Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TUESDAY REVIEW: Matthew Smith - Watch The Rising Day

Matthew Smith - Watch The Rising Day
I first heard of Matthew Smith through the music of Indelible Grace. (Check out last week's IG review here.) I eventually grabbed a couple of his solo CDs and immediately was struck by his great song selection.

As a worship leader, I appreciated seeing some good versions of songs-we-all-know as well as some new (or so old-it's-new-again) hymns that I could use in worship. As I've continued to use the music of both Matthew and Indelible Grace in my church, I've seen the songs impact our congregation and help to form our theology of God, but I've one complaint:


Now, listen...I grew up with a Dad playing bluegrass banjo. I grew up in East Texas where country radio was king. And as much as I hate to say it...I sang Southern Gospel songs as a kid. So, believe me when I say that I love folky.

But over the years, some of these hymns have fit weirdly into our worship sets. While we're certainly not a Top-40-CCM church, our worship sets are typically modern-leaning. We're what most would call a "contemporary worship" church and because of that, finding a way to seamlessly transition from those types of songs into an acoustic/mandolin jam is tough.

That's why I'm glad Matthew Smith made Watch The Rising Day. This has to be one of the most "modern" sounding hymn project I've ever heard. There's a warmth to the guitar tones and a some nice size to the drums, but the record so skillfully balances itself. It's modern without being gimmicky and congregational without being nostalgic.

The song selection and writing are some of Matthew's best. Of course, there's lots that sings about us as the recipients of God's righteousness through Christ's sacrifice, but there's a lot of other stuff, too - Communion, dealing with trial and the promise of Heaven are just a few of the themes evident in this project.

I'm already making notes on which songs to add and I'd encourage you worship leaders to do the same. What a great way to hide lyrically rich, theologically sound, well-crafted acoustic pop to your weekly songlists! Go check it out!