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Sounds like … modern worship similar to past Vineyard UK projects such as Hungry and Come Now Is the Time to Worship, as well as the works of Delirious and Matt RedmanAt a Glance … Holy is another good, though predictable, worship album from the reliable worship team of Vineyard UK, fronted by Brenton Brown and Nigel Hemming.
In the midst of the modern-worship renaissance, there have been numerous artists and albums that have made a tremendous impact on the church worldwide — Delirious, City on a Hill, Matt Redman, Sonicflood, and Michael W. Smith to name a few. As a worship leader for a relatively new worship service geared for teens at my church, I have been personally touched and blessed by such projects as a resource and as a musical expression of thanks to the Lord. People ask me all the time what music I recommend for starting their own modern-worship services, and I certainly include all of the aforementioned artists. But there's always one recommendation that leaves some people temporarily puzzled: Vineyard Music UK.
Of all the Vineyard worship teams worldwide, this is the one that leaves me hungry with anticipation for their next project. Unlike most other worship projects, I find more than one or two songs to use in my worship services on the Vineyard UK projects. In addition to regular worship leaders Brenton Brown, Nigel Hemming, and Wendy O'Connel, their first two albums featured acclaimed Vineyard worship leader Brian Doerksen. It all started with Winds of Worship #12, Live from London, titled Come Now Is the Time to Worship in the UK. I've probably used half of that album in my church's worship services. It includes such modern-worship standards as "Who Is This," "Lord Reign in Me," and of course "Come Now Is the Time to Worship." Even with countless covers of these songs released on other albums, these are still the best performances I've heard of these worship favorites. Come Now Is the Time to Worship in the UK was followed by 1999's Hungry, which featured popular worship favorites such as the title track, "Your Name Is Holy," and a phenomenal song by the name of "Breathe." Once again, I think these are the best versions captured on CD of these beloved songs. 2000 saw the release of Vineyard UK's Surrender, which may have made less of an impact because it was a studio recording.
Now Vineyard UK is back in fine form with Holy. It's not quite as amazing as Hungry and Come Now Is the Time to Worship … but then again, few worship albums are. Suffice to say that Holy is better than Surrender, not to mention the majority of worship albums available today. The album takes a little while to get going, relying mostly on Delirious-styled modern rock such as "Thank You for the Cross" and "Shine." Vocalist Daniel Chadney particularly sounds like Delirious' lead singer, Martin Smith, on the ballad "What Love Is This?," a well-written and memorable worship song. The exciting title track sounds as though it will be an instant favorite in worship services, though it also too closely resembles songs such as "Come Now Is the Time to Worship" and "You Are Worthy of My Praise." Some of the other tracks on Holy sound like standard Vineyard fare — good and original, but somewhat unremarkable.
However, like past Vineyard UK discs, there are a few key songs that clearly stand out, and all the songs are highlighted by strong performances from the vocalists and the bands. Wendy O'Connel's powerful vocals (similar to Dolores O'Riodan of The Cranberries) are familiar if you've heard the original versions of "Who Is This?" and "Come Now Is the Time to Worship." She gives a beautiful performance on her self-penned "I Have Been Redeemed," which has the same passion as "Above All" and "Breathe." Another strong talent is new vocalist and guitarist Marc James, who has a wonderful raspy-but-tender voice that recalls Duncan Sheik and Joe Cocker. It's perfect for the classic-rock-flavored worship song "Don't Want to Grieve You." Fans of Sixpence None the Richer will enjoy "Awesome God (Your Voice)," especially since vocalist Esther Alexander sounds a lot like Leigh Nash. Other highlights include the exciting Sonicflood-styled modern rock of "You Are My Shelter" and the rowdy punk-rock of the closing song, "So Near." The best track on Holy is Brenton Brown's "New Day," which has addictive modern funk groove highlighted by a fun melody, DJ scratches, and an infectious bass line. It perfectly demonstrates the album's goal of ministering to the teen and young-adult audience.
Clearly much of this new album from Vineyard UK recalls similar material by other artists, which just goes to show that the industry is saturated with new worship music. This is not a benchmark album like previous Vineyard UK projects, nor is it as good as the recent similar Vineyard release 1,000 Generations. Nevertheless, it's a fine resource for worship leaders, featuring 70 minutes of music and an enhanced CD that includes lyrics for slide transparencies and chords for the band. Holy offers more for your money as a worship tool, and it stands out as one of the better modern-worship albums available today.