Prime Cuts: Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration), My Lighthouse, You Are My Vision
Overall Grade: 4/5
Nu-folk gets a worship accent with the advent of Rend Collective. Initially known as the Rend Collective Experiment, the Northern Irish team has brought worship music into the rustic woods of Mumford and Sons. Here in their newly cultivated sonic terrain, boisterous sounding electric guitars and percussion exist conterminously with the brushed sounds of banjos and mandolins. Moreover, the team has also often sewed patches of worship music sepia-toned past onto their newly crafted tunes. Thus, you will often hear Rend Collective integrating traditional hymns into their songs. As a result, they have carved for themselves their own signature sound, out of which later bands have tried to emulate. But to set the record straight, Rend Collective is the original.
"Build Your Kingdom Here: A Rend Collective Mixtape" is a mixtape as the titular indicates, meaning that it's a compilation of 14 of their favorite cuts. Released by Integrity Music, this means that all the 14 songs are culled from the albums they have had cut for the imprint from the years 2010 to 2014. Without any new songs or songs leaked from their vaults, all 14 entries here are from their Integrity Music albums of yore, namely 'Organic Family Hymnal' (2010), 'Homemade Worship By Handmade People' (2012) and 'The Art Of Celebration' (2014).
Starting from playing in the living room to performing in huge arenas, this album witnesses the chronicle of Rend Collective's explosive growth. Naturally, some of their earlier songs are less polished, not so much in the production, but in the development of their song ideas and hooks. Take "Movements," "Exalt," and "Faithful" as examples. Their singularly worded titles are indicative of the band's nascent stages in their song writing craft; at this time many of their songs lack depth relative to their later efforts. Out of their debut album, "Organic Family Hymnal," "You Bled" shows the greatest promise with the song's careful exposition of Christ's redemptive work.
As experience piles upon experience, they finally scribed what is one of the pillar redemption songs on this side of the Millennium. "Boldly I Approach (The Art of Celebration)" is a modern hymnic classic that captures the seriousness of Christ's Cross work. Yet, it doesn't stop there, it also gives opportunity for us to dance, rejoice, and celebrate by the time the bridge of the song arrives. More celebratory moments come with "Build Your Kingdom Here." This is a holy fun song: in the sense it is a ball to sing it, but the song undergirds a powerful theme when it speaks of the explosive revolution of Christ's Kingdom here on earth.
"You Are My Vision" shows maturity in the band's understanding of song writing. Rather than just augment a segment of a hymn into a new song to give it a recognizable hook, Rend Collective re-understands the hymn "Be Thou My Vision." Re-internalizing the hymn as a response of faith to God, they have completely given the song a personalized reading stamp. Then they prove that they can write a memorable hook on their own with "My Lighthouse." This is the type of song that will get you singing and worshipping along in a couple of listens.
Therefore, though their earlier stuff are more on the nondescript side, the band has grown by leaps and bounds by the time they come to their 3rd and 4th album. All of this means that for Rend Collective, the best is still yet to come.
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