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  Sparrow Worship Together Roundup

Hopping on the worship bandwagon, now rolling at full speed, is Sparrow Label Group with their Worship Together label and its vast companion website, www.worshiptogether.com.  Here are the latest offerings from this up and coming resource center for worship leaders.

Artist: Worship Together
Album: Take Us To The River: Acoustic Worship 1
Label: Sparrow
Length: 10 tracks
Web: http://www.worshiptogether.com
Street date: February 13, 2001

Taking a page from Vineyard and One Day, with a strong similarity to Brentwood Music’s Acoustic Worship series, Take Us To The River: Acoustic Worship 1 is a light, relaxed, intimate worship experience.  Introducing new songs along with popular favorites such as “Jesus, We Celebrate Your Victory,” the CD keeps a fresh feel while showcasing songs that appeal to both youth and adults.  Main instruments are guitar, drums and organ, with a focus on vocals and harmonies.  Nothing really ground breaking, but very
enjoyable.  It will grow on you with each listen.

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Artist: Worship Together
Album: We Bow Down: Acoustic Worship 2
Label: Sparrow
Length: 10 tracks
Web: http://www.worshiptogether.com
Street date: February 13, 2001

Continuing the initial splash of the first album, We Bow Down: Acoustic Worship 2 picks up seamlessly where the first CD leaves off, opening with “I Will Enter His Gates,” a rambling country tune with no relation to the classic up-tempo 1970s worship song of the same title.  “Love Songs From Heaven” has a strong Matt Redman influence.  Producers Derri Daugherty (The Choir) and John Hartley (Heaven and Earth) make their mark on the recordings with a minimalist acoustic sound that showcases the message and the ministry of the music.  The best track on the twin CD set is “Holy, Holy” with its lovely female lead and precious, delicate treatment.  “We Bow Down,” the title track, is another highlight, although it is not to be confused with the identically-named Twila Paris worship standard. 

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Artist: Worship Together
Album: We Want To See Jesus Lifted High: 15 Songs From The British Invasion
Label: Sparrow
Length: 15 tracks
Web: http://www.worshiptogether.com
Street date: February 13, 2001

In the vein of Vineyard and Hosanna! live worship albums, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High: 15 Songs From The British Invasion contains plenty of congregational worship led by charismatic worship leaders.  Ranging from up-tempo rock feels, to Irish riverdance-like jigs, there is a wide variety of styles to satisfy every musical taste.  The group revisits popular tunes that are becoming today’s standards, like the title track, and explores new tunes that are sure to catch on with worship leaders.

The lively album features worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Robin Mark, and Noel Richards, along with The Stoneleigh Band.  The mood ranges from exuberant, as on “Let Everything That Has Breath,” to reverent, as on “I See The Lord,” one of the highlights of the disc. 

One drawback of the recent style of worship music, is the myriad of lyrics contained in each song.  Without an overhead projector, it would be quite difficult to sing along, which detracts from the worship experience.  Long gone are the days of the simple chorus, replaced now by pages and pages of overhead slides with epic poems for lyrics.  On the other hand, some of the best worship music ever written has been written during the current “worship revival,” like “Once Again.”

Fans of the Acoustic Worship series from Worship Together or from Brentwood Music will enjoy this collection of songs from overseas which have become standards in many of the contemporary churches in America.

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Artist: Worship Together
Album: Pour Over Me: Worship Together Live 2001
Label: Sparrow
Length: 11 tracks
Web: http://www.worshiptogether.com
Street date: February 27, 2001

From the opening beats, it is obvious there is a very different direction and producer behind Pour Over Me: Worship Together Live 2001 than on the sibling releases from Worship Together.  Producer David Zaffiro (formerly of Whitecross) adds his fiery touch to the sound, adding a passionate feel to the CD and highlighting the strong emotive performances from the worship leaders.  There is a small touch of electric guitar in places, reflecting Zaffiro’s metal roots and adding a gut-level punch to the mix.

Worship leaders Stuart Townsend, Chris Tomlin, David Ruis, Tom Lane, and Matt Redman demonstrate their characteristic leadership qualities, but fans of heavier music will find this CD to have more edge than most worship albums.  The ever-present acoustic guitar is supplemented by crunchy electric riffs and even a lead solo or two.  Whitecross lovers will long for their precious metal and expect to hear Scott Wenzel’s screechy vocals, but they are not here.  In all, this is the best overall recording in this roundup, showing more personality and direction than the plain vanilla Acoustic Worship series or the straight-laced Brit album.

Rating: 

Zik Jackson 2/11/2001

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