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Worship Album in Disguise
Posted July 08, 2016
By PhillFeltham_NRT, Staff Reviewer

What is the difference between a worship project and an acoustic collection? The answer is subjective. To me, "acoustic" or "unplugged," means no electric guitar, as well as minimal production and orchestration. An unplugged performance involves only acoustic instruments (think of an acoustic guitar, a keyboard and vocals) and a microphone. When I think acoustic, I think of Eric Clapton's 1992 Unplugged album or Bryan Adams's 1997 MTV Unplugged collection.

A live worship project, on the other hand, is similar to Sunday morning worship. Worship bands such as Hillsong United, Bethel and Jesus Culture play music live with many instruments. Production, electric instruments and orchestration are part of the worship experience. Audience involvement-- clapping and singing along-- is also part of a worship project's DNA. 

Recently, Jesus Culture released Let it Echo: Unplugged (Live), which sounds more like a worship project than a traditional acoustic album. The tracks on this collection are alternate versions from the band's full-length worship project Let it Echo, released earlier in the year.

"Fierce" is the standout song on the album. In a video interview about "Fierce," Quilala said "I wrote this song, 'Fierce,' with a couple of friends; I wanted to write a song that sort of painted a picture of God's pursuit for us. The word fierce is a heart-felt powerful intensity. For this song, the word fierce is a description of God's relentless pursuit after us." 

Chris Quilala's quality vocals praise God's name with such passion that worshipers are compelled to raise their hands in worship: "Like a tidal wave / Crashing over me / Rushing in to meet me here / Your love is fierce / Like a hurricane / That I can't escape / Tearing through the atmosphere / Your love is fierce." Quilala's vocals can also be heard on the piano-led track "Let It Echo (Heaven Fall)."

"God With Us" is the other standout, led by Bryan Torwalt. This song definitely feels more like an unplugged piece-- acoustic guitars, intimate vocals, minimal clapping and an organic sound. "Where there was death, You brought life, Lord / Where there was fear, You brought courage / When I was afraid, You were with me." The original version of the song, also from Jesus Culture's full-length worship album, has more production and instrumentation. Both versions provide an intimacy that invites the listener to become closer with the Savior in praise and worship.

Jesus Culture veteran Kim Walker-Smith contributes her powerful, grainy vocals to three of the seven tracks on Let it Echo: Unplugged (Live): "Alive in You," "In the River" and the album opener, "Never Gonna Stop Singing." While each track is a great listen, they do not quite compare to her memorable performance on "Rooftops," a favorite from Jesus Culture's 2010 worship project Come Away (Live)

The Bottom Line: For listeners who enjoy shorter worship anthems, Let it Echo: Unplugged (Live) is for you. Of the seven tracks, only three songs are over five minutes in length. In each song, Jesus Culture does not disappoint in praising Jesus Christ, the one who gave us a direct gateway to the Father.

Songs to Download Now: 
"Fierce" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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