Heart of Worship(US)/Intimacy (UK)
Artist: Matt Redman
Label: Star Song (US), Survivor Records (Kingsway sub-label) (UK)
Time: 12 tracks/63:30
No sooner had the US release of The Friendship and the Fear
settled into its place on the shelves of Christian bookstores across the
US, than this follow-up began to appear in the UK. Possibly the most hotly
anticipated UK Christian Music release of the year, Intimacy features
a veritable "who's who" of British Christian music, and is being hailed
by many as Redman's best release yet.
In an article in Soul Survivor magazine, Matt says that one of his
aims with this album was to make sure that the songs were suitable for
congregational worship. That inevitably places some constraints on
the music. The melodies are simple and the music fairly middle of the road
in many respects, making music that people can sing along with. Having
said that, this is very definitely not a Kendrick or Bowater album, and
the music continues to experiment with mixing loops alongside guitars.
In fact, it goes further in its experimentation with a variety of instruments--Dave
Clifton apparently hired an electric sitar for some of the sessions, and
a zulu choir is also featured. The delirious? boys are as prominent as
ever; Martin Smith joins Redman in providing lead vocals on "Heart of Worship,"
and King of Fools producer Andy Piercy also did a lot of the production
The use of both Smith and Redmans's vocals on "Heart of Worhip"
served to remind me of how similar they are vocally. Matt Redman has a
slightly more husky voice, and does not have the odd accent of Smith, but
in terms of general range and inflections in the voice, they are very similar.
Both are good singers, and the duet works very well, although I prefer
a couple of other recordings I've heard of this particular song.
Listening to this album through speakers I sometimes find it a little
dull, with not many songs sticking out. As soon as I plugged in the headphones,
though, the sound seemed to fill out--there're a large number of subtle
effects layered behind the other items in the mix which really add life
to the arrangements and are worth listening out for. The final section
of the first track, "Let Everything That Has Breath," will be of interest
to those who haven't been at an event where Redman has led worship, since
Terl Bryant (Iona) and his Psalm Drummers lead a spontaneous semi-instrumental
section that gives a feel for how Redman-led worship sessions often develop.
The first track to really stand out to me was the ninth track, "Now
to Live The Life." The song is backed by a trip-hop-influenced beat, and
the vocals are distorted. It reminds me slightly of delirious? in one of
their more experimental moods, but comes off as slightly more consistent
than what they've recorded. Lyrically, this song comes, as many of the
others on the album do, from the heart of Soul Survivor Watford, the church
that Redman is involved in:
Now to go the extra mile
Over the course of his four albums, Redman has developed as a lyricist,
and over the latter two releases his phrasing and focus has shown why he
is considered to be the leading worship songwriter in Britain at the moment.
On "For the Cross," one of the album's most upbeat tracks (with a nice
string-section backing), he sings:
Now to turn the other cheek
And to serve You with a life
Let us share your fellowship
Even on Your sufferings
Never let the passion die...
Jesus Christ, the sinner's Friend
It took me a while to warm to this album, and I am still not sure by
how much it surpasses Redman's previous release, but this is an excellent
collection of worship songs. As a pop-rock record there are certainly ways
that this could be improved upon, but it is an interesting listen and,
for me, a useful aid to worship.
Does this kindness know no bounds?
With Your precious blood You have purchased me
O, the mystery of the cross
You were punished, You were crushed
But that punishment has become my peace...
And I love You for the cross
I'm overwhelmed by the mystery
I love You for the cross
That Jesus You would do this for me
When You were broken
You were beaten
You were punished, I go free
When You were wounded and rejected
In Your mercy, I am healed
By James Stewart