Music Reviews (by Kim Gentes)

Back in the mid-90's Kim began writing impromptu reviews of church music CDs (worship music) so that people who were looking for CDs would have an opinion from someone who is also a worship leader and is garnering music for local church use.  Up to this point, this was rarely something that was done, because church music was revered as sacred and it was thought that any offering of that sacred worship shouldn't be criticised or evaluated.  In fact, Kim wasn't as much a critic as he was an evaluator, helping people find what fit their church. He began posting his reviews on line in a email discussion forum, called the Worship List (website).  After a while, when he helped launch Worshipmusic.com, he continued that same concept of trying to help other local church worship leaders and musicians find music that might be applicable to their situations.  The reviews continued to be a part of that. Worshipmusic.com went on to grow a staff of writers that would add many more reviews to the collection they have, but Kim continued to participate as a key reviewer.  This journal logs all the reviews Kim has written on worship music CDs and projects.

Kim's reviews of CD projects of worship music includes independents, label and main stream recordings, but all having to do with worship music.

Entries in modern (2)

Joyful Joyful (We Adore Thee) - Dunn & Wilt (2011)

Recently, I was looking for a version of Joyful, Joyful.  One of my first stops online was to see if Dunn & Wilt had a version. They did. I love it. Subtle piano-scaped corners with a core of electronic beat and pads is an apt description.  My Joyful, Joyful moment with this song occurred as I sang along with the song, all the while feeling like the Euro-pop soundscapes of the late 80's had somehow floated in the window.  Nicely arranged, simply sung and thoughtfully sparse at the most important moments, this is a great little peice of music.

The song, of course, was the original creation of Henry van Dyke, with Beethoven's music framing its poetic form.  Dunn & Wilt bring their signature expression to the song, and it takes a delightful form.  The nice thing is you don't have to believe me- you can go get the song yourself, for free.  No strings. They let you download it and its yours. Cool. Go check it out this way:

  1. Go to http://bit.ly/AqK3us
  2. Then scroll down to the song "Joyful, Joyful (We Adore Thee)" and use the "Download album" button.
  3. Follow the instructions and pretty soon you have the song.

I love it! Thanks Dunn & Wilt.

 

Review by Kim Gentes

 

Much - Lamont Hiebert & Ten Shekel Shirt (2001)

Recently, I was thinking extensively about liturgy, and the concept of 'call to worship' songs. It was in the context of this thinking that I clicked the 'play' button on my portable CD player and let spin the new Vertical Music title 'Much' by the band Ten Shekel Shirt.

The first song, 'Meet With Me' knocked me out! Strictly speaking, this is what you would label a 'call to worship' song, as I mentioned above. But labeling it as such would be akin to calling the Titanic just a boat. The beauty of Lamont Heibert's voice is like a wind whistling in the desert- dry, clean and hunting for waters of life. As the intro layers his voice with acoustic guitar, Heibert leads me from listener to participant in about one stanza. No sooner am I riveted into the prayerful verse, then the chorus erupts with:

    As I wait, you make me strong
    As I long, you draw me to your arms
    As I stand and sing your praise
    You come; you come and fill this place.

The arrangement here is absolutely perfect, with an artful use of dynamics. This song is a keeper, and the most useable tune for congregations off of this album.

Moving on to the second track, we find 'Ocean', a song that you have already heard steadily on the Christian radio channels, and in the charts for Christian radio singles.

I have heard a few people trying to equate this group (Ten Shekel Shirt) with other pop or Christian bands. Frankly, that is too bad. While they have some sounds that reminisce with a torrid of other pop/acoustic/worship bands, this group has their own sound and, more importantly, their own call from God. Sent out through YWAM to bring the gospel to the campus of Yale University, they have used music to speak the message of Jesus to students hungry for a real God. 'Ocean' reflects the meditative timbre of their message, where a very present God is both near us, and surrounding us, in His closeness and vastness.

As we move to 'Sweet Embrace', we find another wonderful song of praise that is easily useable with a worship team/band. This is just one of those infectious songs that grows on you more and more as you listen. Speaking straight to God, this song will work its way into contemporary services and youth services everywhere. The fourth track leans back tempo-wise and, like Ocean, reflects on how we can feel empty and tired when we take our focus off of God's love. But it leads from there to the solution- 'so I fall on my knees...'

The next track, 'Unashamed Love' settles into the prayerful surrender that this album returns to often. On this album, musically, you will hear acoustic guitar, electric, some rock organ, and well-placed violin/strings, along with the standard rock rhythm section.

As the tracks roll on, through the title track 'Much', to 'Come Away' and ending at 'Great', the diversity of this CD is echoed in lyrics and arrangement. From powerful and driven (Come Away) to soft surrender (Great), this project shines among a sea of sameness in the 'worship' music genre of albums.

This CD was a slam-dunk selection for the Editor's Choice Award, and it should be a slam-dunk for anyone who hears this band. Proof of this was crystal clear around our offices at WorshipMusic.com, when complimentary copies of the sampler CD were vanishing, and the CD could be heard on just about everybody's CD-ROM player in the complex. This is the only CD that I remember our entire staff hounding me to review. And why not; they were right- this CD rocks! Worship God!

Product Link Much - Ten Shekel Shirt

 

Review by Kim Gentes