ALBUM TITLE: Organic Family Hymnal
ARTIST: Rend Collective Experiment
BEST TRACK/S: Come On, Faithful, Above Everything Else, Movements, Love Divine
OVERALL RATING: 3/5
The Rend Collective Experiment is a bit of a strange creature: the collective is a unique collection of musicians and artists who’ve come together to create music borne out of “an organic environment,” making music that “talks from the heart and tries to follow” God’s heart.
The simplicity and honesty that the group says keeps them together – there are around fifteen of them in total – certainly does come across in Organic Family Hymnal, the band’s debut album, which is now available on local shores via House of Praise. Organic Family Hymnal is packed full of songs that speak of God’s many virtues, and also deal with the complexities of trying to understand or come to terms with a God Who by His very nature defines and goes beyond the meaning of complex.
Album opener Come on My Soul is my favorite track on the album, for two reasons. First, it is remarkably simple. The song itself consists of just two verses that repeat themselves over and over. I’ve actually used Come On My Soul as a worship opener in the Greenhills church in which my family worships, and it’s been received well, largely because of #2: the naked invitation to worship opens the worshiper to actually worshiping. I love how Come On My Soul starts out quietly, with nothing but a guitar, then builds up into this anthemic celebration of praise.
Come On My Soul by Rend Collective Experiment
The next track, Faithful, is also a winning track off Organic Family Hymnal. I love hearing horns in worship, and the horns of Faithful add greatly to the overall joy of the song, which, by the way, features the irresistibly original voice of David Crowder. The honesty that RCE speaks about in their blog certainly comes across very openly in Faithful, absolutely gorgeous. I found it difficult not to sing along with the chorus of Faithful, its melodic hooks are gold.
Faithful by Rend Collective Experiment
The band actually released two more videos from Organic Family Hymnal: Movements isn’t exactly the strongest song in the album, but the video is clearly the best of the four produced, with its relatively light treatment and colorful production. Movements deals with how desperate we are to draw closer to God, although the video itself doesn’t lend to that. However, I enjoyed watching the video, and I felt it gave me some insight into a few members of the collective, which is important (at least to me) because there is little information on the singers in the album liners.
Movements by Rend Collective Experiment
Finally, You Bled brings people to an awareness of what it meant for Christ to actually sacrifice His life on the cross. You Bled doesn’t bring anything new to the table, lyrically speaking, but the honesty on this song as well as the clearly genuine emotions of the singers underscore the full extent of what Jesus went through for our sakes. It would make an excellent song for communal worship.
You Bled by Rend Collective Experiment
Other tracks in the album are just as good, with Exalt, Broken Bread, Too Much, and You Are Love the ready stand-above songs that have excellent cross-over potential. Meanwhile Love Divine combines fantastic lyrics that could have been lifted out of Psalms with a lovely melody, gorgeous. Not many of the songs in the album will be of much congregation use, but their raw and genuine openness make them very good for personal devotion time, or perhaps in small group settings.
Finally, a notes about Above Everything Else, which is particularly special. I love the guitar work on Above Everything Else; combined with the clearly worshipful lyrics that point out everything that God is, a singable chorus, and of course, that horn section, well, it’s just lovely. Plus, a children’s chorus! This gets me every time.
Don’t expect a Hillsong or Citipointe experience with this release. Rend Collective Experiment’s sound can’t quite be boxed, the result, I suppose, of 15 minds coming together with the collective goal of worshiping God with a product that is uniquely the result of their combined effort. Altogether, a fine initial effort.