TUESDAY REVIEW – 10,000 GENERATIONS

Matt Redman – 10,000 Reasons
Every time I get a new Matt Redman record, I’m reminded of just how great he is. 10,000 Reasons is Redman’s new live worship release and to these ears, it only further establishes him as one of the most skillfull, thoughtful worship writers making music today.

Here’s the breakdown.

WE ARE FREE: Yeah, Redman has been around for awhile, but get this. He still writes great fast songs. The opening track sticks with his trademark four-on-the-floor celebration motif, but he’s added a catchy crowd chant and a nice chorus stop hook. The rock tracks further down the list are better, but this one definitely sets the tone. Bridge of this song is mint.

HERE FOR  YOU: Most of us will remember this as the title track of Passion’s last live project, which was ambitious, but frantic. The new version is pretty close to Chris Tomlin’s take from the Passion record, although it is keyed a little more “congregationally.” Even with the octave jump, the song still feels singable. However, this song highlights an aspect of Matt’s music that seems a bit dated. On quite a few of these tracks, Redman’s use some spiritual symbol words. There’s a lot of request for fire to fall down or for us to breathe in God. These are poetic phrases, but I just wonder if the church at large would be better be served by singing something like “let your truth ring out” as opposed to “let your fire fall down”. I’m not sure what we’re asking when we ask for the fire. Literal flame?

HOLY: This piano ballad starts off like a modern-day Brit-pop gym but builds to a simple chorus that is restrained and reverent. Too often in worship music, we have a lot of songs that are talking about God’s holiness but don’t really reflect that musically or lyrically. This track is a great way to focus our congregations of the high and exalted God we serve.

10,000 REASONS: I love how Matt Redman is able to infuse a strong hymn-like quality into thoroughly modern worship songs. What starts with a anthemic chorus easily transitions to an old-sounding melody accompanied by piano and acoustic guitar. The last line of each verse is about as hymny as they come. I love that the song stayed nice and sparse and never goes to the predictable full-band-last-chorus thing.

FIRES: More fire analogy here, but this one is more clear. I dig the alt-country I-Isus intro of this track. It’s the perfect default for this song…dropping to that intro always work. Redman has written such a hopeful song regarding walking through darkness. There’s good Old Testament terminology here that keeps bringing the listener/singer back to the sufficiency of God.

NEVER ONCE: Chord structure here is one of the more predictable arrangements on the record. There’s also some “mountain top” and “battle ground”, which reeks of cliche to me. However, it’s hard to deny the huge chorus, “Never once, did we ever walk alone…never once, did You leave us on our own/You are faithful! God, You are faithful!” The arrangement is a little jumpy, but a strong worship band would knock this one out of the park.

WHERE WOULD WE BE: I’m digging how many of these tunes are piano driven. The keyboard seems perfectly suited to Matt’s vocals, able to highlight nice melodic dynamics. This song is a clinic on justification. (Maybe that’s why I love it so much!) And this choruses may be the biggest, most easy to sing thing Redman’s done. There’s good phrasing here. And even some bluesy electric guitar in the verses! Could I love it more?

WE COULD CHANGE THE WORLD: This is where Matt shows some brilliance with the rock song. By using a question-form (“could we live like Your name is higher than every other power?), this guy has created a song that speaks of actual, real world-change without burying us with social justice terminology. In keeping Jesus the center of the song, he reminds us that in Christ is where real world change happens

MAGNIFICENT: Spacy, heavy down-strumming guitar. A couple of jazzy chords. Sounds like every other worship hit, huh? I’m not nuts about the song – I think it’s the weakest song on the record. Not because it’s a bad song, but because the amazing chorus just feels like such a jump from the verses.

O THIS GOD: I’m going to go ahead and tell you. This is my jam. It’s a nice, groovy rock song with one of the most fun pre-choruses I’ve ever heard. (Yeah…we’re playing this Sunday at my church.) God’s supremacy over all things is something we should sing about. Constantly. The only thing that gives me pause is the ending chorus, which claims that “Jesus, You will always be our God.” I’ll probably change that to “Father, You will always be our God.” Yes, I know Jesus is fully God. But it just feels better to use ‘Father’ there.

ENDLESS HALLELUJAH: This song is probably exactly how you’d imagine it. For my church, this song probably wouldn’t be a resource. It’s a good tune, but lacks some of the strong theologically-rich elements of other tunes. I will give Matt props for a nice melody for the verses. The guy can write.

Of the worship records I’ve heard in 2011, this has to be one of the best so far. I think it’s got great songs for congregational worship. They’re easy to play and they say things that we need to be saying. I’d encourage to check it out!

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