You may not like my choice. I won’t pretend to be the best musical judge for all tastes. However, I found a gem of a project that some of you will have the courage to search out at my recommendation. It’s by Vashawn Mitchell, a young man I worked with a few years ago at Sweet Holy Spirit Church.
Vashawn served as the minister of music and for years snatched sermon lines and transformed them into hits, if I may. I remember him talking about how he saw himself as a songwriter, as a person who listened to what the pastor said, and as a person who combined the two.
Last weekend I went to the CD release for Vashawn Mitchell’s latest project, Triumphant. Dawn and Bryce were with me. The boy had his own soundtrack since it was beyond his bedtime. Still, Uncle Mark was there. We passed him from his arm to mine until he fell asleep and left me with a crook in my elbow. I picked up two CDs, just like I did the last time Vashawn’s work hit the stores.
This project sits inside a mighty stream, one where I’d place the markers “Gospel” at one end and the equally ambiguous “Praise and Worship” at the other. Vashawn’s sound sits between those markers, and he incorporates lyrics and melodies which are comfortable in both. He and his vocalists respect music that came before, and you can hear influences that stand and jump inside both musical categories. You can also hear him going after something, chasing in his own words, and communicating a particular rendition of the Christian life.
Vashawn is at his best with this work. I have enjoyed all of his efforts–from What’s to Come to Favor to I Lift My Hands. But in my view, this project gathers a combination of his growing skill as a writer, his increasing capacity to gather quality producers (again), and songs that run the good gamut of Christian music. He honors the sound of Gospel with “His Blood Still Works,” while pairing that more traditional feel with the incomparable “Nobody Greater,” my personal favorite. I’d sit a few of his songs with Israel and Byron and Smokie.
His simple melody near the end states a truth that resounds, “You will recover. He will restore.” I hope that song alone finds the lips of worship teams or individuals listening for the hope of the Christian message. It–with Conquer and Be Fruitful–captures my view of Gospel music in that it repeats simple phrases, ones consistent with (if not taken altogether from) scripture. His interpretation of scripture is clear and he plays between encouraging lyrics, the kind that lift up the heads of people bowed down, and pronouced worship of One for whom we sing.
Last, I am upset by the bonus track. Upset that it’s so short. Somehow he and his producers (and they are good) cut the track too soon. Upset me good fashion. I was driving from the health club, and I could have listened off the side of the LSD for a whole lot longer. Really. I will tell him that the next time I see him. Or I’ll pass the comment on to him or Rick Robinson over FB. Rick’s popular refrain, along with the, now, old faithful Lord, I Lift Your Name. It just isn’t fair to hear William Murphy’s voice playing on my worship emotions like that! That track could play for a week before I ask what time it is.
I hope you find a way to listen to this project. And buy it if you like.