The Worship Initiative
Release Date: June 19th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- There’s a River [BETHANY BARNARD]
- Doxology / Amen [PHIL WICKHAM]
- Graves into Gardens [ELEVATION WORSHIP]
- What a Friend We Have in Jesus (feat. Hannah Hardin) [PUBLIC DOMAIN]
- Sing to Jesus (feat. Davy Flowers) [FERNANDO ORTEGA]
- Faithful to the End (feat. Sam DeFord & Dinah Wright) [BETHEL MUSIC]
- Hymn of Surrender (feat. Davy Floiwers) [MATT REDMAN]
- I Surrender All (All I Am) (feat. Robbie Seay) [PUBLIC DOMAIN / CALEY & KELSEY]
- There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do (feat. Michael Olson) [PASSION]
- The Blessing (feat. Dinah Wright) [KARI JOBE & CODY CARNES]
Shane and Shane don’t need any introduction. They’ve made a name for themselves over the years, initially under Fair Trade Services, but it was since 2014, that their ministry really started to shift and take focus. Since 2014, the duo launched the Worship Initiative Website, online toolkit and worship resource program alongside various albums of cover worship songs (songs that are popular in churches around the world) that have released at periodic times throughout the last few years. Often at times Shane and Shane record the worship songs in a much better structure and atmosphere compared to the original recordings…and that is ok. Shane Bernard and Shane Everett; both of whom make up this duo, have been undertaking this ministry for a while now (since 2014) and have since amassed 20 volumes (17 full length albums and 3 EPs) full of worship covers. Let’s just say that every worship song you could think of, they would’ve done a worship cover of it within one of their 20 volumes. And most, if not all of them, are comparable to the original. Their decision to create worship music arrangements independently and deliver their own renditions of worship songs, are what I reckon they’ll be remembered for, into the future. For when they unveiled The Worship Initiative in 2014, and the albums that followed; that’s when they really asserted themselves as a premier cover worship band (yes, in my opinion, usurping Phillips, Craig and Dean as my favourite worship cover band…ever!). And so we fast forward to 2020. Just a month or so ago I posted a review on Shane & Shane’s The Worship Initiative 19 & 20– featuring standout cover songs of ‘Another in the Fire’, ‘Yes and Amen’, ‘His Heart Beats’, ‘Christ is Risen’, ‘Glorious Day’, ‘Faithful’, ‘You Cannot Be Stopped’ and ‘Jesus, Only Jesus’, to name a few. Now here we are once again, for me to undertake a ‘review’ of sorts for The Worship Initiative 21– and this album (and much of Shane & Shane’s worship album discography) is a must-have if you are a fan of modern worship music, or if you want to hear and be reminded that worship songs are more than just the artist singing them- and these Shane & Shane covers are proof of this. Even if you haven’t contributed to their kickstarter campaign (of which many of the songs and albums are released to patrons earlier than the general public), the songs can still be enjoyed either on Spotify or either through purchase on Apple Music or Amazon.
As with a fair amount of their worship cover albums and EPs previously, Shane & Shane have enlisted a fair amount of their friends to come sing on the songs and albums alongside them, and while on previous Worship Initiative albums like The Worship Initiative Vol. 17, both Shane’s were absent, here on this new cover album, Shane & Shane contribute to a fair portion of the album. Alongside Shane & Shane, contributing to the album, are recent mainstays like Dinah Wright, Davy Flowers, Sam DeFord and veteran singer-songwriter Robbie Seay; as the 10 track Worship Initiative 21 features some of the most impactful and popular worship songs of today being given ‘the worship initiative’ treatment. And so with a glance at the track listing on this new album, we can see a myriad of popular worship songs of today and some older fan-favourites- ‘Doxology/Amen’ was one of my own personal standouts from Phil Wickham’s Children of God, and is given ‘the worship initiative’ treatment, while ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ and ‘I Surrender All’, two well known hymns, are modernised and placed here on this 10 track album too. Lesser known worship songs like ‘Hymn of Surrender’ (Matt Redman), ‘There’s a River’ (Bethany Barnard), ‘Sing to Jesus’ (Fernando Ortega) and ‘Faithful To the End’ (Bethel Music), are all shown to be re-recorded with a ‘Shane & Shane’/Worship Initiative flair, while melodies like the recent chart-topper ‘Grave into Gardens’ and the most recent single by Passion, ‘There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do’; are songs that I believe will continue to impact people around the world in months to come (both of which are present here in The Worship Initiative 21). Even the most popular worship song currently, ‘The Blessing’, is also given a place here on this album as well- a song that has become a global phenomena, a track that is fast becoming a unifying worship melody whose impact is the most a worship song has ever been since ‘Reckless Love’ in 2018. For it has been, and forever will be, in these songs released album after album and Worship Initiative after Worship Initiative, that an album such as this can still flourish even if it’s all just covers. In fact, these volumes by Shane & Shane are some of my favourite worship albums I’ve heard for quite some time- which gives me a pleasant and timely reminder that songs certainly transcend the artist, especially in the duo’s case.
If you enjoy modern worship, and enjoy worship songs of today, then this is the album for you. Or if you enjoy listening to cover tracks that are as comparable, maybe even more so, compared to originals. Dare I say that Shane and Shane are even about to rival Phillips, Craig and Dean as the group of all groups who create great worship covers? Because maybe, just maybe, Shane and Shane have the edge. In fact, they do. With currently now 21 volumes (inclusive of this one) into this Worship Initiative series, I don’t see Shane Everett and Shane Barnard slowing down anytime soon. And that is a good thing. For this duo and their ministry at equipping churches around the world with songs that encourage and impact, is as much needed in today’s worship society and culture, as the songs are needed if you want to hear song arrangements by cover artists, and be reminded that cover songs are just as valid as originally written ones. While the duo may not be publicised in radio as much as before, their passion and heart are still present and infectious, as every song on this cover album show us their enthusiasm and encouragement, as some, if not most, of these songs, have become some of my favourite worship songs I’ve heard within the last few years- namely melodies like ‘The Blessing’, ‘Graves into Gardens’ and ‘There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do’. Well done Shane and Shane for these songs, can’t wait for The Worship Initiative Vol. 22– it’s coming out this year, right?
3 songs to listen to: The Blessing, Graves into Gardens, There’s Nothing that Our God Can’t Do
RIYL: Matt Maher, Laura Story, Passion, Phil Wickham, Elevation Worship, Hillsong Worship