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Sounds like … the Vinyeard-styled worship of Brian Doerksen and
David Ruis, with a modern sound similar to Matt Redman, Lincoln
Brewster, and David Crowder BandAt a Glance … Mercy is often too similar sounding and repetitive,
but it sounds great, and there's enough here that's original and
Eoghan Heaslip is neither a typo nor a character name from Lord of the Rings — it's actually Irish. Acclaimed by such respected
worship leaders as David Ruis and Brian Doerksen, "Owen Heeslip"
hails from Dublin where he serves as a worship leader and music
director at CORE (City Outreach through Renewal and Evangelism)
Church, whose mission is to "be a people who would express the
Kingdom of God in a way that is relevant to this generation."
Influenced equally by mainstream artists (David Gray, U2, Relish)
and worship leaders (David Ruis, Brian Doerksen, Martin Smith), Eoghan studied music at the Vineyard School of Worship in
Vancouver, British Columbia, and has been referred to by some as
"the Matt Redman of Ireland." After independently recording his
debut release "Deeper Still," Eoghan was signed to
Hosanna!/Integrity to release his national debut, Mercy, which
was recorded live at his home church and was produced by Paul
Mills (who also helmed the worship projects Let the River Flow and Revival in Belfast).
Mercy generally sounds the same throughout the album — a modern worship band led by Eoghan's acoustic guitar and highlighted by rhythm and keyboard programming effects. Think of him as a less aggressive David Crowder Band or a more energetic Tim Hughes. Naturally a live album is going to sound homogenous throughout, but the sameness also permeates the songwriting. Half of the album's thirteen tracks have the same upbeat, modern worship feel reminiscent of generic Vineyard worship. "All I Want to Do" is a simple but catchy opening worship song, and "All That Matters" is highlighted by a slick bass groove. "A Shield About Me (Lord You Are So Good)" is inspired by the Psalms, while "Glorious" draws from Revelation. "Faithful" exalts the Lord in a song of
thankfulness and hope, and "Your Love" glorifies Jesus for all he
accomplished on the cross with familiar words of worship — "Your
love is higher than the mountains / Your love is deeper than the
seas." Independently, the tracks are enjoyably simple and
energetic expressions of praise. Collectively, the songs begin to
blur together in their simplicity and similarity.
The sound doesn't vary until the sixth track in which Eoghan leads the worshipers in a somewhat improvised chorus of "O Come Let Us Adore Him," taken from the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful." This is followed by the first ballad of the album,
"True Intimacy," a beautiful Vineyard-styled prayer song similar
in theme to "Hungry" and "Breathe." There is an especially great
rhythmic groove to "Arise King of Kings" that sets it apart from
the other upbeat originals; it's a prayerful invocation co-
written by Eoghan's wife Becky, who sings with the worship team.
"Lord It's Your Mercy" is also quite catchy, distinguishing
itself with a thoughtful chorus — "Lord it's Your selflessness
that covers my weakness … it's Your faithfulness that speaks of
Your greatness." Similar depth in writing is expressed in "The
Father's Love," a fine ballad co-written by Brian Doerksen that
relays an intimate portrait of our relationship to God the
Eoghan's album has just two cover songs, both at the end of Mercy and, coincidentally, both featured studio tracks on Michael W.
Smith's Worship Again. I have to credit Smitty with introducing me to Steve Merkel's "Lord Have Mercy," an excellent and poignantly worded song of confession, but Eoghan's version is simpler and therefore less intimidating. By toning down the
orchestration he makes it more intimate and rhythmic, making it
a more conventional worship song to be used in the average church
service. Also included is Tim Hughes's "Here I Am to Worship," an
already over-recorded song in its first year of release.
Nevertheless, this is one of the better and more passionate
versions available, surpassed only by Chris Tomlin's rendition on
the Passion: Our Love Is Loud album.
Realistically speaking, Eoghan's songwriting is too simplistic and repetitive to earn him the same widespread recognition as Matt Redman, but he's still a young, burgeoning songwriter who
offers more than enough reasons to pay attention to his work. The
songs may blur together, but they are also straightforward,
honest, and quite frankly sound terrific. They also demonstrate
thought and passion instead of recycling worship clichés. Top all
of that off with a CD booklet that includes track-by-track artist
commentary and an enhanced disc with chord charts and lyrics, and
you have a promising new worship leader with an album focused
squarely on edifying the church while glorifying God. We
unfortunately can't say that about all worship albums, but it
qualifies for Mercy.