Monday, November 19, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: THIS IS LOVE (A Worship Collective)

This Is Love 
(A Worship Collective) 

I've been reviewing independent 
rock records for the last 15 years.
Along the way, I've been sent some
real crap. However, occasionally, I
receive records that contain such
great songs and are so well-
performed and well-produced
that they truly warrant exposure.
But never before has an indie
release crossed my path that
literally can change lives.

Yes, Florida's scene is alive and well — but its most powerful music is  not playing out on the stages of smoke-filled beer joints...

Produced by Chris Johnson and Keith Alderman, This Is Love was captured live in concert during a five-night run last summer at East Coast Christian Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

Featuring performances from 27 supremely talented singers and musicians from ECCC, this colossal two-disc set delivers nearly two hours of original tunes mixed with well-known Praise and Worship favorites.

This Is Love producer, Chris Johnson

"Most of these songs center
around the theme of God's
indescribable love."
-Chris Johnson

This Is Love opens with the record's high-energy title track — an original tune written by Johnson, along with  Amanda Walker and Jonathan Walling — it also serves as one of the record's mightiest nuggets. "Dance" and the rousing remake of the Jesus Culture gem, "Father of Lights" complete a monstrous kick-off hat trick.

The revised arrangement of the Horatio Spafford hymn,  "It Is Well," features a full choir and Lou Rawls-like solo from Femi Howard — making for a truly magnificent, "WOW" moment.

Singer / songwriter, Amanda Walker
"This album is birthed out of a
deep and lasting adoration to
God. We pray that people are
blessed and refreshed through it."
-Jonathan Walling

Other highlights include a medley of the Johnson / Walker / Shattuck-penned, "Oh My Soul" and "Sins are Stones" by Mark McMillan as well as the re-vamped version of Daniel Bashta's "Like a Lion" — the "Sweet Home Alabama" of the Praise and Worship scene.

But for me, THE crowning jewel of this 17-song collection is without question, "Be Still." Written by Chris and Leigh Ann Johnson, "Be Still" shines brightly through its delicate, less-is-more presentation. The magical union of Johnson's lead vocal with Walker's back-up harmony is absolutely chilling. And Bill Munsey's ambient cello work makes for perfect garnish, juxtaposed with  Johnson's piano work.

This Is Love production team.
This is real love — not that
we loved God, but that he
loved us and sent his Son as a
sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 4:10 (NLT)

The record ends  with "So Holy," also written by Johnson. Starting and finishing  as a solemn guitar / vocal ballad, the song takes us on an eight-minute journey filled with soaring guitar work and a power-vocal avalanche from Johnson and Walker. Now, this one truly is destined to become a Praise and Worship classic.

The talented musicians involved in this project are just too numerous to mention here. However, major props must be extended to Keith Alderman. Also known for his past involvement with the popular national touring group, Classic Albums Live, Keith engineered and mastered  the record. He  also provided keyboard work and created various beat and loop programs.

Musician and record engineer, Keith Alderman
This Is Love officially will be released on November 24th. It will be available in the traditional CD format for $12 as well as through iTunes for $9.99. To order a hard copy, contact the East Coast Christian Center office @ (321) 452-1060 or click on the This Is Love icon on the homepage.

-Christopher Long
(November 2012)

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