Release Date: May 27th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Alive Inside
- We Believe
- One Thing Remains
- Dance Again
- Jesus’ Blood
- Found & Redeemed
- His Kingdom Is Here
- I Lift My Hands (Let Faith Arise)
- The Promise Isn’t Over
- This Is My Surrender
- Come All You Saints
- Back Where I Belong
Previously known as Abundant Life Ministries and I Am Future, Life Worship, the British worship ministry of the Bradford, England based LIFE Church UK, has released their latest live worship album, titled Dance Again, via Integrity Music. While there are plenty of worship artists and albums that we can all listen to and enjoy, such as Hillsong Worship, Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Desperation Band, Planetshakers, Leeland, All Sons And Daughters, Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, Passion, Crowder, Phil Wickham and most recently Fellowship Creative, to name a few; what initially drew me into this 13 song track list was the upbeat and explosive rendition of “We Believe”, made famous by the Newsboys in Restart, filmed as a live video. Yet after that, though there may not be much that distinguishes this group to many others in the worship industry on first impressions, what does make this album appealing and impacting is the passion of the worship leaders for Jesus Christ. One of my favourite worship albums of 2014, I would encourage you to listen to this album, despite cynicism and scepticism from some readers. Some of these songs are sure to be sung many times in your home, I can guarantee that fact!
“We Believe”, “One Thing Remains” and “I Lift My Hands”, represent the familiar songs on the record! As “We Believe”, written by Travis Ryan, Richie Fike and Matt Hooper, opens with a powerful and epic guitar riff coupled with a chilling piano undertone, and this emphatic track basically sings out the Nicene Creed, professing what we as Christians believe about Jesus Christ. As believers, we can say without question that we believe in the Trinity, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the second coming of Jesus Christ on Judgement Day in the future. While Rich Mullins gave us the biblically sound “Creed” (which was made famous by Third Day), which in essence says the same thing; it’s definitely nice to hear another explicit proclamation of our faith that ‘…the gates of hell will not prevail, for the power of God, has torn the veil, now we know Your love will never fail; we believe…’. While popular worship anthem “One Thing Remains”, originally recorded by Jesus Culture, and led by majestic keys and guitar, is covered quite well, although not that special (I like Kristian Stanfill’s version better), and “I Lift My Hands” only appears in the album as a 4 minute spontaneous free worship Holy Spirit anointed chorus and bridge (although the vocals from Matt Hooper, eerily sounding like Chris in the chorus, are top notch and powerful!); it is the newer tracks that shine forth here.
With the theme of the album being to celebrate Jesus in every season, and to dance in the midst of trouble; the encouraging title track, a slow paced acoustic guitar inspiring melody-turn-into-a joyous, raucous electric guitar led track, is an anchor lyrically for the rest of the album. As we are gently reminded that ‘…your tears will dry, your heart will mend, Your scars will heal and you will dance again…’, the story behind the song is even more profound as it was based on a woman with chronic fatigue syndrome- wheelchair confined and bed ridden for many years- who in one church service, walked up out of her chair and danced. Right now she is in the process of healing, and this song came about as a result, a testimony of God’s almighty power and faithfulness! One of the clear standout of the album, the passion in the worship team is infectious, flowing onto the rest of the songs, of which they all in some way references believing into God’s promises, and His faithfulness allowing us to step into new life, which I think is pretty cool!
The album opener “Alive in You”, starts off with a clever piano riff, then later kicks off into a high octane dance anthem similar to Hillsong United’s material, as we fervently declare that God is our everything and that we are alive in Him. “Found And Redeemed”, sung against a beautiful mix of keys, guitars, drums and other instruments, though repetitious in the fact that there is only one chorus and one verse; lets us know that Jesus’ name is powerful. If we believe into that fact, and know that we are holy, righteous and blameless, that we are sons and daughters of the Lord Most High, we’ll be free in the knowledge that God is on our side, and I really commend Life Worship for explicitly reminding us of this true fact!
The worship ballad “His Kingdom Is Here”, with piano at the forefront, also delves into the promises and faithfulness of God, and stresses that ‘…He reigns, He reigns, our God is ruling over all…’, that the power of God in us can bring about greater things than Jesus did, all because of our trust with our Father and Saviour. The subdued and mellow piano led contemplative and musically different song “The Promise Isn’t Over” is yet another gem of a track that explicitly praises God, asking the Holy Spirit to come and fill our lives as the promise of His impeding return isn’t over as we are still breathing, and though there is no grandiose musical build-up, I commend the team for creating something different that is sure to strike a chord with and impact someone in this world! And as prayers and uninhibited, unbridled praise continue with the Hillsong like simple yet effective guitar led mid tempo song “This Is My Surrender”, which challenges us to let go of our old life and embrace the new with Jesus Christ, and with the God breathed piano led and semi spontaneous album closer “Emmanuel”, thematically similar to Delirious?’s “Our God Reigns”, I find myself swept up again and again in worship with this young and passionate British worship movement who are on fire for Jesus- these songs are something special, and this band ought to be congratulated.
“Back Where I Belong”, complete with hand claps, brings up the tempo greatly, as I am reminded that where God is, is where our home is, as this track contains a pulsating bass guitar, stirring and moving vocals, as well as guitar work that reminds me of respected guitarist Stu G from One Sonic Society. Though the bridge of repetitive ‘woahs’ leaves much to be desired; the rest of the song shows Life Worship’s heart in the right place (and it’s also nice to hear the band reference Rend Collective’s hit song “Build Your Kingdom Here” in the lyrics as well!), and that is what I believe is all that matters- that Jesus’ name is lifted up no matter how cheesy the melody sounds. The electronic pop tune “Come All You Saints”, is something Hillsong Young And Free would record, with the theme being about lifting up the name of God higher and higher, as we sing along that ‘…as we praise, every chain of fear will break, freedom reigns, as you are lifted high…’; yet my absolute favourite song on the album, the piano led ballad and captivating treasure “Jesus’ Blood”. More or less speaking out the gospel, recounting how we have freedom in Jesus, and that ‘…I owe my life, to you my saviour, I owe it all, to you alone, Your sacrifice has won my freedom, I was bought by Jesus’ blood…’; the team, from Britain need to be congratulated, as they have recorded a stellar song, probably due to be a single sometime soon. Epitomising the heart of the band, this song will be listened to on my iTunes for a while yet. Coming into this album not expecting much, these 13 tracks have blown me away, so much so that it ranks as one of my favourite for worship albums over the past few years, sung by bands/worship movements. Well done Life Worship for something thoughtful, something majestic, and something comforting.
With such variety musically, vocally and lyrically- the vocalists all sing together in perfect harmony; Life Worship have recorded a fantastic new live album. While an outsider may perceive the Integrity Music release as ‘yet another worship album that has been done to death!’; the standout tracks “We Believe” and “Dance Again”, anchoring the album lyrically and thematically, alone have dispelled doubts that I had earlier in the year. These songs are sure to speak to you and I can guarantee that at least one will be common on iTunes playlists in many households, and on set lists in many churches as well. Coming out from left field, Dance Again is definitely a welcome surprise! Well done Life Worship for exceeding my expectations. I can’t wait for the next live album!
3 songs to listen to: We Believe, Jesus’ Blood, Dance Again
RIYL: Planetshakers, Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Desperation Band