Jesus Culture With Martin Smith 'Live From New York' Album Review
Prime Cuts: Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble, Our God Reigns, Pursuit
Live from New York is a history making record. Martin Smith, the front man of the now disbanded Christian group Delirious, is a living embodiment of one of their biggest hits; he is a "history maker." With church staples such as "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," "Rain Down," "Lord, You Have My Heart," and "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble," worship music has been revolutionized by Smith and Delirious. They have literally carved the sonic vocabulary of worship music over the last couple of decades. "I Could Sing of Your Love," for instance, has been placed by CCLI as one of America's most sung worship songs. Just when you thought they have hit a plateau, Delirious teamed up with Darlene Zschech and her Hillsong team to record an epoch setting live record in 2004. Again history was re-written on June 28 to 30, 2012 when Smith joined Christian phenomena Jesus Culture on the stage of Nassau Veterans Coliseum in New York for this recording. Recorded at the Hope is Alive Conference where many had given their lives to Christ this record will continue to do wonders for our Father's glory. "Live in New York" is a two CD (16 tracks altogether) collection of songs coming from Jesus Culture's Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala, one from Emerging Voice's Derek Johnson, a cover of Daniel Bashta's "Pursuit," a few selections from Martin Smith's own solo record "God's Great Dance Floor" and the remaining being Delirious favorites.
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Out of the 7 cuts contributed by Martin Smith, the most familiar is the Delirious' "Did You Feel the Mountain Tremble?" Often worship songs have compunctiously domesticated God as a sentimentalized New Age sensitive lover yet forgetting also that he is our Almighty God that needs to be feared. "Did You Feel the Mountain Tremble?" avoids all such rueful concessions with its gorgeously majestic theme of presenting Jesus as the Divine Warrior coming to us as the "heavenly gates are flung open" to worship Him. Cueing along the same theme is Smith's take of the old warhorse "Our God Reigns" and the medley of Delirious' favorites "Show Me Your Glory" and "Majesty." The hungry-for-God attitude of the congregation together with the God-exalting tunes transparently makes these tracks some of the most powerful worship moments ever. Smith has also included three tracks from his own solo effort "God's Great Dance Floor" with the best being "Fire Never Sleeps." Deeply penetrating and fiercely engaging, "Fire Never Sleeps" is a cascading rock worship anthem that heralds God boldly as Holy Fire calling to mind modern day sizzlers such as Hillsong's "Love Like Fire" and Heather Clark's "Overcome."
Though Smith does (on occasion) join Jesus Culture vocally, the rest of the cuts are mostly written by Jesus Culture. What is so captivating about the music of Jesus Culture is that their lyrics are often devoid of knotty theological jargon but they are just simple heart cries to God that resonate with the everyday Christian (and non-Christians). The songs are as straight forward as the titles suggest ("Set a Fire," "Alleluia," "O How I Love You" and "Holy Spirit") but they are also Spirit-filled. Most moving is Kim Walker-Smith-led "Holy Spirit." Starting off with some folky guitar riffs before exploding into an intense invocation of the Spirit's presence, "Holy Spirit" is a stunning eight minute worship experience. While "Forevermore" is a modern rock number that finds a valiant Chris Quilala working the congregation to a rousing declaration of love for Jesus. Prepare for some spine chilling moment when Kim Walker-Smith croons the first verse of "Pursuit" with just her voice and a piano before Martin Smith joins in for a beautiful rendition of this Daniel Bashta's modern classic.
What is most rewarding about Jesus Culture is that they are out to develop new and upcoming worship leaders. This is why earlier this year they have released the CD "Emerging Voices"-a collection of worship tunes led by newer talents. Culled from that record and tagged as a bonus track at the end is Derek Johnson's "I Belong to You." Though it's a great mid-tempo tune, one would have wished that the version included here would be a little different from the previous record. Despite such a quibble, Live from New York is an engaging record which invites us not to be just listeners but participants of worship. And to be led by a joint effort of Jesus Culture and Martin Smith into such a holy experience is itself a historical moment not to be missed!
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