Here’s a rundown of recently released worship albums that have been receiving airtime in our house. Be sure to leave a comment if we’re missing anything really great.
Rend Collective Experiment – Campfire
When I first listened to this album, I was immediately put off by the opening track. Who begins an album with Kumbaya of all songs and expects to be taken seriously?! Happily, the rest of the album is spectacular and I can skip kumbaya, my lord. Listeners will likely recognize a resemblance with Mumford & Sons. Being the only album we have by them, I don’t know if that’s the Rend Collective Experiment’s normal style or if it’s just particularly accented for the campfire feel. In any case, I don’t mind the likeness too much given that I believe these guys can get by on their own merits. Their passion is palpable. Their rhythms are infectious. Their guitars hum to high heaven. Overall, their collective experiment around a campfire has rendered a worship album that stirs, leads and inspires. Definitely a favorite in our house at the moment. Top tracks are Build Your Kingdom Here, You Bled, and their renditions of You Are [Be Thou] My Vision and 10,000 Reasons. An album, an experience not to be missed.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk2MpaTEzXw]
Passion – Let the Future Begin
My and Emily’s first encounter with Passion was shortly after we were first married. With a bus load of friends we spent New Years in Nashville, helping our peers pack a coliseum. What a blast that was. Passion seems to be going strong still and cranking out the albums. In this latest one, all the names you would expect appear as well as some newer voices. It’s mostly male. Concerning freshness, of the fourteen tracks, only three were previously known to us. The rest is relatively standard fare but of the quality we’d expect from Passion. Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin, are, of course, very gifted lyricists and thus feature prominently on this release. Top tracks are God’s Great Dance Floor, Burning in My Soul, and Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies). An album that will be enjoyed, but if you already have Chris Tomlin’s latest, you may be alright without.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q24z4XcJxnM]
Elevation Worship – Nothing is Wasted
These guys are ones to keep an eye on. Someone among them is writing great worship music and it’s being sung by gifted vocalists. While this is our first and only Elevation Worship album, we’ve quickly grown to love it. Don’t let the 25 song tracklist wow you in itself. Eleven tracks feature both a live version and a studio version. I find myself regularly preferring the live versions for the unpolished feel. Here again, like the Passion album above, we have largely standard fare as far as style goes, but with songs that are in many cases more catchy/melodic. Top tracks include Great in Us, We’re Not Alone, Unchanging God, and especially Open Up Our Eyes. An album you should get.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCO8XLs5TOY]
Hillsong United – Zion
Hillsong is cracking the mold with this album, taking worship music forward with electronic fervor. I would imagine that we’re less likely to hear these tunes in church without some acoustic simplifications. That’s not to say that something is lacking with this album; just that Hillsong is up to something exciting by taking worship music into new domains. Zion brings a decidedly emotive and European flavor to our ears, evincing a certain compositional maturity usually unexplored by more radio-friendly artists. This difference is most clearly demonstrated by comparing the stadium anthem tracks off the Let the Future Begin album with the solemn, pensive ballads of Zion (akin to those of the band Leeland). Top tracks include Relentless, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), and A Million Suns. A refreshing album for those looking for something more.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zlbunWsV5A]
Hillsong Live – Glorious Ruins
This album only came out a few days ago and we’re consequently still in our first couple listens. First thoughts are that it’s not nearly as adventurous as the Hillsong United Zion album; it’s “safer” than that. No recommendations concerning it yet.
Les Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin – Missa Luba
I fell in love with the concept of this album well before I had heard it. It’s the Latin mass set to distinctively Congolese rhythms. I feel like I’m arriving late to the party since this disc was originally recorded 50 years ago. All the same, I’m glad to have discovered it and will enjoy listening through it again and again for years to come. I think it might just be a metaphor for minority language Bible translation; the sacred dressed in African garb. An album that’s already a classic.