Let’s be honest: every Christian knows that worship albums have a distinct sound. Somehow, in some feat of sheer musical miraculousness, praise and worship artists often have  a way of making their albums sound like sophomoric attempts at song writing. I don’t know what it is, or how to put my finger on the exact quality that makes them this way. I just know that most of them don’t sound like music that I would actually sit around listening to. So, having said all that, why is it that I enjoy the new Fee album (Hope Rising) so much?

Steve Fee and his fellow band mates are the lead worship band at Andy Stanley’s church (North Point Community) in Atlanta, Ga. Their first album, “We Shine”, launched Fee into the contemporary worship music spotlight. “Hope Rising”, in a lot of ways, sounds very typical of worship music. It contains many of the same guitar riffs in all the songs, plays the same driving beat (with two exceptions), and yet there is one distinct flavor to them. What I think I enjoy so much about Fee’s album is it’s deeply theological lyrics.

A great deal of “worship” music is wishy washy and sappy. One artist even compares Jesus’ coming to earth like a “sloppy wet kiss,” as if that some how makes the incarnation more powerful (all it really does is make me cringe). But Steve Fee has zeroed in on the greatness of God, the glory of Jesus, and the majesty of the resurrection. Yes, some of the lyrics are still cheesy in the arrangement and it’s musical quality isn’t exactly U2, but in the realm of contemporary worship it’s stands a cut above the rest.

What’s fascinating to me is that the greatness of the concepts they are singing about seems to allow me to overlook some of these other obvious flaws. This doesn’t always happen. Tons of pathetic Christian films take on good themes and yet I still can’t stomach them. But in this instance I am so attracted to the themes they are writing about that I can honestly say I enjoy this goofy, cheesy, and easily replicated worship album. How amazing is the glory of Jesus!

1 Comment

  1. I feel you on the worship music thing. It seems like every contemporary Christian artist now is producing music that they hope the average worship leader in a church can replicate. I think they’re doing it because their producers (who are businessmen and -women, regardless of their beliefs) want their music to be as widely accessible as possible.

    The result, at least for me, is that I can’t stomach very much Christian radio. Everything sounds the same – same key signatures, same tempo range, same structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, quiet chorus, loud chorus, outro). Even people I used to absolutely love are letting me down. I can’t remember the last Third Day song I heard that impressed me, and TobyMac’s new single is drivel.

    I agree with your assessment of Fee’s music on their new album. The theological nature of the lyrics are a breath of fresh air. I think the Christian music industry needs to take its cue and get back to the basics a little bit. A lot more ccm used to be theologically inclined. I grew up listening to dc talk’s ‘Free at Last’ album, and to this day I don’t think there’s a better Christian album in existence. Some of the music is a bit cheesy (even by 1992 standards), and it’s definitely dated now, but that whole album can preach.

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