Release Date: November 13th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Love Takes Over (Beth Croft)
- Dynamite (Tom Smith)
- Take My Heart (Tom Smith)
- Hope and Glory (Tim Hughes)
- Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration) (Rend Collective)
- The Way (Beth Croft)
- This is Living (Tom Smith)
- Rule in My Heart (Beth Croft)
- Pocketful of Faith (Tim Hughes)
- Hold On (Beth Croft)
- End of Me (Tom Smith)
- Love Takes Over (Beth Croft) (Video)
- Dynamite (Tom Smith) (Video)
- Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration) (Rend Collective) (Video)
- Hold On (Beth Croft) (Video)
- Take My Heart (Tom Smith) (Video)
As Bethel, Passion and Jesus Culture is to the U.S.A., and Planetshakers and Hillsong are to Australia, Soul Survivor (and more recently Worship Central) is to the U.K. Borne during the 1990s where worship leaders Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and a host of others banded together to form a ministry primarily focused in leading the younger generation into moments of worship and heartfelt praise, Soul Survivor has now become an annual festival where individuals gather, sometimes from around the world, to be equipped via a series of worship services and sermon talks. Annual worship albums (except in 2014) have been released by Soul Survivor, and artists have used Soul Survivor as a platform to launch careers. From Tim Hughes and Matt Redman, to more recently introductions into the Soul Survivor family like Beth Croft, Rend Collective, Ben Cantelon and Tom Smith; Soul Survivor has become a movement where its music, just like its counterparts across the pond, is what has continued to draw individuals to the festivals each year. Now with another album titled Love Takes Over, this album consisting of Tim, Tom, Beth and Rend Collective deliver songs full of emotion and passion, as this album is certain to be loved by anyone who adores worship music of the British variety, or for anyone who wants to listen to and hear something different and unique, compared to the Bethel/Jesus Culture constantly flooding our radio airwaves at the moment (not that Bethel/Jesus Culture have bad music, sometimes the constant airplay can dull the music unintentionally).
Tim Hughes, arguably one of Christian music’s most prolific, powerful and poignant worship leaders and singer/songwriters of this generation, has been in and a part of Soul Survivor for a while yet, and Love Takes Over is no exception. Contributing 2 tracks in “Hope and Glory” and “Pocketful Of Faith”, it was (and still is) the title track from his most recent studio album that has been a favourite of mine of late from Tim, and quite possibly one of my favourite worship songs to be recorded in 2015. At more than 6 minutes, Tim brings to us a reflection at heart, a moment of tranquillity as we sing alongside Tim, longing for God to take our faith and make something of it, even if it is only a pocketful. As the song fervently moves into the territory of a powerful anthem, the contrast in musicality shows us that a song can be both reflective and upbeat, and still work together in style. The song gives us a great reminder to not feel guilty even if we have little or no faith for the situations we’re in, and “Pocketful of Faith”, though not necessarily the most church/radio friendly, will be noticed for its raw honesty in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. “Hope and Glory”, a modern-style hymn for the church a-la “In Christ Alone”, is a piano led melody declaring that Christ is our hope and the glory for the nations. Will it have hymn-like status in years to come? Maybe, maybe not, nevertheless, Tim sings with emotion and power, and with the raw energy and emotion that has been felt in hymns gone past, we are reminded that ‘…only You can move the mountains, only You can heal our land, Christ alone, our hope and glory, Christ alone, in You we stand…’
Beth Croft, fast becoming a prominent worship leader in Soul Survivor festivals gone by, delivers 4 tracks, most of which have been represented on her debut album released in 2014, titled Rule in My Heart. With her vocals placing her in the league of some of my favourite British artists, from Tim Hughes, Matt Redman and Rend Collective, to Philippa Hanna and Delirious?; Beth’s emotion comes through in all of the songs on Love Takes Over. First track on the album is “Love Takes Over”, a four minute dance/worship number, as Beth creates for us a space for us to dance freely upon the truth imparted to us that God’s love takes over every situation we are in ourselves. With Beth’s vocals carrying a vast amount of emotion, as we are reminded that love takes us over and all we can do (and hopefully ought to do) is just respond in awe, reverence, and honour, we celebrate in the words of how ‘…when love takes over, I can feel You here with me, as love takes over, there’s no place I’d rather be…’ With eclectic acoustics, synths and a steady guitar strum; it is when we feel God’s love in us and through us that we can show good works out of the love given to us.
“Hold On” and “Rule In My Heart”, both previously on Beth’s debut album, are both represented here in live format, and each of them shining and never altering from the original studio recordings we have all grown to love and enjoy. “Hold On” is an aspiring drum and bass prominent ballad that presses into the theme of holding onto the cross and the promises of God in all circumstances and trials, while “Rule In My Heart” imparts to us a theme of surrender, as this piano prominent melody reminds us all to ponder the lyric of how Beth wants God to ‘…rule in my heart forever, high above any other, come and take Your place…’ “The Way”, originally written by Ben Cantelon and Tim Hughes, and recorded by Tim on his album Pocketful of Faith, is as energetic and invigorating as they come, no matter who sings the melody. Beth makes the song her own by delivering some stanzas of free worship as she brings the congregation into a moment of collectively declaring that ‘…You are the way, You are the way, lost and dead but Your love came to find me, Jesus You are the way, Jesus the only way…’
“Boldly I Approach”, a song co-written by Beth and recorded on Rule in My Heart, was sung on the Soul Survivor album by the other half of the co-write- Rend Collective. This Irish quintet is fast becoming a favourite of mine in terms of worship artists in the U.K., and if ever there is going to be a replacement to Delirious?, Rend Collective has the greatest potential to fill that void. Bringing to us a moment (or 6 momentual minutes) of powerful goodness and rich lyrical maturity, we witness the declaratory statements of how we assert our boldness in Christ, that ‘…boldly I approach Your throne, blameless now I’m running home, by Your blood I come, welcomed as Your own, into the arms of majesty…’ Rich and theologically sound, anthemic and encouraging, “Boldly I Approach” is by far my favourite song by Rend Collective ever. The live setting has made me continue to love the song even more than before. Here’s to the band creating a song equally as powerful as “Boldly I Approach” in the upcoming years ahead.
‘…God has always gone before me and led the way, opening up doors I never thought could be opened. I have a huge passion to write songs that point people to Jesus. Whether it is within the walls of church or beyond, I just love the sight of seeing someone open their eyes for the first time, realizing there is a God who created them and loves them like crazy! In that moment, everything in their life changes, everything they’ve ever thought and based their every day existence on can never be the same…’ Tom Smith, a worship leader from the U.K. who has only recently been leading in Soul Survivor festivals, has given us 4 tracks on this album, and with a vocal of Martin Smith meets Jonathan Thulin, Tom’s musical style is something to watch out for in months to come. Delivering familiarity in Hillsong Young and Free’s “This is Living”, it was a shame to see Tom omit Lecrae’s rap bridge…maybe Tom doesn’t know rap himself? Regardless, Tom’s reimagining of this powerful song about us living for Christ and Christ alone, is quite powerful, as is his songs “End of Me” and “Dynamite”, both of them encouraging us in our walk with Christ (the former declaring that we need to die to ourselves in order for us to live fully for Christ, and the latter giving us an analogy, that Christ’s love for us is more powerful than the most lethal of dynamites). Tom also brings to us “Take My Heart”, an emotive prayer from us to Christ, longing for Him to take hold of us and to take our hearts for His purposes, even if it means for us to face the messiness and ugliness which is life, and the hurt, pain and suffering along the way as we are refined by Christ into the men and women He longs for us to be.
Though worship leaders and previous Soul Survivor contributors like Sam Bailey, Tom Fields, Jamie Rodwell and Ben Cantelon are all absent from this year’s Soul Survivor festival compilation, what this collection of songs brings is a plethora of proven hits as well as up and coming songs that are certain to be hits in days, weeks and months to come. With Beth fast proving herself to anchor worship and music on Soul Survivor albums in the future, as Tim Hughes moves towards focusing on Worship Central albums, it is once again for me the songs of Beth that are highlights on Love Takes Over (as well as “Boldly I Approach”). Anyone who loves Christian worship music should check out the album, with songs like “Hold On”, “Boldly I Approach”, “The Way”, “Love Takes Over” and “Rule in My Heart” some of my own personal standouts. A must have if you enjoy worship movements like Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong or Passion, Soul Survivor’s relevance in today’s music culture is far from redundant, as I’m sure the effects of this album will be felt in years to come! Well done to Beth, Tim, Tom and Rend Collective for such an awe-inspiring and compelling set of 11 tracks!
3 songs to listen to: Boldly I Approach, Rule in My Heart, Love Takes Over
RIYL: Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Hillsong, Passion