Something that seems unpopular to admit in the Christian community is when we just don't have it all together and God feels lightyears away. It's in those times where questions and doubts can come to the forefront of our thinking and the last thing we may want to do is lift our hands and voices in worship. Last year, worship duo All Sons & Daughters released their debut EP, Brokenness Aside. It featured a refreshing batch of intimate worship originals which proved their worth with each succeeding listen. The team launch the new year with seven new tracks (six new songs and one reprise) which continue the theme of worship through the broken times. Aptly titled, Reason To Sing, the title track opens with words that may be unexpected for the average fan of worship music.
Typically, a worship song titled "Reason To Sing" would probably be driven by that anthemic thump-thump-thump drum beat and some syrupy guitar lick, followed by a chorus that proclaims, repeatedly, "You are my reason to sing!" However, a simple, pensive piano melody breaks the silence to open this EP, with Leslie Jordan's soft vocals following, "When the pieces seem too shattered to gather off the floor. And all that seems to matter is I don't feel You anymore. No, I don't feel you anymore. I need a reason to sing. I need a reason to sing. I need to know that You're still holding the whole world in Your hands. I need a reason to sing." It's a transparent honesty that beckons the listener to stop and listen. David Leonard then joins Jordan for the second verse which continues the expression of fear and doubt. But before the final refrain of the song, Jordan adds prayerfully, "Will there be a victory? Will You sing it over me now? Your peace is the melody. Will You sing it over me now?," and then closes appropriately with one last hopeful turn, "I need a reason to sing. I need to know that You're still holding the whole world in Your hands. That is a reason to sing." With there being an abundance of worship songs for victorious and joyful times, AS&D know there is also a need for honest, fragile confessions in times when we need to admit our need for our Savior, and implore Him to fill our empty hearts. It also helps realign our priorities, turning our attention toward Him when we may not have the strength to do so on our own.
As an immediate answer to the rather dark and somber opener, "Oh Our Lord" begins swiftly with Jordan's words, "I will sing sing sing to my God, my King for all else fades away. And I will love love love with this heart You've made for You've been good always." It's an needed means for refocusing our gaze--after the confession in the lead-off song--with a thankful heart. The song isn't quite as deliciously intimate musically as the one that preceded it, unfolding into more of your usual worship anthem, but thematically it's a needed pick-me-up from the EP's start. "Spirit Speaks," which is the first track on the EP that features Leonard leading off the vocals, is a slower power worship ballad that overall works a little better with the musical tone that the title track set, and is easily a highlight. "Buried In The Grave" makes for a lovely modern hymn, perfect for the Easter season, while "All Praise To You" is a soaring anthem that will appease any worship leader looking for a new song to enter into their Sunday morning service rotation. "Wake Up," on the other hand, may be the only hiccup (albeit a minor one) on the half-hour-long EP (which is a generous length for an EP). It's a good anthem, but it does get rather repetitive in its chorus by the song's six-minute-plus end. To close, "Reason To Sing Outro" uses portions of "Oh Our Lord" in what feels like a live worship adlib moment, with Leonard and Jordan repeat "I will sing, sing, sing to my God, my King," as a reverent way to wrap up the EP.
All Sons & Daughters have fashioned another standout worship EP in a time when it seems difficult to find something different enough to get excited about. There's enough familiarity and joyful exaltation found on Reason To Sing, EP No. 2 to appeal to the common worship music fan, but worshippers Leslie Jordan and David Leonard also frequently strip things back to a mere piano and simple melody (even if for just a short time within a song) to appeal to those eager for something more intimate. And even when those intimate songs do expand for a grander finish, it merely feels like Heaven is joining them in song. Still, I'd be interested to hear a live-in-studio acoustic EP from these two where they keep things even simpler and more intimate all the way through, but their way of mixing moods here still feels refreshing. You have to admire the journey they take us on with Reason To Sing, too, as they give us a wonderful song that offers a voice to hearts that may feel too fractured and weary to find words for how they feel, all while giving those hearts guidance to the Lord's throne. And that, indeed, is a reason to sing along.- Review date: 1/15/12, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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