The Worship Initiative
Release Date: June 14th 2019
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
The Worship Initiative [Shane & Shane] – The Worship Initiative Vol. 17 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
Track Listing: (Brackets  = original artist)
- Goodness of God (feat. Bethany Barnard) [BETHEL MUSIC]
- Touch the Sky (feat. Dinah Wright) [UNITED]
- Lean Back (feat. Davy Flowers) [CAPITAL CITY MUSIC]
- Give Us Your Heart (feat. Melanie Tierce) [IHOP]
- Isn’t He (feat. Candace Payne) [NATALIE GRANT]
- It is Well (feat. Bethany Barnard & Alex Kissinger) [BETHEL MUSIC]
- Jesus is Better (feat. Davy Flowers) [AUSTIN STONE WORSHIP]
- New Wine (feat. Bethany Barnard) [HILLSONG WORSHIP]
- I Shall Not Want (feat. Bethany Barnard) [AUDREY ASSAD]
- Holy Ground (feat. Dinah Wright) [PASSION]
- Defender (feat. Davy Flowers) [STEFFANY GRETZINGER]
- Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) (feat. Dinah Wright) [HILLSONG WORSHIP]
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 16 volumes (13 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 16 volumes. And most, if not all of them, are comparable to the original.
For even though the duo created quite a name for themselves prior to 2014 under Fair Trade Services and then Inpop Records before that, Shane and Shane’s 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…and that’s ok. 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 fast forward to today. The Worship Initiative Vol. 17 released not too long ago, 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 earn something new, or just enjoy the band and their harmonisation on music. For it is this album that is a unique one- Shane & Shane are not featured in the songs at all- it’s just other artists and singers. Nevertheless, what The Worship Initiative Vol. 17 is reminding us all about is that a song transcends the artist. Much of the duo’s worship cover discography, though they are covers, are some of the most heartfelt and emotive worship song renditions I’ve heard, out of anyone. 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 iTunes or Amazon.
With both Shane Everett and Shane Barnard absent from the album, Shane’s wife Bethany Barnard (originally pop/CCM artist Bethany Dillon), alongside other singers (who have sung on Worship Initiative albums previously) Dinah Wright and Davy Flowers, and newcomers Melanie Tierce, Alex Kissinger and Candace Payne; take the helm of the songs present on this album. And so with a glance at the track listing on this new album, we can see a myriad of popular worship songs of today. ‘Touch the Sky’, arguably one of UNITED’s biggest radio hits, ever; is placed here on the 17th edition of The Worship Initiative, and it was thereby pleseantly surprising that the duo haven’t covered this song up until now. There are other songs that are familiar in the 12 track lineup as well- ‘It is Well’ (BETHEL MUSIC), ‘Isn’t He’ (Natalie Grant), ‘Holy Ground’ (Passion), ‘Defender’ (Steffany Gretzinger), ‘Broken Vessels’ (UNITED), even lesser known songs ‘I Shall Not Want’ (Audrey Assad), ‘Lean Back’ (Capitol City Music) and more recently ‘Goodness of God’ (BETHEL MUSIC); are all given the ‘Worship Initiative’ treatment, and we’re reminded that an album such as this can still flourish without Shane & Shane at the helm. Nevertheless, if you enjoy modern worship, and enjoy worship songs of today, then this is the album for you.
The Worship Initiative Vol. 17 is a must have for anyone who appreciates and enjoys worship music; and enjoys 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 14 albums and 3 EPs full of popular worship songs under their belt, Shane and Shane and their ministry at equipping churches around the world with songs that encourage and impact, show us just how committed they are to their ministry. 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 new cover album oozes over enthusiasm and encouragement, as some, if not most, of these songs on this music collection, have been some of my favourite worship songs I’ve heard within the last few years! Well done Shane and Shane for these songs, can’t wait for The Worship Initiative Vol. 18, whenever it arises!
3 songs to listen to: Defender, Isn’t He, Goodness of God
RIYL: Bethel Music, Hillsong Worship, Passion, UNITED