Release Date: October 9th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- All Your People Sing
- I Saw the Light
- Lord I Need You
- Jesus, Our King
- Your Great Name
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
- Something in the Water
- This I Believe (The Creed)
- Doxology (Sing Amen)
Starfield was one of Christian music’s most underrated worship bands from Canada. While they are currently on hiatus (as the same with Dc Talk…so I guess you know what that means for Starfield), Starfield’s frontmen Tim Neufeld and his brother Jon have decided to take a break from touring life. Since their announcement in early 2014, all hope of a Starfield reunion has been becoming slimmer and slimmer as the weeks and months go by. Nevertheless, solo ministry for both brothers has been doing them both wonders. Jon has released his solo EP in August 2014, while Tim formed a new side project called The Glory Boys, and together with three other mates, released The Joy to much critical acclaim, featuring songs like “I’m Free”, “Sunshine” and “The Joy”, the title track.
Tim also released a set of 10 cover worship melodies in 2013, reinventing some songs to feature country/southern gospel undertones titled Trees (and showing us all what indie worship could sound like if given the right tools for sound and quality production to take place), and here once again in 2015, Tim’s love for worship continues in the unveiling of Trees 2. While not titled “Tim Neufeld and the Glory Boys”, I’m sure each of his collaborators on The Joy still had a hand in this project, possibly one of the most uniquely sounding worship album I’ve heard since Crowder’s Neon Steeple. Will this album receive any acclaim from popular radio stations? Maybe, maybe not. Yet sometimes it is the albums that seemingly fly under the radar that make the most impact in someone’s life. And Trees 2 does just that, even if every song on the album Tim didn’t write. Nevertheless, Tim’s songwriting ability and passion that enthuses out of him like other artists like Chris Tomlin, Phil Wickham or Crowder; is what makes Trees 2 a must for any lover of worship, Starfield’s older material, or both!
Glancing at the song lineup on Trees 2, you can see the songs that have practically have made radio airwaves over the last few years, plus a few lesser known tracks. In “Lord I Need You”, originally recorded on Passion’s Here For You 2011 album, and once again in the studio by songwriter Matt Maher, we are met with a prayer of how much we need God, not just during the difficulties, but in each and every day. Tim places his own spin on the melody, bringing in the brass instruments and the banjo, and to have them collide and become the primary instruments in an otherwise emotive and powerful track. With eclectic and diverse musical layers, not just on this track but throughout the album in general, Tim emphasises on the lyrical content, reminding us all of how much we need God, even during the moments where we think we don’t. “Oceans”, another powerful hit that continued its success from 2013 and into 2014, is arguably Hillsong UNITED’s biggest hit thus far. With a looping marching band drum beat, light slide electric guitar sounds and Tim’s ethereal vocal, we continue to see the passion enthuse out of Tim and echo throughout the song, making this version, just like many that’ve gone before, equally as passionate and emotional. “This I Believe” (Hillsong Worship), “Your Great Name” (Krissy Nordhoff) and “Forever” (Bethel Music) are other standout worship songs over the last few years, and all are represented here. Each of them have their classic Tim Neufeld country spin, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. I myself aren’t necessarily a great fan of country music (though I must admit, I have enjoyed the ABC show Nashville quite a bit), yet Tim’s take on worship will hopefully bring it listeners of both CCM and country music alike.
“I Saw the Light”, written by Hank Williams in the 1940s and being a success in both the Christian and country radio station markets, was recently (within the last 10 years) covered by David Crowder and his band, with the song from then onward being brought to life in every David Crowder concert up until now. To see Tim Neufeld cover this very famous melody about humanity being awakened to God’s grace and love, is a nice thing to see, even if the song is known by many listeners who may not necessarily listen to Christian music as frequently, for whatever reason. “Doxology”, with an added chorus titled “Sing Amen” (unsure whether it was another tag for another hymn, or whether Tim wrote it himself, stands at track 10 on the album, and is very fitting as the end song. The message is paramount to finish the album on, that we declare out His praise for everything He has done, and will continue to do.
While also inviting us to hear lesser known songs “All Your People Sing” and “Jesus Our King”, both track 1 and 4 are originally recorded by a worship team in America called A Jesus Church. Both these songs were released on their 2013 album, and while at times, I still preferred the original version better than Tim’s reimagining, what we see still is a branching out into melodies that may be different and obscure, yet still have a similar impact to other melodies like “Your Great Name” and “Forever”. Rounding out the 10 tracks is “Something In the Water”, perhaps the song that caught me by surprise out of the collection of 10 tracks. Not to deny the spirituality involved in this track- we all know the original recording artist, Carrie Underwood, is a big force within the country music industry and is very vocal about her faith; yet to see “Something in the Water” on the same album as “Forever” and “Oceans” is as improbable as it would’ve been if Carrie Underwood was on a WOW Hits…yet this track is still included, proving the testament, that in order for music to have an impact in the foreseeable future, the divide between sacred and secular needs to be torn down- there’s either music that builds people up and music that doesn’t. “Something in the Water” charted on both the CCM and country charts, and is very much welcome on Tim’s collection of worship songs that have been arguably some of the last few year’s most poignant and impactful.
Tim’s second worship covers album is just as enjoyable as his first, possibly even more so. While it has been sad and at times disappointing to have seen Starfield depart ways (and even other bands over the years, from Stellar Kart to BarlowGirl and ZoeGirl); Tim’s enthusiasm is as energetic as ever, with his passion to deliver worship songs certain to facilitate vertical worship one of the many reasons why Trees 2 is a standout album in October 2015. With each song presented in an acoustic/country way, these ten tracks are nothing short of enjoyable, reminding me of similar artists like Audrey Assad, Beth Hazel Farris, All Sons and Daughters and Third Day. A certain album to enjoy if you listen to each of these aforementioned artists, or if you’ve been a fan of Starfield’s recent music, this collection of worship songs will be a blessing to whomever listens. One of the well-received surprise worship albums of the year so far, well done Tim for such a compelling and powerful album!
3 songs to listen to: Something in the Water, Oceans, Forever
RIYL: All Sons and Daughters, Third Day, Beth Hazel Farris, Starfield, Audrey Assad