Release Date: March 11th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Amazing Grace
- Love Comes Down
- The Sound that Saved Us All
- Nothing But the Blood
- All the Saints (Holy, Holy, Holy)
- Overwhelm Me (Lost in You)
- Our Father
- All the Saints (Holy, Holy, Holy) (Extended Mix)
‘…for us, this is about doing something that will serve the body of Christ in lifting up our Lord together. We see worship as an active verb, not a passive verb and certainly not a genre of music. We are simply Christian music publishers and we want to publish songs that proclaim and exalt the name of the Lord we serve…’ With the above quote spoken by Steve Rice, VP of Centricity Publishing and founder of CentricWorship; we are met with an album that gives us a great reminder of how precious, powerful, poignant and heartfelt worship songs really are. While many of us see worship as either a section in the church service, or even as a genre of music, what is highlighted in the album and through the heart of this newly established music ministry is that worship is something we participate in each day throughout our everyday lives as we actively pursue relationship over ritual, hope and love over shame and guilt, and comfort over condemnation.
Worship, as a genre of music, has a great amount of talented and God-focused individuals and bands, from Hillsong, Passion, Desperation Band, Bethel and Jesus Culture, to Meredith Andrews, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Rend Collective, All Sons and Daughters and The Sonflowerz. Enter in the artists who make up this 8 track compilation. Recorded throughout a Holy Spirit Week in the Cascade Mountains, artists like Michael Farren, Lauren Daigle, Jared Anderson, Mia Fieldes, Anthony Skinner and Henry Seeley poured their songwriting prowess into what is released as an EP full of new songs for the church, ourselves, and an EP just to listen to if we want to have some great personal individual worship. From the title track, to “Overwhelm Me”, “Nothing But the Blood” and “The Sound That Saved Us All”, this is my favourite collection of worship songs I’ve heard since Passion’s Take it All (even though Passion’s new album released after CentricWorship’s debut album, I heard Passion’s album before this one).
With a combination of re-imagined hymns and newly penned worship songs, the artists that form up CentricWorship invite us into an intimate place of worship and reflection. While only 8 songs (between an EP length and an album’s), the poignancy of the songs place this album as one of the most ingenious worship efforts, rivalling both EP’s and albums as one of the most unique and enjoyable worship releases of the year. A 50 second “Amazing Grace” begins the 8 track EP as we hear an all-vocal only song that brings the poignant lyrics to the fore and reminds us that a simple song filled with just vocals can be just as enjoyable and heartfelt as the other tracks on the album.
“Love Comes Down”, sung by Michael Farren (lead singer of Pocket Full of Rocks) and co-written with Michael, Seth Mosley and newcomer to Centricity Music, Lauren Daigle, is one of the standout songs on CentricWorship’s album, as we hear an acoustic/country style of music set to the theme of praising God and receiving the love coming down and given to us by the Father. Michael delivers a powerful chorus as he pays homage its predecessor “Amazing Grace”, in the poignant words of ‘…how sweet amazing grace, wraps me in a warm embrace, oh my heart rejoice, I was lost, now found, all my praise goes up as Your love comes down…’, making him one of the most underrated songwriters of the modern worship era. Michael has provided us with a stellar song that stands out on an album that’s full of some of the most unique worship songs ever recorded in 2014 so far!
“All The Saints (Holy, Holy, Holy)” is one of my favourite songs alongside “Love Comes Down” on the EP, and probably one of my favourite songs of 2014 to date. Infusing a modern worshipful moment where we collectively as the saints of God declare His name, together with the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”, we are met with a great collision of old and new, ancient and modern, and past and present, as we see the poignancy of songs written both today and many, many years ago. With two versions of the song (a radio recording of 6 minutes compared to the full-length 12 minute version), lead singer Michael Farren powerfully declares out in the newly written chorus (which modernises the hymn positively) that ‘…all the saints adore you, laying crowns before You, lifting praise unto You, You are holy, holy…’, as we witness a great song being crafted- maybe even just as good and hopefully successful as Chris Tomlin’s version of “Amazing Grace”. While I felt at times the full length 12 minute length recording was a tad too long, the 6 minute song is just what is needed for me to worship individually without feeling like the melody drags on for longer than necessary, thus disturbing my own flow of worship as I ponder and think about when the song is going to end.
Throughout the rest of the album, we are met with some great songs that can be introduced into Sunday morning worship sets, and others great for personal reflection and worship, as CentricWorship and the artists involved with the project offer some of the most diverse sets of worship songs since All Sons and Daughters’s self-titled 2nd album and Passion’s Take It All. A re-imagined version of the beloved hymn, “Nothing But the Blood” is actually one of my favourite worship songs since Matt Redman’s “Your Grace Finds Me”, as lead singer and worship leader Corey Voss brings us all into a place of surrender and awe as acoustics and light percussion are brought to the fore to deliver a poignant message of how ‘…for our pardon it would take the cross, salvation paid for at the highest cost, our redemption gained at heaven’s loss, oh Hallelujah…’ Sounding like Hillsong worship leader Matt Crocker (to the point where at times the song may sound too Hillsong-esque or radio friendly), Corey and the rest of the writers have given us a powerful song, ought to be introduced into churches soon.
“Our Father” evokes to us a country-style melody and brings to light themes of adoration as we witness a modern rendition of the Lord’s Prayer sung by ex-Desperation Band lead singer Jared Anderson, while “Overwhelm Me (Lost in You)” brings an atmosphere akin to something Bethel would bring, as lead singer Riley Erin reminds us all through light acoustics and her powerful voice, that ‘…I can’t escape till my life has been transformed and my heart is one with Yours…I wanna be lost in You, overwhelm me…’ Standing at close to 7 minutes, “Overwhelm Me” acts as one of the most encouraging reflective ballads on the album and reminds us all that it is God’s presence that ought to be our first priority in worship. With drums and percussion taking the forefront in the Anthony Skinner led melody “The Sound That Saved Us All” as he tackles a reimagining of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”; we are met with a unique rendition full of light instrumentation and a riveting piano hook, another powerful standout amongst the remainder 7 tracks on what is one of the most underrated 2014 releases so far!
‘…The spirit of a believer wants to declare the glories of God! And with the recent introduction of pop melodies, relevant song structure and current musical stylings to Sunday morning songs, churches are spending more time in congregational worship, and believers are no longer simply singing the songs in the pews, they are making worship songs the soundtrack of their lives – in prayer, on the go, and at home…’ What CentricWorship’s album brings to the table or worship melodies, artists and albums of the modern era is something that’ll help continue facilitate worship in a more reflective and corporate sense, fusing together newly written songs and hymns to bring to the fore the belief that songs from the past and present have just as much value as each other to stir up the worshipper to praise our Father and King. From standouts like “Nothing But the Blood” and “All the Saints (Holy, Holy, Holy)”, to “Love Comes Down”; this is a perfect listen if you are a fan of worship music in general, or long to hear some edifying reflective material that is different from all the pop melodies rehashed on the radio currently.
3 songs to listen to: Nothing But the Blood, All The Saints (Holy, Holy, Holy), Love Comes Down
RIYL: Audrey Assad, Matt Maher, Hillsong, All Sons and Daughters, Bethel