Recorded worship music has made a huge impact on the Christian market over the past 15 or so years. With every passing year it grows and grows and grows. Indie newcomer Tiffany Noel Watkins is evidence of this growth as she offers her latest release, Stronger.
The album opens with upbeat "Brave." It has an almost Darlene Zschech feel as Watkins sings of all of God's works inspiring the believer to be brave. The vocal work is very high quality and musically it is something that would easily be heard in any mega church across the country. Sadly, this is the only real upbeat track on the album. "Give Me Faith" introduces the soft worship songs that incorporate some beautiful keys. "To Know Your Love," "Not for a Moment," and "Set Apart" continue with this same approach; granted, Watkins' voice really fits with the more gentle tracks. Her use of falsetto, and knowing when to push it and when not to, is very impressive - as some of the songs could be vulnerable to over-singing within them.
The album concludes with "Arrive Before Winter." Musically, it is more acoustic driven and features some very interesting chord structure - not bad, just different. Lyrically, it uses some beautiful imagery of the seasons to reflect the seasons of the soul, and how desperate believers are in the "winter seasons" of the soul. However, the track feels somewhat out of place, as if it shouldn't have been the conclusion but rather it should have broken up all of the slower songs. Regardless, that is just an opinion.
Music for the corporate worship setting is very difficult to critique, because listeners are observing art that is pointed directly at the Lord. It is also very personable; but sadly, many worship songs have built off of a model and sound set by trendsetters like Hillsong, the folks at Passion, Kari Jobe, and more recently Jesus Culture. In regards to Watkins' latest release, it is definitely decent art and has elements that many will find appealing: smooth and catchy melodies, easy to learn lyrics, and good sounding music. Worship leaders looking for some content to add to their library of Sunday morning songs will be very pleased with this release, although they sound like others that have been heard before. Nevertheless, this is a very good introduction for an artist and Mrs. Watkins should be very proud of her work.
- Review date: 8/27/14, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com