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Sounds like … an eclectic mix of worship styles ranging from the acoustic to the electric, including some examples of Celtic folk, Latin, and big band jazzAt a Glance … not much is immediately memorable on Free to Fly,but the songs are enjoyably diverse and well-made expressions of worship.
The latest from Vineyard Music Group features a team of worship leaders from Canada, specifically North Langley Vineyard near Vancouver, British Columbia. Led by worship leaders Andy Park ("In the Secret (I Want to Know You)") and Brian Thiessen, Free to Fly also features the talents of Christine Bedwell, Brenda Janz, Mark Stokes, Loralee Thiessen, and Monique Tute.Thematically, the album is about the freedom we enjoy in worshipping the Almighty.
Recorded live, Free to Fly stands apart from other Vineyard albums because of its impressively diverse range of musical styles. You can hear it immediately in the driving Celtic folk undertones of the opening track, "Sing Hallelujah." There's an enjoyable Beatle-esque rock sound on "I Need You," and "I Want to Meet You There" uses organ and steel guitars to create a very organic, roots pop feel. "King of Creation," a simplistic call and response song of praise, utilizes Paul Simon-styled guitars and Latin brass, as does "Holy Is the Lord My God." Perhaps the most surprising sound on the album is "Party in the House," a big band swinger a la Brian Setzer Orchestra that's an absolute blast.
Of course Free to Fly balances things out with more typical, though nonetheless enjoyable, Vineyard worship sounds (i.e., guitar led). "Keep Me" is a stirring pop/rock anthem that blends acoustic and electric guitars. The vocalist on "Home Again" sings with a passion very similar to that of Kathryn Scott ("Breathe" on Vineyard's Hungry) or Wendy Whitehead (the original "Come Now Is the Time to Worship"). "Haven't You Been Good" is a comforting reminder of God's unfailing presence and provision, as is the moving worship ballad "Even Here You Are." As for the title track, it's a simple acoustic ballad worth hearing just for this
lyric: "One day I'll rise with the wings of an eagle, doing circles in the sky / One day I'll rise on the wings of heaven, with Your glory in my eyes / I'll be free to fly, and sure to fall in Your arms."
The songs on Free to Fly generally don't stand out as potentially strong worship classics along the lines of "Breathe" and "Here I Am to Worship," but they're still quite good. Though repetitive like most worship songs, they are neither overly repetitive or formulaic. This isn't nearly as generic and stale as the average Vineyard album, nor is it trying to be a Sonicflood or Delirious modern worship clone. It's simply a good worship album that successfully integrates a variety of musical styles to worship the King. In general, it's simply hard to top Vineyard's releases for original and memorable expressions of modern worship. There are, of course, exceptions, but if you consider yourself one of the majority of Christian music buyers who prefers worship music above all else these days, then don't wait for the inevitable release from the next big name artist. Most of them will simply be drawing from Vineyard albums like Free to Fly anyway, so why not skip "the middle man" and appreciate worship music from the source?