Every Reason Why
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Jul
- A Thousand Hallelujahs
- You Are
- As Long As I Have You
- The Least I Can Do
- Steps of Faith
- All I Can Do Is Surrender
- It Is Well
I certainly don't question the heart or intent of Mark Roach, a worship leader at Morning Star Church outside of St. Louis since 1999. But albums like Every Reason Why tempt me to write a blanket review for generic worship projects, where I could simply fill in the necessary blanks (like Mad Libs) for artist name and key adjectives.
Would it be all that different than what's offered here? We've reached a saturation point where most worship projects are less about innovating for the church than emulating what's previously worked for Christian radio—and what's worked goes by the name of Chris Tomlin. But there's more to Tomlin than a style or sound, and that's what most writers and their record labels seem to miss.
Sure, this album sounds fine. Roach has a good modern worship voice somewhere between Tomlin and Jeff Deyo. He offers some catchy melodies simple enough for a congregation to pick up. And it's all flawlessly produced, as you would expect with Nathan Nockels (Matt Redman, Passion) at the helm.
But modern worship rarely gets more formulaic than this. There's the upbeat invocation ("A Thousand Hallelujahs"), the Sonicflood-styled rocker ("As Long As I Have You"), youth worship a la David Crowder Band ("Overwhelmed"), and the soft acoustic closer ("Foundations"), not to mention the obligatory contemporized hymns—"It Is Well" is fairly routine, but far better than "Amazing," which tacks a boring chorus on to "Amazing Grace." And the ballad "Surrounded" best illustrates what to expect as far as lyrical depth: "I'm surrounded/I'm astounded/By your presence in this place/I can hear you/I feel so near you/I can almost see your face."
The album is designed to fit a format, and from that sense it succeeds. Roach's debut will surely appeal to the type that appreciates every modern worship release and can't get enough; some may indeed regard it as a worship resource. But those who consider most modern worship unimaginative and cliché d, particularly in the way it caters to Christian radio these days, should pass. At best, Every Reason Why builds appreciation for the better worship music out there.