Tuesday, 5 April 2011

God of Victory

I bought the Village Church album God of Victory the day it came out. The whole album.

It's the first Christian album that I've bought in a while. These days it's easy to listen to stuff all the way through on Spotify and gauge whether you think it's worth investing in or not.

See, I've bought so many worship albums before that haven't appealed to me as a worship leader that I feel I have to check out new ones completely before I get them. Otherwise financially I might be a bad steward! The last whole album that I really enjoyed was the excellent Red Letter album that I got through Noise Trade. It's a regular for my 3 hour round trip from Exeter to Shepton Mallet prison on Wednesdays.

When I buy worship music, I try to buy for the benefit of our congregation (although I'm not sure how well Red Letter's stuff would work in our setting). That's why I love it when local churches or people with local church priorities put albums together. I love that Sovereign Grace have released lead sheets for their latest offering, Risen, in congregation-friendly keys. Good move SGM.

I'm also looking for fresh and healthy lyrics. So many songs I hear these days are spoilt by what I call 'throw-away' lines (ones that are just there to fill the gaps) or those wo-o-oh bits that appear to be so popular. I mean come on, if you're going to write a good hook you could at least put some fantastic scriptural words to it so that people have more chance of taking them away and reflecting on them! It seems a bit wasteful. (Rant over, sorry.)

I didn't listen to God of Victory on Spotify. I listened to a couple of the 30 second clips of the album on iTunes and bit the hook. And this is one fish that was happy to be caught. I instantly knew that I would be in safe hands. I think I could have made a call on it without listening to any of it prior to purchase. I love listening to Matt Chandler (The Village Church) preaching – he's always biblically sound, encouraging and exhorting. You know that it's rubbed off on Michael Bleecker and the others behind this album.

The lyrics are great. This songwriting team has worked so well together. Lines like 'All things in me call for my rejection; all things in You plead my acceptance' in the song 'To the cross I cling' totally do it for me. I love the contrasts of the first verse of the song 'God of Victory' and then later – 'O may my sin be bitter, so Christ will be sweet'. Amen to that. That's what I'm looking for – lyrics I can say amen to. And lyrics that lead me to a heart connection with my Saviour in truth. 'Glorious Day' in particular brings me closer to Jesus. I love the exhortation to the Church to respond in 'O God of our Salvation' and I love the intimacy and truth of Lauren Chandler's 'You are Faithful'. This is an album that draws you in with a great deal of truth enabling you to meet and see Jesus, and then actually turns that into a heart connection with Him. That's what I'm looking for.

A quick note on the production and musical side of things. I think I was expecting it to fit that regular local church mould. I'm not sure what I mean by that, but you might – as in is it original? Do you know what? - I think it is. In terms of chord usage, structure and musical style, my team could learn to play a lot of these songs quickly (another beautiful thing about a local church album), but it still feels fresh. It doesn't feel squeaky clean like so much of the Nashville sound that a lot of people try to replicate, but the production and playing is impeccable. I can't quite put my finger on it. It shouldn't be new, but it is. It is fresh.

I've listened to it again and again and again and I'm not bored. There are so many good tracks.

I love it. Great job guys - you've just blessed me, my family and our church, and most importantly, God.

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