Release Date: November 24th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Lead Me To the Cross
- You Reign
- Beautiful Things
- I Surrender All
The Rubyz has been a part of the lives of many tweens and teens around the world for quite a number of years. With the formation of the band being that of providing young people with music and a means of expressing their love for Jesus, it is no doubt that with every band, members leave and members come in to fill the void. As with any group, members may feel like God is calling them to other areas, and with this original The Rubyz member, Alexis Slifer has been there since the beginning when the tween band started in 2008, when Alexis was a young teen herself. Fast forward until 2015 when Alexis decided to pursue a worship career (and three new faces entered in to continue the group The Rubyz…but that is for another review), we see a young woman of God with much musical experience behind her, entering a new season of her life. So what should we make of her first solo EP Genesis, in light of the music she has created till now? And while it may take us all a while to get used to Alexis singing outside of The Rubyz (considering that she has been there from the start, she is still considered by many to be the face of The Rubyz even now), Alexis’s new album Genesis is a great start for an artist that I reckon will become a great worship leader and songwriter of songs in the upcoming months and years to come. Still only in her early 20s, this is a project that has passion and enthusiasm all over it, and though much of her 4 tracks were recorded during her tenure with The Rubyz a few years ago, Alexis nevertheless as put together songs that we can fervently worship to. Certain to be enjoyed if you love worship artists like Meredith Andrews, Sarah Reeves or Warr Acres, expect to hear much more from Alexis and her solo music in the near future.
While each of these 4 songs on the EP aren’t originally written, Alexis nevertheless takes the songs and makes them her own, each of these four given a special ‘electronic-dance-pop’ Rubyz-esque treatment as Alexis branches out and delivers to us worship music, when previously we’ve heard her in the band. While at times, often most of the time, when artists branch into another style, it doesn’t necessarily work, Alexis’s transition from pop to worship is very much a seamless transition. Like how Peter Furler was the face of the Newsboys (even now), Alexis will always be remembered for her work with The Rubyz…and that isn’t a bad thing. Yet what these four songs have managed to accomplish is for Alexis to forge and identity outside the band as well. And if what these four songs sound like is any indication, Alexis will have a great future ahead of her.
“Lead Me To the Cross”, “You Reign”, hymn “I Surrender All” and “Beautiful Things” make up this 4 song EP, and while I may have wanted it to be a tad longer (maybe adding 2-3 more tracks), what these four accomplish is a moment of worshipful praise, where I can just sit back and worship my Father, without any musical or stylistic distractions. “Beautiful Things”, quite possibly the most famous song from worship duo Gungor, has been given a 3:16 treatment from Alexis, as we hear a song that features electronic loops amongst quite possibly one of most enthusiastic and passionate vocals from a young up-and-coming artist this side of the 2010s. Heartfelt and encouraging, Alexis reminds us all that God makes beautiful things out of every situation, and often more so in situations that seem to us to be far-gone. “Lead Me To the Cross”, standing at 4:34, sticks quite closely to the original Brooke Fraser version that she recorded for Hillsong UNITED in their 2007 album All of the Above. With this song been given frequently the cover treatment, from artists like Newsboys, Chris and Conrad, Seventh Day Slumber, Francesca Battistelli and The Katinas; Alexis passionately declares in a near flawless version of the song, longing for God to ‘…lead me to the cross, where Your love poured out, bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down, rid me of myself, I belong to You, Jesus lead me, lead me to the cross…’ A song that isn’t necessarily as popular compared to other UNITED songs, “Lead Me To the Cross” is one of my favourites from Hillsong UNITED, and Alexis’s cover makes me enjoy the song all the more. “You Reign”, also originally recorded in 2007 by pop/rock band MercyMe, is also given the Alexis Slifer treatment, standing at 4:06 and sung at a quickened pace. While at times I felt that Alexis was trying to rush the track (I’m sure not her intention), the song nevertheless has much heart, emotion and poignancy as all the other songs on the EP.
It is when you hear an EP of virtually covers that you can truly appreciate the songs for what they are, on their own merit rather than enjoy the song because of the original artist singing them. And since these songs on the EP are covers, we can listen much more to Alexis’s vocals, and from hearing her in not only her solo material but also her in The Rubyz days; we can appreciate the talent of Alexis, and hope and pray that she has a well-rounded career as a worship artist in the upcoming years. “I Surrender All” is the remaining cover on the EP, and as Alexis, with fervent urgency, relays the heartfelt lyrics of ‘…I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Saviour, I surrender all…’, we can have a glimpse into how a timeless hymn can be sung and passionately so, all these years later. In fact, dare I say that Alexis’s version of the hymn was the one that I enjoyed the most out of every other cover that has existed? This is a definite testament to Alexis’s voice and hopefully her future in the CCM/worship industry in the coming years. Maybe a new album in the future with all newly written and recorded material? Alexis travelling from pop to worship can seem like a difficulty for avid listeners of her material from The Rubyz, yet, Genesis EP can prove to us that such a transition is in fact possible, and hopefully welcomed by everyone who can appreciate Alexis for the artist she is and the artist God wants her to be. Well done Alexis for such an encouraging EP, can’t wait to the full length album whenever it arises.
3 songs to listen to: Lead Me To the Cross, I Surrender All, Beautiful Things
RIYL: The Rubyz, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong UNITED, Mission Six, Jamie Grace