Harvesters of pearls are quick to point out that the beauty of pearls is not connate. Pearls started out as grains of sand innocuously slipping into an oyster in between its mantle and its shell. To the oyster, it feels like it was getting a splinter. And as a way of trying to protect itself, the oyster began to cover up the irritant with a substance called nacre. After years of constant gritting and endless exasperation, the pearl is finally formed. It is thus not a matter of triviality that Lara Martin has titled this brand new album "Pearl." Each of these tracks is a pearl to Martin. This means that they are birthed out of Martin's own spiritual journey of jostling the trials of her life with the wisdom of God. Instead of spewing out her difficulties, she wrestled with each of them covering them with God's nacre. And over time, these songs become Martin's "pearls;" life lessons learnt as a result of her faith in Jesus Christ. To those who enjoy songs by X Factor's Beverley Trotman, Michelle Tumes, Sonic Flood and Christine Dente would remember Lara Martin who has penned some of their big hits. Originally from Yorkshire but now based in Northampton, Martin brings in an English presence to her latest collection of God-inspired songs.
What sets "Pearl" apart from the sea of releases from female Christian artists is that Martin is not a novice in her walk with Christ. There are shafts of insights, depths and gravitas (as the Puritans love to call it) in her communication of God's truth via these ten "pearls" of songs. Also adding heft to the project is the presence of producer Chris Eaton. Eaton, as some may recall, wrote Sir Cliff Richard's UK No.1 smash "Savior's Day" and Amy Grant's seasonal staple "Breath of Heaven." Not only is Eaton on the helm, but he also co-writes three cuts with Martin. UK Gospel artist Noel Robinson (whose latest album was recently reviewed here at BreatheCast) also has a hand in penning "Here is Jesus." Godly wisdom is most evident in the opening soft rock cut "Beautiful in Its Time." On the conveyor belt of songs, there are already many that address the need of waiting on God. But if you have walked with Christ, such a truth is easier said than done. What then do we do when we wait on God's timing? Sulk? Worry? Feel sorry for ourselves? Martin wisely tells us that worshipping God in the midst of waiting is the best way to redeem time for God to work out his purposes.
Martin is more than a singer, she ministers through her songs. Those of us in life's transitions when we have no clue what God's next step is will be ministered to by the pop sounding "Between the Trapezes." Instead of hording in our fears, Martin gently challenges us to give them to Jesus: "Sometimes you've gotta let go of the need to know/It's only when living in between trapezes/That you defy gravity/And you really learn to fly." Having been heavily involved with "Saying Goodbye" Ministry (which holds remembrance services for babies lost through miscarriages), the tender ballad "Soothe" speaks comfort to those who have had suffered miscarriages. Piercingly honest, emotionally raw, but pastoral in her execution, "Soothe" is a highlight. With just the backing of an acoustic guitar, don't let the simplicity of this folk-like ballad "God Sees You" belie you from allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to us about God's omniscience.
If you are looking for a congregational worship ballad in the style of "God is Here," "Hide in You" would be a treat. It's not difficult to meet with God in worship with its psalm-esque lyrics and its easy to follow melody. The greatest appeal of "Pearl" is that these are testimonies coming right from the heart of a woman who has lived her walk with Christ. Maybe this is why these songs are so alluring; they move right from our ears into our hearts.