A new full-length live album from the music ministry of the Dallas-area-based Covenant Church. Unconventionally recorded under the stars at a church retreat, Sand & Stars reveals a more organic, reflective sound with new songs drawn from scripture.
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A Full Worship Experience| Posted April 24, 2017
I had to get familiar with Covenant Worship's history, because sadly I wasn't in the know prior to listening to Sand and Stars. Of course God's timing is perfect; there's always the possibility that now is when the lesson would sink in and stick, so now is when we get to discover it.
The beginning invitation "Gate of Heaven" takes its name directly from Genesis 28:17, when Jacob dreams of a ladder of "Angels going up / angels coming down." It sets the tone for the entire album: "Surely the Lord is here / here in this place / as we worship."
"All Things" is the first track on the album to treat the listener to Nicole Binion's vocals. Other NRT reviewers have described them as "angelic" and "Darlene Zschech-like." I thought they were reminiscent of Celtic Women, and I love the ability to punch it up to evoke a lot of passion. "Back To The Father" takes a waltzy turn and employs the rich history of hymns with the outro, "Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling."
The tempo picks up in "Song of My Heart," "Love Has Overcome" and "Highest Praise." The drummer sounds like he is having fun in this mini-set, and we get a bit of a Rend Collective vibe. If you like a beat and want to get your blood moving, listen to these three.
The weakest and the strongest tracks on Sand and Stars are back to back. "Persuaded" has great lyrics and starts with a fine shuffle beat, but the instrumental prior to the bridge feels kitschy cowboy with the bass line. After that, we're back to fantastic with the title track "Sand and Stars."
Based on Scripture from Genesis and God's promise to Abraham, "Sand and Stars" builds, soars, creates anticipation and culminates in expressive praise to the Father who loves big and shows it to us in extravagance. This song is tender and powerful, a healing salve to hearts that are weary and worn: "From the dust, You breathed on us / Speaking hope and destiny / Love revealed, Your promises / Breathing life, to every dream." The lyrics remind us that we aren't forgotten. On the contrary, we're cherished, so deeply and so completely.
"All Honor" is dreamy, with a synth base and string and acoustic picking overlaid. It's a nice breath of praise and response after "Sand and Stars." It transitions seamlessly into the "Doxology," which honors the original and builds on it. The bridge reminds of Israel Houghton (who produced their 2014 album Kingdom).
The Bottom Line: Sand and Stars is a cohesive worship experience with an invitation, teaching, response and expressive praise. Covenant Worship has given an offering of encouragement to the body of Christ, encouraging the people of God to pursue His presence.
Song to Download Now:
"Sand and Stars" (Get it on iTunes here.)