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Worth Dying For
Artist: Worth Dying For
Length: 15 tracks / 64 minutes
It’s a symptom of how anonymous much CCM material has become that for weeks I’ve had Worth Dying For mixed up in my head with Warren Barfield’s much more crafted Worth Fighting For. In many ways I wanted to like this release, because the band is plainly sold out for God, but come the end it made me feel that I would rather pay for having an hour of silence from time to time than pay to hear this. But where to start on what’s wrong with it?
As with much of corporate Christian music, it is sadly more about words than the music, the latter being just a conveyor belt to carry along the lyrics (just as many of these artists are on an A&R conveyor belt that will drop them at the end of two to three years of being carried along). So let’s look at a few of the words.
“All We” creates issues right from the start with barrow-loads of assumptions that could alienate its hearers as much as bring them on board, mainly to do with the stereotype of what it really means to be sold out for God. “With outstretched arms, I’m broken.” Hmmm, we have heard that before, but how often are we honestly broken when we worship? What about exploring what that really means? If they really do feel broken, why not write a whole song about the experience? Probably because it would not sound triumphalistic enough. There are plenty more glib sold-out-for-God-sounding phrases (the disc is full of them) but of the sort and the intensity that create a credibility gap when we offer then up against our lives, so inviting the participants of this worship to be dishonest with God: “I am at my very end. I’ve tried all that seems right ... this is the sound of desperation.” The same song claims that “All we desire is for You to fill this place,” which is a real giveaway. If that is genuinely all that we ‘desire’ (a word that I only hear in Christian songs, and rarely from people I live and work among) then we are ignoring completely Jesus’ focus to go out to others and be ‘salt and light’ in the worlds around. It is instead a purely inward, self-focused emotional trip at God’s expense.
“The Change” has more lifted-up hands and unrealistic claims; “At Your Cross” has a bit of falling face-down – a phrase they probably wouldn’t have thought of, had Matt Redman not put it out; and then “Unite” has the best of the false claims with “All day I’m living for you. Always I’m singing.” Sorry, but I just don’t believe that this is their experience.
Then there is the music. By the end it is as relentlessly would-be anthemic as the lyrics, with slightly grating, would-be-turned-up-to-eleven-on-the-emotional-amp vocals, and guitars that are loud without having the light and shade that give real power. The effect is like choosing to listen to AM instead of FM, getting a big foggy mush of mid-range energy and losing all the dynamic space of hi-hat at one end and the sub-woofer stuff at the other. Just as importantly, after fifteen tracks, not one will be memorable enough to pop back into my head unexpectedly.
It may be just the enthusiasm of youth and a lack of experience. I really hope they can keep the enthusiasm for God, but write an honest lyric and engaging music to express it.