By my standards, Dwell – by Atlanta area worship pastor/artist Aaron Keyes – is one of the all-around best corporate worship CDs of all-time. Serious! StuG’s production is fresh, even by todays standards, the songwriting is Grade A, & the songs are almost all corporate, & adaptable for almost any style of congregation. To top it all off, this is where Michael W. Smith‘s latest hit single, “Sovereign over Us”, originated from! If you’re looking for a great listen, but also would like to find a number of singable, new-to-you corporate songs to use for your congregation, look no further. Here’s the “revisited” review…
(stick around after the review for links to my live interviews of Aaron, as well)
Highlights: “I am not the Same”, “Sovereign over Us”, “Song of Moses”, “Dwell”, & “Lavish Your Love”
I vividly remember when I first heard Chris Tomlin’s newly released CD “Not to Us”. Up to that point, apart from a couple “worship hits”, Tomlin’s catalogue had been pretty pedestrian, yet out of the blue he released a CD from which I used no less than 7 songs corporately, & which was a trend-setter production-wise for the next several years. Enter “Dwell” by Aaron Keyes.
Don’t get me wrong, Aaron has written a few very powerful songs in the past: “You never cease to amaze Me” was a great high energy praise song, “Psalm 62” – co-written with Stuart Townend – was one of the better modern hymns written in the past 10 years, & “Not Guilty Anymore” turned me into a teary-eyed mess the first 10 or 20 times I heard it. But Aaron’s first two CDs are world’s away from what I found here.
“Dwell” as a CD is a wonderful sonic hybrid of mainstream modern worship, like Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman, with elements of European techno and electronica, and even – at times – folk. It sounds surprisingly fresh, but not so strange as to be off-putting.
There are no less than 9 sure-fire corporate home-runs here – yes, you heard me right – 9 – unheard of for most modern worship releases. The songwriting is of such a high caliber that it’s actually hard to pick favorites. The lyrics are unquestionably Biblical – you could lead mulit-week Bible studies from some of these – the production is crisp, and the playing energetic & tight. Honestly, I haven’t heard anything else like it – it’s that good.
If I had to pick favorites, my top 5 (for corporate use, especially) would be:
- “I am not the Same” – co-written with members of Unhindered & Matt Redman – is an unforgettable anthem, & immediately contagious. This song originated as part of the song “Breathe” from Grace Midtown’s live worship CD, & the chorus has stuck with me ever since.
- “Sovereign over Us” is one of the best Biblical portraits of our huge God that I’ve ever heard, & has great radio potential as well.
- “Song of Moses” – co-written with Chris Moerman, Unhindered, & Graham Kendrick – is the greatest modern hymn since Kristian Stanfill led the re-invigorated “Jesus Paid it All” at Passion several years back.
- “Dwell”, the title tracks, is a beautiful keys-driven Scripture ballad.
- “Lavish your Love” – co-written, again, with the boys from Unhindered – is a youthful fist-pumping techno romp. It’s my kids favorite song on the CD!
- Others I’d consider using corporately: “O my Soul”, “Only Just Begun”, “Raised me Up” & “Every Knee will Bow”.
It’s not often that a CD like this comes around: if you’re skeptical, download my highlights, grab the charts, & see. These are songs that will be with us for years to come. Thanks Aaron!
Have you led anything of Aaron’s in your church, & is so, what, & why? I’d love to hear from you!