A Multifaceted Experience
Posted July 17, 2014
By MarcusHathcock_NRT, Staff Reviewer
One of the largest, most prominent churches in the Dallas area, Covenant Church has had a robust and talented roster of worship leaders for some time now. The four-campus, multicultural church has enjoyed several other releases from its worship team--fronted by senior worship pastors David and Nicole Binion--but with their latest live album, Kingdom, they're looking to take things up a notch.
They put themselves on good footing for power-packed praise by enlisting the production and vocal talents of top-level worship artist Israel Houghton, whose flavor eclectic musical mixtures can be felt throughout the record.
Houghton's voice is a powerful addition to the Covenant team (as it certainly would be anywhere), and the worship leaders' unisoned, choral-type vocals shine the most when his stratospheric tenor soars above them. "Risen"--the standout track of the record--features pounding synths that propel Houghton's voice. Nicole Binion blends well with Houghton, and the vibe of the song is very celebratory (think Hillsong Young & Free). The message of Jesus' resurrection is a good one for Easter.
Israel's vocals also loom large and in charge on the other songs in which he's featured: "Can't Stop Singing" and "I Am Loved Medley." On "Can't Stop Singing," Houghton delivers a fun and declarative line: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, 'cause I can't stop shouting!"
On the other numbers, Nicole Binion's pure, Darlene Zschech-like vocals are a definite highlight, particularly on her two solo songs, "Here Waiting" and "First Loved Me." Nicole's voice (good enough in my opinion to be a Disney princess) evokes a lot of passion, and her delivery adequately matches the powerful messages of both songs. On "First Loved Me," I particularly like the line: "Your grace covered my shame and saw my need."
Stylistically, Covenant shows its multicultural makeup with its musical diversity. From the energetic, driving distortion guitars of opener "New Every Morning" to the driving Southern rock-influenced "Good to Me" to the Rend Collective-like Celtic jam of "Your Kingdom Knows No End," the band shows it won't shy away from any style, really.
Other great moments include the great refrain repeated in "Let the Name of Jesus Reign"--"Jesus reign, reign in our hearts, reign in our souls, you and you alone / Jesus reign in this place, with power and grace, let Your kingdom come"--as well as the atmospheric free-form praise by Nicole Binion at about 5 ½ minutes in "More, Holy Spirit."
Covenant Worship strikes a good balance between the choir-style worship vocals of the past (think Hillsong in the Darlene Zschech era), timeless Gospel sounds, and at times edgy modern musical arrangements, complete with gritty guitars and pounding synths.
Kingdom does a good job of capturing a live church atmosphere. I mean, you really feel like you're part of something live as you listen through. From the admonishments and encouragements of the worship leaders, to the free praise, to the massive vocals from the veritable choir of singers, Kingdom is less like a traditional worship album, and more of an experience of one particular, powerful night.
Song to Download Now:
"Risen" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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