know I’m getting old, but it’s hard not to love a solid kick and snare at around 120 bpms. Song opens with a great electric guitar riff and a solid drum/bass/synth verse to start off. Vocal range is broad here. Love the chorus jump but it would be hard to pull off in most worship settings. The approach is easy to follow. Verses describe the gifts God gives and the chorus is a response to that – “with everything, I will worship You.” I love songs that illustrate and explain this response element of worship. So far, this track is the most easy to implement in worship and I’d feel the most comfortable using this one.

UNLOCK MY ROAR
This is the most baffling of all the songs on this record. As I first listened, I was  digging it. The verses speaks of what will happen “love comes to a nation” and “when the all consuming power fills the streets.” I thought this was a song about the coming of Jesus, the redemption of all things and the glory that all Christians eagerly await. But halfway through the song, Bashta starts singing that “I am the voice” and “I am the movement” and eventually “I am Jesus to this city/nation/world.” Both are good concepts but for some reason the back half of the song startled my lyrically. I had no idea this song was about us. Doesn’t mean it’s a terrible song, but I didn’t get it.

IT’S HAPPENING
Another prophetic ballad written from a secular vs. sacred standpoint. Bashta expresses trust and acknowledges that God that changes our perspectives. Where the world sees “bones,” the Christ follower sees an army. Where the world sees death, the Christian sees a garden. There’s the recurring I-will-not-be-moved theme and a large, athemic chorus that puts in nicely – “When I am overwhelmed, Still I will overcome.” It’s a good song, but a couple of things make it a congregational challenge. First off is the amazing tenor vocal. Bashta has a fantastic upper range, but this one would have to come down a step or two. Secondly, I’d be curious to see how singing to the “you” would work in church worship, since the song is pointed more to those who don’t see through the a Godly perspective.

LIKE A LION
I’m a sucker for a good synth, and this one starts strong. Most of us are familiar with Crowder’s cover of this song. There’s less back and forth on this version. It’s a bit more straight ahead rock n’ roll, which is refreshing. I’ve always been perplexed by the pre-chorus section of the song, which says, “My faith is dead / I need a revolution somehow” and then immediately transitions into “I’m lost in Your freedom / This world I’ve overcome.” Those two sentiments seem to contradict each other a bit. There are a few places where the instrumentation gets a little frantic, but on the whole, making the song more of a rock song works.

AWAKENING (DRY BONES)
This ambient prayer opens with a plaintive first line: “My soul is so thirsty for the living God / The very essence of Your presence”. The song develops pretty naturally from there – asking God to make our dry bones dance. There’s excellent band work here – church musicians would love this song. It stays focused lyrically and when all is said and done is a simple song, although thematically is very similar to 3 or 4 other songs on the record.

ISAIAH 61
Most of us can’t help but respond to this amazing scripture. Bashta turns this passage outward, speaking it over those who follow Jesus. It’s a fitting end to the record and is a good example of how worship leaders can use scripture in services and utilize musicians as they do so. There’s a little bit of paraphrasing here (or maybe from a Bible translation I’m not aware of) but it’s faithful to the text.


While there are some enjoyable elements on this record, I didn’t hear anything on this record that I immediately thought I needed to use in my church. Bashta’s record is quite creative, but it’s redundant. Redundancy works for worship records if they’re a resource (see every Sovereign Grace record ever), but this one just doesn’t give me much to use in my church. In addition, there quite a few songs that I would specifically avoid using in our worship time. Whether we recognize it as such or not, we battle the effect of revivalism all the time in worship. There are times and seasons for songs like this and Bashta’s music is coming from an honest and creative place. It’s just not a resource for me.

Two follow-up questions for you all:

  1. How much of the online marketing for this record have you seen? Have you heard of this record? Follow the promotion campaign?
  2. If you’ve heard it, what do you think about the record?
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2 comments

  1. Toby Baxley

    I saw the marketing efforts but didn’t look into it. I haven’t heard the record. I may check it out on spotify.

    How do you define revivalism? That might be helpful to your readers.

  2. toddwright

    Revivalism is one of those church words that has about 200 different definitions, based on who you ask. Some of the best explanations can be found regarding Charles Finney and the Second Great Awakening. Revivalism represented a massive shift in how church was “done” back then, but the ideas and theories involved are still around today. It’s very possible that there’s a better word for what I’m trying to explain in relation to these songs, but “revivalism” is about the closest I can come. Since I don’t have a one sentence definition, here’s what I’ve seen in churches with these sorts of songs I mentioned in the review.

    Revivalism is most evident in Charismatic circles, where people consistently show up and ask God for a “new thing” or revelation. Revivalistic songs are less about more about what we’re asking God to do than attributing Him worth.

    There’s a time and place for those sorts of songs and prayers, but there are often problems that arise when we do too many of those in our worship. Too much revivalism will decrease the importance of scripture and increase the value of an emotional response when we worship.

    Revivalism is also difficult because it often doesn’t make room for trust in suffering. Because we’re always coming back and begging God desperately for a fresh move or to make us alive again, etc., we don’t have a theology of trusting when God is seemingly absent. Rather than trusting in what God’s already done, revivalism encourages us to just beg louder.

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