Release Date: July 21st 2017
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Spirit And Truth
- Up And Alive
- Nothing But Grace
- My Jesus
- Great Is The Lord
- Praise His Name Forever
- Trust In You
- Have It All
- Come To The Water
“…Many songs have played an important part in certain seasons in my life. It would be a blessing to hear if just one song impacts someone to keep going, keep loving and following Jesus… this would be worth all the effort. My benchmark for success is that the album adds value in serving the Church. I already know God loves my songs… He loves all our songs of worship whether they are on albums or not! But my desire is to write songs that the local Church can get hold of and use…” Accomplished and respected UK worship leader Chris Sayburn may not be that well known in the wider world that is not England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales; yet that is all about to change with his inspiring, honest and worshipful Integrity Music label global debut Saved By Grace. Though I know nothing much about Chris’ music, that is a good thing in my opinion, as I could start listening to the music with absolutely no expectations. Is that wise though? To listen to something that could be equally as a good as bad? Well in the case of Chris’ 10 offerings of worship to our King and Saviour; Saved By Grace is one of my favourite worship albums this year, and I do not take that sentiment and assertion lightly. So what is it about Chris that makes me want to close my eyes and worship Jesus all day? Let’s find out, shall we?
Opening the eclectic collection of church based worship melodies is the inspiring 5-minute-long “Spirit And Truth”. Powerfully driven by vibrant keys and guitars, Chris launches into an earnest declaration that ‘…we will worship You in spirit and truth, how we long to worship You, let Your name be praised again and again, Lord we love to worship You…’, and we are a met with a worship song perfect fit for Sunday mornings at congregations around the world. Vocally similar to Tim Hughes and Ben Cantelon, Chris’ passion for Jesus rings out all the more here on this exquisite album opener, and permeates the rest of the nine anthems as well. Simple lyrically, yet very effective, “Spirit And Truth” paves the way for the rest of the album to declare God’s praises forever and ever as well.
The closest track you’ll get to a rock melody is the Delirious?-esque “Up And Alive”, where Chris eloquently reiterates that we’re ‘…gonna dance, gonna dance for You, we don’t care if we look like fools, ‘cos we know what we’re born into, and it’s nothing less than Your glory…’, thematically reminding me of “The Happy Song” from Delirious?; while the hymn-like piano led “Nothing But Grace” has Chris sound eerily like Darren Mulligan from We Are Messengers, as the album’s first single is due to strike a chord with many who listen, as we are presented with a melody outlining that it is only by the grace of God that ‘…I will stand with You on higher ground, on Christ the solid rock I will be found, and for eternity sing out my soul, nothing but grace, Your grace alone…’. With each listen of the aforementioned tracks; I can’t help but wonder if Chris would be more popular if the world caught more of his honest, worship melodies earlier. That’s kind of a moot point now, though, as the world now has access to Chris’ brilliant worship leading and song writing.
“My Jesus” is as emotional and personal a song as I have heard this year, as Chris fervently cries out and reiterates that ‘…I love you Lord, I worship and adore, the One who first loved me, I love you Lord, I bow to You alone, and worship at Your feet…’ in a 5 minute epic praise anthem that declares Jesus to be our everything, our Salvation, our Refuge during times of trouble; while the piano led mid-tempo ballad “Great Is The Lord” simply sings out Jesus’ greatness, with Chris eloquently highlighting that He alone is worthy to be praised, as Jesus is ‘…great in His mercy…in His love…in His power…in His fullness above…’, with Chris tackling the concept of the Trinity in this melody as well. “Praise His Name Forever” is probably one of the lowest points on the album, as this 3 and a half minute attempt at pop/CCM falls a bit flat, but nonetheless Chris should be commended for stepping out of the box, as he ardently reiterates that God’s name is to be praised, in this quasi-title track; while we next hear a future hit in the making in “Trust In You”, a song I’m certain I’ve heard before, but haven’t until listening to this song (and that’s a fact- no one else has covered it before!)- that’s the staying power of Chris’ songwriting and worship leading, as he ardently cries out amongst vibrant keys and guitars in the hymn-like melody that ‘…every knee will bow at Your name, every nation sing Your praise, for Your love endures forever, You’ll always be the God who saves…’.
Similar to a Hillsong Worship or Desperation Band worship anthem “Closer” is as emotional and honest a song I’ve heard in a long time, as we hear a prayer where Chris ardently asks God to be closer to him than ever before, declaring ‘…so I come, come back to where I belong, home in Your presence, into Your arms, Father to You I come…’ and is an album highlight, while “Have It All” and “Come To The Water” end the album, yet they aren’t covers from Bethel Music and Kristian Stanfill respectively. Rather these melodies are Chris’s originals that are equally as impressive. “Have It All” from Chris could easily be sung by Bethel Music or even Tim Hughes, and that’s a compliment, as Chris delivers a soothing gospel infused radio friendly melody that reiterates the ever true notion that ‘…I’ve never felt this surrounded, I’ve never been this secure, a love that is so amazing, You can have it all, nothing can separate us, now I’m forever Yours, Your love is so amazing…’; while Saved By Grace ends with the soft, reflective piano ballad “Come To The Water”. As Chris powerfully invites us into an earnest declaration that basking in the water (aka, the presence of Jesus) is enough for us to be made clean and new; we are blessed and thankful that Chris has unveiled his music for the world- he truly is a great songwriter and worship leader, and I cannot wait for future projects with Integrity Music.
“…What can I say about Kyle Sherman’s debut album that I haven’t mentioned already? I love each of these melodies, and as far as debut’s go, this is my favourite album since Hollyn’s One Way Conversations. There’s nothing much more needed to say here. If you’re a fan of Josh Wilson, Jonny Diaz and JJ Weeks Band, you’ll love Kyle and his personal and inspirational melodies. So check it out! Enjoy and let me know if you reckon Kyle will be signed in the near future!…” This is the concluding paragraph of my Kyle Sherman review I posted earlier today. Yet after listening to Chris Sayburn’s music intentionally for review purposes though, I reckon this paragraph applies here as well. Chris’ music as a debut project is indeed my favourite album since Hollyn’s One Way Conversations, and if you are a fan of artists like Bluetree, We are Messengers, Delirious?, Tim Hughes and Ben Cantelon, you’ll love Chris’ songs and his heart for the church. Hopefully Integrity Music hang onto Chris for a long time yet. Well done Chris, I can’t wait to hear more from you in the coming months and years!
3 songs to listen to: Nothing But Grace, Trust In You, Closer
RIYL: Tim Hughes, Bluetree, Rend Collective, Matt Redman, Ben Cantelon, We Are Messengers, Delirious?