REVIEW: Stephen Miller – “Liberating King”

LiberatingKingARTIST: Stephen Miller
RELEASE: Liberating King
LABEL: Independent

I admire Stephen Miller. Having reviewed his book (Worship Leaders we are not Rock Stars) just a few months back, I was looking forward to hearing this new CD. Stephen’s commitment to solid Biblical truth, balanced in equal measure with passion, & creativity shine bright on his latest release.

LIBERATING KING is a fresh sounding collection of worship songs. Vocally, going for the quieter Coldplay approach as opposed to the up-front, in your face, CCM vocal mix – it works as far as setting the vibe, but there may be moments that some may hope to more easily understand the lyrics without having to reference a lyric sheet. Those moments are rare, however. On the other side, the guitar tones are monumental – precisely some of the style work I myself have aspired to but, to my own ear, have yet attained. The guitars are gritty, epic, & entirely off-the-chain. Musically, it’s worth listening to on the instrumentation alone – rare for a worship CD. As far as the individual songs go, there’s not a one here that I can’t see being lead at most any church.

Most note-ables:

◦ “Liberating King” (title track): this song does EVERYTHING right – in fact, it’s so good that I’ve already added it to Saint Lewis‘s setlist. Musically, it is an epic worship anthem – it’s got a big hook, & a memorable melody, so it’s “sticky”, which makes for both a great radio single, & an excellent corporate song…if a few other elements are in place, which they are. The lyrics: not only is it poetic & fresh, but doctrinal, & SOUND – have no fear teaching this to your church, because it’s SOLID. Lastly, from a production standpoint: it’s a home-run, knocked clean out of the ballpark. The guitar-tones are the sort I hear in my dreams (emails will be sent requesting amp & pedal names, & settings), & the mix is appropriately modern, & maybe a bit further to the forefront than Christian music is usually comfortable being. If you download, learn, & lead only one song from this CD, this would be it. I love it! LIBERATING KING CHART

◦ “You complete all You Begin“: Let me just say this up-front – it’s hard writing hymns. In fact, it’s so hard that – technically – much of what we consider “hymnody” isn’t, because a true “hymn” (as the term has historically been used, & is still used by professional musicologists) doesn’t bank on a catchy chorus to hold a song together! Originally hymns stood on the beauty of their prose to express, & unpack the beauty of truth – a poem, built verse-after-verse. Though the title track might be the upbeat, epic anthem I want to sing, this is the song I’ve always wanted to write.  YOU COMPLETE ALL YOU BEGIN CHART

◦ “It is Well“: Easily the best modern arrangement of this classic gospel song yet recorded. Abandoning the traditional refrain for an updated melody musically pulled this song into the 21st century. If your church has trouble accepting this change, one could easily tag the very end of the song with a reprise of the original chorus, but I think it’s close enough to not throw too many people. I’ll be adding this to my setlist very soon! IT IS WELL CHART

Honorable Mentions:

◦ “The Love of God“: solid, singable corporate modern work-over of this classic gospel song.

◦ “Only Sinless One“: not so corporate, but worth downloading – a very cool listen, esp. for audiophiles. The guitar riff alone is worth the price of the download.

I’m checking this off as one of the most consistently solid & worthwhile worship CDs released so far in 2015. What’s better yet, if you’re short on change you can download the whole project from NoiseTrade for whatever you can afford to pay. However, if you have the cash, support this excellent art by picking up a copy via iTunes. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.

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  1. […] – Stephen Miller (Chart available HERE) I recently reviewed Stephen’s latest HERE, but the more I listen, the more songs that stand out as possible corporate numbers. That said– […]