Review Summary: Kensrue fought the good fight, and put his lyrical craftiness to the test, writing songs for the Church in a way that broke the standards.
Thrice: a band that upped the ante of lyricism in rock music. Honestly, what other band had rock songs written in sonnet form? Dustin Kensrue, the brilliant mind behind Thrice, the man who brought us the lyrics of “The Artist in the Ambulance”, “T & C”, and “Beggars”, is now singing Christian Worship music … a genre that is known for sounding like U2 and Coldplay wannabes, with lyrics that spit out overused clichés and repeat the same lines for minutes on end. Kensrue said himself:
“I would have laughed five years ago if you told me I would one day be a pastor putting out a worship record … I would have told you that I don’t even like worship music. I didn’t like how so much of it was full of unhelpful and unhealthy theology. I didn’t like how much of the worship music culture was insulated and backward-looking that it no longer had any relation to any music outside of its own bubble.”
So what changed? Quite simply, Kensrue fought the good fight, and put his lyrical craftiness to the test, writing songs for the Church in a way that broke the standards. Whether or not you are a believer in Christ, you can appreciate Kensrue’s passion for his faith, and his boldness to sing explicitly the same Christian messages he had been singing with a veil all these years. If you don’t understand that last sentence, go back and read the lyrics to your favorite Thrice songs … you might be surprised at what you find.
Musically, this album resembles a combination of Thrice and Please Come Home. In terms of genre, one could say it is indie/blues/folk/rock/post-rock … or you can just take it as it is. Kensrue has always had a knack for picking the right sound for the right words, and this album is truly the epitome of that pairing. The opening track, “Rejoice”, and upbeat “Grace Alone” are perfect examples of happy and upbeat songs that sing with the same mood. In the former, Kensrue sings: “We are children of the promise / The beloved of the Lord / Won with everlasting kindness / Bought with sacrificial blood / Bringing reconciliation / To a world that longs to know / The affections of a Father / Who will never let them go.” Such joyful news, and the music does nothing but help lift up that joy. On the other side of the pendulum, the dark and slow-building crooner, “It’s Not Enough,” which was originally written to be a Thrice song, fits its lyrics like a glove, as Kensrue sings of how no fame, person, thing could be enough to make him whole.
Ironically enough, what is perhaps the best-written song on this record has its lyrics almost entirely taken from the Bible in the book of Isaiah 53. “Suffering Servant” is a dark portrait of the troubled life and traumatic death of Jesus of Nazareth. However, in Thrice-like form, the song turns over on its head into a symphonic crescendo to end the song with lyrics that proclaim His victorious resurrection and exaltation. Once again, regardless of your beliefs, these songs can be enjoyed by simply experiencing the way that the music and lyrics combine to create an emotional experience.
Fans of Thrice and Dustin Kensrue will hopefully give this album a listen no matter what their beliefs are. However, if you are a Christian, and worship is an aspect of your life, these songs will absolutely turn your attention away from the musician and towards the Lord. Some may be upset that Kensrue chose this over Thrice, but as a Christian I cannot express enough how happy I am for Kensrue to have gone in this direction, and I am excited to see the effects of such a great Worship album.
It's Not Enough
The Voice of the Lord (especially for Thrice fans)