- Open Up the Heavens
- Not For a Moment (After All)
- Strong God
- Start With Me
- Worth It All
- All I Ask
- Burn Away
- Your Kingdom Reigns
- The Wonder of Wonders
- The Gospel Changes Everything
One of my favourite worship artists over the last few years, Meredith Andrews’s music career at Word Records has given her great songs full of lyrical richness and poignant honesty as some of my favourite worship songs have been written or recorded by her (‘You’re Not Alone’, ‘Can Anybody Hear Me’, ‘How Great is The Love’ and more recently, ‘Not For a Moment (After All)’). Now readying to release her 4th studio album and first under the newly established record label Word Worship (a subsidiary of Word Records); Worth It All is perhaps one of my personally favourite albums by Meredith, alongside her debut album, The Invitation. Almost 3 years between studio albums (normally an artist takes around a couple of years to release an album give or take a few months on either side); Worth it All is certainly worth the wait, with the central theme of the album being our worth in the eyes of Christ as well as how we see ourselves and our fellow family and friends in the light of our salvation and redemption. As Meredith gives a great reminder of ‘…how much greater is God’s love for us? It’s not based on our performance. God doesn’t love us more on our good days and less on our bad and that was revolutionary for me. There’s freedom in knowing that God just loves me and that’s changed me…’; we can be assured of this freeing fact and rest in the truth of the never-ending and unequivocal love given to us. Already becoming one of the most poignant and heartfelt worship songs of the modern era, ‘Not For a Moment (After All)’ anchors an album full of original melodies and other various covers, with ‘Strong God’ originally from Desperation Band’s Center of It All and the title track ‘Worth it All’ written by British-Canadian Ben Cantelon on his 2012 album Everything in Colour. Multiple Dove Award winner and nominee, Meredith’s heart for worship is clearly evident in every song she sings, whether it be the upbeat ‘Open Up the Heavens’, the ballad ‘Worth it All’, the anthemic ‘Not for a Moment’, or the 3 minute pop melody ‘Pieces’. With Worth It All releasing on the prestigious day of January 22nd, together with Casting Crowns’ The Acoustic Sessions Vol 1 and Carman’s Anthems of a Champion; this is an album you don’t want to miss if you are a fan of her previous work or just enjoy great modern worship music.
‘Not For a Moment (After All)’ is one of my favourite songs of late, sung with such poetic richness and power as Meredith gives us a great reminder of God’s faithfulness towards us during the darkest times that our lives so often endure. Written by Meredith, her husband Jacob Sooter, and Australian singer/songwriter Mia Fieldes; Meredith declares the words over herself, and everyone who listens, that ‘…after all, You are constant…You are only good…You are sovereign…not for a moment did You forsake me…’. We are able to witness God’s heart to His children- that He will never leave us in the times that we need Him the most, but rather, it’s the ‘footprints-in-the-sand’ story, with Christ carrying us in His arms during our difficulties. With a riveting keyboard introduction together with reverbing strings; ‘Not for a Moment’ is a reassuring song, and as we sometimes look at our lives when we might, even for a moment, forget God’s goodness and fear that He is far away from our hurts and difficulties; this song is most certainly needed for us to listen to and remember, that the lies that we’ve been told about God’s closeness in the times of our need are just that- lies. Christ never forsakes us at any time in our lives; and though there are times when we may ask ‘…“Lord why does that happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?”; [the fact is] we live in a broken place. We live in a fallen place and we’re always going to come up against tragedy, but the thing is we have hope and that’s the message in [this song]…’ Heartfelt and honest, healing and hopeful; ‘Not For a Moment’ is one of my personal and favourite highlights from Worth it All.
‘Open Up the Heavens’ and ‘Strong God’ were originally on Live Worship From Vertical Church and Centre of It All (by Desperation Band) respectively, and both are great new recordings by Meredith that showcase both these songs as some of my favourite melodies on Worth It All. Written by worship leader Andi Rozier, Jason Ingram, Stu G, Meredith and pastor James McDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel; ‘Open Up The Heavens’ starts off drastically different than the live version released in July 2012. Compared to a electric guitar introduction, Meredith sings her own backing vocals to create a ‘oohh’ backing vocals moment together with a strumming acoustic guitar to bring the song into a build-up mid-way through the melody, exploding into a worship and praise with interestingly refreshing electric guitar strums as Meredith cries out ‘…open up the heavens, we wanna see You, open up the floodgates, a mighty river, flowing from Your heart, filling every part of our praise…’ The poignant part of the bridge is as simple as asking the Lord to show us His glory, and while only a repeated refrain, these words of longing are certainly enough to be transformed and changed by God as He starts to show up and create a song through Meredith that gives us a great transparent worship song. ‘Strong God’ is somewhat the exact opposite of ‘Open Up the Heavens’; a subdued slow song full of reflection and reliance on God as we hear Meredith sing about God’s strength to intervene in any situation of ours that we may feel unredeemable. Written by both Meredith and Jon Egan (lead singer of Desperation Band); this 5:43 song of anthemic proportions (thanks to some greatly delivered backing vocals and an emotional crescendo of instruments that bring such great emotions of gratitude and thankfulness towards ‘Strong God’) is flawless with her powerful vocals and her vocal ability to reach the high notes that only a few female artists can. The bridge of ‘…there is none higher, no, there is none greater, no, there is none stronger than our God…’ is perhaps one of my favourite worshipful moments on the song, if not on the whole album. Such emotion with abandon is displayed, creating a song that is destined to be sung in many churches, if not now, than further on in the year. Well done Meredith for these two songs that are destined to be global hits in months and years to come.
‘Start With Me’ and ‘Pieces’ are a great divergence from the standard worshipful anthemic songs Meredith has sung throughout the years, with both these songs employing more of a CCM nature, and a strong presence of electric guitars and drums. With a more acoustic music influence on ‘Start With Me’, this is certainly one of those songs when you think you’ve heard the melody or even the words before, but you know you’re hearing the song for the first time. Such a melody that will be stuck in your head when you hear it, we are met with a hopeful song about asking the Lord to start His work within us before we can see the change that we want to see in people around us. As Meredith reminds us that ‘…we need to ask “Lord change me first. Start with me here and let it just kind of flow out. Use my life and help me to love people that you put in my path the way that you love them”…’; this humble song about wanting the Lord to use us in any way possible is one full of anticipation and often fear, as we lay down our prideful agendas and give everything to the plan and glory of God. ‘Pieces’ is another confronting melody about giving every hurt and fear to Christ so that He can turn it all around, and through the hand claps, strong electric guitars and poignant musical arrangements; this confrontation is turned into peace as Meredith lets listeners know that ‘…He knows how to make the pieces fit…’ Even though we may want to know how the pieces do fit, all we can do with our finite knowledge of an infinite God is to just sit and trust, and to ‘…rest in who He is…’ A comforting song for the wandering soul; these two songs are great remedies for those who are full of restlessness and uncertainty. Well done Meredith for these CCM songs that seemingly fit in musically into Worth It All.
From worship to pop to ballads and piano-only tracks, Worth It All has something for every worshipper within these 11 tracks. ‘All I Ask’ is a piano-only song with Meredith crying out to God, saying the simple yet profound words of ‘…all I ask, all I seek is You, all I want, all I need is You…’ With a build-up of strings and a constant piano riff that draws in the listener to hear this life-changing song; ‘All I Ask’ is the result of a worshipper hungry to know and experience God more in every aspect of life. ‘The Gospel Changes Everything’ is another musically subdued song with a piano-prominent musical melody as Meredith reminds us that the gospel of Christ changes everything, history, present and future events- and that as we continue to delve more into Christ and His promises and assurances for us, we can’t help it but also be changed by the gospel and its impact. ‘Your Kingdom Reigns’ is another life-changing song, and just like ‘The Gospel Changes Everything’, once we understand that God ‘…[goes] before us, behind us, yes You are the One who saves, You are our portion, our promise, forever Your kingdom reigns…’, we are forever changed by the biblical truths spoken by this 4:35 minute ballad. Full of lyrical richness that places us in loving hands as we trust that God is strong to save us, even in our own personal valleys; it is the bridge of the song that presents the most power and encouragement, with Meredith declaring that ‘…You will not be shaken, God of our salvation, You are, You are the rock we stand on…’ What a great song full of lyrical intensity and hopeful encouragement! Well done Meredith for such an emotional anthem of praise!
Overall: With almost no downsides (except for a few quiet tracks in ‘All I Ask’ and ‘The Gospel Changes Everything’ that may potentially be the albums downfall, especially for listeners who enjoy more upbeat music); Worth it All is one of my favourite studio worship albums of late, on par with Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights, Phil Wickham’s Response and Christy Nockels’ Into the Glorious. As we are reminded through the title track that we need to, as Christians, let go of the temporary as we press onto the eternal, so that when ‘…I finally reach the end I’ll say “You are worth it all”…’ (‘Worth It All’); the album gives to us 11 musical moments that let us contemplate surrender and allow us to trust, as we look past the stress and short-sighted vision we may have and look unto the eternal, Christ with us and dwelling within us. Produced by Paul Mabury (drummer of One Sonic Society) and a potential nomination (along with Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights) as Best Worship Album at the 2014 Dove Awards; Meredith’s Andrews’s long-awaited album release is sure to be enjoyed and appreciated by many. Even if you have not heard much of Meredith’s previous material, this is a great album ready to bless those who listen to these uplifting songs. With a great first album to be released on Word Worship, Meredith continues to set the standard in quality albums full of poignant vertical worship. Well done Meredith for one of the music standouts in January 2013!
RIYL: Chris Tomlin, One Sonic Society, Ben Cantelon, Desperation Band