Prime Cuts: Song of Solomon, Leap of Faith, Emmanuel/Behold
Overall Grade: 4/5
For those of us who can't travel the globe in order to worship with Martin Smith, here's some good news. Now, via this new disc, we can get front row seats to witness what God is doing across cities such as Singapore, Haarlem, Holland, Sydney, Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa and others. "Love Song for a City," Smith's first record for Integrity Music, is an important release because it is an eye-opener to how God has called the cities of the globe to worship. These are essentially 13 valentines Martin has rendered for these cities he had visited. Out of the 13 cuts, 7 of them are newly crafted for this record, with the remaining 5 being live recordings of Smith's greatest "hits" of sorts.
Most commendable about this record is that though the songs were recorded at various locations, there's a unity to all of them. Unfolding like a cinematic narrative the songs flow into each other as if they are interwoven to tell this meta-narrative of how God is worshipped across the nations. Let's start first with the new songs. Starting off with a spontaneous cry, the title cut and album opener "Love Song for a City" captures the heartbeat of this disc: "We will rise up/From the shadows we will rise up/We're singing over you."
Guitars get their field day as faith-imbued moments are created with the pulsating "Leap of Faith." Offering us to take that leap into the arms of Jesus Christ, this much needed prayer for all of us. Likewise, "I Will Sing" abounds with faith as Smith encourages us to sing in all of life's seasons. The infectiously catchy "Forever Yours" has a swirling loop that calls to mind Smith's "God's Great Dance Floor." However, lead single "Jesus Only You" which boasts Hillsong's Reuben Morgan and Jason Ingram as his co-writers is letdown by its trite lyrics. This is disappointing considering that all three scribes are A+ writers. Lyrics such as "There is one who breaks my chains/There is one who bears my shame/There is one" have been recycled again and again, they need to either be expounded or re-imagined.
When it comes to Smith's older songs, he doesn't just render them on autopilot. Two thumbs are raised when Smith's segues Hillsong's "Behold" onto his own "Emmanuel." Though he could have sung a few more lines from "Behold," such interweaving of songs really brings out a deeper dimension to worship. Smith is also be be congratulated for doing something few songwriters are capable of doing, and that is, he excels in taking the major themes of Bible books and set them to music. This is evident in "Song of Solomon" and "Ecclesiastes." Such a valuable tool of educating congregants about the Bible and then turning such lessons into worship is brilliancy that needs to be emulated.
With such richness rooted in Scripture, faith, and creativity, there's not a boring moment on this world wide tour. Thanks to Smith and Integrity Music, now we too get the chance to indulge in these faith-growing moments as His word is being formed in us. Grab this album and witness how the world's worshipping Jesus.