Worship Album Review: Passion: Take It All

Posted by Luke Perrie on May 28, 2014 Blog | | No comments

Since moving to Atlanta, I’ve had the privilege of being close enough to head to Passion City Church and attend gatherings every once in a while. I recently got the chance to go to the record release party for Crowder’s brand new Neon Steeple album at PCC on May 25.  It’s one of the reasons I moved to Atlanta…to be close to the epicenter of worship music in the U.S. A good friend of mine and I went down to the live album recording on January 19, 2014, so we got to hear most of these songs as they were recorded live. This gives me a great perspective on how these songs translate via headphones, in a group setting at home, as well as live in a group setting.

All of the Passion music comes from the sixsteprecords group of artists, which is a small label that supports the below artists. sixstepsrecords was started in 2000 by Louie Giglio, with the stated goal of producing music “that draws people to Jesus.” Chris Tomlin, the most well-known artist on the label, has written music that millions of Christians around the world sing in churches and ministry organizations each week.

  • David Crowder
  • Charlie Hall
  • Christy Nockels
  • Passion
  • Matt Redman
  • Kristian Stanfill
  • Chris Tomlin

Interestingly, the Passion team does not provide full-featured resources such as chord sheets, loops and tutorials like Elevation Worship does. Granted, Stanfill, Crowder and Redman do a lot of New Song Cafe’s and such, but the closest you’ll get with Passion is select songs on Worship Together, and the Official YouTube channel. Most worship leaders will be able to easily find chord sheets via SongSelect, but as any worship leader knows, SongSelect chord sheets are often suspect. Some of the songs on this album may still have to be manually tabbed out in Planning Center or other planning technology programs. As a worship leader who has been involved at several churches, I know how bad the worship community is with attributing the proper credit to the authors of Christian worship music. The fact that Passion is not offering free resources will certainly cut down on the number of worship leaders and churches who use the music without the proper permissions. However, I must say that I really appreciate Elevation’s approach in providing worship leaders with really powerful tools to teach each leader’s congregation the fantastic new songs coming from Elevation. Very helpful and appreciated.

Now, on to the specifics of the Passion team’s latest album: Passion: Take It All. Album is playing now as I write the review. For a complete list of the full Passion discography, check out the Wikipedia Article here. Here are some highlights for me. These are, of course, my highlights. I’m sure everyone has a different take, and I’ve even talked to some of my friends in the worship community who tend to like some of the songs that I don’t mention in this worship album review.

Don’t Ever Stop

I recently listened to an audio session from the 2014 LIFT Conference on songwriting where Chris Tomlin explained his process behind writing this song. He mentioned that he had been trying for a while to figure out how to put Philippians 4:8 to music. He mentioned in the audio that most people may not even know that they are singing straight from the Bible when they sing this song, and that he was glad that he was able to write this in a celebratory tone. During the live recording, they did a big breakdown section that was pretty fun. This is definitely meant to be that one “upbeat” song for the album. I think it does a pretty good job of carrying the “upbeat” burden for the album. Not quite as strong as past “celebration” songs from Passion like “Not Ashamed,” but certainly a better offering than “God’s Great Dance Floor.”

Never Gonna Let Me Go

This is not necessarily one of my favorites on the album just from an overall tempo and also lyrical perspective. I know that much of today’s worship music follows only a select few lyrical themes, and “love never letting go” and “come as you are” are at the top of the list. These two themes make up the majority of the lyrical meat for this song. Tempo-wise, I’m not a fan of the ploddy, mid-tempo pace. However, I must say that I do have friends who really love this song, especially for use in their churches that they lead worship for.

Let It Be Jesus

The day this Passion album dropped, I tweeted that this song would soon un-seat “Oceans” as the new “girls’ worship jam.” 🙂 I’m not sure it will go that far, but it’s definitely one of the strongest female-led offerings to come out of Passion since “Waiting Here For You” from the Here for You album. “Jesus at the Center” is a recurring theme that is often focused on in Passion’s music. The lyric content of this song returns to that theme. I really enjoy this song as a worship leader and think that it will be sung in many churches across the nation. I think there is a huge need for more female-led worship music in today’s modern worship setting (to allow the ladies to connect better), and this song will certainly aid in that pursuit. I’m also a sucker for “worship build-ups,” and the one at 2:25, which returns at 4:00, does not disappoint. This song is also heavily Scripture-based lyrically, with the focus of the lyrical content coming from Philippians 1:21. One specific lyric that I really enjoy as a challenge is “should I ever be acclaimed.” What a great reminder that Jesus in to be center in good and bad circumstances!

At the Cross (Love Ran Red)

The live album recording in January was the first time I had ever heard this song. I didn’t love it at first, but by the end of the song with everyone singing the chorus “here, my hope is found, here on holy ground, here I bow down,” I was hooked. I think this is one of the strongest offerings on the album lyrically, from a “here is what I want to say to You, God” point of view.

 

My Heart is Yours

Although this piece is also strong from a “personal lyrics sung to God” perspective, I’m honestly not quite sure why this is being released as the first radio single from the album. To me it’s not one of the strongest studio-recorded songs by any means. The only thing that would make sense to me is that because it works well in a live setting, maybe Passion wanted it to get a lot of exposure so it would be picked up to be sung in many churches across the nation (which is of course the stated goal of releasing this music). I think this is definitely one of the more repetitive songs on the album. The tag at the end into “I Surrender All” is a nice touch, and may make it resonate with Christians who have grown up in church.

Mercy

Very “Redman-esque.” Redman is an amazing writer. He has either written or co-written more songs than most people realize. This one stays pretty basic using the “endless as the sea” lyric concept to describe God’s mercy. It was originally released on Redman’s own worship album, “Your Grace Finds Me.” I do like the “may I never lose the wonder, oh the wonder of your mercy” part and enjoy listening to and singing that line.

 

Come As You Are

This is by far the song that has become my absolute favorite on the entire album. I recently went through a time in my life (beginning of May) where my Mom was very ill and in critical condition. I am so thankful to God to be able to report that she is in recovery and doing well. Even though my situation was not the specific original lyrical focus of this song, the song has still meant a lot to me during the last few weeks. Overall, I think the message translates very well to people who are not Jesus followers as well. One of the most powerful attitudes that the church can convey in today’s modern society is acceptance, and the reminder that God does not require us to get our lives all cleaned up before we come to Him. As my pastor mentioned this past Sunday, “It’s ok to come to Jesus messed up. It’s just not ok to stay that way.” I heard Crowder do this live at his Neon Steeple release as well, and it was very powerful. I wouldn’t necessarily peg this tune as a 100% worship song, but I think it will be very powerful in the church across the world, and mean much to many. There’s something in Crowder’s voice that says “desperation,” and this song is no exception.

Worthy

To me, this is by far Redman’s best offering on the album. My favorite melody line lies underneath the “day and night we’ll never stop singin’ You’re worthy” line. I think that melody is catchy. Put together with the shouty “Your Name!” bridge, I think this song may make its way into numerous churches across the world on Sunday mornings. It reminds me of the Scripture that mentions that in Heaven, we will sing “Holy! Holy! Holy!” incessantly, which is mentioned in a few places in Revelation and in the Old Testament.

This Grace

I first heard this song in December 2013 when my wife and I attended PCC on a Sunday for the 11am gathering. I remember texting a few of my friends who are involved in worship music and saying “watch out for this song!” I distinctly remember the band doing this at the live recording as well. Focused on God’s grace, and based on a phrase from Romans 5:2, I think Stanfill and his co-writers did a fantastic job with this tune. Although the bridge does hit a very often repeated “Worthy is the lamb” type theme, the growth into the final set of “Oh, this grace on which I stand” repeats is solid. This is probably my second favorite tune on the whole record, behind “Come As You Are.” My friend and I have an ongoing debate over whether the return to the 1 chord in the bass at 4:33 (instead of the 4 chord like all the other times) was on purpose or not. 🙂 Maybe if someone from Passion reads this eventually they can let us know in the comments or on social.

There is certainly no denying that the worship leaders and songwriters that make up the Passion team are some of the most influential in modern evangelical worship music. Millions of people around the world sing songs written by Chris Tomlin alone every single Sunday, not to mention offerings from Kristian Stanfill, Matt Redman, David Crowder, Christy and Nathan Nockels, and others. Although “White Flag” and “Let the Future Begin” were solid musically, my take is that this is the strongest and most creative worship offering from the Passion team since “Here for You” in 2011.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to support this great team that is doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God by downloading the new Passion: Take It All album from iTunes.

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