Title: The Way We Worship
Label: Provident Label Group
Release Date: 10/16/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Come Thou Font
- As for Me
- Be Still, My Soul
- First Love
- Softly and Tenderly
- I’m Coming Home
- Jesus, Name Above All Names
- Glorious King
- What A Friend We Have in Jesus
- In the Garden
- Jesus Paid It All
Having released many chart-topping songs throughout their 14 year career including ‘One of These Days’, ‘Open Up the Sky’, ‘Worth it All’, ‘Still the Cross’ and ‘Fly Away’, FFH (acronym for Far From Home) have been able to release two albums as a duo of Jeromy and Jennifer Diebler (Wide Open Spaces, One Silent Night: An FFH Christmas) ever since the band’s hiatus in 2007 and Jeromy’s diagnosis of multiple sclerosis that same year also. Now back with their brand-new worship/hymns album The Way We Worship, featuring well known fan-favourites ‘Jesus, Name Above All Names’, ‘Jesus Paid It All’ and ‘Come Thou Font’; FFH have been able to present to listeners an acoustic-pop album full of light percussion beats and passionate vocals as our favourite hymns and worship songs are sung in a different light, full of stripped-back acoustics emphasising on vocal delivery and enthusiastic passion rather than musical ingeniousness. Not necessarily the most promoted release of October (with various Christmas releases and Brandon Heath’s Blue Mountain heavily endorsed over this album); The Way We Worship is nevertheless a good album for reflection and quiet time, as we worship along with Jennifer and Jeromy as they sing praises to our King. From acoustic-worship anthem ‘As for Me’ to hymn favourite ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’, FFH’s 2012 album is one to purchase for any FFH fan, as well as those who love a laid back worship album full of melodies fit for soaking in the Lord’s presence.
‘As For Me’ is the first radio single of the album, and though a One Sonic Society cover, Jeromy is able to execute this song very well amidst the acoustics and electric guitar (I think the electric guitar is only in this song!). As the song starts in its acoustic sound, Jeromy sings out the declaration that ‘…I will not be moved, I have set my heart on one thing, I will wear Your name for all the world to see, You lifted up…’, a timely reminder of His reign and majesty, and our response to His continual love and affection on us. With the song employing looping percussion and a great mix between electric and acoustic sounds, Jennifer is able to provide a soothing background vocal that places this version of a One Sonic Society classic even on par with the original. The background choir entering from the bridge of the song is a nice addition to create an anthem that is one of the most underrated worship songs this year. ‘Always’ is another One Sonic Society cover that is on The Way We Worship, with a focus upon vocals and soft acoustics rather than emphasising on the electrics, previously on Kristian Stanfill’s version. A song about how God ‘…will not delay, my refuge and strength always…’, Jeromy’s conviction is clearly evident as we are presented with a song that has become one of the most popular worship songs of the year, also featured on Superchick singer Tricia Brock’s album last year, The Road. With both Jeromy and Jennifer harmonising well on the vocals, this acoustic song of our trust and steadiness in Christ is again one of the highlights of this worship-hymns record. Well done FFH for these two songs and highlights of The Way We Worship.
I can’t even remember the last time I heard ‘Jesus, Name Above All Names’! Maybe since primary school (15 years ago or so), so realising it was on this album led myself to be eagerly anticipating of it- and listening to it confirmed why the song is just as powerful now as before when it was written. A song about declaring God’s qualities and how He is ‘…Emmanuel, God is with us, blessed redeemer, Living Word…’; this acoustic guitar track filled with bells, shakers, strings and light percussion along with Jennifer’s heartfelt vocals is just the right mix to create one of the most treasured and remembered hymns of the modern era. The inclusion of an acoustic and light drum instrumental sets the precedent for acoustic worship in songs to come. ‘Come Thou Font’ is the first song on the album, and one of the most uniquely arranged tracks on it. With this hymn given the country acoustic makeover, the guitar plucks and grooving beat presents a song (though slowed down from my original recollection of the speed of it) that reminds us of the blessings that come from Christ and how we ought to be thankful for His providence, salvation and gifts that He is able to freely and continuously give us every day of our lives.
‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’, ‘In the Garden’ and ‘Be Still, My Soul’ are all present on this acoustic-worship record and are all nicely sung by Jennifer, presenting her enthusiasm as well as her vocal ability, with each song presented with acoustic guitars, light percussion and strings, while still emphasising on the country flavouring that is throughout the record. With ‘Be Still, My Soul’, offering our souls solace that God will be with us even during the times when those around us may leave us, and ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ a similar theme to ‘Jesus Name Above All Names’, us declaring our friendship towards Christ; it is the uniquely different ‘In the Garden’ that poetically depicts us in the garden with God, walking and communing with Him, and though it sounds very different without the added chorus of ‘There is None Like You’, a rendition of the two hymns done by Christy Nockels in A Grateful People, Jennifer’s vocal display in this track presents a great rendition of a timeless song of communion and fellowship with Christ.
Apart from worship covers and famous hymns on The Way We Worship, FFH have also written some worship songs themselves, namely in ‘First Love’, ‘Glorious King’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’. Starting with a light acoustic guitar riff, ‘First Love’ is a reminder for every listener that God is our ‘…first love, Jesus…I come just as I am…’ and that even though we are weary, tired, desperate and empty, we can always come back to Christ who is ready to fill us when we need it. ‘I’m Coming Home’ gives us a straight description of how the son must’ve felt when he squandered his own inheritance, to the point of sitting in a pig’s pen and thinking that pig’s food would be even better than how he’s living right now. With an acoustic driven sound and Jennifer poignantly declaring that ‘…I’m tired of foolish conversation, and I’m tired of pointless competition, I’m tired of trying to find my identity on my own, I’m coming home…’, listeners are encouraged by the Father’s love for His children, and that unconditional love continuously flows out from our heavenly Father. Finally, ‘Glorious King’ is a worship song of giving everything to Christ, sung passionately by Jeromy as we are declare along with him that ‘…You are mercy, You are love, You can lift us up, we will worship You, our glorious King…’ This lightly acoustic song with some electric guitar strums creates a space for honest and open worship, as the listeners, along with Jeromy and Jennifer, come to Christ with baggage left at the cross so that restoration and transformation can take the place of condemnation as Christ fills the void in our lives and deals with the issues that we have been struggling with that only He can conquer. Well done FFH for such poignancy wrapped in acoustic gloriousness for listeners to hear!
Overall: This laid-back stripped-down acoustic set of 12 songs is FFH raw and unplugged, honest, open and transparent as we see that when everything is said and done, our love, praise and adoration for Christ will remain. With each track incorporating acoustic, CCM, worship and country, FFH somehow are able to utilise all these musical genres to present an album that is certain to stand-out in October for fans of contemporary pop artists like Bethany Dillon, Avalon and Jaci Velasquez. With the album’s primary strength being their original songs and the One Sonic Society covers, FFH present these cover songs in a different, unique acoustic light as we use these songs as a vehicle to present our gratitude and thanks to God. From declaratory anthems to reflective stories of redemption and renewing; FFH’s second worship album (their first being Worship in the Waiting in 2007) is well worth the wait. Well done Jeromy and Jennifer Diebler for such a compelling and enjoyable experience.
RIYL: Jaci Velasquez, Christy Nockels, Avalon, Bethany Dillon
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3