As one of the flagship releases, I chose to listen to Praise to the One first - purely because the name does not hide the religious aspect. Like the title, the album is refreshingly unapologetic.
Firstly, a spot of context.
I was looking for music to use in both a church and non-church setting, as a church representative. The aim was to use songs in a school assembly before incorporating a piece or two into the Sunday worship at our parish church.
Having between 30 and 45 minutes with the children, it is vital that the repertoire is easy to learn and stimulating enough to enthuse.
This album is incredibly eclectic. There are aspects of reggae, African dance, praise bands, and even a Celtic feel from Praise to the One. The intensity of the Christian message ebbs and flows in a successful attempt to tend to the needs of many.
To speak frankly, I actually feel the opening track may be the weakest - so stick with it. There is much fruit to come!
The second track, 7 Days a Week is exactly what the market has been missing (and I am amazed it is not a starred track on the Apple Music platform). It introduces a way of life without forcing religion down your neck - finding that elusive balance we ministers both ordained and lay strive to temper. It has a funky bass guitar riff, talks of the ups and downs of the week, before really lauding Sunday as a reflective day to take to yourself. It doesn't actually mention God or Jesus at any point - nor church - but the Christian message is so clear. It is a triumph.
There is something for everyone as the album goes on. J-O-Y-F-U-L sounds like a track from ‘Cool Runnings’. You could add maracas or other percussion, along with the jumping and leaping about mentioned in the lyrics. There is shouting in it too - guaranteed to go down a treat.
Count Your Blessings is a dream. A track to remove the Monday morning grumps. It has a carefree reggae beat and reminds you the world is not caving in when you are “down in the dumps”. Again, subtly introducing a way that Christianity can support.
Everywhere Around me, thought-provoking. Thank You Lord, perfect for use both in and out of church and evangelical in feel. As the Sun Rises, the longest track with solo opportunities. Would be great for a concert. Good to Us sounds like a closing number from a musical and would work on multiple platforms.
Let’s Remember/Everybody Praise Him are in two easy parts introducing harmony. Finally, Every Brand New Day reminds me of the ‘Nativity!’ films. It has a solo part and is inexplicably catchy/cheery.
If you are looking for repertoire to introduce or reaffirm God in the lives of Children and families then this album is a blessing. Even if you pick and choose from the tracks, there is something there to cater for one and all. Same Boat Music- Bravo!
Music Director at Choir Church Portsmouth