|New Sounds, Steady Heart | Posted April 25, 2013
Carlos Whittaker is more than a triple threat. Juggling the titles of worship leader, pastor, writer, Web junkie, and not to mention husband and father, Carlos is undeniably one of the most creative yet inconspicuous forces in contemporary Christian music, and specifically in worship.
This self-proclaimed "ragamuffin soul," who has been plugged in with several big-name churches over the course of the last decade, feels his mission is simple: "To ignite a movement of authenticity among all generations of Christians that morphs the face of the evangelical church into a place of being real with yourself, others, and God."
"Real" pretty much sums it up. Known mostly for his willingness to rock the boat with his open-minded opinions and unapologetic views on Christian clichés, Carlos' political incorrectness is what makes him a fascinating communicator. More than that though, it's what makes him such a vulnerable artist and authentic songwriter.
His latest release with The Paradigm Collective, Fight, is aptly titled. The theme of the album revolves around the spiritual battles we're faced with every day: battles for our minds, attention, energy and souls, all coming back to the understanding that God Himself fights for us, regardless of what turmoil we're confronted with.
The opening track "New Song" sets the tone for the entire album. Ringing with retro 1980s pop perfection, it still holds an uplifting congregational worship feel. The song segues nicely into "Sing," which still carries the same style, melodically, but with a more contemporary radio-friendly twist.
"Fight" is a firm worshipful anthem declaring our authority in the name of Jesus, and with one heck of an earworm chorus, stands out as the best track on the album: "Fight, fight, I know I'm gonna make it / My life is Yours, you can take it / I march for the army of light and I'm living for the glory of Jesus Christ."
The bubbly techno tunes are taken down a few notches with "You Bought Me," a true gem of a songwriting moment. A close, prayerful reflection opens the building song as the lyrics go on to cry throughout: "On that day, You made a way / The day You bought me, You bought me / I was broken and dead and used / But still, You bought me, You bought me."
"What Can Wash" is an enjoyable, modern spin on the classic hymn "Nothing But The Blood," while "You Made A Way" changes the musical tone of the album drastically, giving a nod to acoustic pop with a lighthearted feel. It sounds closer to Carlos' past work, which fans of his last album will enjoy, as well as leading new fans into a passionate time of praise.
The colorfully vibrant "Love" breaks out of the gate on a sweeping note, and shares the beautiful message that we as believers have the chance to bring a little bit of Heaven to earth when we choose to live as an example of Christ's love.
"In The Arms" provides more sonic ear candy, while still keeping the reverent feel of the album going. It sounds like a tune fellow Paradigm Collective label mates The Royal Royal would record. I can imagine it will go over splendidly in a live setting.
The last new song on the album, "Don't Give Up," reveals itself as yet another songwriting highlight. The tender lyrics recall the gracious transformation God has made and continues to make in all of our lives. It again swings more on the lines of guitar driven pop, similar to the likes of late 2000s Hillsong United, and displays Carlos' strong suit for this style of music.
An acoustic version of the previous "In The Arms" concludes the album. It sounds like a completely different song with a majority of the production stripped away, and went from what I assumed would be a weak filler track, to a better attempt than the original.
Carlos Whittaker's Fight is one of the most unique worship albums I've heard in some time. This isn't your average Sunday morning praise and worship; it is a full-on musical experience that possesses passion in every track, leading the listener to a personal place of looking to Jesus through the various struggles they're facing.
Musically, while I applaud his effort to bring something fresh to the table, each track tends to blend into the next and sound the same after awhile. I'd like to see more diversity come the next effort, especially in the arena of acoustic pop, where he more than proves himself.
While it might not be a "knockout punch" in a musical sense, the triumphant lyrics are what take center stage. The worshipful core is never lost, and Carlos does a fantastic job of not only displaying the greatness of the God we serve, but the beauty of what it could look like if we truly walked knowing He has already sealed our victory.
Song To Download:
"Fight" (Get it on iTunes here
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