Release Date: July 28th 2014 (U.S.)/June 29th 2014 (U.K.)
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Hope of Glory
- Breathe on Me
- On the Cross
- All That We Want
- This is Where You’ll Find Me
British music has always taken a back seat in terms of popularity when it comes to the Christian music industry in general. With a highly Americanised CCM industry that gives us artists like Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli, needtobreathe and Casting Crowns; British artists (or in fact any artist outside of America) either have to be really good so they can be on a label and be noticed by Nashville, the CCM music capital of the world; or risk their music being good one day and forgotten the next. This is where noisetrade and bandcamp come in- a platform for indie artists to showcase their music, I have recently had the pleasure to listen to the debut EP from Anchor Music, the worship ministry of VineLife Church Manchester, U.K. An EP to listen to if you are a fan of British worship like Rend Collective Experiment, Matt Redman or Tim Hughes; Hope of Glory is a reminder that there is still music to be heard outside of the U.S., and that even without a label, an album can still be very good. Releasing on iTunes in America at the end of July (it is already released in the U.K. – you can stream the album on bandcamp if you want to listen); Anchor Worship and their heartfelt music ministry is certain to be as popular in Britain as around the world.
With both “Anchor” and “Hope of Glory” being the title of the artist and album respectively; these two songs secure the EP both lyrically and musically as we hear some of the best worship songs Britain has ever offered in 2014 so far. With light piano and a strong drum beat to bring about the musical undertones in “Anchor”, lead singer Penny Larkman enthusiastically declares that God is our anchor, in both the stormy times and the good, the calm and serene moments, and the chaotic ones as well. While at times the song can float into CCM territory (which can make the album indistinguishable from other worship movements like Worship Central, Jesus Culture, Hillsong or Bethel); “Anchor” for the most part is a great enough song to lead the EP with, reminding us to firmly place our trust in the Father. Easy to learn, catchy, and fit to be placed within a song set in Sunday morning worship service; Penny again leads “Hope of Glory”; a rather more subdued melody that brings the theme of hope to front and centre- through light electric guitars and a worshipful atmosphere.
Presenting us with the central truths of how Jesus is ‘…the hope of all things glorious Jesus, in You all things are held together…we rejoice, we’ve been redeemed…’, Penny’s passionate vocals is enough for this song to bring with it some intrigue and curious listeners, especially when Penny’s vocals remind me of someone like Jenn Johnson or Kim Walker-Smith. With Penny also giving her vocals to “All That We Want”; a worship melody that encourages us to declare that Christ is all we want (in an atmosphere full of powerful drum pulsating beats and Penny’s fervently enthusiastic vocals that bring this song into reflective territory); Hope of Glory continues to surprise and excel, as being the most unique British band EP/album release since Bluetree’s Kingdom.
The remaining three tracks on the EP, “On the Cross”, “Breathe on Me” and “This is Where You Find Me”; continue to present a worshipful atmosphere to listeners, and while I personally enjoyed the three songs sung by Penny much more than the rest, the 6 songs on the whole deliver a great snapshot of what British worship has to offer, with these three songs delving into the themes of how we reflect on what Christ has done for us on the cross (“On the Cross”), praise God and yearn for Him to breathe on us in both a physical and metaphorical way (“Breathe on Me”), and kneel in front of God as we unveil our whole selves before Him as He ‘finds’ us in our broken states and restores us to be something beautiful (“This is Where You Find Me”), respectively.
While these three songs are relatively subdued compared to the melodies Penny led; Hope of Glory nevertheless utilises the wide range of music styles to draw in a wide range of listeners who appreciate the different worship paces and tones in the music that the 6 tracks provide. While only releasing their first EP, these 6 songs still show us the potential of this worship group, making them one of the most promising group of worshippers since artists like Bluetree and Rend Collective Experiment. Well done Anchor Music for such powerful, poignant and prolific songs!
3 songs to listen to: Anchor, All That We Want, Hope of Glory
RIYL: Bethel Music, Hillsong, Soul Survivor, Worship Central, Tim Hughes