Recently I was offered the opportunity to preview a new album from Reformed Praise. Their desire is to provide excellent music for corporate worship. They aim for rich theology, diverse style, and gospel-centeredness, and they work on both updating old hymns and writing modern ones.
Their new album, Merciful to Me, is "an eclectic mix of styles, including bluegrass, pop, classic jazz, driving rock, and orchestral arrangements." Given my love for Sovereign Grace Music, Indelible Grace Music and others who produce beautiful songs that also have deep, meaningful, biblical lyrics, I was more than happy to check it out.
I think the number-one lesson I learned is that I don't like reviewing a CD based only on listening to streaming audio online! I rarely listen to music while I'm on the computer, especially new music; I just can't pay attention both to what I'm reading and to what I'm hearing. And oftentimes I've had to listen to an album several times to really fall in love with it. So I think I could give Merciful to Me a better review if I'd been able to put it on the iPod, listen to it in the car, etc.
I came away from yesterday's focused listen thinking that hymns are not my preferred music style. In some sense I love singing hymns, and I'm glad our church sings a combination of hymns and other praise songs. But when it comes to music I'm going to listen to in the car or throughout my day, hymns aren't my first choice. The strict meter doesn't invite me to sing along or tend to run through my head, and the lyrics are often *so* packed with content and so different from the way I speak that I can't think about them or process them quickly enough to sing them from the heart--at least when they're unfamiliar.
In general, I really enjoyed the male voices on this album and didn't really enjoy the female voices. Some of the songs had beautifully simple accompaniment and I could imagine my church singing them on a Sunday morning; others were really not my style. But my experience has been that if the lyrics are great, I can definitely get past a vocalist I don't love--so I look forward to getting a downloadable copy of this album and listening to it more. I think as I hear the songs a few more times and reflect more on the inspiring lyrics, I'll appreciate the music more and more.
I'm thankful for the people at Reformed Praise and their commitment to helping the church worship in spirit and in truth! Clearly there were some really talented people involved in the production of this album, and I love their passion to create heartfelt, theologically sound music.
My apologies for the late notice, but if you're interested in a free copy of this CD, Reformed Praise is running a big giveaway through tomorrow, September 30! Visit their website for ways to enter, as well as for song samples and more information about their music.