Prime Cuts: Forever,This I Believe, God of Ages Past
We have to tip our hats to Shane and Shane. Instead of building up their own oeuvre of original compositions and boosting their own recording career, Shane and Shane have chosen to take a back seat as far as personal aggrandizement is concerned. Rather, they have chosen to serve the church in assisting her in her articulation of worship. Eighteen months ago, the duo, which comprises of Shane Everett and Shane Barnard, has set up a website called "The Worship Initiative." The site serves as a boot camp for worship leaders, musicians, and songwriters to put under the microscope worship songs and how each instrument - drums, guitar, mandolin, keyboard, and even vocals - assimilate into a cohesive whole. Besides offering tutorials, the duo has also shared devotionals to deepen the spiritual connection of worship pastors with God which transparently manifest itself when the leader steps onto the stage.
In the process of helping worship leaders grasp the rudiments of worship, Shane and Shane have also re-recorded a whopping 110 of today's best known contemporary songs which spans over 11 full studio records. "The Worship Initiative," released via Fair Trade Service, is a kind of a "best of" collection from this enormous reservoir of songs. Taking 12 out of the 110 songs, here we find Shane and Shane tackling songs original cut by Kari Jobe ("Forever"), Hillsong Worship ("This I Believe" & "Man of Sorrows"), All Sons and Daughters ("Christ Be All Around Me," "All the Poor and Powerless" & "Great Are You Lord"), Hillsong UNITED ("Scandal of Grace"), Chris Tomlin ("Jesus Loves Me"), Bethel Music ("Seas of Crimson" & "You Make Me Brave"). In addition to the covers, Shane and Shane have thrown in two originals "So I Can Love" and "God of Ages Past."
Let's start with the originals: "So I Can Love" is the first among the duo of new tunes and it's also the one being sent to radio as the album's lead single. Calling to mind the recent pop-centric hit by Unspoken "Who You Are," "So I Can Love" blisters with the same sunburnt cascading guitar arpeggios and crashing electronic drum sound. More organic sounding is "God of Ages Past." Here the two Shanes offer by way of a prayer to God some of our soul's greatest desires: "O God of ages past, convince my heart at last, come tell me of all I have in You."
As for the covers, Shane and Shane really does worshippers who cannot belt the way Kari Jobe can a favor when they take Jobe's "Forever" and actually framed it within a "manageable" vocal range. The same can be said of their take of Chris Tomlin's "Jesus Loves Me." As great as Tomlin's version is, it takes a vocal gymnast to jump through the mountains and the valleys of the song. Here Shane and Shane's version is more apt for those of us who are not blessed with the range Tomlin has. And they service smaller churches well by offering a less technically challenging take of Hillsong's anthemic hymn "This I Believe" without losing its rich theological impact. Thus, this record is in many ways more than just "another" album of worship covers. Rather, it's a resource, a treasury, for those who are serious about inspiring congregations to worship the King of kings.
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