Today's Praise: New spin on old standards something to shout about
With the flood of praise and worship albums over the last two years, I’ve waded through a lot of CDs that offer repetitious songs, uneven performances or failed efforts at innovation.
Whenever a solid project does emerge, it’s really a joy. Recent releases by worship leader Darlene Zschech and trio Phillips, Craig and Dean are reasons to be joyful.
• “Let Your Glory Fall,” Phillips, Craig and Dean.
This CD turned my expectations of worship albums upside down. I normally look for the new songs to be the gems and the “old standards” to be pleasant filler.
Here, Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean have brought a new freshness and vigor to songs that I’ve heard many times before.
Each track offers rich vocals that bring depth that is lacking in so many incarnations of these tunes.
For example, “Here I Am to Worship” starts out simply, with acoustic guitar and soft drums, and builds slowly and steadily into a soaring song of praise.
While “Lord Let Your Glory Fall” and “The Wonderful Cross” rely more on electronic instruments, they offer the same clean arrangements that blend perfectly with the trio’s vocals.
The CD’s new songs fit perfectly with the collection of standards.
The best are “My Praise” and “Only You.” The CD opens with the upbeat “My Praise,” which compares praise of God to the tones and rhythms of nature. “Only You” is more mellow, pondering the unique nature of God.
On the Web: www.pcdministries.com
• “Kiss of Heaven,” by Darelene Zschech.
This Australian worship leader is the reigning queen of praise music, best known for writing “Shout to the Lord.” The album is advertised as her first U.S. solo effort, but that simply means that she’s performing without her usual mates from Hillsong Church.
There still are supporting vocals at all the right spots and a solid duet with Martin Smith of Delirious? in the U2 song “Walk On.”
Zschech’s forte is creating songs that make you want to sing along, but that’s not the case with this CD. Here, she relies heavily on pop and adult-contemporary influences, resulting in a CD that grabs you and says: Listen. That’s even the case with familiar songs, such as “Shout to the Lord” and the old hymn “Beautiful Savior.”
The CD starts off strong with the upbeat, pop-oriented “Pray,” which explores communicating with God and incorporates the Lord’s Prayer.
Another high point is “Everything About You,” a surprisingly strong love song for her husband. That’s followed by “Promise,” a rocking vow to “live and die to know you, to love you.” Another treat is the more assertive version of the song “Kiss of Heaven.” It all wraps up with the "Walk On" duet.
On the Web: www.darlenezschech.com
— Today's Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears every other week on the Religion page.