Prime Cuts: Gratitude, Running to the Light, Temple
Overall Grade: 4/5
If you like worship music that has sliver of ruggedness and rawness, then Bethel Music's Brandon Lake's debut album "House of Miracles" is right up your alley. While many worship albums are so pastel and vanilla that they come and go without bearing much of an impression, not so with Lake's songs. His songs sticks. To paraphrase one of his titulars, Lake has not been afraid to"rattle" the comfortable with his thought-provoking lyrics and music that rocks with a worshipful abandonment. Though he doesn't go as overboard as Crowder or Rend Collective, there is a dose of rowdiness that will get you rocking for Jesus. Yet, for ballad lovers, he also has some soul-searching ballads that allows him to showcase his powerhouse tenor.
Part of the success of this record is that Lake has shared his writing palette with some of worship music's best scribes including Hillsong UNITED's Benjamin Hastings, Mitch Wong, Dante Bowe, Matt Maher, Pat Barrett and others. Produced by David Leonard (All Sons & Daughters), Jacob Sooter (Meredith Andrews) and LaeL (Cory Asbury), the producers have allowed Lake to be Lake, making sure he has the opportunity to not only co-write all the 12 songs here but to have the freedom to emote what is in his heart.
Benjamin Hastings, who has co-written Hillsong UNITED's "So Will I (100 Billion X)" and "Highlands (Song of Ascent)" among others, contributes two cuts here. Best of which is the folky "Gratitude." Overwhelmed by the grace of God, this song finds Lake so enthralled in the beauty of Christ that his only response is simply to sing hallelujah to Jesus. The other Hasting co-write (with Dante Bowe and Lake) is the popish "Running to the Light" - a modern hymn of obedience and an excellent choice for a worship set opener. Matt Maher, Dante Bowe and Lake join forces to create "Son of Heaven." Though the melody not as strong as some of Maher's previous co-writes, "Son of Heaven" is a creative and fresh look of Jesus' march into Jerusalem in Luke 19:28-44.
Worship music needs to be precise and they should try not to cause any theological ambiguity. If you read the lyrics of "I Need a Ghost," there's nothing wrong with it if you have some grounding in Christian teaching. But to those who are on the fringes, the song's repetition of the word "ghost" for the Holy Spirit may create the impression that the third person of the Godhead is some spooky ethereal force. In terms of the use of imagery, "Temple" works much better. Called to be "temples of the Holy Spirit," this Mitch Wong, Dante Bowe and Lake co-write is fashioned into a heartfelt prayer.
Mixing hip hop with pop-rock, "Wildflowers" by itself is a creative endeavor. "Lost in Your Love" is the antithesis of "Wildflowers," the melodic progression is predictable and the song is stuck in a stalemate position right from the first verse. Two of Lake's co-writes with Elevation Worship are also thrown in here. Tashas Cobbs Leonard brings the resurrection hymn "RATTLE!" to a new soaring Gospel-ish height. While Lake's rendition of Elevation Worship's "Graves into Gardens" is one of the finest example of sound biblical theology captured in music. Overall, Lake's debut record shows promise. It's diverse enough that it has the ability to reach people of variegated musical tastes. More importantly, he tries to move away (for most part) from the predictable allowing God and his worship to be "wild for me."