Tony Cummings reports on the ground-breaking 'Symphony' album by Life.Church's SWITCH collective
Right from the off, Cross Rhythms have had a close connection with Switch. We were probably the first radio station in Europe to play their debut EP and weren't in the least surprised when their thoroughly engaging "Symphony (ftg Dillon Chase)" became a hit on US Christian radio. If you've yet to hear that, or indeed to catch up on Switch, let me explain that Switch are a collective of worship leaders from Life.Church, a multi-site church which gathers at 32 physical locations in 10 American states and globally at Church Online. Switch grew out of the church's student ministry at Life.Church which is also called Switch. For a few years now, some of the more adventurous bands and artists in the modern worship movement had endeavoured to move modern worship away from the increasingly stereotypical sounds of Coldplay-esque stadium rock. They have recognised that where once the Britpop/modern rock synthesis seemed cutting edge compared with the acoustic guitar strummers who'd first tried to get the Church away from its hymnbooks and organs of centuries old traditions, now THEIR approach seemed a bit behind-the-times.
It's taken the Switch collective to wrench worship music into student relevancy. In doing so, they're risking the ire of traditionalists who will point out that few, if any, songs on this, their debut album, make use of Scripture in their lyrics. In response, a member of Switch told Timothy Yap on the Hallels website, "Our hope is that these songs encourage anyone who hears them. We know God is moving through this music because he has changed our hearts through it, and we want everyone who hears it to be filled with fresh joy and hope." The same interview continued, "We want to create hope-filled music that people want to listen to. Ultimately, it's our desire to make music that people can connect with and be encouraged to grow in their relationship with God. Our world is full of digital content to consume - not just for students, but for all of us - so we're constantly asking ourselves the question: 'When everyone has access to an endless amount of content in the palm of their hand, how can we help them want to pursue a relationship with God?' Our ministry leaders are constantly working to create fresh and unique content that grabs people's attention. We want to do the same with our music, so we're passionate about creating music that rises above the noise in people's everyday lives."
In their attempts to do this, Switch's obviously street-savvy collection of producers, programmers and singers have put together music that doesn't sound like the kind of worship music you'll hear at a Hillsong or a Passion gathering. It sounds like music you'll hear in a club or on a hip pop/R&B radio station. When Cross Rhythms reviewed the six songs on the 'Symphony' EP, all of which are now on this album, we commented on the sheer catchiness of "Lifeline", with its insidious bass and guitar riff propelling the confessional lyric ("Endless mercy/You had every right to leave me/All my sin had left me stranded/But your love has brought me home"), and that breakthrough "Symphony" hit ("And even in the madness/There is peace/Drowning out the voices all around me/Through all of this chaos/You are writing a symphony/A symphony").
The album offers four new-to-Joe-Public tracks. The opener, "Wild", has a sub-bass drive made for clubland while the infectious "Count Me In" is a gem, chosen for both the Cross Rhythms and xRhythms playlists. And if you think Switch's determination to make student-relevant music has no appeal for older listeners, let me quote a Cross Rhythms reader's comment from one Toni Powell from California: "I have really been touched by Switch's song 'Symphony' during the dark time of a divorce after 36 years of marriage and trying to work out something that had been lost. 'Symphony' by Switch has been a lifeline and a reminder that God is ALWAYS in the midst."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.