Prime Cuts: Hunger (featuring MDSN), I Can't Stay Here, All things
Overall Grade: 4/5
Worship, rightly understood, is the expression of a person who has had met God. This entire album is filled with such expressions. Boldly passionately, Biblically God-soaking, and transparently heartfelt, you can't listen to this album and not be moved by this couple's first hand experience of God. To further solidify this finding, take a listen to David Binion's testimony (which is the 5th track on the digital format) and you will hear the genesis of this record. In his testimony, David reveals how this album was birthed after hours of falling on their knees in worship. And such a knee-bending investment really pays off as you listen to this record. These songs truly live up to its titular; they are the songs that come out of dwelling in the Almighty's presence.
If some of the song titles on this record, it's because the Binions are not rookies. Rather, for years they have fronted Covenant Worship. Covenant Worship is the dynamic music ministry of Covenant Church, a multi-campus, non-denominational congregation based in the Dallas, TX area with another 40 Covenant-affiliated churches throughout the US. However, most recently, the Binions have stepped out in faith and founded Dwell Church in the Dallas area. And they have also founded Dwell Ministries to mentor and train a new generation of worship leaders.
"Dwell" is the couple's first album outside of the umbrella of Covenant Worship. But to makes matters complicated, the album comes in two configurations: the regular CD (which only has 10 songs) and the digital format (which has 14 tracks). Normally, regardless of the permutations, the best songs are already segued into the fewer track package. But not in this case: the aforementioned David's testimony and arguably their best song "All Things" can only found on the downloadable format. "All Things" is not only a careful exposition of Romans 8:28, but it all seeks to apply this verse in various contexts of our lives that is truly heartfelt.
As to the album proper: the ballad "Hunger" which features the Binions' daughter MSDN brims with potential for being a worship classic. Detailing how our worldly emptiness drives us to the arms of our Savior, MSDN not only sings with conviction but a palatable vulnerability that is sublime. MSDN appears again on the average sounding beat-ballad "All Because You're Here," which is interestingly a co-write with Meredith Andrews. For worship leaders who want the church to move forward in faith, "I Can't Stay Here" is a must-sing. "Song of My Heart" (which first appeared in Covenant Worship's "Sand & Stars" album) is a fiery anthem of worship that is flourished with echoes from Psalm 1.
Partnering with Travis Greene, "My Soul Follows" incorporates some soulful Gospel grooves. However, the song which clocks in at close to 10 minutes, is far too long. Regardless of how powerful a song's hook can be, few songs are exempt from disintegration after their 5 minute marks. The same can be said about "Doxology" which again is a marathon, locking in at 9:57 minutes. One can understand that the Binions want to capture the full expression of the worship experience; but if you linger far too long, you tend to dilute the gist of the song. Sometimes more can be accomplished with less.
Though there are some spots of excesses and dips, "Dwell" is truly a worship record. Giving expressions to one's encounter with the Risen Christ, this album overflows with great testimonies of faith expressed mainly in songs.