Review

LABEL: KINGSWAY MUSIC
RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 10, 2012

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f I were going to give this review a title, quite simply, it would have to be: “Eleven Reasons Why You Don’t Have To Worry About The State of Worship Music (Despite Hearing the Last of David Crowder Band)”. As you can see, titles aren’t my strong suit. But Rend Collective Experiment seem to have no problems in that department.  In five precise words, they say it all. Authentic, genuine, unadulterated praise music by created, small, complex beings. I don’t think I’ve loved a title more.

But back to my attempt, the eleven reasons are pretty self-explanatory.

If you’re wondering what to listen to when David Crowder*Band are no longer, each of the eleven tracks on Homemade Worship By Handmade People is a more-than-convincing argument for your time.

If the first track, a punchy, upbeat anthem called “Praise Like Fireworks” wasn’t good enough, track (reason) two “You Are My Vision” definitely clinches the sale. Ever imaginative, the crew from Northern Ireland rework the classic favourite “Be Thou My Vision” into a fresh, modern musical celebration- based not on the traditional English version from the last century- but the original version as written by St. Patrick some 1400 years earlier. The result is a fusion of old sentiments with a new outlook in a song of declaration which is just dying to be heard.

The joy is simply infectious. The Rend Collective Experiment will have you dancing around, clapping your hands with little-to-no prompting.  They’ve perfected the art of the catchy chorus (“The Cost”), the crazy bluegrass elements (they’re everywhere!)  and have the strong ramp down to a tee . But they have also mastered the soft, quieter more moments of reflection that are equally part of our worship. “Desert Song” is a stellar example, an honest confession of our sorry state before God. The message is clear: we need God. Beautiful vocals, a driven bass line and the sweetest interlude into outro I’ve heard: unpretentious worship at its best.

One of best features of Homemade Worship by Handmade People is its stripped-down nature. The music is refreshingly free of overproduction and overworking. All the songs were recorded in a living room in Northern Ireland. “Christ Has Set Me Free” is so unadorned, it is practically naked.  The simplicity is humbling. Yet in not relying on slick production or fancy sound tracks, the Rend Collective Experiment have liberated the listening experience. Never has worship been so democratic.

What makes Chris Tomlin the juggernaut he is, his songs are accessible in ways that John Mark McMillan’s are not. The shame is that they’re not always as inspiring. Gungor may make terrific originals, but none are so easy to pick up and sing along to naturally within minutes. But listen to “Second Chances” and you’ve got it in seconds. Straight-forward and user-friendly. Even my church could realistically pull it off on a Sunday morning.  Creative genius + theologically compelling lyrics need not equal obscure, esoteric music.

Whilst I truly believe the Rend Collective Experiment have a unique perspective on worship, for those who like comparisons, the group could be described as the melting pot where the best of Delirious?, Know Hope Collective, David Crowder Band were all thrown in. The group sing from their heart for the community. They’re a collective, an eclectic group of fifteen talents, with a passion for the worship apparent in each track.

So, I’ve broken my New Year’s Resolution already. I wasn’t going to give a five star review to anybody, not even if they paid me to like their music. Well, that’s too bad. Just listening to “Build Your Kingdom” ruined it for me.  It seems that even in the midst of all the soundalikes and wannabes, the worship industry is looking increasingly exciting. Whilst there have always been talented artists doing incredible things, I believe it is rare that you get the winning combination of scriptural, fun, meaningful and a  heart for impacting the world around them. The Rend Collective Experiment have it all. Homemade Worship By Handmade People is one album you cannot afford to miss.