A number of years I read a compelling book by Michael Lewis entitled,” The New, New Thing.” This book describes me and my approach to life pretty well; I have a both a fascination and obsession with new things. This is a double edged sword to be sure – sometimes I chalk it up to having a spiritual form of ADD and other times I believe it is just one example of exercising my apostolic functioning and calling of seeing new things come to be.
I’m determined to leverage this part of my personality through a new feature on my site called New Music Tuesday. Each Tuesday I will present a review of something new on the musical horizon. First up: a new release from one of my favorite worship leaders, Tim Hughes called “Love Shine Through.”
While this project won’t be released in the US until April 19, I have listened to it quite a bit (a number of sites have been streaming it since it was released last month in the UK) and I am finding it extremely engaging. Tim is first and foremost a worship leader; his day job is the director of music for his church, Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican community in central London and as such he writes songs for the church to sing and express their worship to God through music. Tim’s songs help give voice to what is in my heart.
“Love Shines Through” also provides an answer for fans of Delirious who have been asking the question, what is Martin Smith up to in his post-Delirious season: producing projects like this.
Here are word three words that will give you a taste for this release: Christo-centric, collaborative and congregational. Track after track speak of the greatness, glory and majesty of Jesus and his work on behalf for sinful, broken people like you and me. These songs have given me a deeper appreciation for the depth of love Christ has for me. Secondly, the production on this project is brilliant; Smith pushes the envelope and in most cases, doesn’t cross the line into over production. From the atmospheric and ethereal prelude of “Counting on Your Name” to the closing moments of “Ecclesiastes,” musical influences like Arcade Fire, U2, Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie are all over this project. As well, utilizing a diverse group of artists like Jesus Culture’s Kim Walker-Smith and musicians from Hillsong United, Vineyard UK and the Northern Ireland band, Rend Collective Experiment, give this project the extra creative genius and fruit that flows forth from true collaboration. And lastly, the songs are singable. Just about all of these tracks could find their way, in one form or another, into a Sunday morning setlist of most churches.
Here’s a brief description of the eleven tracks:
Counting on Your Name opens with the project with a lush prelude that moves directly into a strong mid tempo song that speaks of trusting in the saving power of Jesus Christ. The lyrical content reminds me of the words of the classic hymn, “On Christ the Solid Rock.”
God Is Coming begins with a Death Cab intro meet Coldplay groove and the song looks forward to the coming of Christ who will light up the darkness. The Leeland like chorus declares the Christ is running to find us for he is the King of the Universe who is runs to find and save.
Never Stop Singing is an uptempo piece that reminds us because Christ came into this broken world as a ray of light to give hope and amazing grace, we should never stop singing. I love the way this song builds and strongly declares, “we can’t stop singing, we won’t stop singing your praise.”
Savior’s Song is a mid tempo piece that features strong vocals from Kim Walker-Smith on the bridge.
All Glory is one of my favorites. It begins with an Adam Clayton inspired bass groove and builds into a dynamic outro that features the Jesus House Gospel Choir declaring: “Lift Him higher, he is mighty, He is God.” Use your imagination and think Brit rock meets gospel choir – very cool.
At Your Name is a stately ballad that presents some beautiful images of the power and wonder of God’s name. The lyric, “Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout your name,” seems out of place in this tender piece.
Jesus Saves is a song that will be familiar to many. Hughes reworks it a bit with a kalimba-like groove.
The title track, Love Shines Through, has a quirky intro that immediately moves into a mid-tempo statement. I love the lyrical movement as first verse “love shines through” becomes “God shine through” in the second verse. There is a nice musical surprise in the break out section following the second verse which features the Rend Collective trumpet section; this is quite Beatle-like in nature (think Sgt Pepper – perhaps recording this Abby Road studios had something to do with this).
Keep the Faith is a lush, piano based song of surrender. Unfortunately, this track resorts to some weak lyrical content with lines like “all I want to do is my Father’s will and be a voice to a world that is standing still.”
Wake Up is a spirited piece that channels both Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon. I can’t wait to introduce this one to my faith community and have some fun declaring: “wake up, rise up, all the earth is singing – louder, stronger, shout it out and worship him.”
Ecclesiastes is one of the most interesting tracks on the project. Drawing upon the ancient words from the Ecclesiastes 3, the melody and minor chord structure builds slowly, ultimately breaking forth by echoing out the words: “now’s the time for singing, raise your voice and sing .” I’m not sure how this would translate to a congregational setting, but it is a beautiful and haunting closure to “Love Shine Through.”
Overall this is a strong offering from Tim Hughes and I believe many of the songs will find their way into the worship gatherings of churches around the world.
Allow me to give Tim the last word in this review:
“Love Shine Through is both a prayer for change, and a statement of truth,” says Hughes. “In my walk with God and my expression of worship, I’ve been pushing myself to be more real, daring and honest. I guess these songs are an attempt to articulate that longing for more of God; that belief that He is everything and the desire that in all things His love would shine through.”
What new music are you either listening to or looking forward to in the near future? I would love to hear from you.