Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TUESDAY REVIEW: David Potter - Man of Sorrows, Glorious King

David Potter - Man of Sorrows, Glorious King
Last week, over at Worship Matters, Bob Kauflin reviewed a new hymn project from a guy named David Potter. Bob's review is great - concise and clear and a nice snapshot of the CD.

Since that last year has been my geek-out-over-hymns period, I immediately grabbed the record. Bob's review was enough for me to know we'd use some of these songs at my church.

For the past week, I've enjoyed the album like most new fans...playing the same three songs over and over and over again. Then I realized an actual review might help me to move on to a fourth track and see what other greatness was in this project!

The record grabbed me instantly. Musically, this thing is nicely balanced. Yes, there's good electric guitar. But there's also good piano. And nice drum groove. And clean vocals. Musically, the project manages to communicate skill and power without sonically bludgeoning the listener. The record is mixed clearly and with taste. The whole record's got lots working for it anbd sounding warm and welcoming just makes it even better!

Hymn projects are tough, because every church is different. Some folks don't want you touching the melody or arrangement while others want a new chorus every on every single track. Potter does a good job of managing this. There are some well known tunes here, and he and the band do a good job of exalting the songs themselves over musical performance. So far, the strongest tunes for congregational worship are "Man of Sorrows" and "The Greatness Of His Mercy", both of which are exactly the type of songs we need to be singing. Yes, there's some melodic and lyrical license here...but not much. Good or bad, we're in a church culture now where the majority of our people don't even know the original versions of these hymns so playing them to a mixed crowd is always fun - your older folks know the songs and the new people just thinks it a new jam!

The only downside for me was the noticeably blues-flavored tracks. For the style, they're done well, but I don't know that they communicate the sentiment that's been directed by the lyrics.

There's good playing on this project, but I think most any worship team could do these tunes with even the simplest of rehearsals. The challenge of these songs is convincing your people to not overplay them or try to imbue them with power. There's power there - but it's managed with subtlety and precision. Pianists and electric guitar players would bear most of the burden for the hooks, but these songs are pretty much ready-made for worship.

As you can see, I like this record. It's not perfect. The vocals come off as inconsistent in a couple of places and there are two or three stylistic choices that seem to fit with the rest of the record, but those are small matters. The songs are great and they can be played by normal people and they speak of a God who is vast and bigger than two verses, a chorus and a bridge. If you're looking for some rich, theological songs to sing as a church, go get this record. You can find out more about David here.