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A Place Called Surrender

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Aug
A Place Called Surrender
Sounds like … the modern pop/rock worship of Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, and the Passion albums.At a glance … though Lubben doesn't quite distinguish himself from a host of similar sounding worship artists, it speaks well of his heart and abilities to release an album of the same caliber.

Dave Lubben deserves some recognition as an artist who abandoned the pursuit of rock stardom to become a worship leader. His life took on more meaning when he stopped pursuing God his own way and letting the Lord lead instead. Lubben, 27, now lives with his wife and four children in Portland, Oregon, where he's worship pastor at Meadow Springs Community Church. He also tours the world on occasion.

A Place Called Surrender is Lubben's first with Integrity's Vertical imprint, though it is essentially a live version of Surrender, his 2002 debut released through Butterfly Distribution. You'll prefer the original if you enjoy studio programmed pop, and this newer release if you appreciate the energy of a live worship experience. A Place Called Surrender was recorded in March 2003 at Lubben's former home church, Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Fargo, North Dakota. (As it turned out, it would be the last public worship experience for speaker Dan Roelofs, Lubben's friend and mentor, who gave a 10-minute testimony that night. Two weeks later, Roelofs lost a long battle with cancer and went home to heaven.)

Lubben's style is the same modern worship you'd expect of Charlie Hall and Chris Tomlin, or Lincoln Brewster with less stunning guitar licks. The similarity to Hall and Tomlin might be explained in part by the presence of Nathan Nockels (Watermark, the Passion albums), who produced and played keyboards here; his wife Christy also lends her vocal harmonies to several tracks. Additionally, Out of the Grey's Scott Denté lends his acoustic guitar skills.

Music seems to be more Lubben's strong point than words, which is not to say that he writes poor worship lyrics. He writes typical praise and worship, writing around familiar phrases like "I surrender to You," "We praise You," and "You reign." His songwriting lacks poetry and originality, but he makes it work with energetic delivery and an enjoyable sound. As such, the gentle "Speak to Me" is short on lyrics, but its gorgeous melody helps it take root—much like the hugely popular "Breathe."

"You Are the One" offers more of the familiar worship sentiments, but Lubben pairs it to a strong melody and feel reminiscent of Chris Tomlin's "Famous One." And while "We Need You" is a bit simplistic, the familiar U2-influenced rock sound is still catchy and Lubben's vocals soar toward the end. Plus, there's no denying the truth behind a lyric like, "We don't need a world of treasures/for Heaven is our home/We don't need empty pleasures/All we need is You alone."

This album also slips a little because of homogenous sound, though if you love one song, you're bound to enjoy them all. For example, "Lord Most High" and "Surrender" are rousing rockers, but they have nearly the same feel—and they're paired together as the opening two tracks. Stronger highlights include the melodic rockers "King of Nations" and "Save Us." The disc closes with the extremely infectious worship anthem "You Reign," very similar in style to Lincoln Brewster and shifting effortlessly into a verse of "Crown Him with Many Crowns."

A Place Called Surrender doesn't really offer anything you haven't heard before, and Lubben doesn't quite distinguish himself from a growing list of similar sounding worship artists. Still, it does speak well of his heart and abilities to release an album of the same caliber on the first try, and it's well worth checking into if you're a strong fan of Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, and the Passion albums. Perhaps this talented musician, songwriter, and worship leader will become more distinctive with future releases.