Prime Cuts: Let It Be Known, Made New, Whole Again (Come Alive)
It has been said that a human being can spend up till four to six weeks without food. And given the right temperature and the right altitude, he or she can last a tad more than a hundred hours without water. But it only takes three to five minutes without oxygen for damage to be done to the brain before causing it to die off. Just as important as oxygen is to the human body, Jesus is to our souls. Lincoln Brewster has had firsthand experience of such a truth. Four days into the recording of this album, Brewster's wife Laura was rushed into the hospital where it was discovered that she had a rare form of appendiceal cancer. Like ominous dominoes falling upon the Brewsters one after another, the couple soon realized that the twenty-one year old son of a good friend was tragically killed in a car accident.
Pouring his heart and soul into the crafting of this brand new record, "Oxygen" is not your average phone-in affair. Rather, brimming with a fresh assurance steeped in God's covenantal faithfulness, these songs are what brought the Brewsters through their most painful and fearful experiences. Before we delve in our exposition of this canon of songs, it's important first to say a word about Brewster. Unlike many of his peers who could not tell the difference between a bass and a treble cleft, Brewster is a consummate musician par excellence. Not only is he a virtuoso when it comes to the guitar, but he plays every instrument on this album with co-producer Colby Wedgeworth. To further pile on his accolades is the fact that Brewster co-wrote ten out of the eleven cuts on this record, many of which were with the aforementioned Wedgeworth and a few with Hillsong's Mia Feldes. The only cover here is Soul Survivor's "Let It Be Known."
As soon as the first note strikes on the album opener "Live to Praise You," you know that leading worship is more than Brewster's day job. With an earnest verve that finds expression in the lines: "the first and the last/the one in between/ever the King/You're the song that we sing," nothing spells out Brewster's life mantra than this. Big, anthemic, seismic are some adjectives that come to mind with the lead single "Made New." Brewster's gleaming guitar licks and the crisp battering drums make "Made New" a great worship opener as Brewster draws us to the God who "holds up our heads" from despair to worship. In the light of the recent ordeals the Brewsters has had been facing, to hear Brewster still singing with such fiery confidence in God on the title cut "Oxygen" and "On Our Side" are just heart affirming.
The same team who wrote "Made New," that is Brewster, Wedgeworth and Josiah Meeker (a name to watch), also scribed "Sinking Ships (Rescue Has Come)." Whoever says that poetic images would clutter the flow of a worship song is about to eat their words when it comes to "Sinking Ships." Utilizing the richly flourished metaphor of God coming to save us when we are lost at sea, this song calls to mind the numerous Biblical passages of our Lord's command over the briny deep. If "Let It Be Known" sounds familiar, it's because it's a Soul Survivors cover. Frankly, Brewster's version, with its more supple gloss, works better if one has congregational singing in mind. Not to be missed is the ballad "Whole Again (Come Alive)." Co-written by Brewster with Mia Feldes, "Whole Again" contains some of the most intimate words used to describe our relationship with God: "You know the cracks upon my heart/And save my tears inside a jar/You see beyond my veiled smile/As a father knows his child."
With "Oxygen," Brewster is finally back with his first non-seasonal worship album since 2010's "Real Life." And he returns with greater depth, sensitivity and passion.
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