Deeper: Live Worship from New Wine North

New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, National Gatherings, training events and resources. Across the nation, every summer, churches of all denominations gather to celebrate Jesus by worshiping together at three fantastic summer conferences. Last summer, New Wine Worship hit the record button to see what would come out.

In previous years, every New Wine worship album has been recorded at their Summer Conferences in at Shepton Mallet in the south. However, this year, they decided it was time to highlight what the Lord is doing in all three regions of the UK.

The North has often been seen as the ‘poor relation’ to the South in the UK (some things never change - we couldn’t even find an image of the album cover to use with this review!) so it was the album recorded at Newark Showground in the North that particularly interested us.

Along with renown worship leader and prolific songwriter Brian Doerksen, all the musicians and leaders are from the North of England. There are some great churches involved in the making of this record. Worship leaders such as Nicole Brown (Kings Centre, Sheffield) Pete James, a regular leader of worship at Spring Harvest and other events, Becca Staniforth (St Thomas Crookes), and Ian Yates from (Elim Pentecostal) all contribute to this album.

Ian Yates’s version of God’s Great Dance Floor sets the tone of this album: raw, rough in places, but full of Northern character. Generally, this is how Deeper up’t’North continues.

From a musical point of view, Deeper isn’t the most exciting thing you’ll hear. If you attended the conference it will be a great reminder of what local churches can produce when working together. However, there’s charm in the prophetic and worshipful outbursts of Nicole Brown’s leading, or the slightly out of time clapping from the congregation that covers a myriad of tracks, which are captured brilliantly.

Deeper also serves to show what songs are connecting with local churches at the moment. They’re all the songs you’d expect to hear from 2013: This Is Amazing Grace, which has a certain Sloop John B. quality to it, Ready For You and For the Sake of the World. However, it’s albums like this that help introduce a song like Glenn Packiam’s Mystery of Faith, probably the best worship song from last year, to local churches in rural parishes and towns of the United Kingdom.

In all, Deeper may not be your go-to album at the moment or ever, for that! In places it’s messy and slightly ‘unprofessional’ (in the nicest possibly way), but it’s definitely heartfelt, authentic, serves to gauge the temperature of worship in local churches across the North, and a true representation of the Conference itself.

Best listened to with yer whippet, pie and peas, and a pint of bitter t’lad!

Our friends at St Thomas Crookes in Sheffield are releasing a song called Everlasting Joy on Friday 15th February, along with a music video. Make sure you stay tuned to hear more from this fantastic church!

@rendcollective are back in early 2014 with their new album ‘The Art of Celebration’ #officallyexcitednow

A beautiful song to come out of @KXChurch in London. Can’t wait to review the EP. Make sure you check them out

Top 10 Albums of 2013

This year has seen some great worship albums emerge. Not only has the quality of musicianship soared, but - some more than others - lyricists have sought to present the gospel both faithfully and poetically like never before.

Counting down, here is our Top 10 Albums of 2013:

10. Zion - Hillsong United

UNITED seem to get better with age. They may have lost their boyish looks and grown beards (not unlike Take Take) and embraced all kinds of synthesizers (also not unlike Take That) but ‘Zion’ displays a maturity marked by musicians who were not phased by the challenge of following up album an album like ‘Aftermath’.

9. God’s Great Dance Floor (Step 01) - Martin Smith

In April this year, Martin Smith stepped back into the spotlight with his first major release since the Delirious? days with this great album with some now-classics such as ‘Waiting Here For You’ and ‘Safe in Your Arms’.

8. Kingdom Come - Bryan & Kaite Torwalt

The Torwalts second album, ‘Kingdom Come’, was an all out guitar-pop fest, mixing that Jesus Culture sound with their own flavour of melodic anthems and beautiful vocals. For Jesus Culture fans, this album is a must!

7. The Dispatch EP

2013 has been a great year for Mars Hill Music. With 3 full lengths under their belt with was nice to see them still unearthing new bands from their local context. The Dispatch EP was one of our highlights of the year. Guitar driven, Phoenix-like synth pop with deeply theological lyrics. Lets hope 2014 brings a full length from the band from Sammamish, WA.

6. The Ascension - Phil Wickham

Everyone loves Phil Wickham. It’s hard not to with a voice like that! ‘The Ascension’ brought Wickham back to doing what he does best: writing uplifting, upbeat stompers for Jesus. Although his version of ‘This Is Amazing Grace’ wasn’t a patch on the Bethel Music original, ‘The Ascension’ was the much needed follow on to his previous, rather disappointing album, ‘Response’.

5. God’s Great Dance Floor (Step 02) - Martin Smith

You’d think that Martin Smith would have put all his best tracks on Step 01, however, Step 02 far exceeded it’s predecessor. Every track on this album is a winner.

4. The Good King - Ghost Ship

An utterly fantastic album from worship band Ghost Ship. Lyrically excellent with rootsy instruments (not in a garish Rend Collective kinda way), ‘The Good King’ embraces everything what Christian music should be: exciting, poetic, packed full of scripture without being cliched or lame, and give you a bigger picture of the King… the Good King.

3. Let It Be Known - Worship Central

Recorded live at HTB Onslow Square, Worship Central came into their own with ‘Let It Be Known’. Embracing sounds from Made In Chelsea, Worship Central are one of the most creative and worshipful bunch of musicians and worship leaders around. An album that is still on repeat.

2. Citizens

Citizens are everybody’s new favourite band. They have the kind of beards that Mumford & Sons dream of, yet there isn’t a flipping banjo in sight! Citizens are about two things - Jesus and guitars! High energy, raw, and songs packed with a theological-punch, Citizens are the most exciting thing to come out of the American church this side of Jonathan Edwards.

1. The Water & The Blood - Dustin Kensrue

Albums don’t get much better than this. Not just Christian albums, records in general! Beautifully crafted lyrics, meaty guitars and drums; ‘The Water & The Blood’ is a total winner from start to finish. Mars Hill Music saved the best until last in 2013 with this album. It’s surprising that more people (especially in the UK) haven’t heard it as it puts to shame every other worship album on this list… in a nice Jesus sort of way!

Well, that’s it folks. Come back soon as well be publishing the Best Songs of 2013 list between Christmas and New Year.

Sorry it’s been a while; we’ve been poorly sick. But now we’re better, why not warm your heart with some festive music from @MHM_TheSingTeam

Beneath the Canopy

You’ll be forgiven if you’re confused by the name of The Village Church. Rather than a small parish church in the middle of Gloucestershire attended by a few old dears, we’re actually referring to a Mega Church in the heart of Dallas, headed up by Pastor Matt Chandler, author of several books with links to The Resurgence and the Acts 29 Church Planting Network.

Following on from two live albums, a studio album and a spoken word album, the idea behind Beneath the Canopy was to keep everything in house: album production, artwork, job-lot, in order to portray the life of this vibrant church.

If you’ve been observant so far, The Village Church are reformed in theology (The Resurgence link was a dead give away), which is the overarching theme of the songs on this album. Their passion for the gospel and scripture as a church is evident, and comes through in their music.

However, unlike their former album God of Victory, Beneath the Canopy is much more of a slow burner. It doesn’t really captive interest until five tracks in. ‘All Is Settled’, a song with a sort of Civil Wars quality to it, is a welcome change to opening songs that sort of meander from one theological discourse to another in true U2-The-Edge-delayed-guitars-worship-style.

Although there are some nice moments on this album, such as How Great The Love, all the vocal performances, and the Dobro moments on the hymn Take My Life, the whole album just sort of plods onwards without any real momentum… which is a shame because God of Victory and Look and See were great records.

The idea behind this album was great and the promo video looked great, but - in reality - Beneath the Canopy is another listenable album in a sea of many others. Gutted really. Was really looking forwards to this one!

Create in me a clean heart, O my God, and restore unto me the joy that you bring. Cleanse me from sin and renew me within and I’ll tell of your ways for all of my days.

'You Have Opened My Mouth' by Red Letter

Repeat the Sounding Joy

Hot on the heels of their self-titled debut album, Mars Hill Church’s high energy indie-punk combo Citizens aren’t wasting any time in releasing new material. And this time, they’re making Christmas electronic!

Repeat the Sounding Joy is the latest release to come from Mars Hill Music, a label to come out of one of Americas fastest growing churches. If you were a fan (and everybody seems to be!) of Citizens full-length, then you’ll love this.

Taking four classic carols and one brand new song, Come and Stand Amazed, Citizens have definitely progressed since we last heard them. Yes, there’s the Christmas element - sleigh bells, a 1950s Rat Pack Choir on Silent Night, and a plethora of other Christmasy sounding things. But if you look past all that, Citizens have embraced the use of electronic instruments more, that were only eluded to on their debut.

The contemporary sounding (in a retro sort-of way) Come and Stand Amazed is full of pulsating FM synths, whilst Hark the Herald Angels makes use of an impressive James Brown-esque horn section.

Still, the thing that remains at the bedrock of all the production and arrangements, what is often lacking in the radio-friendly CCM, is lyric depth. It’s all about Jesus.

Mars Hill Music always - always! - excel in unpacking doctrine and Biblical truth in a way that is accessible to anyone. You don’t need to be a scholar in the incarnation to understand the lyrics of Come and Stand Amazed - just heed the call.

So when you’re decorating your tree, eating mince pies and wrapping those gifts, stick some Citizens on because your Christmas this year won’t be complete without it!

A vastly underrated songwriter, Pete James with an acoustic rendition of the title track from his latest album, My Heart Is Singing Loud.