Music Monday: There Is A Cloud by Elevation Worship
Release Date: March 17, 2017
I must admit that I'm a newbie when it comes to the music of Elevation Worship. I realize some reading this may find that hard to believe! Perhaps you have followed Elevation all the way back from their beginnings as a church in 2007 and have every album. Perhaps you have also observed Pastor Steven Furtick; watching sermons online and seeing powerful clips of his teachings on Facebook. Perhaps you have even visited Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and know first-hand the impact of this church and ministry.
Well after listening to Elevation’s latest There Is A Cloud, perhaps I need to join you.
I’ve been aware of several of the group’s big worship anthems. Songs like “Only King Forever”, “O Come To The Altar”, and “Resurrecting” have been songs the church has grabbed hold of and are examples of choruses that have been sung in my own church. I’m quite confident that of the batch of fourteen new tracks on There Is A Cloud, there are several that are church-friendly and need to be put on the lips of our congregants.
The title track “There Is A Cloud” is up first and puts into context the album’s cover art which ironically enough, does not show a cloud (a subject of humor in several Facebook worship leader forums and internet memes, I might add). The land is dry and everything appears to be a desert; the artwork in the liner notes points to this as well. But it is the expectation of the cloud and of the rain, that drives the first song (based off of 1 Kings 18 & 19):
Hear the word roaring as thunder
With a new future to tell
For the dry season is over
There is a cloud beginning to swell
Indeed a theme is being set and that is the reception of Jesus’ love and blessing: “We receive Your rain, we receive Your rain.”
“Overcome” is a track laden with the Gospel message and compels the worshipper to stand upon the promise of God, knowing that we serve a Risen Savior who has overcome the grave. Mack Brock leads out on this track which picks up the pace a little more into a driving charge of praise: “We will not be moved when the earth gives way, for the Risen One has overcome.”
Recognizing favorites on an album usually comes in two ways (at least for me): either the lyrics connect on a deeper level emotionally and spiritually or the song simply has a melodic hook that makes it very singable and memorable. Track three “Do It Again” does both and I love the fact that this song came out of a message Steven Furtick gave over two years ago at a Hillsong Conference called “Don’t Stop On 6”. Taking a cue from the march around Jericho, Do It Again calls us to remember that God’s promise and faithfulness still stand. Written by Furtick, Matt Redman, Chris Brown, and Mack Brock, it is the bridge of the song that especially rings true:
I’ve seen You move
You move the mountains
And I believe
I’ll see You do it again
Several themes develop throughout There Is A Cloud as the album moves forward. A deep cry for Holy Spirit outpouring is evident on “Fullness” which starts out reflective and builds into a bridge incorporating visions of tongues of fire, revival, and prophecy. On "He Is Lord", once again the idea of trusting in the God "Who holds tomorrow" rings out and calls us to remember the Lord's faithfulness. Moving in deeper still, "Yours (Glory & Praise)" takes the listener into the throne room with Revelation-influenced lyrics: "Glory and praise, power and strength, worthy is the Lamb of God, hallelujah."
"Uncontainable Love" and "Forever I Run" are both similar in style to Hillsong Young & Free. On the upbeat "Uncontainable Love", synth beats breakdown to a simple bridge as Jenna Barrientes sings "Nothing, no nothing contains Your love." "Forever I Run", also female-led, is influenced by the words of Psalm 73 as it declares "You are the strength of my heart forever, I run again to your love." Among the co-writers, Jason Ingram lends a hand on this one.
As the album's last few tracks close out, I am impressed to make special note of "Mighty Cross", a powerful anthem that walks through the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. Having just celebrated Easter, this one would've fit perfectly but still lands well on any given Sunday. Sherretta Ivey lends powerhouse vocals here (guys you gotta hear it!) and Jane Williams, Matthews Ntlele, Steven Furtick, and Jason Ingram are all contributing writers:
On the day He comes in glory
To reveal the fullness of His reign
All hearts will bow before the sound
Of Jesus' Name
When you consider new music and the timelines artists or bands take from release date to release date, it is quite often the case that some sort of project comes out on an almost yearly basis. Whether contractually obligated from a record company or simply due to the nature of the music industry, most groups will release a new album every year to year and a half. But for a group like Elevation Worship, a new batch of songs is not just an obligation that must be recorded, pressed, and shipped to the masses on a regular timeline. No, it is a church that is writing songs primarily for its own congregation (Elevation Church), but also with the understanding that their music is going to be played around the world. In this, Elevation's writers and musicians are tapping into the heart of God for what He wants to say at this very moment.
The several themes of trust, God's faithfulness, and a desire to see God move and revive all make up the focus of Elevation Worship's latest offering. If I ever get a chance, I hope to make it to North Carolina and take in a service first-hand. For now, There Is A Cloud is the next best thing to being there and that's pretty awesome.