- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Mar
It's possible you know Jason Ingram from his original independent release as The Jason Ingram Band. Or perhaps you saw him as an opening act (sans "Band") on the new Sonicflood tour. It's also possible that you know Jason's father, nationally syndicated radio pastor Chip Ingram. Unlike the classic "pastor's kid," Jason considers his father to be his strongest role model, eventually influencing his decision to become a worship pastor in his hometown of Santa Cruz, California. While serving at his church, Jason formed a band and began to tour and lead worship around the country. After the band was forced to discontinue, Jason moved to Nashville with his wife to pursue a career in music. His self-titled debut is the result of a contract with Resonate Records, the new label started by Rick Heil and Sonicflood through INO Records.
Song titles such as "I'm Rich, I'm Poor" and "Save Me From Me" would seem to indicate an album of thought-provoking modern worship music. The majority of Jason's album is pretty much typical modern worship pop along the lines of Lincoln Brewster and Sonicflood (specifically the new version of the band). Jason's vocals are suited to the genre, and are reminiscent of Ian Eskelin (All Star United), Eli, and John Cooper (Skillet). Combining swirling keyboards, drum loops, and guitars of all manner, Jason Ingram fits neatly with the American modern worship movement — perhaps too neatly. "The Wonder of Your Grace" and "How Deep Is Your Love" are rather average sounding by modern worship standards, and "You Are Worthy" comes across as an amalgamation of better, existing worship songs. It seems a tad excessive to include a second, not as well recorded ballad version of the song at the end of the album. Unoriginal titles such as "Take My Life" and "I Love You Lord" (both already popular worship choruses) don't help to distinguish his music either.
While Jason's medium rockers aren't exactly fresh and innovative, they will suffice for listeners who can't get enough of the modern worship craze. I particularly like "I'm Rich, I'm Poor" and its message of placing our trust in the Lord for our complete security. It's Jason's skills as a balladeer that really stand out on his debut. "Speak My Name" has the beauty and tenderness of "The Heart of Worship," accompanied only by piano and strings. It's a terrific prayer of dedication to God: "Lord may the first thing that I do each day be to come to you a holy God and wait for you to call my name." Despite the unoriginal title, "I Love You Lord" has an appealing Delirious-like quality to its ethereal pop sound. "Restore Me," easily my favorite track, is an excellent worship ballad that I found myself singing along with after one listen: "Restore me / I would have no other way but yours my Lord / Restore me / Like the eagle spreads its wings and soars / I will lift my faithless heart to a God whose love is pure / Resting in your arms I am secure / Restore me."
This isn't a bad album, it's just not a particularly innovative one. In his favor, Jason doesn't resort to covers of other modern worship songs, sticking instead to his own original material. The songs are simple enough to easily translate into any youth worship service. Really my only complaint is that Jason doesn't help modern worship music grow. Despite his original songs, he's basically writing the same kind of music that has been written by numerous other worship artists in the last five years. Sadly, I sense many fans are becoming jaded to modern worship, not from a lack of desire to become closer with God, but because modern worship has had almost nothing new to offer musically or lyrically for years now. Yes, modern worship can be used as a tool to encourage people to seek after God, but there needs to be just as much passion in creating the words and music as there is in the idea of worshipping in the first place. Consider Jason's national debut a satisfying effort in a genre that seems to be getting more crowded, competitive, and unoriginal every week.