Prime Cuts: What Faith Can Do, Draw Me Close, It is Well
The name Kutless is more than just a nomenclature. Originally calling themselves "Call Box," this five-men band had decided to change their name to Kutless in 2002. Inspired by the NRSV version of Romans 6:23 where Jesus "took our cuts away leaving us cutless" the band decided to take on the name Kutless as a commitment to spread the good news of Christ's sacrifice. Over the years, Kutless has made significant in-roads to the secular world. Their song "All the Words" was used in NBC's TV hit series "Scrubs." Later on they signed on a lucrative deal with Microsoft & Walmart where anyone who purchased their latest Xbox received a free DVD copy of their video "Shut Me Out." Then in 2006 Suzuki Motor Cooperation decided to sponsor their "Hearts of the Innocent" Tour. Selling over two million copies of their records and being nominated for eight Dove Awards, Kutless has been compared with high profile acts such as Three Doors Down, Third Day and Building 429. Despite all these lucrative deals and luminous accolades, Kutless has never lost their primary mission to tell of the greatness of Jesus' sacrifice. Their songs have never been reticent in expressing their faith. In fact, they had in fact released two worship records 2005's gold selling No Tower and 2009's It is Well. Now they're releasing The Worship Collection.
The Worship Collection is not a new album. Rather, it is a compilation record of 14 tracks with absolutely no new songs. To make matters worse, despite having seven studio albums and one live CD, all the songs here are taken from only three of their releases. In fact, seven cuts are taken from their 2009 It is Well album, six were lifted from 2005's Strong Tower and only the title cut was abstracted from 2004's Sea of Faces. Questions abound as to the wisdom of such a song selection: Why on earth were songs not taken from the other five albums? In fact, their last studio effort Believer had some gorgeous worship paeans (with "Carry Me to the Cross" as a prime candidate). Also, in this day and age where downloads are readily available, is there any point in regurgitating seven songs out of one single album? Further, is it so difficult to include at least one unreleased worship song to justify ardent fans from purchasing this disc? And why was their no creativity invested with this release? They could have offered acoustic renderings of their favorite worship covers (similar to Casting Crowns), at least that would give some warrant for releasing a new album.
With that said, if you have not bought any of their previous outings, The Worship Collection is still a great collection of songs. Eight of the fourteen tracks are covers, one of which is a hymn, with the rest coming from Paul Baloche, Kent Henry, Chris Tomlin, Robin Mark, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman and Kelly Carpenter. Kutless has eschewed the obscure but has deliberately gone for the familiar, hopefully to create a congregation with us so we could join them in lifting the name of Jesus.
Cover songs here are tackled with imagination and creativity. "It is Well" opens with the sounds of clanking heels walking towards a bell chiming Cathedral but when the doors open one is greeted with the ancient hymn accompanied by surging electric guitars. This is such a beautiful marriage between tradition and the contemporary. Often churches have given Kent Henry's "Take Me in" a dirge-like treatment as though entering into God's holy presence is a chore. Here Kutless sets it right when they imbued this worship introit with zest and excitement. Worship leaders need to also pay attention to how they creatively tackled Kelly Carpenter's "Draw Me Close." They have transformed what is normally a piano ballad into a soft rock item so effortlessly.
As for the originals "What Faith Can Do" is perfect in every sense: the right balance of tones, the ear-catching melody and the faith affirming message, this is truly one of Kutless best songs. This is well affirmed by radio when the song spent two months at the top position of the Billboard Christian chart in 2009. "Beautiful Blood" exposes the guys' gentler side as they basked in Christ's efficacious blood on what sounds like a modern version of the hymn "Nothing But the Blood." On the whole, "The Worship Collection" is a great worship experience through and through; though shame on powers that are for the ropey marketing strategy behind it.