[Free Song Download "O My Soul" from Samuel Lane- see at the bottom of the review.]
With subtle motion and smooth tones begins the "The Fire". Like the starting crackle of a freshly lit hearth, this is how Samuel Lane begins to fuel the fire that is this new album from Vineyard Records UK. The intro song, "Take Me With You", doesn't rip a hole out of your speakers. Rather than pouring gasoline onto a bursting bonfire, it sparks, rumbles and gently ignites the rhythms, vocals and instruments that will build into a warm and engaging experience of songs and lyrics that call out passionately to God.
Rolling from that into "Fiery Love", Sam takes the intensity up ever so slightly, building the anticipation nicely from the intro song into this prayer language song, which calls out:
Lift me from my grave and hold me up
With hands that hold the stars, with fiery love
Holy Spirit come, and light me up
With hands that hold the stars, with fiery love
The song rises to a powerful thundering of passion before receding into track three, "O My Soul". Here, Lane ebbs this project back to a rumbling and humble surrender of worship, with dynamics and rhythms that perfectly fit the song lyrics. And this peeks engagingly into big refrains of "Oh my soul, praise, praise Him!" Wonderful!
And so it goes with this album-- ebb, flow, rise, refrain, response, recede and restart the progression. This is not a formula, it seems, for Samuel Lane. It feels more like a discourse of authentic prayers, each one drawing closer to the person of God and surrendering more deeply the person of the worshiper. I have to admit, I was struck by the intimate language and conversational approach that Lane takes on some of these songs. But it is not a nonchalant cavalierism that reduces worship to a "Jesus-is-my-boyfriend" song collection. This is serious, but intimate. God is great, yet He is near. He is the Father which calls and invites us, and Lane has given us real language and theological strength that hold the tension of humanity and its broken, suffering children seeking a holy and mighty God, who deigns to call Himself Father to each of us.
Musically, this project stays tethered to the acoustic foundation that would place Lane in his living room, strumming and picking his guitar. Several songs swell with electric and rhythmic sensibilities and instrumentation. Some songs drift completely into country, even blue-grass/roots sounds complete with banjo and steel string guitars and brushes on the snare drum. But rock is never completely shut out of these tracks. "You Are With Us", "Lead Me Home", and "Glorious" remind us that Vineyard music, both in the US and abroad, has its origins in the rock generation of the 60s, 70's and 80's, whose anthemic soaring progressions still beat in the musical heart of the modern church.
In a way, this album is the most deeply "Vineyard" project I have heard in a very long time. Certainly, it has nuances of the church movement's musical heritage (along with the modern touch of "Mumford & Sons" splattered occasionally). But more than that, this project harkens back to the days when Vineyard music was the vanguard of intimate prayer language in the global church's worship song repertoire. Lane unlocks something reminiscent of John Wimber in his sensibilities and clarity about how scripture can collide with music. And he revisits the eloquence of rhythm and voice that Scott Underwood brought to the mid-90's through his songs and recordings. But at the core of this album's "Vineyard-esque" traits is the lyrical canvas that Samuel Lane paints on- unafraid of our relationship with God the Father, Holy Spirit and Jesus the Son.
I enjoyed this album immensely. And each listen has only increased my appreciation for Lane and love of these songs. After 4 complete journeys through this album, I can tell you there is a lot here and many more hours to spend. Treasures were spent gathering this album together and there are treasures more to be found for anyone willing to listen completely through this entire journey of intimacy, honesty, prayer, surrender, rhythm and joy. One of the best thematically based albums I have experienced in the last 10 years.
For churches looking for great worship songs, I have two suggestions to start with from this album. First is "Father", the fourth track on this album. It is one of the most arresting lyrical prayers I have heard put to a sonic pallette. Truly engaging and easy to place in the deepest part of your intimate worship sets. Second, is the building and upbeat song "You Are With Us". This song is a rolling celebration of God's immanence and the joy of assurance that comes with being in the very presence of the very God. Really, this is a very good song and deserves a listen by almost every congregation doing modern worship styled songs.
Because of the strong songs, excellent thematic elements and seamless threading of all musical elements from top to bottom, this album gets my endorsement as the latest awarded "Editor's Choice". Don't hesitate to get this project, try it with your church band and use these songs!
For churches using WorshipTeam.com, all of the songs, chord charts, lyrics and audio are already available and pre-loaded for you in the WorshipTeam.com system song database. If you are not part of WorshipTeam.com and want to listen to audio samples or purchase the album directly yourself, see the Amazon link below.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/15u2Z9A
Review by Kim Gentes
Free Song Download "O My Soul" from Samuel Lane
Many thanks to my friends at Integrity Music / Vineyard Music UK for allowing us to offer this free song download for a limited time. KG..