I’ll admit it: I’m not familiar with Elevation Church’s past worship CDs – I’ve never heard anything they’ve written or released prior to “Kingdom Come”. I can’t say that it’s a step forward or back. So, from this fairly limited perspective, I will give my rather one-sided opinion.
If you are tired of the Coldplay-inspired, Hillsong United sound (well, until their new CD – they abandoned that sound themselves!), then you may want to pass on this, as well-produced as it is (and it sounds GREAT – open, expansive – plenty of breathing room for the instruments), it fits firmly within the Hillsong United/Planet Shakers/Generation Unleashed/Alm UK territory, and doesn’t pull any surprises there.
Now the Elevation team is clearly not without talent: the band sounds tight, and the performances are all very tasteful. I just would’ve liked to hear a bit more variety. In fact, this CD could have doubled it’s overall impact if there were only more of a balance between high energy praise and ballads.
Probably the most memorable song is also the most confounding: “The Church” starts the CD off on the right foot musically, but lyrically I’m not quite sure what to do with it. It is a slow build, melodically beautiful, and gives a lot of space for the drums to really explore, ever shifting in dynamic. The downside for me is that it’s almost embarrassingly horizontal. Musically, it sounds like something to close your eyes, roll your head back, lift you hands, and shout to the heavens, but the lyrics – until the bridge – to be sung in a way that makes sense, demand to be sung, practically looking the believer in front, besides, behind you directly in the eye. The song is a great, inspiring listen to have blasted around your house – and I am by no means exaggerating when I say that it is beautiful – but I can’t imagine singing it at my church. If there were a way to rewrite the song so it was vertical – sung to God – or make it much more high energy, so it wouldn’t feel awkward to sing it to one another (think “Tell the World”, as a Hillsong United example).
Two songs stood out as engaging on all levels – something that lyrically I felt was really worth singing (meaning that it said what it said to God in a way that was fresh enough to merit consideration over other similarly themed songs), while also being melodically memorable enough that I may want to sing them: “Give me Faith” and “Mercy Reigns”. Both vertical ballads – though they aren’t in my “got to introduce these songs NOW” list – are definitely worth considering.
So, here I sit, listening through “Kingdom Come” again. I hear a great deal of musical talent – the potential is enormous – and there are hints of what they are capable of as songwriters. I think, if they made a concerted effort to compose a more balanced collection of songs, pushing themselves into territory which may be a little LESS cohesive – throwing in a few surprises here and there – Elevation Worship would quickly rise from being a local worship team to a well-received national act who’s songs would be shaping the worship of every church. Here’s looking forward to hearing forward growth on the next CD.