VSR Label Group
Release Date: September 2nd 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Nothing At All
- Set A Fire
- You Amaze Me
- Loved You To Death
- Live In Worship
- As It Is
- Redeemed – Acoustic
The first time I heard Brian Weaver’s music was the Hillsong UNITED cover “Came To My Rescue” a few years ago; and I was completely blown away, and eager to hear more. Carrying a contemporary and fresh pop/rock/worship atmosphere, with a voice similar to Matt Hammitt, Cliff Young from Caedmon’s Call, Mark Schultz and sometimes like Jon Micah Sumrall from Kutless; as well as honest lyrics like Chris Tomlin and Josh Wilson; this young worship leader from Phoenix, Arizona is sure to take off in his sophomore album on VSR Music Group, titled Motion, which released earlier this week. With upbeat tracks next to worship ballads, inclusive of a cover of United Pursuit’s “Set A Fire”; this under the radar album is not to be missed. While it may not beat The Walls Group’s Fast Forward or Montell Jordan’s live album Covered, with respect to sales on its opening week; I would say this batch of 10 gems and treasures may even be as lyrically impacting and poignant. Well done Brian for a well thought out album, with captivating and confronting lyrics and courageous musical arrangements!
Opening the track list is the lead single “Nothing At All”. Immediately we are met with a piano pop and acoustic guitar heavy melody, that has Brian championing God’s praises as he sings about how ‘…You are God, You are holy, without You, we’re nothing at all…’. It’s strange to hear a song first up where it is explicitly stated that we’re nothing without Christ (usually it’s about the unending qualities of Christ), but Brian outlines this theme perfectly in the CCM track. Very catchy and danceable, the album is off to a bright start, even though the song could sound too similar to the CCM/pop on K-love, to some listeners’ disappointment. Thankfully I am not one of those people, and the rest of the album Brian sings with a more worshipful focus.
“Redeemed” is present in 2 formats (an acoustic version and the piano pop studio version- is this fact foreshadowing of a second single announcement), and in both Brian passionately and ardently declares that Jesus redeems him, and that His love covers all of our sins, thus now we are a new creation. He is our strength, our hope, and sets us on our feet, saving us from iniquities. A much more cohesive song in my opinion, in lyric, music and theme than the album opener; “Redeemed” has Brian singing from the top of his lungs, and highlights his brilliant vocals. With the difference being a softer atmosphere, and the addition of more acoustic guitar and piano in the absence of drums in the acoustic version, this song probably pushes its way into my top favourite songs of 2014!
Reminding me of Matt Hammitt and Mark Schultz vocally, Brian has shown us time and time again edifying lyrics and inspiring music, and this is the case again on Motion. The title track, not directly mentioning God, but alluding to it; is a slower paced ballad led by the acoustic guitar that paints the picture of the Christian walk as a marathon race, encouraging us that we need to focus on our own race rather than others around us; and to keep moving- one step in front of the other. Even if we feel like we’re not moving forward, God is moving, and this encouraging and inspiring melody shows us that we can accomplish anything with God on our side, as we both play our parts in this life in order to make it enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.
The acoustic pop “You Amaze Me”, similar musically to FFH and Caedmon’s Call, speaks of God’s amazing qualities, as Brian gently reminds us that ‘…It’s amazing how You love me, it’s amazing how You care, with every step I take, every move You make, You amaze me…’, highlighting to us that God is the God of surprises, and it is these good surprises that make us surrender everything to Him, as He knows our life better than ourselves. And tracks like the emotional and subdued acoustic guitar ballad “Loved You To Death” (which fervently relays that Jesus Christ loved us so much ‘…before You were born…at your worst and your best, and even when you feel you’re not worth love at all, He loved You to death…’), and the Lord’s Prayer based “As It Is” (a modern day retelling of the famous prayer said by Jesus, brilliantly sung by Brian as he outlines that Jesus’ name be praise on earth as it is in heaven); remind me that Brian will have a bright future ahead of him, either as a singer or a songwriter, as he’s so good in both, and a real find for VSR Music Group. “Blessing” is an acoustic guitar driven relationship themed song, where Brian compliments his wife through song, and highlights that his wife is his better half, and reminds us that God made us for communion with each other, and made us with a special person in mind for us to spend the rest of our lives with. It’s a great thing to ponder over for single people- who our soulmate is. While we are not sure now, Brian’s love song to his wife gives us hope that God is preparing our spouse for us for a time that is in His knowledge.
Yet “Live In Worship” and “Set A Fire” are two songs on this album that I can’t get enough of hearing! A soft, acoustic serene and calm ballad, “Live In Worship” is Brian at his most vulnerable, as he bares his soul, pouring all he is into this melody, and you can tell that this is the song that epitomises the theme of worship that is underpinned in the rest of the songs. As “Live In Worship” culminates into an epic crescendo that is truly magical and God breathed (and sounding very orchestral as well!), the ardent lyrics of the chorus are sure to be impacted around the world, as Brian testifies of God’s grace, and proclaims that ‘…I wanna be near You in more than a song, I long to hear You in a whisper, I come to praise You for more than what You’ve done, I choose to seek Your face, I live in worship…’. With the lone cover on the album being Will Reagan and United Pursuit’s “Set A Fire”, which has an added verse written by Brian, I was intrigued, and this version doesn’t disappoint. One of the most underrated worship songs, Brian transforms this soft ballad into a hard hitting powerful worship anthem worthy of being sung with gusto at maybe an annual Passion event. The bridge is also sublime, with Brian echoing out sentiments that ‘…there’s no place I’d rather be, no place I’d rather be, no place I’d rather be than here in Your love, here in Your love…’, and this song is a welcome addition to a strong tracklist that I will definitely be revisiting in the coming weeks, months and years.
Overall, Brian Weaver has recorded a first full length album on VSR Music Group full of gems, and plenty of plus points! Extremely talented as a musician, with a clear and secure future ahead of him; Brian’s songwriting prowess cannot be denied. With time, I believe that Brian’s writing ability can reach the lofty heights of Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nichole Nordeman and Jason Gray, but for now I will settle for musically poignant worship songs with a distinct acoustic pop atmosphere. I’m definitely going to check out his 2010 release; and I’d encourage others to check out Brian’s discography as well- you’d be surprised to find a lot of songs that will possibly speak to you. Well done Brian for this unequivocally musically different and refreshing experience!
3 songs to listen to: Redeemed, Set A Fire, Live In Worship
RIYL: Sanctus Real, FFH, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong Young And Free, Josh Wilson