In an effort to make good resources known to congregants, we asked several people on staff to recommend gems they’ve come across in their various fields. This week, we asked the Worship Team to give us their album recommendations.
Chris Weldon – Director of Worship
Spring by Jonathan Ogden
An EP I’ve been enjoying recently is Spring by Jonathan Ogden. Ogden is the lead singer for the Christian band Rivers and Robots, and is also a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Spring is part two of a four-part solo project based on the seasons (you can also check out part one, Winter, here). Spring has an intimate, hip-hop vibe with tasteful instrumentation, beautiful vocals, and hooky melodies, all performed by Ogden. The lyrics are steeped in scripture and arebeautifully meditative and thoughtful. If I had to pick a favorite track, it would probably be “Waterfall” which is a soulful meditation on Psalms 8 and 42, also featuring guest artist Lucy Grimble.
I’m also a fan of the ministry behind the music (both the solo EPs and the music of Rivers and Robots). The call it Set Sail and here’s how they describe themselves:
“The aim of Set Sail is to make God known through creative arts, and to encourage and inspire fellow christian artists / creatives. We call ourselves ‘creative missionaries’. In the same way that missionaries throughout history would have set sail to nations around the world to preach the gospel and tell people about Jesus, we want to get the same message across through our art and creativity.”
I encourage you to support them by checking out their website and learning more about the excellent work they’re doing in the UK and abroad.
Alex Fleeman – Assistant Director of Worship
All Is Not Lost by The Brilliance
This album has been a bright spot in my music library lately. The Brilliance mixes mellow electro-pop, rock, and a hint of gospel, and ties it all together with crisp, imaginative production that inspires me with every listen. As the album title suggests, the songs paint a picture of both distress and hope: distress at society’s injustice and hope in God’s power to heal. I find this melancholy and uplifting combination comforting as I wrestle with the daily news, our broken city, and my own heart.
The Brilliance is a duo composed of John Arndt and David Gungor (brother of Michael Gungor from the band Gungor). They bring in a host of phenomenal musicians for this album, including gospel musician Charles Jones, whose vocals electrify “Turning Over Tables,” the album’s most upbeat track, and the closing song “All Is Not Lost.”
For me, the standout track is “Night Has Passed/Morning Has Broken,” a triumphant celebration of “the gift of this day.” It’s a song I think I would do well to start most days with, a reminder of the undeserved gift of each new morning. Arndt and Gungor weave the timeless “Morning Has Broken” tune seamlessly into their track, and the result is captivating.
In addition to this most recent album, I highly recommend Brother, the band’s 2015 release. I’m grateful for the precision and creativity The Brilliance has poured into its songs, and I hope you enjoy listening.
Alex McKee – Worship Coordinator
One Wild Life by Gungor
Beautiful. Challenging. Convicting. Triumphant. Worshipful.
These are just some of the words that I would use to describe the latest musical project from the husband-and-wife duo, Gungor.
One Wild Life is a massive album in three parts: Soul, Spirit, and Body. Each part is a full album in its own right, but the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. This trilogy is meant to be consumed as a single unit.
The aim of the project is to examine the three main realities that comprise this “one wild life” we live as humans. It’s an ambitious undertaking. As a result, the tone and sound of each album spans genres. Electro-pop, rock, folk, world music, orchestral, minimalist. It’s all there and Gungor manipulates soundscapes with such grace. The production level is very high and on that level alone – it’s a great listen.
However, I strongly encourage a deep dive on this one.
With three album’s worth of lyrical content, there is a lot to study and repeated listens are rewarded with new revelations. The beauty of creation, the Holy Spirit within us, the brokenness of man, the reason for our existence, and love for humanity are just a few of the themes explored.
After spending quite a bit of time with One Wild Life, I was struck by the authenticity of the duo’s writing. They don’t hide their beliefs, but bring them into the public forum for discussion, even if those beliefs differ slightly from yours or mine. In this respect, One Wild Life is unique from many of the modern, mainstream worship albums. The album calls into question what we really value as Christians. Do we really love our neighbors as ourselves? Do we see all life as beautiful? Or do we do what is in our best interest?
Of course, there are essential beliefs that all Christians cling to and Gungor does not stray from those. But there are non-essential viewpoints, too. One Wild Life encouraged me to take a step back and examine my entire life, including my tightly held beliefs.
Some of my favorite tracks are “Lion of Rock,” “Vapor,” “We Are Alive,” “Walking With Our Eyes Closed,” “Free,” and “To Live in Love.”
The search for truth is a journey fraught with uncertainty, maybe fear. It’s a wild life, but it’s beautiful too. This is a great soundtrack for that journey.