Matt Redman 'Sing Like Never Before: The Essential Collection' Album Review
Prime Cuts: Dancing Generation, Once Again, 10,000 Reasons
Redman has taught us through his copious worship songs to "sing like never before." Combining both mass appeal and artistry, Redman has shown us time and again that worship songs can so appealing that thousands can sing in explosive praise yet they can also be Biblically poetic and sensitively insightful. Thus, with staples such as "Dancing Generation," "Blessed Be Your Name," "Once Again," "Better is One Day," Redman has successful utilized the winning formula of big anthems without letting his finger go as far as feeling the pulse for a fresh word from the Lord. Take his CCLI Top 50 song "Blessed Be Your Name" as an example-there is a transcendent manifesto in the build up of the song that is so gorgeous worshipful yet the words are by no means trite or repetitive. Other than Laura Story's "Blessings" and Hillsongs' "Desert Song," there is no song that deals with praising God in the midst of suffering with such a celebratory trust in God's goodness than "Blessed Be Your Name." This British worship leader indeed has a corner in worship music in that that he never avoids the pains and frustrations of life yet he has a way of bringing these exigencies into the transforming presence of God. These 15 songs on "Sing Like Never Before: The Essential Collection" are a testimonial to such a claim. Besides containing some of Redman's best known efforts, there is also a radio version of "10,000 Reasons," his own take of his co-write with Chris Tomlin "Our God," a brand new recording of "Better is One Day," and one newly written song "Love So High."
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Redman has a way of imbuing his songs with a dynamic resolve to hold on to God and His faithfulness with a resilient vigilance. "Never Once" (the lead single from his last studio album "10,000 Reasons") is a prime example. Here Redman sings with a full throttled abandonment to God's faithfulness that is urgently brought out through the song's emotional built up and Redman all-out delivery. And worship doesn't get more intensively beautiful than in the new cut "Love So High." Starting off with a grand piano introduction before exploding into an exaltation of Christ's unparallel work on the Cross, this is worship at its most pristine form. With 250,000 digital track sales and populating at the peak position of the National Christian Audience Chart for a whooping nine weeks, "10,000 Reasons" is Redman's most successful song to date. The appeal is transparent: stringed together by a catchy chorus taken from Psalm 103 "Blessed the Lord O My Soul," "10,000 Reasons" glowingly testifies to Redman's holy resolve to praise God at the beginning of each day until his dying day and beyond irrespective of circumstances.
Inviting also is to hear some of Redman's older cuts. One of them being "Dancing Generation" a track taken from his stellar (and perhaps his best) worship album: "Facedown." While the younger generation are slowly leaving the church, Redman in "Dancing Generation" takes a stance of faith believing that God's hand on the young has never been lifted. God has and will continue to raise a new generation that will "shout his glory"--this song is indeed faith set in song. With heavier percussion with some Owl City enhanced electronic, it is great to hear again Redman's update of one of his earliest hits "Better is One Day." Though Redman is known for his rabble-rousing arena anthems, one should not forget that this English writer is capable of penning some of the most thoughtful ballads. "The Father's Song" and "Once Again" are essentially exquisitely written quiet reflections of the Father's love and the Son's sacrifice respectively.
Tagged at the tail end of the album is "Twenty Seven Million," a song co-written and performed with British rappers LZ7. Inspired by the real story of a girl from Eastern Europe who was a victim of the evil sex trade, "27 Million" is an urgent plea to the church to help the twenty seven million people currently trapped as human slaves. This song has touched so many hearts and hands, that it even made it to the UK mainstream chart at number 12. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, essential collections or greatest hits packages are nervous affairs. On one hand, "best of" collections are great for the casual listener as they have the artists' most notable songs on one disc. But for the diehard fans they are exercises in frustration: this is because every fan will have their view as to what song constitutes "essential." But with this track list here, the quibbles will not be substantial as all of these songs here are not only essential, they are vital in forging our worship of Him to deeper depths and higher heights.
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