We Interrupt This Blog Series . . .

53580536_312280736313835_5335483072609517568_n. . . to introduce you to a fabulous music group that just released a full-length CD.  We the Least features two of my former Judson University Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts students, sister-and-brother duo Michaela and Nathanael DeLong, along with friend Dell May.  Their new long-player, Screw It Up, released on hard-copy CD as well as all the usual streaming outlets, is a sonic joy, full of catchy songs, interesting lyrics–many of them humorously self-deprecating (none finer than the title track)–and Christian Truth, some overt and some the product of what Eugene Peterson so marvelously designated the “sacred ordinary” things of life.  It is well worth your investment if you’re looking for something fresh and out of the ordinary for your summer listening pleasure.

I would be remiss if I didn’t flesh out the adjective fresh in the previous sentence.  Over the course of the past . . . well, for all of the 21st century, to be frank, I have despaired over the state of Christian pop music, especially where harmonic development, or lack thereof, is concerned.  As an exercise in both research and nostalgia, I recently have been listening to the WOW Hits series, beginning in 2004 and concluding in 2016, and I have been reminded again of the stultifying ubiquity of the I-IV-vi-V chord progression and its 23 other possible combinations in ccm.  Contemporary worship music is, alas, no better (and sometimes worse), a reality I have lamented in this space before.  There are, of course, laudable exceptions to the rule in both ccm and cwm, but they tend to be in the little-heard indie world, unfortunately; the fact that we can’t point to many more creative tunesmiths serving and being marketed for the contemporary Christian church does not reflect well on the current cultural arbiters of art made by believers.

I bang this drum loudly in Judson University’s Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts, and Michaela and Nathanael DeLong were clearly listening.  I laughed out loud for joy on more than one occasion, as a deliciously unexpected diminished chord appeared here, a cleverly unanticipated flat-VI chord emerged there, and on an on it went.  Combine the harmonic vivacity with perceptive lyrics that belie their authors’ relative youth, and I can recommend We the Least’s latest offering to you without a shred of reservation.  Truly, purchasing this album will be a decision you’ll be hardpressed to screw up.

The Lord be with you!

Coming next week, Lord willing: Back to reflections on worship in the contemporary American Church.

About Warren Anderson

Emmaus Road Worshipers is written by Dr. Warren Anderson, Director of the Demoss Center for Worship in the Performing Arts at Judson University (Elgin, Ill.), where he also directs the Judson University Choir. A Judson alumnus, he has served his alma mater in a number of capacities over the past 30+ years, especially the chapel ministry, which he led for 22 years. From 1982-2016, Dr. Anderson served six different churches--American Baptist (X2), Converge, Evangelical Free Church of America, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist--as a "weekend warrior" worship musician/pastor. He is a former member of the editorial board of Worship Leader magazine. The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of Judson University.
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