Condrey Keeps on ChangingKeeps on Changing exceeds what I expect from a large-church worship project in approach, songwriting and integrity.

Label: North Point Music
Time: 11 Tracks / 46 minutes

Refreshingly, Condrey has tried to eschew the standard praise format and go back to examining life, so – despite starting one song, “This day I surrender this heart” – this release is relatively free of the “Glory to your name” type of cliché. He started working on this album with the question, “If there were no music industry or North Point [his church] but I still loved people and wanted them to connect with God, what would I write?”

Keeps on Changing still has a narrowly God-focused approach, but it brings in more of life than the Baloches of this world do. Many of his images are of natural things like the weather, the sea, sunrise or storms. The album has a strong thread of grace. The album title comes from the line, “Grace keeps on changing me;” in “You Love My Soul,” he sings, “Guilt is not the end of Me” and “Can't Outrun Your Love” is a modern psalm about the vastness of God's passion for his people. Any songs that focus on grace, by definition, also have to consider our contradictions and their impact on daily life.

That said, opener “Speechless” is a straight praise song, an uplifting anthem that could raise the temperature at church and “God of the Impossible” would please any CCM fan.

Condrey's vocals are easy to listen to – slight touches of vibrato and grit give colour to its warm timbre – and he comes across as meaning what he sings. On songs like “The Answer,” he reminds me of Ireland's Brian Houston. It also helps that he has the knack of producing hooks as often as conjurors bring large objects out of their hat and pockets. Sometimes he eggs these hooks and choruses a bit too much. He could have chopped 30 seconds off the average track with no loss of impact, although the lengthy instrumental run-on at the end of “Morning Hymn” is a welcome space.

Phillip LaRue has used a subtle production style on this collection, which blends a more organic singer-songwriter mood into the typical CCM sound – particularly noticeable on “Morning Hymn”. Strings lightly warm the background of several songs, while piano and occasional mandolin ease in and out as needed.

Keeps on Changing exceeds what I expect from a large-church worship project in approach, songwriting and integrity.


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