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Powerful Standouts
Posted September 15, 2017
By jaysmusikblog, Staff Reviewer

Southlake, Texas based Gateway Worship has been bringing us live worship albums ever since 2006. The Gateway Church team, including Kari Jobe and her husband Cody Carnes, has consistently brought us stellar worship hits including "The More I Seek You," "Oh the Blood," "Stay Amazed" and (perhaps their most popular) "Revelation Song." After five successful live worship albums, Gateway brings us an all-new album titled Monuments

Monuments is brought to us by the Gateway collective, featuring worship led on multiple Gateway campuses. It also introduces listeners to a new generation of worship leaders along with a fresh sound aimed at a younger audience. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mark Harris, formerly of 4Him (and later a solo artist) leads the talented collective. 

Cole Novak leads the opening track "Open the Heavens." Speaking about a deep hunger for more of God, it is filled with synthesizers and strong techno beats. Though I at first felt it was a bit typical, higher volume definitely helps to appreciate the fullness of this track. Title track "Monuments" follows nicely with a similar tempo, led by Mark Harris. Mark's smooth vocals stand out here, as do the creative lyrics that remind us that God's fulfilled promises and even we ourselves are monuments that testify of His goodness. 

"It is Finished" by Matt Birkenfeld follows on a slower note. A beautiful description of what Jesus has done for us, the track builds nicely throughout. Its highlight is the powerful bridge, where Matt's fantastic vocals sing "At the cross You took my place / You traded death so I can live again." 

My personal favorite track off this album was brought to us by Anna Byrd. Anna has been with Gateway Worship for a while, but also sang background vocals for Kari Jobe on the phenomenal Majestic album. Here with "Precious Jesus," Anna's flawless vocals are stunning, and she sounds much like Kari. Anna powerfully declares her love for Jesus, using the refrain of "Tis' So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" as the bridge. Although there are many good songs on this Monuments album, "Precious Jesus" is in my opinion a real treasure and the best track here. 

Matt appears next with his second track "I Am Found, I Am Free." Beginning with a nice piano that sets the tempo, this contemporary track is soothing, inviting the listener to bask in the finished work of Christ that sets us free. The song's powerful bridge declares over and over "I lift my hands to glory" and builds strongly from there.

An electric dance/pop track follows next, led by Maddison Harris. Imagine Hillsong Young & Free and you have "For All My Days," a celebration of God's faithfulness throughout all our lives. Lauren Dunn brings us "Living Water," another of my personal favorite tracks. Lauren's vocals are phenomenal, similar to Lauren Daigle as she passionately cries out for more of God. She asks, "Water of life, what if I said I was thirsty?" and asks Jesus to fill us all up. The song is full and beautiful, containing anticipation especially in its bridge when the Gateway Worship team cries out together, "pour Your glory down!"

Sounding hymn-like with its poetic lyrics and light acoustic guitar tempo, "My Only Hope" is led by Austin Benjamin. Based strongly on Psalm 23, "Won My Heart" by Levi Smith is a soft acoustic track with beautiful piano mixed in, also containing a nice swing tempo. With nice vibrato, Mark Harris brings "Have Your Way," a smooth song that invites Jesus to come do whatever He wants. 

Closing the Monuments album is "Let My Soul" and "Wilderness," two more of my personal favorites on the album. "Let My Soul," Lauren Dunn's second appearance on the album, is a beautiful song of gratitude for God's immeasurable goodness to us, complete with strings. In the stunning bridge, Lauren wonderfully sings "With every breath in me / With creation I will sing / For all eternity, praise the Lord."

Anna Byrd closes the album with the tranquil "Wilderness." Anna beautifully sings of our confusion with being in the wilderness where we can't feel God or see what He is doing, but rather than asking the "why" questions, this song is a prayer that we choose to trust in God, "cause even in the wilderness You won't let go." 

The Bottom Line: Gateway's Monuments is definitely a good worship album for those looking for new music to play during their quiet time with God. While all songs on this album are good and grew richer with each listen, there are several that stand out high above the rest. These standout songs--"Precious Jesus," "Wilderness," "Living Water" and "Let My Soul"--are above-standard worship tracks that have such a depth and tranquility to them, causing the listener to be able to relax in God's love and presence. 

Song to Download Now
"Precious Jesus" (Get it on iTunes here.)

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