Beautiful News – Matt Redman
Ba da ba da de… What, you may ask, is that melodious but slightly disquieting noise? That, my friend, is the sound of me humming a refrain from Matt Redman’s latest (but no longer new) studio album, Beautiful News. You see, Beautiful News is best described by the musical (and technical) term ‘poptastic’.
This is important, because although I greatly admire and respect Matt Redman as a worship leader and songwriter, his studio albums have never quite captured the vibrancy and energy of the live congregational worship setting of, say, Facedown, the early Soul Survivor live albums and the recent Passion offerings. It is not that the studio albums have been poor, but they have been a little understated for my tastes (I am into ’90’s grunge rock, after all).
This is not the case with Beautiful News. The first thing to note is the production: much of the album is guitar driven and the sound is rich and raw. The richness is largely a result of John Ellis’ (of Tree63 fame) densely layered guitar work. The title track is a case in point; the signature riff waxes, surges and crescendos into the bridge. Similarly Shine and All Over the World are enhanced by big guitars and big choruses which leads me into my second point.
Matt Redman is perhaps the most gifted songwriter of congregational worship songs of his generation and has blessed the church with songs like, Heart of Worship, Blessed be Your Name, Facedown, Lord Let Your Glory Fall, among others. It is on the song writing front that Beautiful News really excels. Redman’s gift is focused on writing timely, distinctive and yet congregational songs. If I think back to the first time I sang Heart of Worship or Blessed be Your Name, I was struck by the originality of the lyric in as much as few other songwriters were producing that kind of song. There is also a prophetic element to Redman’s songwriting, when, as a church, we sang Facedown for the first time, it felt as if it were our song, expressing our genuine heart-cry to God.
The skillfully crafted pop anthems of the title track, All Over the World and Shine are brilliantly counterbalanced by the beautiful and understated Yes and Amen and the stirring You Never Let Go. The refrain, ‘I’m alive, I’m alive’ on Thank You for Healing Me‘ is another highlight.
Other than the misstep Kaiser Chief refrain on Take It To The Streets and the filler-lite, A Greater Song this is a near flawless album which melds worship with a 21st Century pop sensibility.
The real testing ground for this collection of songs, however, is the local church. We have been singing Beautiful News, You Never Let Go and All Over the World at Firwood Church for some time now and they have begun, like all great congregational worship songs, to take on a life of their own. No longer do they feel like Matt Redman songs, but rather songs which express our thanksgiving, praise and gratitude to King Jesus. And ultimately, this is the end of any worship song: to lead the people of God in the praises of God. This album is packed with songs that do just that.
To buy Beautiful News, click here.