I’m gonna’ own up to it…I’ve never considered myself a Stanfill “fan”, mostly due to the fact that my only exposure to Kristian’s music was the occasional inclusion on a Passion record here and there.
However, a few weeks ago, I got two requests – on the same day – to use one of Kristian’s new tunes, “Always”, in worship. I had the live version from the most recent Passion release, but I went and grabbed the album just to see if the studio version was better. (It was…in my opinion!) I’ve enjoyed listening to this record, it’s got great melodies and lyrics that are memorable, strong and poetic. I’ve already slated two of the songs for use at Bethel, and I’m looking forward to using lots more!
Lord Almighty – Love this as an opener. Right from the start, Kristian is giving us a strong Biblical image here. I like the groove and I think the phrasing in the chorus is simply unforgettable. Since the band and I are already learning this one, I can tell you that, while a simple song, finding a way to be at home in this balanced groove is a real challenge. I’m also digging the chord punches in the bridge – super fun to play as a band!
Day After Day – Kristian seems to have a knack for writing songs that maintain a hymn-like quality without actually being hymn remakes. I also love how strong this song is – declaring that God is enthroned over all things. We’ve got plenty of songs these days telling us how loving God is, but I think we need more tunes that teach us how strong and mighty He is! There are some synth and loop stuff here that some teams couldn’t pull off and the range is kinda’ broad, but I think the song would be easy to adapt for our congregation.
Say, Say – Confession time. I heard this a couple of years and dismissed it as a dumb youth song. But once I looked at the lyrics, I was hooked. Once again, Kristian is given us another song about God’s eternal victory as King over everything. Three songs in a row extolling God’s supremacy? No wonder I love it! That Bb chord doesn’t hurt, either…dig it!
You Will Reign – This one grabbed from the very start. Love the riff on this tune. With my team, I’d probably skip the string intro and just start where the acoustic and percussion enters. Melody in the verses is great – simple but fun to sing. Like most big worship tunes this days, there’s an octave jump in the chorus, but it works. It makes sense that that V2 melody would stay up in that octave, but it feels like it might be too high for congregations. I’d probably opt for the lower melody. I’m also intrigued that a song with such a random drum part can be so big. I love it!
My Reward – Simple prayer song with a fantastic melody. There are a couple of lyric cliches here that give me pause (all consuming fire / You are my desire), but otherwise a nice tune. I wish it stayed more mellow and didn’t try so hard to become EPICROCKWORSHIPANTHEM, though. Don’t we have enough of those?
Like A Lion – Still not feeling this song. Doesn’t matter who does it – I think it’s dumb. Lyrically, it’s all over the the place and survives purely on zeal. And from my position, this tune wouldn’t fit my people. I’m sure there are lots of crowds that would go crazy over this one, but I think my congregation would be kinda’ like me on this one – “Wait. What’s this song about?” As a cover, the song is a good take, but not for us.
Always – I’m naturally leery of songs that seem to present the idea that God’s gonna’ fix all our messes RIGHT NOW. When I first heard this tune, I got that vibe, and I think without some teaching on it, this song could present a very distorted view of rescue. Sometimes, though, you pick songs because they’re good AND they require you to do some talking/teaching. It’s a great, confidence-building song that challenges us to think about all the ways that God deliverers us.
Holding My World – Great song, but feels a bit more like a performance piece. I keep talking melody on this record, but it’s hard to ignore, especially in this song. Stanfill also tends to surprise lyrically. We don’t hear the word “fret” very often in our modern day worship catalog, but he uses it here and it’s perfect.
Be With You Forever – Good tune, but felt too much like OneRepublic to me. Great string part and definitely a “new pop” style, but for my church, I don’t think this one would work. It would be a fun, skill-building exercise for the band, no doubt, but the odd pauses and transitions would probably be hard for my folks to follow.
Over All The Earth – There aren’t a lot of rock songs on the record, but this is definitely one of them! First thing that caught my attention was the strong drum work. Drums on this tune remind me of the last couple of records from Foo Fighters – straight ahead rock with a few places where the drummer shows that he’s light years ahead of the curve. Lyrically, the song is fine, but there’s nothing all that fresh to sing. Again, melody is great.
We Glorify Your Name – I dig the “dark” feel of this tune. Reminds me of back when Vineyard music suddenly was “cool.” However, lyrics are a bit broad here – seems like the writer is throwing in a lot of imagery here and it’s hard for me to know what the song is really about. It would probably work fine with my congregation, but I don’t think it would be instructive for us.
Have you heard this record? Thoughts?