Prime Cuts: Rain, I See Jesus Lifted Up, Revival in Your Name
UK-based Noel Robinson makes history. He is the first ethnic African to be signed to Integrity Music, an imprint that has championed the cause of worship music for decades. Joining a red carpeted list of internationally known worship leaders such as Darlene Zschech, Planetshakers, Paul Baloche, and All Sons and Daughters, Robinson releases his debut live worship album for the imprint. Outrageous Love was recorded live at House on the Rock, Tufnell Park in north London, earlier this year. It features songs Noel co-wrote with various people including James Ingram, Donna Akudo, Ian Green, Nathan Curtis and Matt Redman, as well as a track written by Grammy award winning artist Israel Houghton. Robinson made history again when Outrageous Love (which was released a couple of months earlier in the UK) debut at #1 on the UK iTunes Christian music chart. To date, Robinson is the only Christian artist in the UK to accomplish such a fleet.
With such earth-rattling statistics behind this project, Outrageous Love finally sees the light of day for the US and International market come January. The album comes in two configurations: the standard version contains 14 cuts while the deluxe edition boasts 4 extra songs. So, how does the album fare? In many ways, Outrageous Love has a vintage Gospel sound to it. Recalling the music of Gospel greats such as Ron Kenoly and earlier Israel Houghton, blasting brassy horns, thumping drums, and the hollering of a Spirit-filled choir form the wall of sound scaffolding this record. Those who love some good old fashioned "churching" are in for a treat. Harkening back to the days where Gospel worship music still has an infectious get-up-and-dance melodic structure, 'I See Jesus Lifted Up" will get our feet moving and our voices singing along in no time.
Robinson has never sought out the milquetoast sloganeering that many worship artists have. Instead he soaks himself in Scripture juxtaposing the thoughts of God onto a ballad like "Rain," calling to mind the time when the prophet Elijah begged God to send rain down on his sacrifices. Co-written by Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin, Jason Ingram & Noel Robinson, the mid-tempo "You Hold Everything" has a melody that is inviting that it draws us into this song of trust from the get-go. Giving expression to the heart's cry of the church today, "Revival in Your Name," co-written by Robinson and label mate Christine D'Clario, is a prayer that worship teams need to proclaim Sunday after Sunday.
Israel Houghton shares the pen with Robinson on Caribbean-styled "Let the People Say." The song starts off well, but midway through, the melody breaks down into lots of vocal laxity and impromptu hollering. The same can be said of Robinson's take of All Sons and Daughters' "Great Are You, Lord." If some of the songs could be a little more terse with a more well knitted vocal arrangement and less vocal elasticity, they would not come across as sounding so long and repetitive. Moreover, 18 songs is way too many for one to listen all the way through. Other than these quibbles, Outrageous Love is thoughtful, passionate, and extremely worshipful in a vintage kind of way.
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