Jesus Culture Music
Release Date: March 11th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Jesus Culture– Reconstructed Vol. 1 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Forevermore (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Alive (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- He Is the Light (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- I Belong to You (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Awaken Me (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Rooftops (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Alleluia (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Pursuit (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- King of All the Earth (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Your Love Never Fails (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
- Show me Your Glory (Oh Snap It’s Luke! Remix)
Becoming extremely popular and relevant in worship music over the past few years; Jesus Culture, comprising of Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala on lead vocals, have poured their heart and soul into their music and have given us gems and offerings that we all love and enjoy, like “Rooftops”, “Alleluia”, “Show Me Your Glory”, “Forevermore”, “I Belong To You”, “Come Away”, “Burning Ones”, “Your Love Never Fails”, “One Thing Remains”, “I Want To Know You” and “My Soul Longs For You”. A movement directed at young people, with the mandate being ‘…mobilising a generation of revivalists who shape culture and transform nations….’; in my opinion this worship collective that is sure to win over the hearts and souls of even the uninterested listener with just one song, has accomplished their goal and then some more, somewhat redefining worship music along with artists such as All Sons and Daughters, Leeland, Crowder, and Rend Collective.
Just releasing their brand new live CD/DVD Unstoppable to stores last week (the band have constantly toured and released albums almost every year!); Kim and Chris took a creative step out of their preferred genre and mode of singing in March, with Reconstructed Volume 1 releasing- an album entirely of fan favourites remixed. Now it seems as if most artists these days are jumping on the bandwagon of remix albums, with Capital Kings, TobyMac, Mandisa, Superchick, Britt Nicole, Group 1 Crew, Sanctus Real, Everfound and Third Day all having their songs redone in the past 5 years. The same person remixed all 11 songs, and from the title of the tracks, I’m going to guess and say that the person’s name is ‘Luke’. And though the danger of letting one person mix all of the tracks is that you may find the interpretations similar, this is not the case here. Like with any remix album, there are pluses and minuses. So which out of the 11 tracks are worth listening, and how does this album compare to Jesus Culture’s discography, as well as other remix albums?
The good thing about the album is that the underwhelming songs (not that many) are not concentrated at any one spot and are in fact scattered around. “Your Love Never Fails”, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, disguises itself quit brilliantly musically for the first minute and a half, with 80’s throwback synth and electronics combining with Chris’ powerful and distinct voice to remind us that ‘…when the oceans rage, I don’t have to be afraid, cause I know that You love me, cause your love never fails…’.; that Jesus is faithful and that He is always with us and never will leave us. But it’s then that the song falls apart with the second verse and bridge being omitted. Though the instrumental (for the remainder) is catchy, and there is some fancy programming work, it is still underwhelming given how promising the song started.
“Pursuit”, written by Daniel Bashta, originally featured Kim and Martin singing a stirring and moving duet in Live From New York, with the instruments and build-up of keys and guitars, transitioning into spontaneous worship quite magical as well. However this version is strikingly different, as Luke tears everything apart, alters the pitch of Kim’s vocals, and only includes the chorus. Musically, the track contains guitars, keyboards, and all kinds of distortion form computers, however I believe that the busyness and chaotic nature of the song detracts from the purpose of worshipping God. Kudos to Luke from changing this song up to be a highlight of a lover of remix music, but as more of a worship fan, “Pursuit” feels disjointed and flat, sorry to say. The daring, courageous and musically creative, yet lyrically lacking and altered “Awaken Me”, is also underwhelming- maybe I prefer renditions where all of the lyrics are preserved; nevertheless the track driven by hand claps, vibrant electronics, and pulsating drum beats is sure to have some fans…just not myself.
As I’m sure you know by now, the rest of the songs range from quite good to beyond words in this varied remix project. The up tempo and catchy opener “Forevermore”, brilliantly led by Chris, is remixed quite well, with Gameboy sounds in the verses and an airy atmosphere in the bridge and pre-chorus used to create depth and enjoyment. Full of vibrant energy and captivating lyrics that are in praise to God, as we shout out ‘…all that I have is Yours, my soul, we will praise forevermore…I come alive in You, my soul will shout forevermore…’, Chris has led this song perfectly in this new rendition; as I am caught up in the love of Jesus and the realisation of Him in love with me forevermore!
Chris also leads “Alleluia”, one of my favourite songs from Live From New York, and while this version is not as free flowing as the longer, live version, it still packs a punch, as Chris sings above the electronic undertone of synth and guitars that Jesus is lover of our souls; even in this remix, Chris uses such simple lyrics and musically impacting arrangements to glorify God, with Luke doing his upmost best and succeeding, in making this song fresh and currant for the younger generation.
On Reconstructed Vol. 1, there are other artists present besides Chris and Kim, giving us a welcome change and a fresh and different perspective. Not that Chris and Kim aren’t good singers, but it’s nice to be reminded about eternal truths from a different artist sometimes.Though not officially on the Jesus Culture live worship team, Bryan and Katie Torwalt lead vocals on a couple of renditions- the synth and keys prominent, danceable mid-tempo and 80’s/90’s throwback tune “He Is The Light”, led by Bryan Torwalt, declaring that Jesus is the light and the hope for all the nations; and “King Of All The Earth”, sung by Katie, an electronic/pop/synth led and dubstep infused track that praises God, announcing that He is the One who defeated the grave. And Derek Johnson unveils the remixed version of his hit single, the more subdued piano focused “I Belong To You”, musically similar to the live version, and proclaiming that we belong to Jesus forever, no matter what we have done. These songs sound unique and enjoyable, while staying close to the originals as well; yet is is the tracks sung by Kim Walker-Smith that are some of my favourite from Reconstruction Vol. 1.
One of my favourite female vocalists currently, Kim sings “Alive” from her Still Believe project; and in my opinion enhances the piano melody, transforming it into a worship dance anthem led by programming and synth. As we are met with a majestic anthemic worship anthem (which it still is in this version) as Kim cries out and proclaims that Jesus is alive; we can fervently and honestly sing out as well, that ‘…we will make Him known, Jesus is alive, He’s alive, we will shout it out, Jesus is alive, He’s alive…’. An upbeat and passionate celebratory declaration to Jesus, this track is a brilliant remix by Luke as I dance with enthusiasm too!
“Rooftops” and “Show Me Your Glory”, both altered musically by quite a bit, yet staying true to the original versions vocally and lyrically, art h last two tracks led by Kim, and each of them brings something new and fresh to the album. While the EDM and dubstep inspired “Rooftops”, declaring that we can shout from the rooftops that Jesus is alive and not be ashamed of it, is a song that could easily be played on mainstream radio and have a positive impact, with the synth and keys making it musically fit in with the material young people are hearing these days; the final track (“Show Me Your Glory”) epitomises the theme and vision of the band, as we are immersed in unbridled worship- even with the musical clashes, Kim still praises Jesus and asks Him to show us His glory, and that ‘…I long to look on the face of the One that I love, long to stay in Your presence, it’s where I belong…’. A perfect last song, Reconstruction Vol. 1 is a joy and a pleasure to listen to.
Personally I thought that a remix album from a worship group that sounds very different to pop/electronic artists like The Digital Age, Family Force 5 and Skillet, would not work, however the ‘Oh Snap, it’s Luke’ remixes have proven me wrong, with more than half of the remixes enhancing the studio versions greatly. I must admit, when I first saw the press release for the March 11th album, I was perplexed; given that these 11 tracks aren’t really that malleable on first impressions to be remixed. However this batch of alternative interpretations of old songs, works in some odd and yet fitting way, as it shows us that Jesus Culture aren’t resting on their laurels and are not afraid to redefine what worship music sounds like. In fact, I would say that Reconstruction Vol. 2 may sound even better if/when that album eventually releases. Well done Chris, Kim, Bryan, Derek and Katie (and the mysterious Luke- is he from for KING & COUNTRY?) for a well-produced and sung remixed album, one that has me excited for future Jesus Culture’s future projects!
3 songs to listen to: Rooftops, Show Me Your Glory, Forevermore
RIYL: Capital Kings, Crowder, Planetshakers, Hillsong, David Thulin