Prime Cuts: King Jesus, We Praise You, All Praise (Sing Praise)
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Matt Redman is the only songwriter to have a stronghold on the CCLI Top 10, a chart that keeps track of the most popular songs sung across churches in North America. Two of Redman's co-writes, including, "10,000 Reasons" and "Build My Life," are securely locked in at the positions of #1 and #8 respectively. Moreover, look at the songwriting credits of recent albums of worship music stalwarts such as Phil Wickham, Brian and Jenn Johnson, Elevation Worship and Chris Tomlin, and Redman's name is right there on the tallies. The reason behind all of ubiquity is that Redman has mastered the craft of congregational writing. Instead of being far too individualistic, the songs of Redman has captured the collective voice of the church. His songs don't just make you want to listen; rather they make you want to singalong. This is the crux difference between a good song and a good congregational song. Moreover, his lyrics have judiciously captured the vulnerability of the human predicament and the almighty sovereignty of God. The hurting as well as the joyful will yearn for these songs because they minister to both camps by channelling us to the greatness of Christ.
"Let There Be Wonder" is Redman's debut album for Integrity Music. Hopefully, some of these songs will help curb Integrity Music's slippage from its presence on the CCLI chart. This new record is consummate Redman. If you are looking for congregational worship anthems in the veins of "10,000 Reasons" and "Never Once," look no farther than the record's sophomore single "We Praise You." Structured around the theme that praise is a weapon against our enemies, the song lives up to its content with its bombastic declarative chorus. Hillsong UNITED'S Joel Houston and Jason Ingram join Redman to pen the majestic "King Jesus." The modulation between the tender verses and the power-fest chorus provide the framework for this song's energetic burst of worship. Though the title cut "Let There Be Wonder" may not be as dynamic as "King Jesus," the way its chorus speaks of the wonderful ways of our Father is simply captivating.
"Merciful Father," with the infectious hook "you're rich in love," has such a strong resonance that you can't humming after the song's ended. This is perhaps the "secret" ingredient of why churches latch on to Redman's songs. With echoes that sound like some of Redman's older compositions is "All Praise (Sing Praise)." Nevertheless, the song is made up by its insightful lyrics where Redman waxes heartfelt exposition on God's amazing grace keenly informed by Scripture. And if you are looking for those heart-tugging ballads, "Jesus Your Name" is the go-to. There's not a hint of milquetoast sloganeering, rather, the song brims with sincere confessions of how Jesus is greater than the trials that we face.
Despite being written by Redman, Jacob Sooter and Josh Silverberg, the album's lead single "The Same Jesus" is perhaps the least enthused track off the whole record. Maybe it's because of the repetitious chorus or the song's colorless depiction of Jesus' identity, the song is not representative of the gems in this record. And if there's another tooth to pick, the vast portion of these songs are sung in keys far too high for the average congregant to muster. Such such lofty keys may bring out a brightness in Redman's soaring tenor, but it's definitely not conducive to congregational singing, a flaw found in far too many worship records these days.
Other than these nibbling disgruntles, this album doesn't disappoint. These songs are not just made to be enjoyed; but they are also, in Redman's own words, made to "silence the enemy."