Rivertribe: Worship With a Down-Under Twist

Christian Hamaker
One unfortunate result of the worship-music explosion is the repeated use of certain songs. How many different artists can perform Shout to the Lord or The Heart of Worship before listeners grow weary of the songs?

Wading into the worship mix, with a sound all its own, is Australia's Rivertribe. The band's Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble is an 11-song CD that ditches the lyrics of such popular worship songs as I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and Open the Eyes of My Heart in favor of didgeridoo, Native American flutes and Uilleann pipes, to name a few of the instruments heard on Tremble.

The concept is a good one: fresh instrumental spins on familiar tunes, with an unusually mellow ambiance. But the album's effectiveness is questionable. The peaceful arrangements are more soporific than praise-inducing, providing nice background music but not much with which to engage. Without the participatory aspects of a church service or sing-along choruses, the dreadful repetitiveness of most praise songs, including those on Tremble, is only magnified.

But the more holistic, open-ended sound of the several Rivertribe originals on Tremble allow room for reflection and imagination.

If your theology frowns upon such practices, steer clear of Tremble, which bears a closer resemblance to the recordings on the Windham Hill label than to those on Maranatha! Music or other praise-centric labels. Tremble will only give you the shivers. But those of you looking for a fresh worship sound just might find Rivertribe appealing.

Rivertribe's label, inpop, deserves credit for adding a standout recording to the plethora of worship CDs currently flooding the market. Whether those intentions have resulted in a CD that's worth 18-or-so of your hard-earned dollars is a question only you can answer.