Release Date: March 18th 2016
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- The Answer
- The One Who Saves Us
- Hold My Forever
- Love song
- My Strong Hope
- Where You Are
- This City
- His Love (Hallelujah)
“…I think God strategically put us here in Hyderabad so we can pull down Heaven into this place. They have a hundred million gods here. They don’t mind adding Jesus into this pantheon of gods, but where is the real truth? After looking for answers everywhere, and praying to all these gods, it’s only after you find Jesus that you’ll have the answer for everything…” If you could sum up one word about Ian Eskelin, founder of new record label Radiate Music, you’d probably say he’s innovative, as the artists already on his new label seem to suggest that he and the new label, as well as these new up and coming bands/artists, are in for a wild and rollercoster ride, as God continues to pave the way to make His name renown. Already having signed pop/rock band The Neverclaim, rock trio of brothers About A Mile, and worship husband and wife duo Austin & Lindsey Adamec, we are now introduced to an Indian worship movement Pearl City Worship (similar in style to Bethel and Hillsong!), fronted by lead singer and worship pastor Allen Ganta, that Ian signed to the label recently. As the band have just released their brand new debut album We Won’t Be Silent, we are glimpsed into a studio recording like no other, as Indian musical influences combine with modern worship and CCM undertones, creating a fantastic musical, lyrical and emotional journey across these ten tracks as we bask in God’s goodness and bless His holy name. Similar vocally to Sonicflood’s Rick Heil and Abandon’s Justin Engler, Allen is as passionate a vocalist as he is a worship leader, and this definitely shines through in these quality productions and honest songs to God, so let’s dive in and wee how God can and will touch our lives through this new album, that will definitely be on my iTunes playlist for a while yet!
Immediately off the bat, we can hear a brilliant execution of contrasting styles in “The Answer”, as Indian Bollywood music is played in the background alongside vibrant and explosive electric guitar, creating an atmosphere not heard of before. Revolutionary and true, we are introduced (or reintroduced) to the concept of Jesus being the Answer, that ‘…I’m not who I was because of what grace does…You’re my Saviour, my Rescue, you’re the only reason life has meaning, all I am is after You…’, as Allen ardently highlights his brokenness and need for God, and the perspective we gain from the fact that Jesus is The One we can turn to at any time. A notion that is sure to boggle our minds time and time again, Pearl City Worship time and time again through the rest of the songs reintroduce to us some simple concepts, through prayer and declarations, yet themes and relevant issues that we all need to delve into and re-explore, as we dive deep, closer to Jesus, discovering more about Himself and ourselves in the process.
A praise and worship song fit for Sunday mornings in church, “The One Who Saves Us” is refreshing and bold considering the band is singing it all around churches in India, where Christianity still is in the minority. Proclaiming that ‘…we won’t be silent anymore, our hearts are filled with praises, hallelujah, shout to the Lord, glory to the God who saves us, Jesus the One who saves us…’, Allen and co. ardently bring to the fore the notion of singing to God, and thanking Him, just because He is. Worshipping God brings a smile to His face, and reminds everyone around us that a life of authenticity and boldness, rather than being lukewarm, is respected; hopefully an in-your-face song like this with passion and gusto is sure to grab the attention of even the most hardened of non-believers- how can you not with a melody that is Holy Spirit anointed.
“Hold My Forever”, the album’s first single is next, which is exquisitely led by keys and Allen’s earnest vocals, proclaiming that ‘…though I may be shaken, I am not forsaken, You hold my forever, I will rest in You…’, a firm belief that everything we do is based on the notion that God holds everything together. It’s on this basis that we can live like we are free, because we are- God’s got our back, and this song is the band wanting the world to know we have The One who holds the universe in our corner! The first half of the album rounds out with the acoustic guitar led “Love Song” and the CCM-esque pop tune “My Strong Hope”, in which the former soft reflective ballad reminds us of the fact that everything we do on this earth should be to glorify God’s name and show the world that we love Him and He loves us; and the latter encouraging pop ballad highlights that Jesus is our strong hope, that we can hold onto Jesus when this life doesn’t make sense, that ‘…my strong hope reigns on high, my strong hope by my side, this alone, Christ alone…’.
With such musical diversity across all of these 5 tracks already, the very same trend continues across the next 5. “Awake”, a fervent and honest guitar led mid-tempo melody, is a prayer and cry for revival, asking Jesus to awake the Earth, so that everyone knows of the Lord Most High; while the piano prominent potential second single “Still” quells all of the doubts we may have of Jesus being seemingly silent on some current issues. As Allen ardently reminds us that ‘…still You are in control, still You are on Your throne, sovereign You reign, in joy and in pain, we will trust You…’, it’s a statement that is easier said than acted out, but nevertheless comforting to realise that everything that occurs in the past, now and in the future can and will be used for God’s glory and furthering His kingdom.
“Where You Are” (no, not the Hillsong Young And Free melody!) is a piano centred simple prayer and worship piece, that could easily be sung in corporate and personal worship, as Allen and the band passionately reiterate that they want to see the presence of God fall down and invade the country and the world, that we want to and long to be where Jesus is; while the penultimate song on the album, the explosive pop anthem “This City”, led by acoustic and electric guitar, is Allen’s and the band’s vision to see God move across the city of Hyderabad (the origin of Pearl City Worship) and ultimately across the world as well. It’s a bold and inspiring leap of faith to declare that God is an active part of every city in this world, when we know in our minds the suffering in various parts of the world, but hopefully this is a prayer we can sing out with conviction in the coming years, as God plants ministries in strategic places in this world so that the gospel can be shared! The final song “His Love (Hallelujah)” is just as rock as you can get from Pearl City Worship, with Allen and the band ardently proclaiming that Jesus’ love is all we need to live, with the track being 3 minutes of pure pop/rock goodness that ends a brilliantly recorded and produced debut album, one that Pearl City Worship and Ian Eskelin should be proud of.
There’s nothing much more I can say about Pearl City Worship, other than the fact that you all should buy the album when it releases, and be blessed and inspired by an international band that we’ve never heard before stylistically. With a fusion of genres included here, from worship to pop to CCM to piano ballads, Allen and his team have worked very hard to create one of my favourite albums of the year thus far. Inspiring and honest, real and moving, hopefully the band rise from strength to strength. Well done guys, I can’t wait to hear and see what God has in store for you all next!
3 songs to listen to: Hold My Forever, Still, This City
RIYL: UNITED, Remedy Drive, Sonicflood, The Neverclaim, Matt Redman, Abandon