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have it all

It feels like just yesterday that I did a review of the bethel album we will not be shaken, where I shared that I was pretty much lukewarm on most of the cuts on it. I have everything ever put out from bethel, brian and jenn, ian mcintosh, steffany gretzinger, jeremy riddle etc etc… You get it; pretty much anybody associated with that crew and usually love almost everything until the “we will not be shaken” album and I found myself, unlike the title, kind of shaken as it just would not stick with me. I also feel like I may have been set up for a trap because the marketing forced my brain to have an expectation of it being a cross between tides and loft sessions. It wasn’t.

Then came “Have it All” in my inbox to review a few weeks before it officially came out. I clicked the link and said to myself. “what is this!!??!”. I had no idea there even was another album coming and so unlike the last one I was not boxed into sonic expectation and my mind and ears were open to whatever would meet them. I was ready to press play, give it a few listens and then review it. My plan was to post a review a few weeks ago, but as you can see I failed. Now let me keep this review concise and simple as it will also explain my delay in typing this review in the first place.

This album instantly became a prophetic prayer over my spirit and my circumstances. 
It forced me to wrestle with a new level of surrender.
It reminded me that God doesn’t “give His heart in pieces”
It made my heart pour out “thank you” over the circumstances that I normally should not be.

Every track was dripping with the LIVE groan of the Holy Spirit and as polished as it sounds it is also raw and untamed.
Normally I would go through track by track, but there are 16 tracks and I will get acute carpal tunnel if I share on each one so instead I will just encourage anybody who reads my blog… Go buy this album and let it carry you into worship, challenges you to be more like Jesus, and brings peace as the Holy Spirit washes over you.

Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say
You can have it all, Lord

I can almost guarantee that the peace that passes all understanding dropped on you by just reading those words. It is that powerful of an album. It features Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Jonathan Helser, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin and Bethel newcomers Leeland and Cory Asbury. I think it’s ironic that the last two would be called newcomers, but they are to the bethel music. 

Music of course has a ton to do with personal preference. What surprised me as well is that while a few of those leaders stylistically are not my favorite on past albums, on this one there isn’t a voice, a lyric or a song that doesn’t move my spirit.

These 16 tracks are on continual repeat right now. “Have it All” has become a personal meditational prayer each time I listen and now that it still rings in my head an heart all day long.

Brian Johnson said it best ““The sooner we realize life is about surrender, the longer we have to make a real eternal impact here on earth.”.

Don’t buy this album to support Bethel. Don’t buy this album because you think of me as a bearded wise sage that told you to.

Buy it because your spirit, your journey, and the depth of your surrender needs it. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Hoganson Media Relations and Bethel to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

shaken_bethel

It seems that every time Bethel music announces a new project I find myself giddy with anticipation. (In the most manly bearded way of course) They have been churning out new music at a rate that rivals the machine we call Hillsong, but it has been refreshingly different as well as being worship that pierces the spirit.

When I heard about “We will not be shaken” and started seeing the promo images of a large crowd on a mountain I was expecting a melding of a “Loft sessions part Duex” with “Tides Live and uncensored”.  I sat on this album for a few weeks now trying to think of the best way to review it because I have, for the most part, walked away from each listen pretty unsatisfied. I am going to try to explain why.

I have said it many times on my blog before but the thing that I am always looking for in a worship album is that feeling of the groan of the Holy Spirit. It is not something that is based on tempo and it is not based on the perfect worship pattern/swell to manipulate the emotions. It is intangible, but you know it when you listen and are wrecked by God and every hair stands up on your body.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

I know much of music is personal and so is this review because what I feel, you might not so please dig in for yourself. I remember when I put in the Jeremy riddle album “furious” and I was hit with songs that seemed to go into my ears and directly into my spirit. The same the first time I heard Steffany-Frizzel Gretzinger sing “closer”. I heard it before it came out because they led it at a service at Bethel and it was put on youtube. I had that video on repeat for what seemed to be 3 days. There was such a desperation, amazing awe, and praise that sprung from the deep.

I am not sure why, but I feel like this album is lacking in this area.

“We will not be Shaken” is sung beautifully, but the lyrics call for a sound that is a war cry. We WILL NOT!!!! I do like this song and It reminds me so much of brian and Jenn’s “we believe” album, but I feel the lyrical content doesn’t match the sound.

“Ever Be” Is a nice track that feels like two distinct songs somehow mashed together, but the chorus unites it nicely. This one I can see many churches doing and the hook gets stuck in your head.

The McClures have a nice track with “Jesus, We Love You”.

“Nearness” with Jenn Johnson has a nice feel and gets really awesome musically in the chorus. I love the unique driving section to it. The lyrics are great even though “Comforter You are to me” would sound really funny saying it to somebody.

There is, what can be best described as a modern hymn, in “Seas of Crimson” by Johnson and Bashta. At first it was hard to like this one even though I am a huge fan of hymns, but this one is growing on me quickly.

The HUGE standout is “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan Helser. As a matter of fact I started leading this one in my church a week ago. I think the Helsers are a brilliant addition to the Bethel family and this song oozes of authenticity and passion. This is what I wish the rest of the album felt like. Again I am not talking tempo. Steffany Gretzinger’s “undoing” was crazy slow, but still felt like this because it was raw and drew you in.

So here is the deal: Should you buy this album? Because I am a fanboy and also because I don’t buy singles I would have bought this one for sure, but there are only a few tracks on here I like and the rest I’m lukewarm to. When I look at the videos and see the photos of the large crowd on the mountain it makes me wonder why that wasn’t more prevalent in the audio. There are a few moments when you can hear the mass of people, but in most cases this feels like a studio album. What I think is interesting is the visuals seem to represent a declaration over their city and a breathing life into dry bones. The music however seems so much more introspective and personal. There is a disconnect for me there and it’s possibly because of my artistic side.

I think you need to listen to this with no preconceived notions. Walking into this with expectations that it would be a Loft Sessions meets Tides concoction of amazingness was most likely not the best plan.

My personal requests for the next two albums:
1. Record an album with Jenn Johnson, Jonathan Helser, and amanda cook. I think this mix would bring power, brilliant lyrical content, and a prophetic edge
2. Record a double CD of Jeremy Riddle and Steffany Gretzinger together. Maybe some new tracks and some old and the rest no plan other than letting those two take us to church!

BRO_home

I was exited when my friend Chris, from Brothers McClurg, told me they were working on some new material. When the album came to me I realized that him using the word “new” may have been a bit of false advertising.

If you have heard these guys speak or read anything about them you would have heard that…The band name pays homage to Anthony and Chris’ greatest influence: their maternal grandfather Pastor Bill McClurg, who led the southern gospel group The McClurg Family Singers.

Interestingly enough with the many ministry phases these guys have been on in the world of worship, it is THIS album that first pays homage to that family tradition in it’s sound and not just the name.

Folk rock, or should I say indie folk, is in these days with bands like civil wars, lumineers, mumford and sons and many others. In the worship world we have people like “All sons & Daughters” paving the way for a return to a more folk roots. However it seems that not too many have taken that a little deeper into a mix between southern family band and Simon and Garfunkel like Brothers McClurg does on “Home”. These guys are attempting to bring a few generations together sonically in a sandwich of acoustic nuance.

This album is a great tribute to their heritage, but it’s also not an attempt at trying to recreate that sound. Instead they chose to honor it and create something fresh.

I’m not sure if it is corporate worship friendly and quite honestly I’m not sure if I even care. It is worshipful art. Some art is meant to be hung on a wall to be admired, taken in and enjoyed. From a listeners perspective, that participation is enough for me.

If there is anything I would add or change it would be tracks like “move us on” and “i don’t want to worry” having an even more swampy feel to it. While I know it wasn’t the sound they were going for, I couldn’t help but hear old dirty blues played through pedals with dying batteries on a few tracks in my brain.

This album has a less is more feel instead of relying heavily on a “singer songwriter” vibe. I think Good music like good art has you hearing, feeling and seeing things that aren’t always there. This album captures that.

I believe this is a MUST BUY if you want to hear something different, fresh, fantastic and yet very familiar. – This for sure pushes my comfort zone for country music which is why I am glad it leans more towards simon and garfunkel meets the gaithers rather than Billy ray Cyrus “achy breaky heart”.

“HOME” releases digitally through Sprig Music on Tuesday March 31 st

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this CD free from Brothers McClurg to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

mustownToday a friend of mine asked me this question:
“I’m trying to rebuild my DVD collection. What are your top must own DVD’s?

It made me think… First off, to me a “Must own” is one I am personally willing to watch over and over again and enjoy it just as much as the first time I watched it. This was actually hard to think through, but I think I came to a pretty good conclusion. Here are the movies that are on MY personal must own list:

1. Amadeus
2. Dead Poets Society
3. Swing Kids
4. Tombstone
5. Monty Python and Holy Grail
6. Dances with Wolves
7. Starwars Trilogy
8. Lord of the rings trilogy
9. IP man Trilogy
10. Princess Bride
11. White Christmas
12. 12 Monkeys
13. Legends of the Fall
14. Jurassic Park
15. Never-ending Story
16. Darkwing Duck Box Set
17. Mr. Bean Box Set
18. Godspell
19. West Side Story
20. Rent

Bethel Music: TIDES review

September 3, 2013 — 3 Comments

tides

Bethel Music: TIDES

I have had the pleasure of being able to listen to the new Bethel Album for the last month. Sadly I have been so into the album that I forgot to do this review; so let me get right into it.

I am a huge fan of Bethel’s worship and as a worship pastor I love to lead their songs. Bethel over the years has become my personal worship “cave”. I remember when I first heard the song “closer” with Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger. That night I felt God just reach out in the middle of that song. I ended up spending 3 hours continually repeating the youtube video of steffany leading the 12 min version.

There is something to Bethel that is different than other bands. There of course is quality in musicianship, well thought out lyrics and amazing chops. What sets them a part for me though is it is dripping with the Holy Spirit. These guys are anointed and I just can’t get enough. For me the dynamic duo is Gretzinger and Riddle leading together. Amazing.

I was excited to get this CD, but also nervous. Most of my favorite worship people cut studio albums and I find myself begging that they would do a live album. With bethel it was different because this was their first studio album and I was worried it would remove the ROAR that their other projects had. I worried for no reason.

This album is AMAZING! I have all of Ian McIntosh’s solo work and the minute I pushed play on the first track I heard his fingerprint all over this. In a world of U2/Hillsong/Coldplay ripoffs mixed with civil wars/muford copycats It is so refreshing to actually say that this album is fresh and original. Musically it is evident nothing is composed to be cool or hit and instead 100% supports the songs and it’s lyrics. Everything just makes sense.

Oddly enough I didn’t start listening to the first track. Instead I jumped to the title that hit me; “Be Still”.

“Be still my heart and know
You are God alone
Stop thinking so much
And just let go”

Smacked right in the gut. Those lyrics cut me to the core.
I was hooked after that. Simple truth sung with a prophetic edge and yet wasn’t cliche.

This album stylistically offers EVERYTHING.
Jenn Johnson channels Dido and Natasha Beddingfield on “Chasing You”, a song my 4 year old daughter cant stop singing.

Brian Johnson is consistent and clear with an almost hymn-like quality on songs like “strong in us” and “forever”.

Steffany Gretzinger KILLS it on “be still” and leaves you floating in the spirit of surrender in “letting Go”

Jeremy Riddle, the brilliant writer of “Furious” doesn’t disappoint either. He lends to the album a gritty indie rock feel on “heaven’s song” and on “breaking through” gives us a similar feel to The Killers “human” album. SO GOOD!

New Comer Hunter Thompson sings “come awaken love” which seems to be an homage to Owl City.

There are a few other tracks on here that I didn’t mention that are just brilliant. The only song that had to grow on me was “ascend” but after a bunch of listens I love it even with William Matthews shaky tremolo voice.

The Last song that hit me like a ton of bricks is the EPIC anthem song “For the Cross”. Brian starts the song it its powerful. All of a sudden Jenn DIVES into the song with what can only be described as a Groan of the Holy Spirit and you are instantly transported to utter thanksgiving for the cross. She screams out truth and hope almost as if she wants ever spirit to hear that this “violent hope” is a declaration that the battle is already won.

“But on that day
What seemed as the darkest hour
A violent hope
Broke through and shook the ground”

In the last 10 years there have only been a handful of albums I can truly say were perfection. Not just a 5 star rating, but where there isn’t one bad song, one misplaced note, or one cliche lyric.

THIS IS THAT ALBUM. Buy it now. Your spirit needs it!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Hoganson Media Relations and Bethel to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”