Facedown – Matt Redman
I was recently sat in my favourite burger establishment with my wife when we realised that it’s becoming a little uncomfortable there. Turns out that we go waaaaaay too often. You know that things are bad when you are pretty much best buds with the staff. We’re long past being on first -name turns. We walk in and they give us a little nod which we return in kind. Then we chat about our day and what we’ve been up to since we were last in there (this is usually approximately 36 hours previous).
Anyhoo, something marvellous happened on our last visit. We took in a voucher which entitled us to a burger and a drink for a discount price. When our meal came, it included a whole heap of fries. I’m not talking about those short stack puny McFries – these are seriously chunky, gut-busting chips. Being a thoroughly good chap and not wanting to inadvertently steal from our best buds, I approach the desk and explain that we got some fries that we didn’t order, or pay for. She says that it was a mistake, but not to worry about it. She then refuses to take my money. Moments later she utters a statement that I’ve longed to have said to me in any food related establishment.
“It’s on the house”.
Truth is that everyone loves getting something extra. A brucey bonus, if you will. Well, good news readers: you are about to partake in a bonus review.
This is not just a review of Matt Redman’s album, Facedown, but it is likewise a review of his DVD which, rather cunningly (and conveniently), is also entitled Facedown.
Before you congratulate yourself too vigorously, I should point out that the track list is almost identical (there is a golden-oldie added to the DVD). There are, however, additional features to the DVD, but I will return to this in good time.
First off, let’s start with what they have in common, the music.
There are thirteen tracks and let me state my position immediately. Not only is this the best live worship album that you can buy, it is also Matt Redman’s best album. Now, there may be some that would quibble with this statement and question its validity. However, those folks are wrong.
It may be a live album, but the sound quality is easily comparable with a studio album, in fact it is produced to a much higher quality than many Christian studio releases. This is helped greatly by the inclusion of Tree63 guitarist, the always excellent Jon Ellis. Every track is performed to a magnificent standard and the benefit of the live recording is that you get to see these worship songs perform the function for which they were crafted, to lead us in worshiping and giving glory to King Jesus.
The album begins on a high with one of my favourite worship songs, Praise Awaits You. From the soaring guitar riff to the anthemic chorus, this is a fantastic song with which to open an album. Other notable songs are the tremendous Nothing but the Blood, the second verse of which magnificently captures the wonder of the cross.
Your cross testifies in grace
Tells of the Father’s heart to make a way for us
Now boldly we approach
Not by earthly confidence
It’s only by Your blood
It is a little unfair, however, to point out the “stand out” tracks as everything, with the partial exception of the spontaneous Lead us up the mountain (which is still pretty good), is excellent. From Worthy, You are Worthy to the achingly beautiful Facedown the songs are not simply well-crafted and melodically interesting, but lyrically powerful.
Two other songs are of special note. Firstly, Dancing Generation is truly unique. There are a many praise songs which are lively and “dance” orientated. They’d be the fast paced tracks that you’d tend to pull out for a large congregation. Oftentimes, these songs aren’t particularly deep, but convey a simple gospel message in simple terms. Tim Hughes’ Joy is in this Place and Matt Redman’s own Undignified would most likely fall into this bracket as would the classic Lord of the Dance which contained that gem of a line “Get in the Holy Ghost”.
However, despite Dancing Generation being a fast, frantic song, there is a depth and profundity uncommon in such exuberant, high-energy songs (there is a pleasing absence of “la-las”, “na-nas” and “tra-la-las”). Dancing Generation focuses on the sheer mercy of God displayed towards unworthy sinners like you and I and understands that worship is then a heart response of gratitude in the light of such grace and mercy:
For it’s the overflow of a forgiven soul
and now we’ve seen you, Lord
our hearts cannot stay silent
The last song I’d like to highlight is Breathing the Breath.
From purely a musical point of view, this song is interesting: from the simple piano intro to the distinctive and delicate melody reaching a crescendo with the powerfully insistent repeating phrase, “We are breathing the breath that you gave us to breathe”. The first time I heard this song, I was wowed. The simplicity of the musical setting somehow underscores the profundity of the lyrics and results in a heart-rending worshipful heart-response to a Creator God who is at work and intimately involved with all that he has made.
However, it was on hearing Louie Giglio’s sermon on the DVD which spoke about the meaning of the song, of God breathing life into Adam in Eden, that I was blown away. It brings a whole new dimension to the song and the more I hear it, the more I am convinced that this is Redman’s finest song to date – which is a statement indeed.
Which brings me nicely onto the DVD.
Ok, briefly, the DVD contains the same songs as the CD (less the spontaneous, “Lead us up the Mountain”), which is nice, and also the “bonus track”, Heart of Worship (which is probably Redman’s most well-known song).
As the live footage is filmed at worship conference, the setting is intimate and the filming “feels” sensative and unintrusive. Such is the setting and the skill with which the DVD is pulled together, I personally favour watching the DVD over listening to the CD.
In addition, the bonus features of the DVD are terrific. Overall there is close to 4 hours of content. Apart from the live worship, it contains three excellent sermons from Louie Giglio given at the Facedown conference. The first of these sermons contains the section about Breathing the Breath and given a choice between the CD and the DVD, the sheer volume of content on the DVD makes it a no-brainer.
However, like I said – this is the review that keeps on giving. I have searched high and low (by that I mean that I performed a simple google search) and have found a fantastic CD & DVD bundle package here
To be honest, I’m not quite sure why you are still reading this. By now you should have clicked the link above, or headed out to your nearest retailer, to buy Facedown. That way you should either be watching it right now or sat by your letterbox with a sleeping bag and a flask of hot Vimto, waiting for the postman to deliver it.