- Grace And Truth
- Before The Dawn
- Turn Around
- Vast As Oceans
- Mercy Endures
- More Like You
- Lay Down
- Trust And Obey
- It Is Well With My Soul
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s difficult to review worship music. Each time I review a worship album, questions form in the back of my mind; questions that are never completely answered. Should music be considered good simply by its own heart of praise? Does it really matter if it’s innovative or creative from a human standpoint, or does the subject matter transcend the need for criticism? What’s more, how is it that many artists and albums I don’t think hold up under scrutiny are used to inspire and move thousands of people?
The Remission Flow’s Rhythms of Grace has me struggling with these questions, because I’m torn about the album. On one hand, they have a sound that captures my interest. At first I thought it was fairly typical modern worship music, but then I found moments where my ears perked up and I realized that they’re better than average. With a seven person band, I expected a little bit more diversity in the instrumentation, but instead of decking themselves out with random musical novelties, they have multiple vocalists, guitars, and then bass, keys, and drums. But their sound, while not drastically different, still manages to have something in it that sets them apart. It has a vibrancy and buoyancy that keeps my interest. It’s difficult to pick apart the instruments and say which one stands out, because all of them work so well because they’re working together; the parts don’t exist in and of themselves, but in the whole. I will say however, that Darren Mulligan’s vocals are fantastic; the tone, mixed with his timing and emphasis, make’s him a delight to listen to.
The lyrics, while heartfelt, straddle the line between creative and trite. It makes it difficult for me when one song, otherwise good, begins with a cliché like “I know it is darkest just before the dawn,” but another song plays with scripture in “Oh yeah you plucked me like a branch / from the burning fire.” One makes me roll my eyes while the other makes me sit up straight and pay attention. They are always theologically solid, and often sneak in interesting imagery or metaphor. For instance,”Melody” talks of God’s name being “shut up in my bones” and the desire for His Love is “sown into my heart.” There’s great wordplay with the latter, since it could be sown like seeds, or sewn with a needle and thread. Either way, The Remission Flow takes Biblically based concepts and sets them to music. Sometimes they fall short, but more often than not they succeed. But it’s remarkable how I can be so invested in the offbeat “More Like You” (seriously, brilliant song), with its fascinating production and percussion, but be bored by “Turn Around.”
Still, the band is not out to create art, their vision is to serve the Christian community with their music and inspire them. And I think that’s where some of their most creative moments are found. In a fantastic interview by Sam Hailes from Christian.co.uk, the band members reveal that they don’t listen to much music: they aren’t influenced by the current scene, they are simply trying to make the songs they feel God has lead them to create.
They also acknowledge that ” We’re not looking at other bands that write really pop-y Christian songs and saying: ‘What are they doing?’ Them guys are doing amazing work for God and seeing thousands of people come to Christ.”
I’m comforted by the notion that I don’t think The Remission Flow is going to care what I say in my review, or what other reviewers say. They will continue to make their music how they want to, without external pressure leading their hearts and minds astray. Do I think their music could be better? Of course, just like any band. But I’m confident that they will continue to grow and mature, because, in their own words, “when we minister to others, we minister to ourselves.”
Other highlights include “Mercy Endures”, “Lay Down”,”Trust and Obey” and “Grace and Truth”.
Overall: The Remission Flow leaves me conflicted: Rhythm Of Grace still has vestiges of the cliché riddled CCM that drove me away from most mainstream worship acts, but they have a spark of creativity and a refreshing purpose behind their music that sets them far from the madding crowd. I can only hope that they keep creating music and pushing themselves to delve into the gifts that God has given them. There’s a primed powder keg here; all that’s needed is the ignition.
RIYL: Jesus Culture, Delirious, The Digital Age, Rend Collective Experiment
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