Release Date: January 31st 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Matt Redman– Let There Be Wonder (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- The Same Jesus [Live]
- We Praise You (feat. Brandon Lake) [Live]
- All Praise (Sing Praise) [Live]
- Upon Him [Live]
- Let There Be Wonder [Live]
- King Jesus [Live]
- Merciful Father [Live]
- Mercies (New Every Morning) [Live]
- Jesus Your Name [Live]
- In the Name [Live]
- Hymn of Surrender [Live]
- Send Me Lord [Live]
- A Ti Adoramos (We Praise You) (feat. Evan Craft) [Live]
- The Same Jesus [Single Version]
Matt Redman, one of today’s most respected and popular worship leaders and gifted songwriters, released Glory Song way back in September 2017- his first live album since 2013’s Your Grace Finds Me. With Matt already gracing us all with plenty of smash hits such as “Blessed Be Your Name”, “Let Everything That Has Breath”, “10 000 Reasons”, “Better Is One Day”, “Once Again”, “Mercy”, “Your Grace Finds Me”, “You Never Let Go” and many others, it’s plain to see that Matt has recorded another winner in his latest project. Yet though we never reviewed Glory Song (due to time constraints, general busyness, and the fact that other albums were just simply more enjoyable to review!); we did want to rectify the situation though this time around. Matt’s latest project, his first on Integrity Music, is yet another live album called Let There Be Wonder which dropped at the end of January this year, and the project does indeed resonate with me in terms of being a simple worship project, dedicated to Jesus, as we lift our hands up and praise His holy name. With these songs still long-ish in that the entire duration of songs is closer in length to 75 minutes; this fact in no way means that the album gets old quickly. In fact I reckon that Let There Be Wonder is the freshest Matt has ever been, since his studio album Beautiful News 14 years ago! So what is it that makes this live album above other Matt Redman live albums? Let us quickly dive in to see the power of Matt’s offering, and my opinion as to whether I reckon any of Matt’s new songs will be sung in churches on Sundays for weeks and months to come!
Opening the track list is probably one of the rockiest songs on the album, as Matt presents us with the energetic, electric guitar led rock tune “The Same Jesus”. Quite possibly one of the most jovial and upbeat tracks from Matt of late; Matt imparts to us eternal truths about the God of the universe, and that ‘…I know that my Redeemer lives, He’s still keeping all His promises, the same Jesus, the same Jesus…’, a sentiment in the chorus that is ever true and constant. Even though “The Same Jesus” isn’t that powerful or compelling (think instead of your typical Sunday morning worship song- and that’s how you would describe Matt’s album opener!); Matt nonetheless gives us a moment of unbridled praise to our Saviour and Friend, and ushers us into a holy worship experience like no other. Next up is the current radio single “We Praise You” and my favourite track on the album, with Matt joining forces vocally with Brandon Lake and imparting to us the ever true fact that our worship and our praise to God can indeed by a weapon and can be used against Satan and the dark forces of evil. As we remember that our God is with us and for us and will never leave us, Matt and Brandon emphatically highlight that ‘…we’ll see You break down every wall, we’ll watch the giants fall, fear cannot survive when we praise You, the God of breakthrough’s on our side, forever lift Him high, with all creation cry, God, we praise You…’, and reassure us that the God of our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows is right here beside us in the midst of our struggles and our trials. Thus we have already overcome adversity and we can proclaim that with confidence and assurance. Praising God with true freedom is possible, and “We Praise You” is a great example of a song brimming with this freedom and true joy!
The rest of the album builds upon the eternal truths of the two openers, yet never fails to meet the lofty heights by its predecessors. “All Praise (Sing Praise)”, co-written with Jason Ingram and Vertical Worship’s Andi Rozier, though enjoyable and very, very solid, as we worship and sing out that Jesus Christ deserves all the praise we give to Him because our new life is beginning because of Him; is unfortunately and also unnecessarily long at 7 minutes- entering into Jesus Culture length territory! Still not a skippable track, Matt eloquently and fervently reminds us of the simplicity of entering into pure, unbridled communion and worship with Jesus, our Father and our Friend. Simply put, worship doesn’t have to be flash nor performance based, but rather maybe much more effective and efficient when reflective, personal and honest. Such is the nature for many of the tracks from Let There Be Wonder. While being sung in a corporate setting at church, these songs can easily be translated into a one-on-one worship setting between just us and God. “Upon Him”, the piano prominent mid-tempo ballad, is one such track, providing us comfort and assurance that Jesus has died for us and now He is alive, therefore we can emphatically praise Him because of his faithfulness and grace; while the title track is full of repetition, yet also comes across as an earnest prayer, as we fall down in reverence, seeking our Father and asking Him to fill us with the wonder of our youth, the wonder of being a new Christian, the feeling of being on fire and excited for Jesus, as having Jesus in our lives is indeed worth celebrating.
Unfortunately, the mid-point of the album serves up a couple of mediocre melodies- “King Jesus”, cowritten with Joel Houston from Hillsong UNITED, somehow falls flat and to me is uninspiring, even though Matt relays to us that Jesus is our King and the name above all names; while the underwhelming “Merciful Father” brings forth a true concept of Jesus being merciful and gracious, yet is executed poorly with plenty of repetition and a guitar riff and musical outline that is so, so nondescript that you could drop this whole musical refrain with another songwriter much more gifted, and they could rewrite the song, yet it’ll still sound uninspired. Understand what I mean? Hopefully you do… not even co-writer Pat Barrett could even save this… is it an upbeat track, because there isn’t any passion here sadly. Thankfully, the album massively improves from this point onwards, starting with the hopeful, musically simply yet effective “Mercies (New Every Morning)”- the track lyrically is simple also, however beautifully reminds us of God’s goodness and love and faithfulness to each of us, lavishing His love over us and presenting us with new mercies every morning- a beautiful and freeing concept that allows us to live life to the full with God by our side.
I guess I’m more partial to the slower paced ballads, as I personally reckon that the next few tracks are absolutely and thoroughly enjoyable. “Jesus Your Name”, despite the unoriginal title, is anything but bland, as I am reminded of the songwriting of Delirious? as Matt powerfully delivers an anthem for the ages that praises Jesus’ name over everything and essentially highlights that we can call upon Jesus’ name at all times- and He will indeed answer. The relatively subdued guitar led mid-tempo ballad track “In The Name” follows, and though only comprising of one verse, is nonetheless impacting and encouraging, as Matt graciously imparts from God’s perspective, as well as ours, that it is only in Jesus’ name that we can and we will be healed. Not in our timing but in God’s perfect plan that we most likely can’t fathom any time yet. The piano prominent reflective and contemplative ballad “Hymn Of Surrender” is probably one of the most inspiring and compelling Matt Redman tracks I’ve heard in a long time, perhaps since “Heart Of Worship”, as Matt passionately relays to us that he is surrendering 100% to Jesus, and that he is giving his whole life to Him (something that we all need to do as active Christians); while the enthralling potential radio single and potential modern day hymn “Send Me Lord” is my favourite track on the album- my favourite since “10 000 Reasons”, as Matt emphatically asks God to send him out into the world to spread the gospel, and to send him to do what God has planned for him to do. Asking God to send us out into the unknown is a scary thing, but I believe that it is necessary for us to grow as believers, for us to witness to the world who doesn’t yet know the person that is Jesus Christ and what He has done for them.
With Let There Be Wonder ending with the ‘Spanglish’ version of “We Praise You” with Evan Craft, as well as the studio version of “The Same Jesus” (which actually could have been left off the track listing, as I reckon it serves no purpose on a live album in terms of it actually killing the atmosphere!); Let There Be Wonder isn’t that hard hitting and as engaging musically and lyrically from a technical and objective standpoint- other albums such as Your Grace Finds Me or Blessed Be Your Name are much more emphatic, joyous and celebratory. Given that we are in the midst of this pandemic, and the fact that these days especially when we are at home we would prefer to listen to a variety of different genres; listening to an album which musically sounds quite similar to each other, in which the songs run into each other and blend together is probably not that wise. And yet… Matt Redman’s Let There Be Wonder is exactly what we need at this time. It’s touching, heartfelt and pulling at all my emotions. Catchiness and complexity isn’t what Matt was going for, but rather a sense of unity, of camaraderie as we join together and worship out Lord and Saviour. As for everyone else who listens to this new project; I hope and pray that you are blessed and inspired also, and I hope that if you don’t know Matt’s music by now, that Let There Be Wonder will encourage you to check out his entire discography. You definitely won’t be disappointed!
3 songs to listen to: We Praise You, Hymn Of Surrender, Send Me Lord
RIYL: Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes, Soul Survivor, Hillsong UNITED