The movement that inspires movements is at it again! Jesus Culture’s newest album released today, July 31, featuring four new worship leaders for this generation. The typical voices expected from Jesus Culture (Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, and Melissa Wise-Howe) are absent as they allow new leaders to step into the worship spotlight. This album features Justin Jarvis, Mary Kat Ehrenzeller, Nate Ward, and Derek Johnson with original worship songs and is recorded live at the Civic Auditorium in Redding, CA.
While it required some adjusting of the ears to acclimate myself to a Jesus Culture recording without the established leaders, I’ve come to appreciate this departure from the norm. I love the fact that this successful youth movement is visionary enough to pave the way for new worship leaders and songwriters. This allows them to reach a much wider audience than they would normally be able to touch. As a worshiper and wannabe worship leader myself I’m always on the lookout for new songs to learn and worship to and this album release doesn’t disappoint.
Favorites include, “I Belong to You,” “You Are My God,” and “Let it Go” by Derek Johnson. Of the four new artists on the CD he’s definitely my favorite. His sound is polished (as all of them are) and reminds me of the folk/singer-songwriter feel of John Mark McMillan in his vocal style, melodies and lyrics. Nate Ward is also one that I enjoyed listening to. He has a couple songs included on this album and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
While musically there are a lot of similarities between these artists and they’re all focused on worship the main difference comes from the vocals and spirit of the leader. Justin Jarvis’s semi-operatic vibrato is completely unique. Mary Kat’s style closely resembles that of Kim Walker and is very conducive to worship. Her song, “Mighty Fortress,” is a favorite. It flows from quiet, introspective worship to anthem-like, “bigness” similar to some of the anthems heard on previous Jesus Culture albums.
All in all, this is another quality production from the Jesus Culture team. Musically, it’s as polished and consistent as any other recording you might hear from other worship teams such as, Hillsong, Chris Quilala, etc. The presence of multiple worship leaders gives a unique perspective to the album by providing different insights to a singular message of worship and adoration. I look forward to hearing more from each of these artists and am certain that great things are in store for them and the worship community. It’s always encouraging to have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the future of a movement. That’s what this CD does. This is a glimpse at the future of modern worship...and it looks promising!
Reviewed by Michael Henson