Music Monday: We Say Yes by Housefires
Release Date: June 2, 2017
There’s something about raw and organic worship that speaks to me; both profoundly as a worship pastor and also as someone just looking to connect to God in a new and fresh way. With an abundance of worship music available today, finding pure and simple yet accessible worship is sometimes harder than you might think. The church is constantly presented with the newest album by this or that great artist or worship band. As someone who directs worship, I find this true every week. But finding projects that feature a batch of songs that are simple yet creative enough to take into a local church is not always so easy.
You’ll know the name Housefires if I mention one song: "Good Good Father". Contrary to popular belief, the song was not written by Chris Tomlin but by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown of Housefires; the Atlanta-based worship community part of Grace Midtown Church. In true God-breathed fashion, Tomlin covered Good Good Father and took it to a level where nearly every church in America (and across the globe) has performed it. If your knowledge of Housefires is limited, their Good Good Father is a great intro to a band that is doing something fresh and exciting within the worship genre. And if you’re looking to hear more, there’s no better place to start than with their latest release, We Say Yes.
We Say Yes begins with Pat Barrett’s soft tenor echoing Jesus’ words in John 14:6: I believe You are the way, the truth, the life. "The Way (New Horizon)" acknowledges that God is our portion, fortress, and hiding place in each and every circumstance. A very catchy and singable melody covers the chorus as this song rises and falls over it’s 7 minute length. Setting a very communal-feel and tone for the rest of the album, The Way leads out strong.
Track two, "Give Thanks To God," features Kirby Kaple on lead vocals, accompanied by Barrett. There’s a call and response sort of thing going on and I love it; very hymn-like and stately. And I’m digging Kaple’s voice; there’s just something so natural to it yet she possesses authority and is someone I could listen to all day. I could see Give Thanks To God working well on Sunday as it beckons an audience to come and sing; there’s no room for just casual observance.
Title track "We Say Yes" comes in with a piano-lead line and brings things down a bit sonically-speaking. Tony Brown sings lead and for those worship leaders with deeper and richer voices, this is your song! For some reason, Tony reminds me somewhat of Israel Houghton…just if Israel’s voice was a little deeper (i.e. less tenor) with the same Gospel-type presence. We Say Yes is all about moving forward with God’s will and plan, allowing His purposes to prevail in our lives:
I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid anymore
Your love has made a way
We say yes God we accept the invitation to Your love
We say yes God You and You alone can have it all
Moving ahead, We Say Yes features several tracks that go beyond the 4-minute worship staple and extend into periods of spontaneity and openness. Barrett leads the heartfelt and honest confession on "Lifter," echoing words of Psalm 3 (You’re the lifter of my head, won't You take me higher and higher. You show me love again. You alone my soul desire). Kirby Kaple appears again on "Jesus What a Savior;" a soft ballad which proclaims “I’ve never known a love like Yours” and “Your heart, it knows no borders, no walls”. And on the bridge of the lively "You Are My Peace" Nate Moore declares “I don’t have to be strong because You are my strength.”
Trust and dependence in the Lord covers so much of what Housefires is saying through these songs on We Say Yes. A steady, unwavering faith in God despite life’s ups and downs is the mark of a true worshipper. Several great songs round out the album, but I am particularly struck by "Open Space," the closing track; once again led by Kirby Kaple and featuring her on piano as well. What a perfect and timely punctuation mark on an album that does not hide the fact that we are broken, weary sinners in need of a saving relationship with Christ. In that need, we ask to be made more like Jesus and for Him to write our story:
My heart is an open space
For You to come and have Your way
I'm open, I'm open
From their website, Housefires states “Our hope is that these songs would spark fires that burn bright in ordinary houses all over the world. That you would be awake to God in every part of your life…the polished and the ordinary.” And I believe that is what God is doing through movements like Housefires and similar groups (Iron Bell Music, United Pursuit, etc). Within these movements, the worship is laid-bare: open and honest before the Lord and presented without pretenses. I’d highly recommend going to the Housefires YouTube page where you can listen to AND watch each of these songs as they were recorded live. If any band gets the concept of putting the listener “in the room”, Housefires does it to near perfection. I can’t listen to these songs and watch the clips without declaring “Yes and amen!”