These unpretentious songs of faith are easy to identify with, easy to sing along to and ooze invigorating joy.
Time: 11 tracks / 45 minutes
Since their 2009 debut album Organic Family Hymnal (much hyped, but for good reason) the Collective has had a dream start to their musical career.
Their impact on the CCM world has been like a clear, cool stream of water through a stagnant pond. No surprise then, that since RCE burst onto the scene they have shared stages with Shane Claiborne and Chris Tomlin, as well as working with Francis Chan and leading worship at Mars Hill church.
Fresh and different from anything else in the worship world, the Irish band has had no real reason to change their approach on this follow-up disc. Their sound still has an organic folk reminiscent of Fleet Foxes, beefed up with the pace of Mumford and Sons. Showing their Sufjan Stevens influence for a second time, they take simple songs and add the occasional burst of brass; and they again stamp a hymn with their own seal (“You Are My Vision” even has a remodelled title).
Rend’s calling card is – as the title suggests – a homemade worship style, recorded in homes and church halls. These are songs that work for them, honest prayers set to music, such as “Build Your Kingdom here,” which rattles along with a stomp, a shuffle and a sprinting banjo.
Opener “Praise like Fireworks” may start with lyrics we have all heard before (“I lift my voice to praise you”) but then carries on, “my concrete heart won’t stop me / I leave behind the cynic in my soul” and we all sigh a collective breath of relief that they do speak our language after all.
Like their debut, not everything quite works. “True Intimacy,” for example, has a great backing, but the words struggle to fit.
These unpretentious songs are easy to identify with, easy to sing along to and invigorating. “Keep Me Near” is a highlight, its simple plea to God laid on a strings-synth mattress, wrapped up in a choral blanket and decorated with a few bells; the realistic and enthusiastic warmth of “The Cost” also connects; and “Second Chance” will be a Christian radio favourite (“Oh Your cross it changes everything/ There my world begins again with You/ Oh, Your cross, it's where my hope restarts/ A second chance is Heaven's heart”).
Analyse it deeply and there is not that much new, but it is the original and authentic touches that make Rend Collective such a different experience. They draw from outside Nashville and feel very much of now. Good on them - the experiment has truly worked.
Intro video: http://youtu.be/lk_Axqrw3LE