Peterborough's Kingsgate Community Church released its first ever live album at the tail end of 2013. As you'd expect, Faithful showcases the considerable talent of its members.
Featuring the perfect mix of structured and spontaneous praise, the album has already been snapped up by church members. But how much potential does the record have outside of Peterborough?
Much of the record is typical of the modern worship movement. There's the usual guitar and piano led riffs, easy to sing melodies and strong theological declarations.
It has to be said there's a fair amount of predictable lyrical and musical choices. Freedom In Your Light is in many ways a strong opening track but lyrics such as "All my chains are gone / Perfect love has won" are now so commonplace in mainstream worship music that they sound tired when employed yet again. There's nothing inherently wrong with lyrics like these, but they aren't as creative as they could be.
The release features six different lead vocalists – 3 women and 3 men. This variety should be welcomed as it demonstrates the team-effort nature of the project. Zoe McClean's vocal performance is particularly striking in both the upbeat celebratory tune For Your Name and the reflective but immensely powerful title track.
Along with the title track, the acoustic led Bow Before stands out and deserves to be picked up and sung by Christians across the country. Rudy Cullen's voice is filled with quiet passion and confidence as she sings "I bow before the king of all glory / I adore the king of all glory / Jesus it's you / No one but you Lord".
Awakening is a prayerful cry for lives to be changed that also features a closing spontaneous section of spoken and sung prayers.
My Soul Longs follows on perfectly from Awakening. Building into a rousing bridge, Simon Benn leads the congregation in singing "Saturate us in your love / Refine us in your fire / Come change our hearts again / change our hearts again / Draw us to yourself / Send us out in power / God let your kingdom come". It's an intense and moving moment.
Buried toward the back of the album is I Will Follow. It's a simple but touching declaration to follow God wherever he leads. The musicians do a fantastic job of building the song from a quiet reflection on the cross to a spine-tingling declaration on how the believer is dressed in a royal robe, standing righteous before God's throne.
The team has avoided the temptation to cover well known songs. All 11 tracks on Faithful have been written, performed and produced in-house.
While members of the Kingsgate Peterborough (and its Cambridge sister) are bound to love this release, its unlikely the album will find such evangelical excitement among listeners who are based further afield. This is a shame. There's plenty of tracks on Faithful which can and should serve the wider church.
With so much congregational worship music still emanating from American and Australian churches it's a pleasure to listen to such a well-produced UK offering. Bearing in mind this is the church's first ever CD, there's an awful lot to commend here. Overall this is a very strong album.