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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, 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. 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 rock won't move (1)

The Rock Won't Move - Vertical Church Band (2013)

[Free Song Download "The Rock Won't Move" from Vertical Church Band- see at the bottom of the review.]

Right from the first song, the latest album from Vertical Church Band is an uplifting and crystal clear sound track of modern worship with pristine studio production and inspiring songs.  "Found in You" is a pounding opening track that declares

All we wanted, all we need is found in you
Found in you
Jesus every victory is found in you
Found in you

With a melodic anthemic chorus, power chord vamps and large group vocals this song immediately feels like it would suitable for either main church or youth worship settings.

The second song "I'm Going Free" continues the  triumphant theme singing:

Glory, glory, hallelujah! He threw my shackles in the sea
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Jesus is my liberty!

Another celebration praise song that both sings well and will be an upbeat favorite. The title track follows up as the third song on this album. This song is a unique melody and memorable chorus that uses brief references to "On Christ the Solid Rock" as the basis of it's theme. Again, the chorus is anthemic and the music perfect rock styled arrangements harkening to that Hillsong or Hillsong United formulae.

"Worthy, Worthy" starts off as a softer worship tune, highlighting the beautiful voice of Meredith Andrews. But the song soon becomes a powerful worship anthem as well, this time echoing the Revelation based heavenly chorus including part of the Sanctus refrain of :

Holy, holy is Lord God Almighty
Worthy, worthy is Your Name

What I love about this song is not just the glorious melody and vocals by Meredith Andrews but the lyrical acknowledgement of the limited understanding we truly have of the sovereign God, when she sings:

Though we cannot comprehend such a mystery
Just the little you reveal is compelling us to sing

This is an important acknowledgement that needs to be pointed out in our songs lyrics- that while we strive to worship with our minds, we must not clothe our musical liturgy in certainty to the exclusion of the mystery of God.

Track five, "I Will Follow", is a country-rock styled tune that reflects a seriousness of devotion via lyrics that point us to commitment to follow Christ beyond the circumstances, good or bad. The next song, "Strong to Save", revisits more triumphant lyrics with the theme and chorus surging back into the rock anthem mode.

And so it goes for the lions share of this project- a resonate theme of trust, strength, and triumph in our strong and mighty God. Songs "Strong God", "Only Jesus Can", and "He Has Won" wrap up the album highlighting hope and victory as the major themes of this project.

The album is a well produced collection of inspiring songs with the clear aim of declaring the strength and singing of this victory of God. Several songs are very usable for corporate worship, and there is good bet that your church could find something off of this album that would inspire and encourage for your times of praise. I thought the album was excellent production and basically the perfect balance of presentation with "church usable" songs.

Conversely, the sounds and arrangements on this project constantly kept going into "we want this song to be the next church rock anthem" mode. Certainly, the songwriting was better than average, but only "Worthy, Worthy" felt like it might be capable of being widely adopted in the broader church. After that, "Only Jesus Can", probably has the second best "leap off the page" strength, simply because it contrasts stylistically to the rest of the album and might get some more consideration because of it. Something about this album was brilliant, probably the underlying sense of a lot of good songs. But at the same time, it felt like the producer kept trying to hit a home run on every song rather than let the album breathe. I have no doubt this church is the real thing, and the leaders represented here are the genuine article. But some songs are just good, and they don't have to be hits. Perhaps we should just let those average songs bump up against the great songs (and not try to make them great anthems) so that an album has a life that is more than a producer swinging for "The Next Greatest Worship Hits for Cool Churches".

For this reviewer the stand out song on this project is easily "Worthy, Worthy", partly because of the brilliant contrast of Andrews' stellar female vocals but also because the song is lyrically and musically more diverse than most of the other tracks' straight-ahead, rock anthem approach. Don't miss that song!


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Review by Kim Gentes

DOWNLOAD! Our friends at Essential Worship are giving away this free mp3 for the song "The Rock Won't Move" by Vertical Church Band! Check it out below!

Free Song Download "The Rock Won't Move" from the Vertical Church Band

The Rock Won't Move
by Vertical Church Band

Note: To save the ZIP file above
simply [Right-Mouse] click the link.