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TRACEY EVISON: Pop style in new worship album

['Tracey Evison reviews TobyMac’s “Hits Deep Live” and Phillips, Craig and Dean’s “Hymns and Psalms” in her most recent column.']
Tracey Evison reviews Kutless' release "Alpha/Omega."

Kutless, when it first came to my attention, had been best known as a Christian rock band.

With the popularity of contemporary praise and worship music the four-man band out of Portland, Ore. started stretching into the genre and their most recent release is a completely contemporary pop styled worship album.

“Alpha/Omega” is the latest project from the celebrated Christian rock band, but many fans aren’t quite sure if rock is the correct label for them anymore.

Jon Micah (lead vocals), James Mead (guitar), Nick De Partee (guitar) and Lester Estelle (drums) have created a lovely 10-track album that was produced by Riley Friesen and released from BEC Recordings in November.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the album, but I wouldn’t dare to call it rock. It would be closer to the truth to call it a worship album with a few rock elements. That being said, I loved Kutless’ treatment of some of my favourite worship songs. They present a few that were previously unknown to me and I always enjoy hearing new music.

The album opens with “Your Great Name”, a song I truly enjoy - both for its almost rock treatment and the powerful lyrics that are supplemented by a beautiful melody.

“Strong Tower”, another favourite tune, is very well done. I love the attention paid to the drums on this track.

“King of my Heart” is a new song for me, and I quite enjoyed the gentler treatment to the verses while a growling guitar draws attention to the lyric of the refrain:

“You gave Your life for us, Jesus

 You are, You are love.”

Other tunes covered by Kutless on “Alpha/Omega” are “Great Are You Lord”, “You Are Love”, “Cornerstone”, “Your Love Awakens Me” and “Gave It All”.

Of the 10 tracks on “Alpha/Omega”, my favourite is “No Wonder”. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

“I see my Savior with love in His eyes

His body broken with no sin to hide

I see my Jesus eyes blind with blood

 His face is crimson, His cry is love

No wonder we call You Savior

No wonder we sing Your praise

Jesus our hope forever

You made a way.”

So, all things considered, Kutless’ “Alpha/Omega” may not be the rock album diehard fans were hoping for, and it doesn’t cover a lot of original material.

But it is a quality collection of songs chosen for the purpose of praise and I, for one, can find no fault in that.

Tracey Evison, a musician and educator on P.E.I., writes this column for The Guardian every second Saturday. She can be contacted by email at trevorandtracey@pei.sympatico.ca.

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