Dream Label Group
Release Date: April 14th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Kingdom– The Acoustic Sessions (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- God Of Fire
- Chorus Of The Saints
- Flood Song
- Always You
- Made Alive
- Salvation Song
- There Is A King
Dream Records (or Dream Label Group as they are called now) have always been one of the most courageous and creative labels in my opinion, though also one of the most underrated, with artists from bigger Christian labels such as Provident Label Group and Capitol Christian Music Group publicised more. The label though, has signed many artists that push the envelope of what Christian music should sound and feel like- they’ve also been signing a lot of them also. Jonathan Thulin, We Are Leo, David Thulin, Soulfire Revolution, Sumerlin, Warr Acres, Cindy Crus Radcliff and Matthew Parker are just a number of musically diverse and impacting artists that Dream Label Group has signed, and now it’s time for Kingdom to unveil their third album, the acoustic album titled The Acoustic Sessions. With raw, unfiltered, stripped down versions of their greatest hits from their sophomore album Redeemer and their self-titled debut album as well; this batch of ten songs are revealed in a different light, as we praise God and give him all the glory and honour. A 6 piece worship band similar in style to Planetshakers and Hillsong UNITED, based in Destiny Christian Church, Rocklin, CA; Kingdom delivers us an emphatic album that is sure to inspire and motivate us at all times. Though The Acoustic Sessions is not as publicised as other albums released on that day, with artists Lauren Daigle, Needtobreathe, Dan Bremnes and Amy Grant all unveiling new albums; the praise and worship band that is passionate in advancing the kingdom of God, is one to be on the lookout for in the coming years.
“God Of Fire” originally musically sounded like something Fireflight, Superchick or The Letter Black would sing, with Veronica belting out in the verses and Jordan declaring in the chorus with force and authority that God is alive and nothing on earth can separate us from His eternal love. A guitar lover’s paradise with plenty of brilliant solos; the song is instead present on this version with captivating acoustic guitar. While the song is subdued, the message is loud and clear, that we can praise God as He is the God of the fire and of everything we have ever known. Personally I love the remix version better than the original and this slowed down acoustic version, but that’s just my preference- all three are powerful. The acoustic guitar driven “Chorus Of The Saints” is next, and is , quickly transformed into a modern hymn like track, littered with gang vocals that impresses me from the inside out, with the acoustic version employing more heavier guitars to overcompensate somewhat for the absence of electric guitar. With the country genre permeating and seeping through, this song would be great to declare and proclaim live, especially with the lyrics that shout His name and tell of His renown, that say ‘…Glory to the Lord, our God who reigns forever, may His name be praised in heaven and on earth…’.
One of my favourite melodies from Kingdom; “Victorious” brings together all of the themes that Kingdom have been exploring in their songs. With Veronica and Jordan trading vocals back and forth, this album highlight speaks about how God reigns over us victorious, and He is the one that will never change, because of that day on Calvary. Musically and structurally providing us with that anthemic and orchestral finish; after the last note of “Victorious” we can see that Kingdom is here to stay. In fact, the melody is presented again as track 10 under the moniker “There Is A King”- though I am confused and perplexed as to why the track would be included twice when other songs such as “He Is”, “No Other Name” or “All For Love” wouldn’t be included…
“Flood Song”, a power anthem that originally featured a bevy of electric guitars, is led by Veronica, whose vocals remind me of Christine D’Clario, and features emphatic and powerful acoustic guitar as the musical cornerstone. Passionately sung, this lively and upbeat track compares God’s love to a flood, and as I sing along with the lyrics that ‘…in Your love we’re unbreakable, in Your hands we are capable, like a flood, You cover us…’; I am amazed at the ease at which Kingdom have felt at home on this album, as they sing about how God reigns forever and His love showers us all the time, and we only have to be aware of and recognise it.
Originally a head banging electric guitar led rocker, “Redeemer” is given the most treatment, as this now slowed down acoustic ballad changes the mood and atmosphere greatly. Lyrically sound, Jordan and Veronica both proclaim that Jesus is the ‘…builder of the broken, savior of my soul, champion of my heart, my great Redeemer…’; and we are met with a worship song at heart as glory is given to God. Though “Unbreakable” is still pretty standard musically, with the ‘right’ blend of acoustic guitars, keys, and drums to remind me of anything Hillsong would record; the lyrics stick out greatly, as Jordan and co. sing about how Jesus remains our strong tower, rock and refuge even when everything around us is shaking and falling apart- and I find myself agreeing to these words as well, lost in the moment of uninhibited praise and worship to my Lord and Saviour! And “Always You”, led by Jordan, was one of my favourite album closers in 2013, and this acoustic version is also moving and captivating- with us singing out that Jesus is Lord, and He is everything that we need. With keys, synth and strings that is absolutely hypnotising, Jordan’s Adam Agee like voice alone makes this song one of the highlights of their career.
“Made Alive”, not to be confused with Citizen’s hit single of the same name, is a piano prominent radio friendly praise and worship anthem, with Veronica leading the vocals; and starts off with only the piano, but as the song progresses, builds until an epic orchestral like crescendo that is worthy of mention, praise and accolades. The topic of God being present in every situation in our lives, working everything for His good, and also about us fixing our eyes on Jesus whenever we’re in trouble, or also in the good times as well; is looked into, and Jordan and Veronica treat this very meaningful and deep topic with respect as well as hope. The lyrics of ‘…I know You can do all things, Jesus, I give you everything…’, while vulnerable, also strike me as poignant, as the theme of surrender to the God that makes us come alive. A melody that translates exquisitely into the acoustic format, Kingdom have shown us why they will go far in the music industry!
Going back to the roots of why Kingdom is a quality band, “Salvation Song” is the testimony story of the 6 friends, as Jordan passionately cries out and delivers an emphatic message about Jesus defeating death and rising up from the grave because we are His children and He loves us so much. That should really boggle your mind! Sung in an acoustic setting, this is probably the most personal track on the record, and brilliantly includes a fun refrain of the hymn “Amazing Grace”.
A great alternative to the mainstream CCM worship bands today, Dream Records have signed a winner and this band will make many fans take more notice of the smaller record label (although one look at the Dream Records website will show us many more artists being added to the label of late). With music and lyrics similar to worship movements and bands like Hillsong UNITED, Desperation Band, Planetshakers, Jesus Culture and Bethel Music, this is one of the strongest acoustic albums I have heard within the past few years (despite the double up on “Victorious”). With Dream Records introducing more albums next year (including debuts from Night Life Worship, Revive Worship and Reslife Worship), Kingdom’s new album The Acoustic Sessions paves the way for an exciting 2015 coming up. As for the worship material, take a listen. Guaranteed, there’s probably something you’ll find on there that you would like.
3 songs to listen to: Victorious, Made Alive, Always You
RIYL: Rend Collective, I Am They, Leeland, Phil Wickham