In an effort to bring a renewed sense of wonder and realism to the book of the Bible we call the Psalms, singer/songwriter Shane Heilman teamed up with a host of other musicians to work on a multiple-album project called The Psalms Project. The first edition is called Volume One: Psalms 1-10. Each track is numbered along with its respective Psalm, with a summary of the Psalm's message in parentheses to serve as its song title. Lyrically, the songs are not the Psalms word-for-word (or if they are, it's not clear which Bible translation is used), but rather, a reimagining of the words into Heilman's own lyrics without losing the Scriptural meanings and intentions. Heilman does a good job translating the Psalms into his own lyrics, and making them a bit more modernized. The music of The Psalms Project tends to go one of two ways; it's either slower, acoustic-based balladry (such as the piano-led "Psalm 8 (In All The Earth)," which features vocals by Emily Heilman) or it's upbeat, contemporary rock music. Sometimes, like the middle of "Psalm 6 (Heal Me)," it falls right in between the two paces. Regardless of which direction the music takes, it tends to sound quite a bit like Hillsong, which will be good news for some, but bad for others. The music isn't groundbreaking or amazing, but the musicians and singers are gifted and use those gifts well. The Psalms Project is a cool idea. While not necessarily a new idea, as I've seen this in much smaller forms (such as a project that Emery's Toby Morrell once had), the idea of modernizing all 150 Psalms is quite a tall task. Though Volume 1 isn't a spectacular album, it's solid and I would be interested in seeing where The Psalms Project goes from here (specifically Psalms 117 and 119). Pick this up if you're looking for something new to worship along with.
- Review date: 3/1/12, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com