Music Monday: Frontiers by Vertical Church Band
I am standing on the great frontiers
Of Your love, of Your love
You have overcome my deepest fears
With Your love, with Your love
So sings out the title track off of Vertical Church Band’s (VCB) 4th live album release: Frontiers. Full of passionate abandon toward pursuit of a higher calling in Christ, Frontiers is packed with church-ready anthems…anthems that lead us to step outside of ourselves and into deeper trust with our Savior.
Frontiers kicks things off with "1000 Tongues," on which Andi Rozier’s rich vocals pronounce a declaration of who we are in Christ:
We have found our anthem
At the cross where sin was slain
Gathered under One name
Where every chain is broken
Every sorrow swept away
Gathered under One name
Clocking in at a fast clip of 155 beats per minute, "1000 Tongues" pulsates and does great as a service-opener and/or gathering song. Blending a new melody with some of the old hymn verbiage in the chorus ("O For A Thousand Tongues"), the song feels new yet familiar all at once.
"I See The Lord" is an uptempo follow-up which declares “This is where worship starts, here in the temple of my heart. Remembering Who You are and all You’ve done.” Led by Kyle Fredricks, this would be another great option to begin a service and ready hearts for worship. Being that such songs are often in short supply, I am grateful that VCB has offered some solid options both on this release and others on previous works.
Multi-award winning producer Jason Ingram has been an influential unofficial member of VCB since the band’s first release. His touch on Frontiers is no less apparent. "This We Know" is the first slow tempo song of the album and Ingram’s vocals lead out nicely. If you are familiar with Jason and another band he is a part of (One Sonic Society), you'll love "This We Know." It reminds me quite strongly in lyrical content and feel to the song "Always" (written by Ingram and Kristian Stanfill and also performed by One Sonic Society).
If you are looking for a solid tune to introduce for Easter, VCB does not disappoint. I’ve fallen in love with "Exalted Over All," again led by Kyle Fredricks whose voice is in a mid to high tenor vocal range. The song starts soft but builds throughout and stays declarative about Jesus, drawing from the theme of Philippians 2:9, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”:
One name is higher
One name is stronger
Than any grave than any throne
Christ exalted over all
The only Savior Jesus Messiah
To You alone our praise belongs
Christ exalted over all
Meredith Andrews takes lead vocals on "Come Holy Spirit" which starts with a piano-arpeggiated verse washing into a big open chorus. The bridge here is the real climatic point with the final payoff being the last chorus of "Come Holy Spirit come, rush in like a flood, heaven, open up." Andrews has also been a key player in each VCB release to date and I love how along with her contributions, female-led songs have played big roles on all VCB projects.
"Your Mercy" (written by Jonathan Smith, Paul Baloche, and Andi Rozier) fits nicely in the middle of the pack. Rozier leads again and the verses instill imagery of a prodigal’s return to the Father. Given the opportunity in the right service or message, "Your Mercy" could be quite impactful and minister to a heart that needs to understand the depth of love the Father displays towards us. It’s a good song to have ready as sometimes those moments are planned…and sometimes they are not.
My personal favorite on Frontiers is "Set My Heart," led by Lauren Smith. Lyrically, I'm drawn in by the first verse lines and led to a place of intimacy and trust. There’s a depth of lyrical content here that calls the worshipper deeper:
Quiet the voice of doubt again
Echo within me every promise
Let Your Word be louder than my fears
Speak to the void when I can't see
Lift up my head in every valley
Let Your joy be greater than my grief
To follow-up a strong verse like this, a memorable and hooky chorus is needed (yes, even in worship music). "Set My Heart" does not disappoint and the chorus melody along with lyrics will be something you sing over and over again for days (trust me!). Mia Fieldes, Eddie Hoagland, and Todd Rukes are all contributing writers on this one.
Frontiers finishes out strongly on the remaining tracks and leaves no question to Whom the mission of VCB is for. From the peppy "Let Everything" to the Meredith Andrews-Jacob Sooter duet on "More Than I Deserve" to the stripped-down "Always Have" (led by the multi-talented Jon Guerra), there is not a dud in the bunch. And circling back to where this review started, the title track sung by Tara Stutes ends on a note of true fascination and wonder in Christ. To be led to the end of ourselves and to the edge of something greater…what a bold request and how fitting as this latest chapter of songs by VCB is closed out. I personally cannot wait to see (and hear) where they go next.
What I have always appreciated about Vertical Church Band since their first album (Live Worship From Vertical Church) is that there is never a question about the centricity of the Gospel to their message. The band's catalog has naturally become a go-to for worship pastors such as myself who are looking for songs that clearly portray Christ and the finished work of the cross. What Andi Rozier, Meredith Andrews and company have done on almost an annual-basis is provide a fresh batch of songs to help the church encounter Jesus through worship. We need more songs like these and we need more churches writing and embracing cross-centered songs which proclaim truth and shed light.
Can I get an amen?
Until the next #musicmonday, God bless.