Prime Cuts: Stand Up, Worth It All, Set Apart
"Set Apart" is the mouthpiece of the plebeian. What is most winsome about Worship Central's brand new live worship recording "Set Apart" is that it functions like many of the Psalms in Holy Writ. Articulating the heart cries of the ordinary Christian with concise perspicuity and never for once trivializing them, these are prayers offered to God in humble worship. Thus, when Worship Central's worship leader Luke Hellebronth sings (in "Stand Up"): "When we don't know what to do/What to do/Our eyes are fixed on You/Fixed on you," we can't help but feel like he has taken a peep into our hearts. Again in the song "Unrelenting grace" when Hellenbrnoth sings: "Never failing mercy/Found me in my shame And gave me life again" we can't help but feel like Hellenbronth has read our personal blogs. Yet, the album is not a pity party. Rather, these helpless exasperations are brought before God giving us handles on how worship transforms our helplessness into his unstoppable strength.
Based in London, Worship Central is a Christian movement set up to train, equip and send out future worship leaders. "Set Apart," released Internationally via Integrity Music (Darlene Zschech, Paul Baloche & Beth Croft), features songs led by Worship Central's director Tim Hughes ("Here I Am To Worship") and team members Ben Cantelon ("Love Came Down"), Nikki Fletcher ("All Glory") and Luke Hellebronth ("Spirit Break Out"). This set of 14 newly crafted songs are written in and for the Church. The album features guest co-writers including Dove Award nominee Benji Cowart and GRAMMY Award nominee Jason Ingram. And it's the follow-up to their critically acclaimed album "Let It Be Known," which features the title cut, already a congregational favorite across many churches worldwide.
The album is preceded by the lead single "The Way." Featuring Tim Hughes on lead vocals, "The Way" has all the tropes we have come to expect from a great worship song. The seismic build up that effortlessly glides our hopeless estate into Jesus' saving prowess, "The Way" has an incessant hook that lingers in our mind way after the song is over. Never one that behooves us but guiding us right into God's presence is the aforementioned mentioned "Stand Up" which is easily this album's lodestar. Working out the implications of the cross is the bluesy title cut "Set Apart." Amidst its airy drums and lots of elongated notes, "Set Apart" reminds us of our standing before God as people redeemed by the blood. Correctly reminding us that worship is more than just about letting go of or frustrations, but it's a call also to holiness. This is the type of songs that the church desperately needs to sing.
Anna Hellenbronth gives the consistent male dominated voices a recess when she leads "Awesome is He." "Awesome is He" and "Worth It All" are easily the album's best worship ballads. As for the latter "Worth It All," led by Ben Cantelon, has a smooth Rueben Morgan type flourish that thrives on its catchy melody and on its Jesus-centered lyrics. A song that could be the Twenty First Century re-working of the hymn "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." However, with 14 songs and a running time of close to 70 minutes, there were times when the songs lack the distinction one from another that they have a way of making us loose our concentration in one listen. "Set Apart," though already a great worship album, would be even better if some of the songs were a little set apart.