In February of 2011, a group of college kids leading worship for their campus' outreach program decided to make more of the situation and start recording some of their songs. Exactly a year later, mikemurphyband released their debut worship EP, Rise + Awaken
. The band's mission with this album, according to their bio: "Musically, Rise + Awaken
offers a new take on worship music, that they hope will be used to glorify God in the local church as well as the global church to impact generations." From the opening guitar riffs of "Forevermore," it becomes very apparent that, as admirable as their attempts were, Rise + Awaken
does not offer anything new. The band takes numerous cues from modern day radio worship bands like Hillsong, Starfield, Chris Tomlin, and the like. Whether it's the quasi-rocker "Forevermore," the intimate balladry of "Your Love Goes On," or the powerpop song "He's Alive," Rise + Awaken
can easily get lost in the endless number of bands producing worship music today. While the music has little to speak of, I'd like to give some credit to the band's vocalist, Mike Murphy. His singing voice isn't terribly strong, but he makes efforts to change his styling up on occasion. In "He's Alive," there are parts where he does a half-scream, like something you might hear in a folky southern rock song. It fits the music pretty well, and it's one of the better moments of the EP. Murphy would do well to incorporate that into more of the band's songs. Lyrically, you can't get much closer to an accurate description than "worship band." The lyrics point to Jesus with pure love and passion, while Murphy sings about our God who will reign forever and who is always there to help us in our troubles. A beautiful message indeed, and one that we just can't get enough of as followers of Jesus. If you enjoy the sounds of modern day praise and worship bands, this would be a good EP for you to check out.
- Review date: 4/4/12, written by Scott Fryberger