Sunday, 6 April 2008

CD Review -- You and You Alone

You and You Alone is a new CD that introduces ten new songs by songwriter and pastor Pat Sczebel and his son Joel. Pat and Joel are based in CrossWay Community Church in Surrey, British Columbia. From their site,
You and You Alone is the fifth CD in Overflow, a series featuring new songs emerging from songwriters within the Sovereign Grace family of churches. Although these CDs are produced by local churches, the goal is the same: to provide the church with songs that encourage passionate, biblically informed, Christ-glorifying worship.

I was sent this CD by Crossway on the promise that I would review it on my blog so I think it is about time I did, and indeed, I am pleased to do so. I had no idea what to expect. I feared that a mere, “worship band” might end up being sincere, but amateurish.

I like to listen to worship music while I drive. I have installed a JL Audio sub and amp system in my truck and I like my worship to be LOUD! So when I first received this CD I plugged it in and must say I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard, right from the first song.

The very first song, "Trust in You," comes on with a bang, so to speak, with distorted guitars, a driving beat and a sort of punky edge… great travelling music. In fact the first three tracks come on nice and strong with that same kind of aggressive edge (musically speaking).

Some of my other favourites? The fourth song, “The Greatest of All,” gives one of the best summations of the Gospel I have ever heard in a song. The verses…
The greatest of all transactions, the costliest purchase price
Father, Your Son’s atoning death was given in payment for mine
To buy me back from slavery, to set me free from my chains

Now I’ll never know Your judgment; my Savior was judged for me
Jesus, Your death and Yours alone has cancelled the debt that I owed
You satisfied the law’s demands and new life’s been given to me

With a refrain by Fanny J. Crosby worked in as seemlessly as if it had been written as one song…
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy
His child and forever I am.

Track five slows things down with a worshipful, “I Surrender All” (reprised as track 11) that just makes me want to raise my hands to the Lord in thanksgiving and acknowledgement of His sovereignty, but as I am driving, of course, I can only raise one at a time.

Now, I must say, even at the risk of being accused of misogyny, that oftentimes I don’t care for worship songs sung by a female lead. I too often find certain female voices too strident, overpowering both the instrumentation and distracting from the message or the intended mood of worship. I realize that this is just me, but this extends even to some songs by Rebecca St James and Candy Pearson of the Passion series. Such a song here, and may I be forgiven for saying it, was song number eight, “Lord, You are Gracious.” Meaning to hurt no feelings, and speaking only my personal taste, I found the lead voice a little too shrill, and the instrumentation a little too thin. That, however, is the only criticism I have of the whole CD.

Having said what I just said about female voices, I must turn completely around and concede that my favourite track is number ten, “Jesus, You Are Beautiful.” The song begins with just a soft piano and the voice of Pat Sczebel singing,
Son of God You saved me
Rescued me out of darkness
Caused these blinded eyes to see
Just how beautiful You are

Then the chorus with male and female harmonization,
Jesus, You are beautiful
Jesus, You are beautiful
Because You first loved me, I love You
Jesus, You are beautiful

Then comes the second verse – a female lead – in this case the voice of an angel with a hint of a gravelly whisper on the edge of it. For some reason, and without being able to explain it or even justify my opinion, the voice fit the song perfectly.
Jesus Christ, my Savior
Your great love knows no measure
Though I sin continually
Lord, Your kindness follows me

The second chorus begins as a repeat of the first, sung with soft and beautiful harmonies, until the 1:58 mark (if you are counting) when the guitars, bass and drums come in force in what I found was a truly, “Wow” moment. The transition from soft to hard surprises the listener, but the effect is perfect, the instruments to coming in beneath the vocals and supporting, even lifting them heavenward.

All in all, I truly enjoy this CD and find it a real blessing. The music is much to my taste and is theologically sound (and that in itself is a bonus, considering what sometimes passes a “Christian” music these days). The group to which I find myself comparing the sound, if I may be forgiven for doing so, (in the hope that such a comparison will not be misleading), is Kutless. I think that if you like Kutless, or perhaps Switchfoot, you will like this CD
Better yet, decide for yourself. You may Listen to samples or purchase the CD Here…

Take Care

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