Prime Cuts: The Simple Truth, Enough, The Work (It Ain't Easy)
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
"The Work Vol. 1" is the debut solo album by the City Harmonic's former frontman Elias Dummer. As a collective, the City Harmonic were the brick and mortar of worship music in their homeland in Canada. In the process of time, many of their songs, including "A City on a Hill," "Manifesto," "Holy (Wedding Day)" and "We Are One," also became international worship staples. Their Brit-pop meets campfire singalong music became their patented sound. So, when the team disbanded in 2017, fans wondered how their sound will evolve or propagated when frontman Elias Dummer announced he was releasing his own solo endeavor. Now, with the advent of "The Work Vol. 1," the veil has been lifted. Relative to the City Harmonic albums, "The Work Vol.1" has a more intimate singer-songwriter feel with a greater leaning towards the folkier side of worship.
But the actual cynosure of this new record is in the lyrics of the songs. Eschewing the current trend of going only an inch deep in theology, the songs here would make Jonathan Edwards and John Calvin proud. Though evangelicals have prided on making the doctrine of justification by faith one of the major pillars of the church, when was the last time a contemporary worship song give expression to this truth? The title cut "The Work (It Ain't Easy)" is one of those rare moments. Accompanied by gentle strums of the acoustic guitar, Dummer patiently leads us to rest in the work of justification Christ has done on our behalf. Lyrically meaty and melodically charming, Dummer shows that you can be profound and cool coterminously.
"Enough," the album's lead single, is lyrically piercing and challenging. Often diluted by the prosperity preachers, the Christian message in western Christianity is nothing more than greed baptised in the name of Jesus. "Enough" goes head to head against such teaching by asserting that Jesus (and not the American dream) is what we need. Augmented with an explosive singable chorus, this song ought to be sung repeatedly in churches. Confronting the world that has lost its belief in objectivity, "The Simple Truth," which speaks of the truth of Jesus' love, is so reassuring. The gorgeous melody and Dummer's heartfelt nuances make this song such a true gem.
Fans who like the cool Brit-pop sounds of the City Harmonic will love "As A Saint," which has some killer percussion kicks to boot. More generic, with that mandatory big anthemic chorus, is "This is Holy Ground." While "Free" dons a stoic pullover unfitting of Dummer. Much better is the folkish "Less of Me" and the warm (though too brief) "Do Not Be Afraid" (which clocks in at under a minute). Nevertheless, despite some small quibbles, this album gives serious thought to the question: can worship music be both profound and cool? With Dummer's "The Work Vol.1" the answer is a resounding yes.