Album review: Newday Live 2013
"There's something going on here / It's not the bright lights or the atmosphere / But we're believing in a God who saves"
These are the words that begin Move Like This - the first single off Newday 2013's live album. It's an intense track that combines rock and rap, live drums and pre recorded loops. Jorge Mhondera, (formerly of The Tribe) who often sings alongside Matt Redman, raps while Newday's veteran worship leader Simon Brading leads most of the singing.
It's a good old-fashioned party song with an unusual structure that defies the usual verse-chorus model. In terms of recording a track that appeals to Newday's target audience (12 to 19-year-olds) it's the best song the event has ever released.
It's disappointing to find only four of the 11 songs are originals. It's also surprising that of the six covers (not including the spontaneous song which features the bridge of Dancing Generation), most have come out of Bethel church in Redding, California. Yet these covers aren't (like so many other live worship albums) predictable re-hashes of tunes we've all heard before. They're covers with a difference.
Take Everlasting God for example. Released in 2006, the song has travelled all over the world and is well known. Listeners might expect the song to begin with the typical verse "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord" riff. Instead it bursts into life with Daft Punk-esque electric guitars and a killer synth sound. You'd struggle to find a more current sound on a worship project this year. It's a promising start from Sam Cox who leads the song and is due to release his own album, Outlines, later this year.
Penultimate track Breakthrough is similarly fresh. Focusing on the ministry of Jesus in the verses and the Christian response in the chorus, Simon Brading's track is a prayer: "Let your kingdom come / Let these mountains move / Let unanswered prayer rise again to you / For the more we ask the more you'll do / My heart is bursting again / God of power break through."
While he's not as well known as other modern hymn writers, Simon Brading's gift for writing songs that are theologically solid, uplifting and relevant for today's youth is impressive. 2008's This Is Life and 2011's Christus Victor (complete with cheeky 'who are ya?' lyric) are good examples of this but this year's mature and passionate Breakthrough surpasses them both.
The recording fades out with Jules Burt's rendition of Our Father. Those familiar with the Bethel song will know how it rises and falls dramatically. The Newday team's version follows in the same vein. Dropping out then powering back in to emphasise the high points of the song, the musicians beat their instruments for all they're worth. But while the intensity levels feel like they increase with every bar, the worship leaders also demonstrate sensitivity.
In the end this particular anthem gently fades out as Jules spontaneously sings about being sent out into the world. It's a very fitting end to a worship project that celebrates both the jubilant sessions of praise and the quieter more intimate moments too. If the Newday Generation can put the passion displayed on this recording into action then the world, and the Church, will never be the same again.