Jesus Culture With Martin Smith, Live From New York - Review
One of the most appealing aspects of the Jesus Culture movement is their passionate and prophetic call for the Church to seek after God in passionate, unashamed, and uninhibited worship. This call is in full force on Jesus Culture’s latest release, Jesus Culture with Martin Smith: Live From New York, a robust 16 track live worship offering.
Featuring familiar Jesus Culture and Delirious? songs, with Martin Smith (of Delirous?), Kim Walker-Smith, and Chris Quilala serving as leaders, this album does not disappoint. With a great mix of instrumental arrangements, solid mixing and production, you cannot help but to get lost in worship as you listen to this album.
This album is long, but unfortunately our time to tell you about it is not. So, we’re going to focus on four of the top songs from the album:
“Alleluia”, a great 8 minute, (What?? An 8 minute Jesus Culture song?!?!?) worship-oriented track, starts out with a soft dynamic in the first half of the song and then builds toward an incredibly worshipful climactic second half. The electric guitar instrumental mid-song delivers a nice dynamic shift towards this worshipful completion. Adding to it all, the lyric “All the angels cry out, ‘Holy is the Lamb,'” evokes imagery from Revelation of the angels surrounding the Throne of the Lamb of God, crying out in worship.
“Pursuit” is a song originally written by Daniel Bashta, and you may have heard previous versions with him and Kim Walker-Smith or Rita Springer. This version is different (surprise!). Kim leads this song off vocally, followed by Martin Smith, but the real change is in the arrangement. The first verse comes in very gentle and smooth, but then the chorus kicks in with an 80’s power anthem sound (and I mean this in the absolute best way). The dynamic of the music matches nicely with the passionate cry of pursuit after God. There are some songs that evoke an emotional response, and for this reviewer, this song is one of them.
The song, “Holy Spirit,” another highlight of this album, is a wonderful invitation for the Holy Spirit to invade our space and to be welcomed in our worship. Sonically speaking, the arrangement is soft yet dynamic, including a super smooth guitar tone (somewhat reminiscent of “Show Me Your Glory,” but with slightly less overdrive). The chorus lyrics, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here; come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for; to be overcome by Your presence Lord,” are a powerful prayer which highlights the invitational nature of this song. Kim Walker’s adlib line “Can’t stay where I’ve been,” at the end of the song urges the fellow worshiper to not be satisfied with the status quo, but to go deeper into the presence of God.
“Waiting Here For You” is stunning. This song was made known by Christy Nockels (Passion), but here we are treated to Martin Smith leading, and being joined by Kim Walker-Smith. Featuring one of the best melodies in modern worship music that we’ve heard recently, this song evokes imagery of the Father running to us as we have our arms raised in worship. The arrangement is just about perfect, featuring a very simple but effective piano line, joined by a tasteful drum loop in the 2nd verse, and upward from there. Also, Kim’s harmonies on this song, especially towards the latter part of the song, are an absolute joy to hear, and really help to lift the song. Overall, this tune is another one that evokes that emotional response. And, while I don’t speak Spanish, the brief Spanish rendition of the chorus by Martin Smith at the very end of the track is a nice surprise.
Yes, Jesus Culture is known for some long songs, and this album keeps with that theme (overall, 16 tracks - including a bonus track led by Derek Johnson - and approx. 1.8 hours long). But it is all worship. Hearing Jesus Culture join forces with Martin Smith in combined worship is really great. These are individuals who understand what worship is and who it is we are worshipping. This album isn’t just worship music that we can listen to; this album actually leads the listener in worship. We dare you to try and listen to this without finding yourself pursuing the Father in worship. Really. We dare you. Heck, we double-dog dare you. (Oh snap!)
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