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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Various (Vineyard Music Canada)
Label: Vineyard Music
Times: 12 tracks/63:04 minutes
Are you a fan of Vineyard Music Canada? Approach this project with caution, as Free to Fly is like a mirror. There are wonderfully beautiful shining moments in one area, and on the other side, some dull spots.
From live music via the Langley Vineyard, near Vancouver, British Columbia, worship leaders include Andy Park and Brian Thiessen, pioneers of Vineyard Canada. The project's first two songs, title track, and final tune, "Haven't You Been Good," are pleasing, vintage Vineyard, and lovely invitations to worship. "Sing Hallelujah," the first track, has tastes of acoustic Latin guitars, with an upbeat pace and the unifying theme, "every tribe, every tongue, every nation." The project as a worship experience segues well into "Keep Me," Andy Park's light rocker.
However, the flow of Free to Fly as a worship event seems to do a few gear-shifts, beginning with the third song, "Holy is the Lord," with hints of Latin-American percussion (Vineyard Canada is perhaps best known for reaching out to all styles of music), and into "Home Again," which doesn't seem to reach the potency it's attempting to achieve. The title track is mostly acoustic; I suggest listeners visit the website and try that MP3. Those who enjoy the title track will enjoy Free to Fly.
There are pleasant surprises. For those who miss The Screamin' Rays or Swing Praise, check out "Party in the House." And the most creative song from this collection is definitely "King of Creation," a reggae-calypso tune with lots of children's voices. While these songs border on "novelty," they are definitely the most fun performances from Free to Fly.
However, "King of Creation" is the climax of this project, as what follows is "I Need You," sounding very much like the Pretenders' "Back on the Chain Gang" (perhaps the worship leaders thought we'd forgotten that one). And unfortunately, "You Are Holy" and "I Want to Meet You There" are just not very interesting arrangements. Neither is the closing track, "Haven't You Been Good," but a sweet violin and wonderful lyrics seem to save the texture of the entire project, which could have been much more smooth.
Free to Fly is perhaps the weakest Vineyard Canada performance I have heard; I do not recommend it for those who are brand new to praise and worship music. However, there are still plenty of gems to make it worth the while for audiences from all walks of the world of worship -- listener, worshipper and worship leaders -- to enjoy.
Olin Jenkins 12/2/2002