- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 Dec
- Beautiful News
- You Never Let Go
- Take It to the Streets
- Yes and Amen
- A Greater Song
- Thank You for Healing Me
- Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
- All Over the World
- When All Is Said and Done
- If You Know You're Loved
- Beautiful News (reprise)
Matt Redman may not be a hugely successful "Artist of the Year" type like Chris Tomlin with a Gold-selling album or a headlining tour to his credit, but the British worship leader is a true pioneer in modern worship, and his songs are at least as influential as those of his American counterpart, if not more so. Yet while Tomlin's music is still relatively new, mostly written in the last five years, he has consistently introduced new material to the church in that span. Redman started strongly in the mid-'90s with several classics ("Better Is One Day" and "The Heart of Worship," to name just a couple) and remains an essential songwriter ten years later. But aside from "Blessed Be Your Name," his songs have generally failed to ignite in recent years.
He sure hasn't been idle in that time: performances worldwide, Passion worship conferences, a deal with EMI's hugely successful sixsteps Records, not to mention assistance in planting a new church south of London. But something's been missing in his recent output. 2002's Where Angels Fear to Tread suffered from formulaic production and lacked strong hooks. 2004's Facedown wasn't much better, favoring repetition over memorable songwriting. The excellent live retrospective Blessed Be Your Name only reminded us how strong Redman's earlier work was, begging the question of when his newer songs might ever again reach the same caliber.
The answer is today and the album is
Moreover, Redman's sound is revitalized by the efforts of production team Doubledutch (Robert Marvin and Josiah Bell), whose previous credits include tobyMac and Mat Kearney. Yes, it's very much like the Brit pop/rock of Delirious, but that's where Redman is most comfortable. He still writes in a way that keeps the songs sounding like his own without seeming derivative or hackneyed.
Things kick off with the celebratory title track, inspired by John 3:16 and demonstrating Redman's talent for a catchy song. (A notably dark and bluesy reprise of the song is nearly unrecognizable at the album's end.) Redman collaborated with Martin Smith (Delirious) for the very rocking "Take It to the Streets," a great song for closing worship with thanks to its mission oriented lyrics. Smith also co-wrote the upbeat "All Over the World," first heard on 2005's Passion album
The remaining tracks are ballads, and there are
It's hard to say how well "Thank You for Healing Me" will translate into a corporate worship setting with syncopated rhythms in the melodies and medical imagery in the lyrics, but it's nonetheless an interesting metaphor for our salvation: "The disease of my soul was spreading/Eating me up on the inside/Keeping my heart from Your new life/And I see now where I was headed/For there is no cure that can save us/Outside of Your mercy Lord Jesus." Closing with the simple piano ballad "When All Is Said and Done/If You Know You're Loved," Redman beautifully summarizes his album's overarching theme: "As I walk this broken world, tune my life to heaven's song, for I am Yours."
While this is not the most innovative worship music out there, for me worship music is at its best when it's practical to the church—memorable, meaningful, and easy to sing. In these qualities, Redman shares a gift with Tomlin and Smith, providing imagery, melody, Scripture, and depth that's closer to a hymn than a praise chorus. It's one of Redman's strongest efforts to date, and it's beautiful news indeed.