People & Songs Vol. 1, Jennie Lee Riddle - CD Review
“Sing to God a brand new song, praise Him in the company of all who love Him.” (Psalm 149:1, The Message)
The words of the Psalmist bring us to the conclusion that worship is meant to be corporate. Some of the most powerful worship songs out there are being produced by collectives and co-writers alike, which leads us nicely to People & Songs Vol. 1, a collection of songs co-written by Jennie Riddle & a host of others. Chris Olson & Ed Rotheram have put together their thoughts on the album - let’s take a look.
Ed: Right from the introduction, the opening song “Waking up the Dawn” had me hooked. There is a really organic feel to this - the sort of sound you might expect from a group of passionate worshippers meeting up to have a jam and sing their hearts out. The underlying drum/clap rhythm binds this song together and gives it a strong undercurrent, and Michael Farren’s powerful yet sensitive vocal line sits in just right over the top of the mix. There is a strong feeling of expectancy in the opening sections, with a melody that really builds in the “with a yearning for our King to come” section that follows on. A very strong opener, this is my pick of the album.
Chris: For me, track four is the highlight of the album. This song is entitled “When the Stars Burn Down”. Featuring Jonathan Lee on vocals, this song has it all. A great arrangement, wonderful lyrics of high praise, and a killer melody. The bridge is a special thing – wonderful proclamation of God’s majesty. This song will no doubt find its way into the congregations of many churches, and will be a blessing to all as we join in, singing “Blessing and honor, glory and power, forever to our God.”
Ed: My second pick is “When Love was Slain”. The introduction is sublime - a beautiful picked mandolin, backed up by solid, well placed piano chords set the song’s reflective feel right into context from the outset. The vocals (provided by New Nation Music (Jennie, Crystal Yates, and Will Yates)) are well arranged, with some superb harmonies - the 3 part in the chorus is particularly pleasing. Lyrically, I really like the section that starts “soon Lord, and very soon” - as with a lot of the rest of the album, the feel of expectancy of a move of the Lord is very apparent here. I can really see this song working well as a Communion song - the pictures that are painted by the lyrics make this a great song for reflection.
Chris: While the album as a whole has a pretty mellow vibe, with a heavy country accent, “O Come Divine Messiah” provides a nice, upbeat kick to the midpoint of the album. This is another congregation-friendly worship song (with vocals from Jennie & Robbie Seay) that is pushed forward by a driving bassline that really adds to the overall dynamic of the song. To find out more about this great song, check out the review of this song, as the released single, HERE.
Ed: As with my previous pick, “Glory Fall” is a song featuring the amazing vocals of New Nation Music. The vocal lines that these guys bring give their songs an added dimension of texture that really lifts the songs. The simple nature of this chorus had me picturing the image of this song being led in our church in a worship time, and I could see the Lord’s Glory falling on the faces of His people, their hearts given over in worship to Him. To me, it was a great reminder of the privilege that we get as worshippers - we can enter in to the presence of the Creator of the World, and meet face to face with the Son who set us free, feeling the Glory of His Holy Spirit falling down like rain.
Chris: If you are reading this, then you likely have heard the song, "Revelation Song". Heck, you probably have heard numerous versions of this song! As one of the most widely known worship songs being sung in churches today, this album brings us another version. Featuring guest backing vocals from Emily Riddle (Jennie’s daughter, backing Jennie on lead vocals), this version may not be what you expect to hear. This song has a soft vibe to it, very reflective in nature. This song sounds about as intimate as a song can sound – a personal conversation between a child of God and her creator.
We had the opportunity to ask Jennie about the song. Here's what she had to say about it: "I sang it the way I wrote it...It was a peaceful moment full of the rest of the Lord in the middle of an otherwise not awesome mom day. I sang it like a lullaby... and I got to sing it with my daughter...such an honor!"
Compared to the more “power ballad” style renditions of this song you have likely heard, you may, at first, find it a little hard to grasp onto. But trust me, when you give it another listen or two, and really hone in on what is being sung, it’ll speak to you in another wonderful way.
So, these are our thoughts on just a handful of the tracks on this album. This collaborative effort – 15 songs featuring 12 different vocalists (including Jennie herself) – delivers some of the most profound lyrics in modern worship music.
While only some may be fitting for a congregational application, every song can, should, and hopefully will, minister to the hearts of anyone who listens. While there is a strong country/folk feel to the album, anyone who appreciates praising our King will find this album to be a must-have, and a must-listen. Jennie is most known for the widely popular song "Revelation Song" . . . after this album, I expect that more songs will be added to that list.
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