Prime Cuts: He's Able, Let It Rain, Revelation Song
The album titular Worship says it all. Worship finds the veteran Christian artist Michael English wrapping his signature bluesy vocals around some of the best known contemporary worship songs around. But the album's real drawing card is that English has not restricted his choice to just the worship songs coming from the white community of the church. He has trawled his net to also include songs that gave the African-American churches their praises. Thus, on one hand, you'll find English tackling a Matt Redman cover like "Blessed Be Your Name" and Kari Jobe's "O the Blood." Then, on the other hand, you'll find revivals of Gospel greats such as Fred Hammond's "No Weapon" and Deitrick Haddon's "He's Able."
After what feels like a forever tenure with Curb Records, Michael English releases his debut album with Daywind Records. Though Daywind is primarily known for its Southern Gospel music releases, "Worship" encompasses a broader sound that juxtaposes elements of soul, pop, funk, Gospel, and country together to create a sleek and polished worship record. Initially a member of his family's singing group, and later a member of The Gaither Vocal Band, English has also has had a fairly successful solo career at the side. With Curb Records, English released 8 studio albums. The 53 year-old was most noted for his cover of the John Berry hit "Your Love Amazes Me," which became a Top 15 Adult Contemporary hit.
Worship is the follow-up to 2012's Some People Change. The set starts off with two Matt Redman staples: "Blessed Be Your Name" and "10,000 Reasons." Though both tracks have been through the recycling mill quite perennially, English still is able to inject his passion into both numbers, particularly the latter. Less bombastic relative to Redman's original, English takes his time to nuance the depth of what it means to still praise God throughout our living hours. No fault on English's part, but Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" is so overdone that not even English could salvage it from its tiresome overplays. Much better is English's take of "Revelation Song." With its majestic lyrical overtones gathered from the Apocalyptic passages of Scripture, English's big and booming vocals really takes this worship song to heaven.
But the album's highlight is "Let It Rain." Featuring a power-packed choir, English has the just the right vocal configuration in evoking God's blessings on this crescendo-building powerhouse of a ballad. He shows he's just at home with Deitrick Haddon's "He is Able" and Fred Hammond's "No Weapon," songs that will get us clapping and dancing in Holy Spiri-imbued worship. Though some of the songs are a tad over familiar, English (mostly) redeems them with his deeply soulful gravitas as well as his sky-reaching quasi-operatic vocals.