Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuart Townend: The Journey Review

Modern hymn writer Stuart Townend (writer of such beloved hymns as “In Christ Alone,” “The Power of the Cross,” “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” and more) is back with his eighth studio album The Journey. This thirteen-track worship album is a unique one, as the UK artist delivers an enjoyable folk album, with an occasional Celtic-sounding track.

After “Call to Worship,” a twenty-seven-second track composed of ringing church bells opens The Journey, “Oh My Soul” follows as the official first track. Speaking of living our lives to praise the Lord, the instrumentals after each verse were very enjoyable, as was Stuart’s deep and soothing voice that matched the tracks perfectly. “By Faith,” although slower, sounds almost identical to its preceding track, and will immediately remind the listener of Hebrews 11, with its lyrics of what faith really is. It also states that “we will walk by faith and not by sight.”

“Vagabonds” has a Celtic feel to it, speaking of coming and finding rest in Jesus, and is followed by “The Man Who Calmed the Sea.” A duet between Stuart, and folk artist Ruth Notman, the harmonies in this guitar-picking track were outstanding. A little faster, but still staying on the slower side of things, comes Stuart’s rendition of “It Is Well With My Soul,” which proved to be successful. I enjoyed hearing a never-before-heard folk rendition of this hymn, actually with a similar, but different melody as well. The timeless track “The Perfect Wisdom” is composed mostly of piano, but also has some beautiful strings as well.

“Kyrie Eleison” is a bit confusing, till you learn that this is actually the Greek translation of “Lord.” Based on 1 John 1:9, it is a cry to God for mercy and forgiveness of sins. It also keeps things a bit on the slower side of things. “Simple Living” sounds too similar to “Oh My Soul” in my opinion, but interestingly, is sung entirely by Ruth Notman, rather than Stuart Townend, making for an interesting change. As its name implies, the track is a prayer that we would be Christ-centered, and not be focused on the things of the earth. I very much enjoyed the instrumentals that made this track very full, especially at its ending.

“Everlasting Love,” more contemporary than folk, speaks of the everlasting love that Jesus has given us, and prays that this everlasting hope would be our hope and our guide through life. Things speed up with “You Rescued Us,” which stands out for its overpowering drums, and deep lyrics of how God rescued us from the darkness and translated us into the light.

“Never Failing Love,” based on 1 Corinthians 13, has a classic old-age sound to it, composed of horns, guitar, and piano in this slower track. “Christ Be In My Walking” ends The Journey on a slower note, with beautiful strings and piano, speaking of walking with Christ and reflecting Him in whatever we do. This track really seemed to sum up the message of The Journey, closing it on a great note.

Stuart Townend definitely has been on a journey for quite some time now, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down with the release of his eighth studio project The Journey. The UK artist delivers a unique folk album with a bit of a Celtic twist, containing amazing lyrics, harmonies, and instrumentals. If you’re a fan of folk, or if you simply want something different to listen to, this project just might be for you!

Rating: 4/5
Release date: June 21, 2011

Track listing:
1. Call to Worship
2. O My Soul
3. By Faith
4. Vagabonds
5. The Man Who Calmed the Sea
6. It Is Well With My Soul
7. The Perfect Wisdom
8. Kyrie Eleison (Lord)
9. Simple Living
10. Everlasting Love
11. You Rescued Us
12. Never Failing Love
13. Christ Be In My Walking

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