|Back to the Start | Posted April 04, 2013
Martin Smith is no newcomer. You know him as the former frontman of the British group Delirious? who brought us classic worship anthems like "Majesty", "Rain Down", and "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever."
In November 2009, after 17 years of touring, Smith and Delirious? bid the world stage farewell. Instead, perhaps Smith should have said, "Be seeing you." For though Smith didn't necessarily premeditate a comeback, God is clearly not finished with him. And since gifted songwriters generally continue to find inspiration, it's not surprising that we are now welcoming him back.
Smith's journey back into music has been gradual. Starting in 2012, he independently released--one at a time-- four EPs each containing four new songs, all bearing the title God's Great Dance Floor. The EPs were subtitled Movement One through Movement Four. The songs from these EPs are now seeing wider distribution with the release of God's Great Dance Floor, Step 01, and coming in October, God's Great Dance Floor, Step 02. God's Great Dance Floor, Step 01 is comprised of the combined songs from Movements One and Two, plus two new recordings.
Press play, and "Awake My Soul" kicks straight in, with a stirring vocal, heavy beats, drum loops and other programmed sounds, and even glockenspiel for a little added brightness. Cowritten with Chris Tomlin and Rend Collective Experiment, the number--about the need for a revival of the soul--is as energetic as you'd expect, and Smith's voice is passionate as he sings, "‘Cause I'm looking for a fire / So reignite this flame / Come resurrect me Jesus / Come raise the dead again."
The energy spills over into the similarly focused "Fire Never Sleeps," which may be familiar as it was the opening track on the recently released live worship set Jesus Culture with Martin Smith: Live From New York (or you may know it from Audio Adrenaline's cover on Kings & Queens). Smith asks God to refine his heart, to "burn away the darkness / Cause love is like a furnace / Where Your fire never sleeps." Bursting with the guitar-driven U2-like sound for which Delirious? was known and loved, this song will bring you to your feet, and you'll find yourself singing along on the chorus.
Next up is "Back to the Start (God's Great Dance Floor)." (This is not the song that you've heard on Chris Tomlin's record – that will come on Smith's upcoming fall release, God's Great Dance Floor, Step 02.) A song about a prodigal's homecoming, this is the thematic centerpiece of the record. The six-minute song begins as a meditative prayer with plenty of open musical space. But just as the prodigal eventually broke into a run, the music shifts and morphs into a full-blown, uptempo, electronic dance number, complete with horn section. When Smith sings, "I come alive on God's great dance floor," you don't doubt his fervor. And if you aren't giddy enough to shake your tail feathers, you might want to check your pulse.
One of four songs cowritten with Chris Tomlin, "Waiting Here For You," performed as a duet, ushers in a quieter interlude. The track is about waiting on God in faith, with great expectation. Beautifully poignant "You Carry Me," written for a friend who lost her husband, begins with a piano playing over the sound of lapping waves. Smith's powerfully emotive and soulful vocals highlight some of the album's best lyrics while complementing the melodic piano riff. This piece is transcendent, and will transport you into Jesus' arms. "Safe In Your Arms," which takes inspiration from Psalm 23, begins as a guitar ballad but gradually builds into a slow-burning worship gem.
The first of two new additions, "Jesus of Nazareth," is an irresistible toe-tapper containing ganjo (5 string banjo), stomps, and clamps, a collectively sung chorus, and an infectious energy. This instant favorite departs from its countrified romp to end in an explosion of rock guitar.
"Soldiers" is one of the most melodic pieces I've heard, written with a desire to spur believers on toward a faith that more actively pursues justice. The refrain, "Onward Christian soldiers / We're laying down our lives / We're lifting Jesus high," will stick in your head to resurface later. Think of it as an earworm with a purpose.
Vulnerable "Catch Every Teardrop," is based on Psalm 56 and Smith's own brush with mortality when a serious car accident became a defining moment as he choose to dedicate his life to music that uplifted God's name. It's a beautiful song about redemption, healing, and God's steadfast love.
The album comes to a close with the final new number, another tune penned with Tomlin, "Shepherd Boy." Tomlin fans will have heard it as the concluding track on Tomlin's Burning Lights. Another song that began contemplatively, sparks into a grand finale, and ends with Smith's passionate declaration, "Love is a fire...love is a fire." Thank you, Martin, for helping us keep our lamps burning.
Delirious? fans will be pleased to hear much on this record that feels like home. Smith approaches the material with a rekindled enthusiasm that suggests he is only getting started on this new musical journey.
Now planted happily in Brighton, rather than relying on studio musicians, he looked to youthful musicians from his St. Peter's Church home (the same church attended by Matt Redman). The result is a sound that's a little edgier, a little more raw, a little more human, and one that is fueled by a contagious spirit. Listeners new and old will find refuge here, but will also come away joyful and invigorated. You'll dance, sing, shout, cry, and above all, you'll give thanks to a loving God who catches us all.
Song to Download Now:
"Jesus of Nazareth" (Get it on iTunes here
Comments (0) | Add Comment | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No