Review Summary: Proof that quality worship music can actually exist.
As a Christian, it’s pretty sad that the term “quality worship music” is really something of an oxymoron. At the same time that many Christian musicians claim to be “bringing glory to God” and all that jazz, they’re putting out consistently cheesy, generic, and repetitive tunes that no one who isn’t listening in a church sermon would want to listen to. And as a Christian, I can safely say that they’re not exactly better in that setting.
Enter Rend Collective Experiment, a worship band whose music is infused with catchy folk elements. Yes, the lyrics are very blatantly Christian-based; this is music meant to be played in church. But unlike just about every other worship group out there, Rend Collective doesn’t take that fact as an excuse to crank out bland, corny tunes. There really isn’t a single song on Homemade Worship that feels as though it overstays its welcome, or falls into the trap of a chorus being repeated ad nauseam. Even the almost seven minute-long “Desert Soul” manages to keep itself fresh, with plenty of catchy hooks and charming vocals.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the album gets off to a strange start. The choir-like chanting of “You’ve given us a heart, given us a home” is pretty cheesy, but then it segues into a catchy guitar riff and the album proper begins. The lyrics occasionally err a bit too much on the traditional side, but save for the rather dull “True Intimacy”, it’s never a major issue. In fact, one of the album’s most impressive feats is its ability to maintain that church-like worship vibe without ever sinking to the depths of cheese that is to be expected of that sort of music.
A big factor in the album’s charm is the folk vibe that runs through it. It’s a nice change from the generic alt-rock style of most modern worship music, and the thumping beats combined with a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitar consistently elevate the vocals. Those vocals switch between male and female at all the right times, so the dynamic never grows stale.
All that said, there are moments where it’s abundantly clear that this is a worship record. “True Intimacy”, as mentioned, is both cheesy and boring. The lyrics “More than living / more than breathing / you’re the reason / my heart’s beating” sound even cornier in the context of the song than they do written out, and the whole thing has an annoying twinkly vibe to it. The lyrics of “Christ Has Set Me Free” are as straightforward as you’d expect, although the instrumental work itself is catchy, with some nicely picked acoustic guitar opening the song before drums and tambourine kick in to add some texture.
If you’re not a Christian you’re probably scoffing by now, but if you’re looking for some quality Christian music, or just some easy listening, Homemade Worship really is where it’s at. This isn’t mewithoutYou, though, and you’re not going to be able to overlook the overtly Christian lyrics. Nonetheless, it comes highly recommended both as a testament to the ability of worship music to actually be decent, and simply as a collection of solid folk tunes.