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Many Streams in One River
Posted June 22, 2012
By MarcusHathcock_NRT,

Vineyard Music, long known for their cutting edge worship releases, has unveiled Cultivation Generation: My Foundation--an album recorded at a youth conference last year in Vancouver, Wash. 
"Basically, this is just a bunch of young people who are goin' for it for Jesus," said Jeremiah Carlson, who heads up the Cultivation Generation ministry when he's not busy fronting the up-and-coming folk-rock-worship band, The Neverclaim. "We wanted to capture the amazing things God is doing in that ministry."
With the success of bands like Hillsong United, Parachute Band and Desperation Band, live youth worship albums have almost become formulaic, featuring high energy rock at the beginning, deep introspective worshipful ballads in the middle, and anthemic calls to action at the end. 
"My Soul Longs" instantly caught me off guard, as I didn't expect a youth event live worship album to open with anything other than pounding drums, mass distortion on electric guitars and crafty solo licks. Instead, Carlson and The Neverclaim provide a Southern folk-inspired cry for God's presence. 
Not only does Cultivation Generation do away with the aformentioned youth worship album formula (as have recent releases from United and Parachute Band, to be fair)--they've essentially assembled an eclectic collection of what feels like three different albums interspersed. 
Carlson and Co. provide the highlights of the album, with both "My Soul Longs" and the cornerstone of the entire album, "The Bridegroom." It's a powerful, worshipful moment, and one that seems to elicit the most crowd response as The Neverclaim passionately declares, "Behold the Bridegroom who's dressed up in pure white / And His body bears the marks of an eternal love / On his hands, feet and His side / And we're the Bride!" (Check out my "Track Obsession" column on the song to learn more about it.)
Kevin Prosch's "They That Wait On the Lord" is a fitting bookend to The Neverclaim's "My Soul Longs," both stylistically and thematically. Another Southern-influenced worship leader, Prosch ends the album with an answer to the declaration of longing for Jesus ("My Soul Longs"), declaring powerfully the strength that comes to those who wait on the Lord. 
"Love Has Come, Love Has Won" is lead by Jesse Meyer, and carries a contemporary worship rock sound similar to Desperation Band or Kristian Stanfill. "How great was the cost so that we could be called redeemed / How great was the work when you rose victoriously!" rings out the bridge--a very powerful refrain, indeed.
Later in the album, Meyer leads another song, "Your Kingdom's Here (All My Life)," which maintains the uptempo Desperation/Stanfill vibe. Gang vocals singing out a sustained "oh!" provides the foundation for the happy celebration of the freedom we currently have in Christ: "Now I'm dancing, dancing with joy from Heaven, Heaven!"
Probably the weakest track on the album is the seemingly misplaced "God Don't Never Change" by David Linhart. This is the only Gospel-flavored track on the album (complete with rap bridge), and it seems to come out of nowhere, interrupting the vibe previously established by the first two tracks (and all the ones thereafter). It seems to me that Linhart needs his own album, or needs to find his way onto a different compilation, as this one seems mismatched to the rest of Cultivation Generation.
Worship leader Anabeth Morgan provides some of the more tender moments on the album, reminiscent of a younger Darlene Zschech of Hillsong. The title track, "My Foundation (Found In You)" and "Worthy" are subdued, deep, flowing moments of praise with acoustic guitar and Morgan's pure vocals buttressing the tenderness. There's an old-school feeling to these songs, but style certainly takes a backseat to the powerful lyrics and anointing of the moment. "Worthy" declares: "May the story of my life, through the struggle and the fight honor Your name / I give all that I am, ‘cause you gave everything!"
"Let it Shine," led by Stephen Lampert, sounds like a Matt Maher folk-contemporary worship song, that sings, "We have traveled far... But even from afar, we see Your light / Let it shine on us." The track "Life to Us"--featuring David Linhart and James Moscardini--provides a more laid-back, indie-folk vibe about how we can't live on bread alone, but by every word of God.

Best Track:

"The Bridegroom" (Track 6) - Download Now from iTunes
Closing Thoughts:
Cultivation Generation: My Foundation is more like a great worship sampler album than a continuous worship experience--and that's not a bad thing. There's a good mix of congregational worship, artful refrains, tender praise and exuberant anthems. Led by Carlson and The Neverclaim, there's certainly a level of professionalism and polish with this recording--almost to the point where you forget you're listening to a live album.
I think I'd like to experience more of the live element of the gathering--hearing the crowd sing more, hearing more of their response to what God's doing. But from just a musical standpoint, the tracks are solid, and there are certainly some gems in there for the Church at large. Cultivation Generation is a worship movement clearly on the rise, and I can't wait to see what they do for the next step of their development.

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