Release Date: March 6th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Jesus, Only You
- Come Holy Spirit (feat. Steffany Gretzinger)
- I Will Sing
- Exalt (Worship Version)
Martin Smith is by far one of my favourite front-men to any band well, ever. After spending years being the front-man to arguably one of the most impacful and influential founding-fathers of CCM and worship, Delirious?; Martin decided to venture out on his own. Launching a solo career after the band, Martin released albums God’s Great Dance Floor Volume 1 & 2 (alongside singles from these albums in ‘God’s Great Dance Floor’, ‘Back to the Start’, ‘Grace’, ‘Fire Never Sleeps’, ‘Emmanuel’, ‘Awake My Soul’, ‘Only Got Eyes’ and ‘Great is Your Faithfulness’, to name a few) in 2013; a compilation best-of titled Back to the Start in 2014, alongside a live project Love Song for a City in 2018, as well as his new studio album Iron Lung in 2019. And let us not forget his side-project Army of Bones that also released their debut album in 2017, with Martin himself as the lead singer. Gee, that sounds busy. And it is. Martin’s voice, be it as part of his solo career, his band Army of Bones, or even as Delirious?, has been in our homes, hearts and on the radio from the mid-1990s onward, and thus, Martin’s presence in an industry that seems to throw people out with the drop of a hat, seems to be, and only is, remarkable and a miracle. Martin’s music, both his solo alongside his Delirious? days, have been inspiring me in my own walk with Jesus over the years. Now here we are in 2020, and Martin’s unveiled yet another project- this time an EP titled Exalt, featuring songs from both Iron Lung and Love Song For a City, redone and re-recorded in a studio setting.
I haven’t revived Iron Lung yet, I will, just maybe next week or so. But that still hasn’t stopped me from hearing the album, and boy is it a great album- one of my favourites of 2019. Martin has really shown to us his soul on his 2019 album, and the song chosen from Iron Lung to be represented here is ‘Exalt’, albeit a unique re-recorded song, this time featuring more of the worshipful aspect of it, and choreographing music to fit the mood of worship, rather than the more electronic nature of the original on Iron Lung. Nevertheless, this new worship version of an already standout song from his 2019 album, is a great addition on this EP, as the song itself reminds us all that God Himself and Himself only is to be exalted above all else, in light of everything that we know of who we are, what He’s done, and who He is as God. The other three remaining songs are from Love Song For a City, and all three of them are now unveiled in their studio-recording setting, and all of them have been standouts on the 2018 album and are very much welcomed here too. ‘Jesus Only You’ was originally sung as a duet between both Martin and his daughter Elle Limebear; is sung by only Martin here (as well as some gospel-esque backing vocals) and reminds us all that it is only, and always will be only, Jesus. That is it. Jesus is our centre, Jesus is our source of hope and happiness. Jesus is our comfort, He is our friend, our Father, or Saviour and ultimately, or defender against the darkness. Jesus is and always will be, and this song is a timely reminder of such a fact, that is often overlooked by ourselves either because of our busy lifestyles or because of our complacency that has occurred over the years.
‘Come Holy Spirit’, a song co-written with Matt Maher, was originally on Love Song For a City, and was also placed by Matt on his live/studio album Alive and Breathing earlier on during the month. Here, Martin sings the song as a duet with ex-Bethel Music artist Steffany Gretzinger, as the song acts as something that either Bethel Music or Jesus Culture would sing. The song itself- asking the Holy Spirit to come and to do what the Holy Spirit does, to open our hearts and lay them bare before the Lord as we long for Him to come and shatter our understandings of what we believe God to be or even what we believe our relationships with not only God, but our fellow man, to be as well. The EP then ends with the song ‘I Will Sing’ (no, it’s not an alteration of the song ‘I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever’, but a newly written song). Also originally written and recorded for Love Song For a City, Martin has unveiled arguably one of the most poignant and heartfelt songs he’s ever done in a solo setting, ever since ‘Back to the Start’ way back in 2013. Though the song is as reflective and slower-paced compared to the other three songs, and also doesn’t really ‘get off the ground’ compared to the other three, the lyrics of the song is as compelling as ever, and if only for the lyrics, this song ought to be commended, for such emotive and confronting lyrics I haven’t seen in a Martin Smith song, not since a song like ‘Song of Solomon’ back in the day- ‘…I will sing through the silence, I will sing when I’m alone, I will praise Your name forever, for my heart will be Your home, I will sing because I love You, I will sing because You’re here, oh my Jesus, You will hold me and I won’t be lost again…’
Martin Smith and his music, both with Delirious? and Army of Bones, alongside his solo material, is here to stay, and this EP is testament to how passionate and enthusiastic Martin is in singing and delivering songs of worship. Delirious? I reckon is in fact one of CCM’s most impactful and influential worship bands ever, and Martin Smith is carrying on from where Delirious? left off. This is a must have if you are a fan of Delirious? or if you have loved Martin’s music previously. Or a must-have if you enjoy worship music period. Kudos to Martin for this tight and short (only 4 songs) but still equally profound EP. Now here’s to listen to Iron Lung and start writing a review for it. Maybe, just maybe, that album of last year will surprise me (I hope it does) in a good way; and become one of my favourite albums of 2019. I know this new EP is fast becoming one of my favourites of 2020 thus far!
3 songs to listen to: Exalt, Come Holy Spirit, Jesus, Only You
RIYL: Delirious?, Matt Redman, Elle Limebear, Matt Maher