Prime Cut: Made for Worship, Leave Me Astonished, My Soul
Planetshakers have always taken their titular seriously. In less than two decades, they have had literally shaken the international worship scene with their brand of seismic rock-centric worship flourished with lots frenetic synth swirls and heavy-handed guitar wiggles. Such a patented brand of worship has had given Planetshakers a way of engaging countless Millenniums in worship. Now, this worship team that hails from Planetshakers Church in Melbourne, Australia are taking their mandate of shaking up the planet for the praise of Jesus a step farther. "Outback Worship Sessions" is targeted to a broader demographic than just the below 35s. Easing on the volume and electronics, "Outback Worship Sessions" finds Planetshakers giving seven of their more popular worship anthems and three newly crafted numbers a more organic, warmer, stripped-down, and intimate treatment.
"Outback Sessions," being Planetshaker's 28th album release, is quite a titular misnomer. Despite having a title that harkens back to their Aussie roots, the album finds more affinity with the current state of worship music in North America than anything that has to do with the Great Southland. In fact, there's nothing distinctively Australian (both lyrically and musically) on this set. Rather, the megachurch team has brought US CCM uber producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe) to helm this album as well as to co-write all three of the new songs on this set. In this regard, Planetshakers (like their neighboring church Hillsong) sounds more like any American-based worship team out there, somehow eluding them of the opportunity of throwing in something distinctively Australia to an already saturated pool of worship bands.
Other than such a yammer, "Outback Sessions" does have many commendable areas. The simpler backings certainly allow the team to put more emphasis on emoting the verve behind a song like "Leave Me Astonished." Adorned with the delightful-sounding pull of some guitar nylon strings, you can almost feel like the team right in front of you when they sing: "Spirit fall, open up/Heaven's doors/We're waiting with/Worship for more." The use of voices to fade in and out in the backing of "Like a Fire" gives this song a universal cry creating the impression of how the entire creation longs for Jesus to come and unleash His Spirit. Lifted from last year's "Endless Praise," "Made to Worship" is imbued with so much theological depth. Going back to the Biblical notion that worship is our raison d'être, "Made to Worship" is easily one of the team's best worship ballads.
As for the new songs, "My Soul" sounds like an entry you would find in Robin Mark's portfolio. With a slight nod to the Celtic tradition and with its hymn-like structure, "My Soul" will appeal to those who like worship to be more serene and contemplative. Though "Spirit of God" will not win any prices for its somehow cliched lyrics dearth of any poetry, it is still a heart-tugger with the song's explosive chorus that invokes upon the Spirit to pay our hearts a visit. "Father," a new entry co-written by Ed Cash and BJ Pridham, calls to mind last year's "Abba Father." At the end of the day,"Outback Worship" is by no means perfect. But the warmer sounds of this record bring out something that is heartfelt and moving that you don't get to hear too often in many worship records these days.
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