The concept behind the Album is to present this combination of newer and older songs with simpler arrangements.
This is helpful because I think EMU’s idea of basic accompanyment actually describes the situation of the majority of churches anyway.
By design or accident, the notion of simpler arrangments seems to also mean moderate tempo. The majority of the songs seem to be in the mid to slower tempo. Even a very uptempo track like ‘Nothing But The Blood’ has benefitted from a relaxation of pace.
An accompanying DVD seeks to provide some practical insight into the way in which the musicians work to lead the congregation in song. This is a thoughtful inclusion.
Here are some notes on the various tracks:
New Song In My Heart: I’ve been using this since it was released on ‘No Other Name’. It is aging well. The lyrical structure and more folk orientated tune has enables it not to sound dated. That and the fact that the lyrics themselves are cracking good.
Perfect But Painful: is really beautiful. The the lyric and tune work well, and given the nature of the lyrics, the more simple and restrained recording style represent a fine presentation of the song. The song seems a little more melody driven that a lot of EMU songs, something in the way the music seems to flow reminded me of Hillsong, and not in a bad way.
This Life I Live: is hymn-like in the regularity of its verse structure, which would be a plus for introducing it to most congregations. The lyrical content is reminiscent of How Deep The Father’s Love and In Christ Alone.
Hallelujah: Well, its not written by Leonard Cohen. This one brought to mind some of the offerings of Sovereign Grace music from the US.
Nothing But The Blood: benefits from a simpler and more relaxed presentation. Still not convinced about it as a Congregational song. It takes a lot of work to get right.
Father’s World: I’ve had the nagging feeling that I’ve heard this new tune for “This Is My Father’s World”, somewhere before, but I can’t place it. Either that or the tune is one of those that just sounds familiar right from the get go. Mixed feelings about it, though. As I wrote last Sunday night, the traditional tune doesn’t have a lot of problems and could be easily arranged to suit this style of presentation. If you’re introducing this to a group which doesn’t know the older version you’d probably do okay.
Where Are The Words: sounds more like a song of personal testimony than a group song. Lyrics that have a strong deeply first personalised expression of response (even songs that clearly focus on God and His attributes, as this song does) can be problematic for group song.
Take My Life: new tune from Mark Peterson for the old hymn. Cyberhymnal lists over half a dozen tunes for this, so Mark’s welcome to take a crack. Again, if your group aren’t familiar with one of the older tunes or Chris Tomlin’s recent revision it would work okay, particularly for groups using guitar as their primary instrument. I think it needs a strong vocal lead or a confident singing group to go well, though.
Never Alone: is a fine song. Simone, the lyricist, gets a bit of grief over lyric ‘God departs’ in verse two. I appreciate the metaphor she’s striving for; biblically it was the guilt of our sin, bourne by the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, that departed; not the person of God. God remains very much with us, even during the hours during and immediately after Calvary. I appreciate Simone’s humility and lack of defensiveness as she considers whether there’s a better lyric to express her intent.
You Never Change: is a positive example of what I was mentioning in my comment on Where Are The Words. God’s nature and the experience that His people have of Him is portrayed in more objective terms and makes for a good song that could serve as opening, affirmation of faith or closing song. I like it a lot.
So, those are my thoughts on Songs For Little Rooms.