Release Date: March 17th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Even So Come (featuring Chris Tomlin)
- Shout Hosanna (featuring Kristian Stanfill)
- Forever (featuring Melodie Malone)
- Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) (featuring Crowder)
- Draw Near (featuring Kristian Stanfill)
- The Saving One (featuring Chris Tomlin)
- The Awesome God You Are (featuring Matt Redman)
- My Anchor (featuring Christy Nockels)
- Wonder (featuring Crowder)
- The Way (featuring Brett Younker)
- You Found Me (featuring Kristian Stanfill)
- The Cross of Christ (featuring Chris Tomlin)
- We Fall Down (featuring Chris Tomlin)
- The Heart Of Worship (featuring Matt Redman)
- It Is Well (featuring Kristian Stanfill)
- How He Loves (featuring Crowder)
- The Heart of Worship (featuring Matt Redman) (Video)
- How He Loves (featuring Crowder) (Video)
If you’re new to the Christian music scene, and are unaware of what the mission and vision of Passion Conferences is, then today, or at least sometime in the near future, is when you need to start checking out this popular worship movement. Comprising of many Sixsteps Records artists and others, inclusive of artists like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Charlie Hall and Crowder, to name a few; these men and women of God come together to worship God in January and February every year at key and prominent U.S. cities, with the conferences directed at university students, started in 1997 by Louie Giglio, now one of the key pastors of the conference each year. Now the band performs in conferences in Atlanta Georgia around New Year for their recording of their annual albums released in March; and throughout the rest of the world these guys tour around the world as well!
Responsible for the start of many artists’ careers; Passion keeps its heart for students and their related ministry rooted in Isaiah 26:8. I have always loved the annual Passion albums, and this year’s album Even So Come is no exception- this album is sure to be near the top of my list of favourite albums of 2015. Even three months after the album has released, it still impacts and is sure to touch many lives. From the resounding and captivating title track, to Christy Nockels’ powerful worship anthem “My Anchor” to Brett Younker’s cover of the Tim Hughes’ written pop tune “The Way” and newcomer Melodie Malone’s cover of Kari Jobe’s “Forever”, not to mention the 4 throwback older tracks re-recorded at the end; Even So Come hardly has any faults, and is just as good as its predecessors. Releasing on the same day as albums from Hawk Nelson, Matt Maher, Among The Thirsty and Jonathan Thulin, this worship album is a must for fans of Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Desperation Band!
Once again Kristian Stanfill and Chris Tomlin serve up the biggest majority of the album’s offerings. Out of the 16 deluxe edition tracks, 4 songs are sung each by Chris and Kristian, collectively amounting to 50% of the album- quite a sizeable chunk. Personally I would’ve wanted to see a bit more of a balance between each artists’ contributions, yet since Chris is one of the most popular and respected worship leaders today, and one of the first worship leaders to be featured on a Passion album and to be signed to Sixsteps Records; and Kristian is a fairly new and up and coming artist, the track listing is good, as well the quality of the songs, yet again! While I may have wanted Christy Nockels and Matt Redman to have more inclusions on this album, as they each only have one song each present (and where was Charlie Hall?); Even So Come is nonetheless filled with God moments and times where we can sing out praises to our Saviour and Father!
Opening the album with the emphatic electric guitar led 7 minute long epically awesome worship anthem title track, led by Chris Tomlin, we are immediately introduced to a heartfelt, urgent melody depicting that Jesus is coming soon. Giving us impetus so that we as Christians are on the lookout, and actively trying to spread the gospel to as many people as we can, Chris delivers the message with gusto and passion, eloquently reminding us that ‘…like a bride waiting for her groom we’ll be a church ready for You, every heart longing for our King…’. As we ardently sing God’s praises, the immersion in this soon to be great classic is evident, and Chris’s prowess as a worship leader and songwriter is further enhanced. Chris’s other offerings on the twelve track standard edition track list are “The Saving One” and “The Cross Of Christ”. While “The Saving One” is wrtten with Matt Maher, and easily accessible in the Sunday setlist, as we are introduced to a subdued simple guitar led melody where Chris relays the fact that God is the saving one, that ‘…Your love is amazing, grace never fails me, You are the saving One…’; it is in fact the standard album closer “The Cross Of Christ” that ramps the epicness and celebratory atmosphere by many factors. With acoustic guitar and resounding keys leading this jovial anthem, Chris relays that the cross of Christ and Jesus’ blood saves us all from sin and an eternity without Him. This reverent prayer that is sure to impact many will be on my iTunes playlist for a while, as a prayerfully give thanks to Jesus for dying and rising from the dead!
With joyous hand claps and vibrant acoustic and electric guitar, the crowd is explosive and raucous in the Kristian Stanfill led melody “Shout Hosanna”, another simple song about the death and resurrection of Christ. Reminding us why Kristian is sure to be a popular worship artist in the future, and giving us more reasons why he needs to record another solo album, “Shout Hosanna” is a wonderful inclusion, and a melody we can move and dance to as well, which is a plus! “Draw Me” pulls the tempo back a bit more, with this haunting and mysterious electric guitar led slow and prayerful ballad showcasing Kristian’s vulnerable side. Written with Jason Ingram, “Draw Near” seems to be Passion’s answer to Hillsong’s “Oceans”, the more and more I listen to this wonderfully paced and epically awesome melody, with Kristian recounting that as we draw near to God, He draws near to us. Personally, the length of 8 minutes and a slow building crescendo is a dead giveaway of the Holy Spirit anointing of this melody on potentially everyone who listens, but if you’re not convinced that this song is a tear jerker and gives me chills, then you can listen to the song yourself and judge as well.
Kristian’s last melody featured here is the happy and bouncy synth led “You Found Me”, relaying that ‘…now I have a song to sing, I was lost, then Jesus You found me, now I live forever free…’. Once again with simple lyrics and music, yet still a profound message with the cross and resurrection firm and centre in the song thematically, Kristian’s offerings highlight why he has been featured so much on Passion albums- he’s such an engaging singer and worship leader, and I believe his best is yet to come!
I guess it’s hard to be one of the other artists on the compilation album, with only one or two songs present on this album. However the rest of the songs are as impacting, powerful and encouraging as the songs Chris and Kristian, so let’s be reminded of how talented these worship leaders are. Brett Younker exquisitely covers Tim Hughes’ synth driven dance pop/EDM melody “The Way”, with the simplicity of the lyrics, which remind us that Jesus is the way, truth and the life, that we were ‘…lost and dead but Your love came to find me…You’re the light shining bright in the darkness…’; complementing Brett’s clear and pristine voice quite nicely. Matt Redman’s “The Awesome God You Are”, also present on the upcoming live solo album Unbroken Praise, is a straight up CCM/worship melody driven by earnest guitars, as Matt ardently recounts that God is awesome, praying that God will reveal that truth to him every day. Though not as hard hitting as other songs on this album, Matt’s offering is just as good as previous hits of his, such as “Your Grace Finds Me” and “Mercy”.
“My Anchor”, sung beautifully and brilliantly led by Christy Nockels, is led by electric guitar and the mid-tempo ballad proclaims God being our anchor, that we can believe that God is always bigger and mightier than our struggles and circumstances. With Christy emphatically reminding us that Jesus is ‘…my anchor forever, my shelter within the storm, You’re my deliverer, You never falter, cause You’re the rock I stand on…’; we can assuredly assert this ever true statement as well. Newcomer Melodie Malone covers “Forever with aplomb and professionalism. The worship anthem, written by Brian Johnson of Bethel Church and Kari Jobe, is driven by the piano, as well as swelling and rousing guitar later on in the song, and lyrically it’s easy to see why this track has had such an impact in the lives of many. Vividly and descriptively painting a picture of Jesus’ death and resurrection; our redemption story and also what heaven may look like, ring out; and I can’t help but echo and agree with the Melodie’s heartfelt sentiments! Musically the track hits all of the right chords as well, and I also have high hopes for Melodie’s future as a singer and a worship leader- she is one artist to look out for!
And as the album winds down to a close, let’s not forget Crowder’s two musically daring and courageous offerings. Driven by passionate guitars and including strings, banjo and other unique instruments, “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner” has its roots in country, as Crowder delivers a call for us to raise our heads and rejoice because of the good news of salvation, as we ‘…see the walls start crumbling, let the gates of glory open wide…’. Musically this song could fit right at home on a country show like Nashville, and hopefully this song propels Crowder to even more stardom that he already is- more Grand Opry appearances? And “Wonder”, a brand new Crowder tune, expertly interweaves stanzas of the well-known hymn “How Great Thou Art” into the song creating a new modern hymn that is sure to be sung in churches everywhere, as we sing out God’s praises, and declare his wonder and sovereignty forevermore!
The final four songs (the deluxe edition tracks) are four timeless classics (“How He Loves”, “We Fall Down”, “The Heart Of Worship” and “It Is Well”) that bring the album back to the heart of Passion, to bring glory to God in whatever setting they’re in, and to spread the gospel in whatever way they can. In that sense, this album has accomplished a lot, and I am proud to say that Even So Come is one of my favourite albums of 2015. There are many standouts on this album, in fact, every song is a highlight for me, just like last year’s. Just as good as Take It All and Let The Future Begin; what surprised me from this album was my only issue- that artists like Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Brett Younker and newcomer Melodie Malone didn’t have enough songs present on this album, and Charlie Hall, who was present on 2013’s incarnation, was inconspicuously absent from the song list for the second year in a row. Yet on the whole, this year’s Passion album is still worthy of warranting a top 10 or 15 spot in my favourite albums’ list- Louie Giglio and sixsteps Records have done a fantastic job! An album that deserves to be bought on iTunes by many people; I guarantee those who love worship music will love this record! God deserves all the praise for this spectacular album, and then some more!
4 songs to listen to: Forever, Draw Near, My Anchor, The Cross Of Christ
RIYL: Tim Hughes, Hillsong Worship, Desperation Band, Michael W Smith, Kari Jobe