It's widely known that "worship music" has become its own genre in today's CCM and many of those worship artists are household names: from solo acts like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder to large churches and collectives like Bethel, Hillsong, and Jesus Culture. What most people don't realize, however, is that there is a large group of independent artists making quality worship music as well. Matthew James Mason
, a worship leader and pastor in Dublin, Ohio, is one of such artists. Mason has been leading worship for years, starting as a teenager, but has turned his attention to writing in more recent years. Refuge
released in early March 2018 and is Mason's first. The EP is finely produced and carries a sound that fans of Chris Tomlin will surely be familiar with. Matthew has a very different vocal style, but you can tell he takes lyrical and musical cues from the Grammy award winning artist -- especially when it comes to many of the melodies. "God is a Refuge" is the title track, of sorts, and serves as a nice upbeat opening number. It's a good song that would certainly be well-received in corporate worship settings. Psalms 121:2 has become a popular scripture for worship songs. The Museum, Casting Crowns, and for King & Country, amongst others, have all tackled this scripture in recent years. "Ever Surrounding Me" is Mason's song revolving around that very same scripture. While the music doesn't necessarily sound like any of the other artists mentioned, the lyrics definitely make you think, "I've heard this one before." "Ember and Flame" and "Matchless (Majesty)" are slower songs that undoubtedly have a strong Tomlin/Passion vibe all around. The twenty-eight minute EP ends with the two most intriguing songs. "Overcome the Grave" is an album best. Musically, it starts out very standard, but the drum beat that comes in at the 1:09 mark gives the track an off-kilter feel (in a good way) that sets it apart and gives a great sound overall. "Usher in Your Presence" then closes the EP out. The song has very low verses coupled with much higher choruses and the transitions are a bit odd. The song's atmosphere could easily make it an album favorite, or the low spot -- depending on the individual listener's taste. Matthew James Mason has shown his heart with Refuge EP
. Many of these songs were years in the making and are the very start of his songwriting career. Fans of CCM and popular worship artists like Chris Tomlin will find themselves pleased with this EP. It's nice to see more people like Matthew James Mason sharing his heart for worshipping the Creator with his talents and music.
- Review date: 3/19/18, written by Michael Weaver