Matt Redman’s newest release comes at a high point in his career. His previous release, 10,000 Reasons, went gold and won both a Grammy and a Billboard Music Award.
And like a lot of musicians coming off a huge album, he’s decided to follow it up with a live album as a way to introduce some of his other works to new fans. The difficulty with that approach is that Your Grace Finds Me is a bit uneven and nowhere near as solid an album as his previous effort.
Your Grace Finds Me was recorded live at a conference for worship leaders called LIFT and the audience is completely enthralled by Redman’s performance. But some of the songs that work well in a room filled with eager worshipers don’t work as well when you’re listening to them at home.
The song Wide as the Sky repeats two sentences over and over for about five minutes, and while it’s easy to imagine getting caught up in the live performance, it’s tough to listen to on an album. One Name Alone is another misstep, with clumsy lyrics that don’t really work as a song.
But there are also some magnificent moments on the album as well. Let My People Go is a defiant anthem that talks about the important subjects of human trafficking and slavery. And the title track is a compelling and beautiful song about finding grace and singing the praises of the Lord that is somewhat hypnotizing as an album track. So it was no doubt a powerful experience in a live setting.
One change in Redman’s sound from some previous releases is the addition of a banjo and other instrumentation that veers several tracks into the realm of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Contemporary Christian music is sometimes criticized for latching onto sounds two or three years after they’ve entered pop culture, and that seems to be the case here. In general, the addition of a banjo isn’t a distraction, but it doesn’t add all that much to the tunes.
Despite the unevenness of the album, it’s likely that Your Grace Finds Me will not just be a big seller, but it will introduce some songs destined to be included in your local church service. Songs like Sing and Shout are perfect songs for a lively call-and-response performance in any church and one of Redman’s gifts is that he can write songs that are accessible and entertaining, while still retaining the spiritual center of the subject matter. It’s a talent that few performers have and it’s one of the things that has made Redman a star.
But the question with Your Grace Finds Me is whether that talent to write and perform broad-based potential worship standards gets in the way of a great listening experience. It probably will be an issue for many listeners, but the positive is that Redman’s talent allows him to keep the listener happy, even when the individual track might be lacking a little something special.