|Shaun Groves [Third World Symphony] | Posted August 30, 2011
Shaun Groves has returned with his fourth studio release, Third World Symphony, on August 30 at digital retailers nationwide. The singer/songwriter’s newest music was generated from his global travel and work with Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults in 26 countries. The journey that produced Third World Symphony started with a single trip to El Salvador, where Groves traveled to visit Yanci, one of four children his family sponsors. Compelled to act, Groves and his family simplified their lifestyle in order to give more and he hit the road, speaking about justice and mercy and releasing children from poverty. A poignant experience during a trip with ministers in Ethiopia led to the decision to create new music. “My music is not as weighty as the lives these people had lived,” confesses Groves.“I realized how much the third world was teaching me. That’s where the idea for this record started.”
GRAMMY® Award Winning producer Mitch Dane teamed up with Groves for his newest project, which is his first studio album in six years. “Musically and lyrically it’s different than the things I’ve done in the past,” explains Groves. “Fewer ‘Me’ and ‘I’ lyrics, a lot of ‘We’ and ‘Us’ lyrics.” It is a testament to Groves the songwriter that he can make that concept as accessible as a moving four-minute song. Great examples are found in the stand-out songs “All Is Grace,” “Come By Here,” “Kingdom Coming,” “I’ve Got You” and “Down Here.” In typical Shaun Groves fashion, he opens with a track that completely expresses the Truth of the Gospel with “All Is Grace.” The song really sets the tone for the album with the call to action—“You have loved us all, so we love all.” “Come By Here” takes it up a notch and honestly addresses the reality of the struggle in the third world with the compelling lyrics—“The widows need life to raise the dead and all the beggars plead for their daily bread.” You can’t help but want to reach out and be the Kingdom of God on earth as beautifully expressed in “Kingdom Coming,” with these prayerful lyrics “Let it come in us, Let it come through us. Oh, God what do we pray down here, Your kingdom coming.” Amen. I find myself raising my hands in worship after those opening tracks, and then I’m compelled to reach out horizontally to help show others the love of Jesus.
I can’t get enough of Shaun’s emotional ballad “I’ve Got You” where he lays out his need for Jesus similar to “Here I Am” and “Need You More,” two of my favorite prayer-songs by Shaun. “Enough” speaks to the tension of living in plenty after witnessing poverty with these great lyrics—“Please don’t give me wealth or poverty, but God I only ask for enough.” “No Better” is a humble song of confession set to a surprising banjo melody. “Down Here” is the stand-out “gourmet” song on the album and identifies the need for social justice in the here and now with Shaun emotionally singing “What in this life ain’t passing? Big deals and beggars end in ashes, all go from cradle to casket, down here.” The song shifts to the Gospel of salvation—“Up there, The One who has no start and no goodbye, The One who mourns our fall and hears our cry.” The song ends with the merge of our earthly Kingdom of God on earth and our eternity with God in Heaven—“to live with us and die for us, down here” along with a chorus of “Emmanuel, God with us.” I haven’t heard a song that convicting and emotionally stirring since “Blessings” by Laura Story. It is my new all-time favorite song by Shaun Groves. The album ends with a powerful arrangement of the hymn “Just As I Am,” which declares that we are all wounded and in need of the Lamb of God.
I love albums that have a consistent message and theme and that move me emotionally, such as Ocean by Bebo Norman, See You by Josh Wilson and Leaving Eden by Brandon Heath. In fact, if you like those albums, then you must get Third World Symphony by Shaun Groves. This album grabs me with every song, is the best overall album by Shaun Groves and is one of the top albums of the year. There are no filler tracks, and this is truly a five star effort. The stand-out tracks are “All Is Grace,” “Come By Here,” “Kingdom Coming,” “I’ve Got You” and “Down Here.” Shaun had me at “Welcome Home,” and this album is an amazing return from one of my first loves in Christian music. Shaun has always had a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually and expressing the prayerful yearnings of my heart. This album is no exception as I get welled up praying along with several of the songs and most of all, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That’s the heart behind this album, and thank you Shaun for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God.
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