Elevation Worship “Graves into Gardens (Live)” Album Review
Prime Cuts: The Blessing, There is a King, My Testimony
Overall Grade: 3/5
Elevation Worship's "Graves into Gardens (Live)" wins the award for best album cover of the year. Featuring the skeleton of a human chest with thriving flora growing out of it, the cover captures the image of the biblical concept of new birth. Unless one is willing to die to self (represented by the skeleton), there will never be life. And when this life thrives, it doesn't grow out of natural means, but it's the miraculous gift of the Spirit that allows flowers to grow out of dead bodies. Unfortunately, such poetic and artful depictions don't always translate into the songs. Rather, what we have are many songs that appear to be written at the spur of spontaneous moments of worship, where lyrics tend to be the first gush of whatever comes to the minds of the worship leaders. Though there are still moments of sublimity, they are all mixed together in what feels like an extremely long album, with one of the songs marathoning close to the 10-minute mark.
"Graves into Gardens (Live)" is an all out star-laced record. This is the record Elevation Worship have enlisted the most help from leaders outside the team, including Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Brandon Lake, Tauren Wells and Isaiah Templeton. And with such a red-carpet of stars, there are definitely some great entries here. "The Blessing," based on the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6:22-27, is rightfully becoming a signature hit for the team. Co-written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Chris Brown and Elevation Church's senior pastor Steven Furtick, the song's powerful proclamation of scripture over a strong melody makes this a stunning track. "My Testimony," though stymied in cliches, re-tells the story of the Gospel with great conviction.
The disjointed thoughts and the poetry-deprived lyrics all show that "Rattle" was written at a spontaneous worship moment during the Easter season. What the team lacks in terms of well-sculpted lyrics, they make up for their earnest delivery in "Available." This is one of the team's better moments where you can feel the power of what it means to utterly to Jesus. Tauren Wells leads the energetic "Never Lost" that features the delightful sounds of an accompanying choir. Isaiah Templeton brings out the soul of worship with the dramatic "What Would You Do," which repeatedly asks the scintillating question: what would you do if Jesus walked into the room?
While many of the songs are power-charged ballads with those dynamic choruses, "There is a King" breaks away from this tiresome template. Its string based backing devoid of percussion make this ballad a stand-out. Nevertheless, this is an exception. The rest of the songs are quite heavy to listen to especially when they are long and they tumble one after another together. It's good to carve a signature sound, but it's also good to have variety. It's good to have songs that come at the spur of the moment, but one shouldn't forget songs that come out of seasons of waiting, contemplation, and careful crafting too.
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