Wednesday, 21 August 2013

JR Taylor: Soli Deo Gloria

Release date: 9 July 2013
Genre: Contemporary Christian, Modern Worship
Label: Independent
Similar artists: Michael W. Smith; Chris Tomlin; Paul Baloche
Rating: 3.5/5

There is a lot of debate in the music industry as to whether it is possible to successfully merge contemporary, modern day music with the old school worship we sing in church. The jury is still out on that one, however I do not believe there is anything wrong with it.

JR Taylor is an artist with a truly vested interest in the music he sings. He is a pastor as well as a singer, this puts a lot of pressure on him as you expect the lyrics of his music to be stronger than most, particularly if he is singing in the worship genre. In this, his first solo release, he produces some new songs. He brings material with great meaning, as well as songs that are truly well written in the scope of worship. JR says that his wish is for you to connect with the album in such a way that you grow closer to God through listening, a bold statement, but with lyrics like his, it is believable.

What of the music? Old school worship, the worship that is synonymous with a Sunday morning Church service. When you first see the title of the album "Soli Deo Gloria" you immediately think that this is going to be "hoyty toyty". JR, however, has different ideas, he wants to bring a more contemporary feel to the music. As such, you start listening to the first track and there is a definite worship feel, but there is a noticeable difference, a strong sound of electrical instruments comes wafting through the song. It is this wafting that indicates a difference. Then the singing starts and there is an echo in his voice which you may have heard in other pop songs, again, something refreshing has been added to the music. As the album continues it swings from true worship to modern worship, yet all the time you can hear that there is a twist on the music. The title track of the album Soli Deo Gloria has not been recorded for 30 years, and JR does a good job to do the song justice, he keeps true to its roots, yet you can hear there is a "JR twist" on it.

Throughout the album. JR stays true to his worship core - there is no doubt that this is a worship album through and through. The tone of his voice is used to great effect. In songs such as Holy, Holy, Holy he shows that he has a voice that could be used for a pop and worship. Another give away as to the worship feel of the album lies in the harmonies he uses. They are not pop music harmonies, they are harmonies you would find in a church choir, in fact i wouldn't be surprised if he uses a choir. It isn't however a weakness of the album, he uses his "popish" voice with the harmonies in a way that compliments his electric guitar solos.

There is no doubt that this a worship album, and as a worship album it is good. Do not however assume that because it is a worship album that it is only for people over 70. Which JR's excellent lyrics and modern twist on the songs, he has created an album that can be enjoyed by anyone looking to meditate and relax with a presence of God. Next time you take communion, listen to the communion song and meditate on the lyrics, it will be a moving experience.

Overall a good album, I look forward to future JR Taylor projects.

Song of the week goes to: "For Us"

Have a Rocking week everyone


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