I’ve been acquainted with Shannon Lewis for quite a while on Twitter and when I found out that he and his wife had released an EP of original music I was quite excited about it. But, me being the procrastinator I tend to be, I didn’t get around to buying the recording. However, after reviewing Joe Day’s Grace Shannon contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to do a review and of course I said yes! Listening to Shannon and Cyle’s music has been a pleasure, and I’m so glad to be privileged to write a review.
The first thing that I have to get out of the way is that I’m finally beginning to do some of my own recording and I must say, it is NOT EASY. So, I have new appreciation for recording artists and while I can share my opinion about things, the very fact that anyone even CAN make a recording that’s good enough to listen to gives them more credibility than me! So, I’m very thankful to offer my humble opinion, and hopefully, soon, I’ll be able to review with a little more actual recording experience under my belt. I digress – on to the review!
While Shannon is a worship leader and these are “worship” songs (insert your own definition of whatever that’s really supposed to mean), I find this EP unique in the fact that it is the only one in my collection that PREPARES me for worship. Most other “worship” albums cause me to immediately jump into vertical (me-to-God) worship without much preparation at all. Of course, if I’ve been diligent to be in the Word before a time of worship it’s much easier to jump right in, but after listening to this album a few times I started to realize that sometimes making a musical, face-first dive right into a worship album might not be the right way to go.
This fantastic EP features a sound that is truly the sound of Saint Lewis, as I have a hard time comparing it to anyone (and that’s a good thing!). Driving guitars, soaring vocals from Shannon, lovely support from his wife, and creative instrumentation and loops make this a wonderful listen.
Shannon starts the record off with a proclamation and reminder that “All in all it’s been all about You.” This track sets the tone for the rest of the recording, that it is indeed, all about the Father’s love and not about what we can “say about” His love.
“Rejoice in Me,” the next track shifts the listener deeper into preparation by having the Father speak to the listener directly. I’ve found myself singing “If you Rejoice in me, then I will give you all you need” over and over many times! I love the line, “Life and death, your eternal breath, it’s all wrapped it within me.”
We are again helped to prepare for worship with “Wandering Heart” a passionate cry to “bring my wandering heart to Yours,” further reminding the listener and worshiper to refocus on the first love of their faith. Also LOVE the groove of the bass line on this track.
“Quiet heart,” a very creative “ambient” track on the recording seems to me like it is the summary of the whole recording. The delicate vocals, soothing instrumentation, and child-like proclamation of Scripture at the end make this the perfect piece of music to prepare for worship. I love the Common Children/Hammock-esque feel of this piece.
The theme of a father’s love continues with “Fly,” a lovely prayer for a growing child with some unique ways of incorporating the sounds of new life into a forever-recorded piece of art that the child can appreciate for the rest of his life. Fitting perfectly into the heart of the Father’s love that had already been captured in “Rejoice in Me” and “Quiet Heart,” I can hear both Shannon and his wife singing to their child as well as our own Heavenly Father singing the song to me.
“You Came Running,” the beginning of a response time after the listener has had a great time of preparation, is a very fresh take on the prodigal story with soaring guitar lines and a great vocal hook in the chorus.
The last two tracks, “Call me to Live” and “Coming Kingdom” are both great prayers as well as really good showcases of Shannon’s talent as a singer and musician. I love the power of Shannon’s vocals on “Call me to Live” and the contrasting simplicity of just having vocals and guitar in “Coming Kingdom.” This last track also gives a perfect finish to the overall use of the album to prepare us for worship. The new way in which the Lord’s Prayer is interpreted brings fresh inspiration for Jesus’ call to us of “This then, is how you should pray.”
The only things I find difficult with this album (and these are minor things, for sure) is that it tends to get slightly repetitive in a few of the choruses. I also don’t find that most of this album would be easy to incorporate into corporate worship. But, as I’ve already mentioned, no other album that I’ve heard does the job of preparing me for a time of worship as this one.
I highly recommend this recording. You can purchase it through iTunes, directly from Shannon’s site, and for the rest of January 2011, download 3 songs from it (plus an extra) for free through NoiseTrade!