Fair Trade Services
Release Date: September 28th 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Something Good
- Greater Than
- How Glorious
- Cast Your Burden
- I Will Wait
- Living Water
- Stand In Your Love
- All That I Need
- Open The Heavens
Isn’t it about time that worship music just slow down for just a second? Hillsong Worship, Vertical Worship, Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Passion, Elevation Worship, Planetshakers… the world is right now somewhat saturated with worship music- and it seems like all of these bands and movements are still going strong, and none of them are slowing down at all. Enter in GATEWAY, signed to Fair Trade Services- another worship movement led by Mark Harris. With the group’s latest live effort Greater Than having released a couple of weeks ago, we are blessed to hear 14 new worship songs, accessible for the church as well as impacting and engaging to listen to, as we ardently give God all the praise and the glory. But what sets these songs apart from the rest in 2018? Or is it in fact set apart, or is Greater Than just average? Sure, I can sing to these songs quite well, but will I remember them in a few months’ time or even a year’s time?
Now if you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned artists, then Greater Than is for you. Mark Harris is as passionate as ever (granted, this is the first GATEWAY album I have listened to- though I did listen to a few of Mark Harris’s solo songs!), and he leads the team to communion with God, at times presenting us with reflective ballads as well as celebratory high-octane energetic pop anthems. Although Greater Than has a greater emphasis on the slower material; at nowhere during the melodies did I feel bored and disinterested. Anchoring the album is the earnest, honest and compelling title track. Driven by emphatic keys, this piano prominent ballad authoritatively conveys the ever-true notion that Jesus is greater than anything on this Earth- that ‘…no guilt, no shame, no sin, no stain, is greater than the great I AM, no fear, no grave, no other name, is greater than the great I AM…’, as we are met with probably one of the most inspiring and captivating melodies of 2018, with Mark fervently giving us his big heart for Jesus, showing us all how on fire he is for our Lord and Saviour. While Mark also leads the Josh Baldwin and Bethel Music penned “Stand In Your Love”- this cover is actually enhanced greatly, as we hear an anthem for the ages. As Mark fervently reiterates across vibrant synth and skilfully played electric guitar that ‘…my fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love…’, we are delivered an honest prayer, reminding ourselves that we will never lose because we are in the midst of Jesus, standing on His promises. Such a simple concept, yet one that still needs to be mentioned over and over until we fully grasp the enormity of Jesus being with us; multiple listens give me chills, and literally no words as I am immersed in a worshipful moment that can only be described as God-breathed and Holy Spirit-inspired.
The rest of the album is as solid as the title track and the most popular cover- as GATEWAY prove to be a future worship force to be reckoned with. Album opener “Something Good” is sung by Levi Smith, and starts off with a swelling orchestral and soundtrack instrumental refrain, and jumps right in with the joyous and raucous praise, as we hear a happy-go-lucky piece highlight that Jesus is always working, and always up to something good, even if we do not know it at the moment; while CCM-esque “Deliverance” is led by the acoustic guitar, stirring in our souls the concept of Jesus being our deliverance and our only help in times of trouble and need- in fact this song could be sung by Passion (I’m thinking Sean Curran or Kristian Stanfill) and it would definitely fit, and fit well! “Defender”, another cover yet this one lesser known; is written by Rita Springer and Steffany Gretzinger, with this cover version standing tall as the worship ballad majestically imparts to us the beauty of surrendering to the great defender, and how relying on Him can and will bring us so much satisfaction. He is the defender of our hearts, and He will go to the ends of the Earth to ensure that our hearts and put back together. Anna Byrd authentically leads “How Glorious” next, and places on her Meredith Andrews’ hat vocally, as we hear an earnest worship anthem reiterating to us the unchanging and unwavering truth that Jesus Christ is glorious and deserves all of the praise; while Levi Smith ardently relays to us the certain-to-be modern day hymn “Cast Your Burden”- Easter themed in thematic nature, as we hear a promise of Jesus blood washing away our stains and making our soul clean.
Prayerfully led by captivating keys, “Steadfast” is a reflective journey into seeking after God’s presence, as we assuredly and emphatically declare a promise over ourselves that Jesus is steadfast forever, that His love is never failing; while the vulnerable 7 and a half minute long “I Will Wait” has Levi Smith sounding eerily like Matthew West vocally, and reminding all of us that even in our long waits of life Jesus is still faithful, as evidenced by the promises he has fulfilled in the past and the promises He fulfilling right now in us and in others around us and throughout the nations. “Linger” unfortunately is a misstep amongst a sea of inspiring and enjoyable melodies, as we hear a ballad that doesn’t really take off and doesn’t really engage- even though the lyrics are solid, highlighting the notion that all we want to do is to stay in Jesus’ presence.
Thankfully things turn around with the Holy-Spirit anointed and God-breathed “Living Water”, essentially relaying to us that the living water of Jesus is all we ever need and all we ever desire; as well as CCM pop melodies “Faithful” (a declaratory Tim Hughes-esque vibrant tune about Jesus being completely faithful!) and “All That I Need” (a Hillsong Young & Free inspired dance party about Jesus being all that we could ever need!). The 14 track worship experience winds down with the closer “Open The Heavens” led by Cole Novak, and previously recorded on Monuments last year. A tope tapping, danceable joyous celebration at heart, we are glimpsed an inside look into how passionate these young worshippers are in the album ender; and that’s really enough for me to press repeat on my iTunes of the whole album.
Though probably right now not as popular as other worship movements, I guarantee you that in the coming weeks and months, GATEWAY’s Greater Than will be big in the CCM, and in churches as songs are introduced into Sunday morning setlists. As an album on the whole, Greater Than is very cohesive and Mark Harris is to be proud and congratulated. With the group already recording a studio album (Monuments from last year) and a live album, maybe the next thing to do is a covers album or a Christmas album? Regardless this group isn’t like the other worship movements I’ve heard before- and that’s definitely a good thing. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to worship God to Greater Than isn’t that right?
4 songs to listen to: Greater Than, Cast Your Burden, I Will Wait, Stand In Your Love
RIYL: Elevation Worship, Travis Greene, Chris Tomlin, Cory Asbury, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Big Daddy Weave, 4Him, Avalon, Vertical Worship