The New Face Of Worship
Posted February 23, 2010
In an effort to focus their forward-thinking church music on an invitation to worship rather than the lead man's nomenclature, The Michael Gungor Band is now known as "Gungor." But it's only a reduction of name, not of personnel or production, as evidenced on their sophomore release.
Self-described as "liturgical post rock," Beautiful Things establishes the band as frontrunners in a new generation of worship music leaders, even in spite of Michael's steady foothold in the genre's recent history. He's co-authored the mega-worship hit "Friend of God" with gospel staple Israel Houghton, whose guest spot on "Heaven," a modern Motown jam, fits perfectly into Gungor's multifarious mix.
Referencing Sigur Ros-like creativity, Sufjan Stevens' instrumentation and the repetitive intensity that makes Matt Hales' (Aqualung) production so infectious, Michael's accessibly sweet vocal drives an eclectic psalm set musically distinctive from the Brit-Rock wash synonymous with "modern worship."
For instance, the title track's progressive energy is colorful enough to appease the dilettante but focused enough to pique a schooled indie hipster, evolving from a modest acoustic guitar to an all-out symphonic jam. "You Have Me" scripts a love song from the wayward to the Savior, prettied by a slow banjo and delicate string pizzicatos: "I've wandered Heaven's gates/I've made my bed in hell/You were there still//You have my heart," while "Cannot Keep You" explores the infinite mysteriousness of God, contending: "We cannot keep you in a church/We cannot keep you in a Bible . . .Who is like the Lord?"
"Please Be My Strength" beautifully beckons: "I pray your glory shines/Through this doubting heart of mine . . . Please be my strength/I don't have anymore," over a crackly guitar and droning mellotrone.
Self-produced in a home studio, Beautiful Things combines the bigness of a Coldplay show with the intimacy of an Iron & Wine recording, a beautiful juxtaposition that quietly lures the listener into the lyrics while prompting the body to move. Some tag this spiritual experience as some sort of musical "enlightenment." Others simply call it worship. -Andrew Greer
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CCMMagazine.com. Click here to visit CCMMagazine.com today!
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