STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 49081-16012 LABEL: Forerunner FM002 FORMAT: CD EP ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2009-05-18 RRP: £9.99
Reviewed by Ian Hayter
Jason Upton's music is referred to as "prophetic worship", often code for "making it up as he goes along", but here it is music that is clearly inspired and driven (rather gently and beguilingly on this album) by the Holy Spirit. There are just six tracks on this 45 minute CD, with three of them coming in at over nine minutes. Upton's reedy and slightly tortured vocals betray an intense passion that is perfectly complemented by the mellow cello of Heather Harris and the smooth violin of Marissa Barkey. Bassist William Clark, in his sleeve note commentary on the album, writes that the Holy Spirit's presence was felt powerfully as they recorded at The Dark Horse Studio in Tennessee and that led to an intimacy that forced the assembled musicians (the aforementioned joined by Brandon Hampton on acoustic guitar and Matthew Brinkmann on drums) to "abandon themselves and respond to Him in worship". On this occasion, the sleeve notes are not spiritual hype and there is a tremendous sense of worship in the playing here. The opening "Psalm 23" has some wonderful vocals by Upton and an extended and achingly beautiful improvisation which forms the bulk of the nearly ten minute track. Not only is the music beautifully arranged (or inspired) and played, but the lyrical content is also spellbinding. Many of Upton's phrases and images are superb, particularly in "Wait Upon The Wind". "Joshua" and "Jacob's Dream" draw on the stories of the biblical characters to underline Upton's own sleeve note comment that "it's much rarer to be called a 'friend' of God than it is to be 'used' by God". The final cut - again well over nine minutes - "Teach Me How To Pray", contains a version of The Lord's Prayer which is sung with such passion by the vocalist that it is almost impossible for the listener to resist being drawn right into it. This is by no means easy listening - it takes concentration and a willingness to abandon yourself not only to the music but to the Spirit who inspired it - but it is well worth making the effort and setting aside the time to allow Upton and his collaborators to lead you into the presence of God. Wonderful - and wonder full!
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For years I had the impression that God's love for me was tied to my striving for success and running towards my dreams. I remember several months ago I read a quote by Mother Teresa, "Jesus has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful."
In Mark 3:13 Jesus calls to himself those that He wanted so that they might be with Him. This last year I've learned that in the Scriptures it's much rarer to be called a 'friend' of God than it is to be 'used' by God.
Jacob struggled most of his life to gain worth, ownership and recognition. He stole, he lied, and he wrestled all in a strife-filled attempt to be somebody. He never realized that in striving to be somebody he was actually neglecting the very person God created him to be, His friend. So God never blessed Jacob while he was striving, lying, competing, or cheating....but rather while he was sleeping. These songs were given for the purpose of calling a generation back to intimacy with their Father. In history there have been few things more terrible than people who try to fulfill the great commission without first having understood God's loving acceptance of them. As was the case with Jesus, before He healed a lame person, fed the thousand, or raised the dead, he first heard His Father's voice call out from heaven, "You are My beloved, and in You I am well pleased."