Outside Worship is a trio of music makers bound together by their love of Jesus and born out of a desire for community in worship leading and songwriting. Marty Mikles, Anna Street and Phil Laeger are dreaming up a fellowship of songwriters, worship leaders, artists, poets and innovators to press into God’s heart for the outcast and disconnected, those hungry for belonging and for the presence of God. The band’s debut full length album Here To Remember officially released last month.
Outside Worship’s passion is to create space for meaningful and transformative encounters with God through worship in spirit and truth, and this passion shines brightly through the album’s opener. Passion is a deep meaningful cry out to God to “breathe upon these dry bones”, conquering up thoughts of Ezekiel 37 and this is only elevated with the other stand out lyric repeated throughout, “Revive us, flood it like a river”. The musical backing is at its bare bones too with the soul-filled relaxing vocals of Marty Mikles breathing fresh life into proceedings and steering us upon our way.
Choral vocals open Nobody But You up in the same vein, backed only by a few piano keys. A song of confirmation of who Jesus is and there being nobody but Him, touching briefly on living life by faith and not by sight as in 2 Corinthians 5:7, the song keeps the album flowing along nicely.
The current picks up nicely with the foot tapping All Your Love, the drum work impeccable throughout. The tone and nature of the song will remind many of Rend Collective as they weave a fine tapestry of defiant words and fiery music throughout, a true highlight of the album.
Matthew 11 and Joshua 1:9 provide the bedrock of the gently meandering Come Unto Me And Invitation, reminding us all of the sweet rest that comes with unloading our burdens at Jesus’ feet. The piano ripples beautifully as we’re invited into Invitation with the first lead female voice of Anna Street, offering up something new and fresh.
The Anna Street led Journey To Still is a beautiful meditative reminder to be still in God’s presence, before a timely reminder that God will never forsake us in the worshipful Altar (Come Thou Fount). Seamlessly combining their adaptation of the old Robert Robinson hymn and original choruses based around Hebrews 13:6, the same book & chapter where the name Outside Worship originated, Altar (Come Thou Fount) is incredibly graceful and an accurate embodiment of who Outside Worship are as a band.
The beautiful contemplative ending of Altar allows us to take a breath before the next song dawns, and the opening of For My Heart feels like just that, a picturesque misty morning with the sun’s rays just creeping through the tree branches as a new day dawns. The piano resurfaces and is joined by some shimmering symbols to act as the perfect gateway to an honest and introspective conversation with God, starting at hopelessness and ending with a defiant stance of “Jesus I won’t quit, til I’m found in You.”
The album opens out with Freedom, Anna once again doing a sublime job of navigating us through the waters before Marty’s vocals take over the tiller. The first chorus of “let there be healing now, let weapons be laid down, let there be grace now, here in this place now, let there be freedom” is simply sublime, the freedom to openly worship taking centre stage once again.
The next track takes us Back Into The Light, the speed of the instrumentation and urgency of the vocals picking up. Joined by the words “I was alone in the darkness, I was dead in the night, you raised me to life, love me back into the light,” the song’s celebratory tone is enhanced and will put a smile of reassurance on even the most solemnest of faces.
Psalm 39 is unsurprisingly the bedrock of Psalm 39 with the start set against a backdrop of the sound of rain, drawing out the feeling of crossing ‘the chaos waters’ into the ‘light of all (God’s) glory’ from the Psalm. Phil’s rendition of the Psalm brings a sense of calm to those chaos waters, a perfect reflection of God’s love carrying us through the storms of life.
The music swells and falls as we are introduced to the album closer, My Soul Will Trust. Phil’s relaxing vocals are once again a good fit here, growing steadily firmer in accordance with the music to a steadfast proclamation of “My soul will trust in You my God”. The quiet reiterations of those words as the music fades out at the end leaves a hauntingly serene feeling in the air and the words etched into your mind and soul.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I could give to Here To Remember is worship music outside of a church setting really isn’t my thing, but I’m liking this one. On the face of it there’s nothing really separating it from the torrent of worship releases out there but delve a little deeper and the differences start to appear. There’s nothing here which is overly predictable or has just been ‘tossed together’, everything is intentional. Great care has been taken to invoke a certain reaction from each note, word and track, a quality reflected in the album’s artwork which ties the project together beautifully.
Every track on Here To Remember stands tall on its own, but they stand taller together. The long run length of 1 and a quarter hours may put some off but dip in and you’ll be surprised at how fast that time flows past. Every track working together to give you a much needed sanctuary of rest from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Marty, Phil and Anna’s differing vocals complimenting each other and melding together seamlessly also lending a hand to evoke that feeling.
With Here To Remember, Outside Worship achieve what they set out to do, the freedom to meaningfully and openly worship apparent throughout. Whether you’re looking for an album to float through or sink your teeth into, Here To Remember has you covered and is worth checking out. Those broken bones have been revived for sure.
“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty.”Psalm 93:4