Believe it or not, writing a "hit" song that resonates with a wide range of the listening public brings its own sort of unique struggle. For years, Rich Mullins bristled at being the guy who wrote "Awesome God," and Jars Of Clay have mentioned a few times in interviews how tired of playing "Flood" they have been. Other artists seem to embrace their hits. Michael W. Smith often says he's "never tired" of playing "Friends" and Mercy Me has made "I Can Only Imagine" the centerpiece of their concerts for more than twenty years.
Pat Barrett's "Good Good Father" (which he co-wrote with friend Toney Brown) is trending in the direction of those above-mentioned songs with its campfire melody and universal theme of the fatherhood of God, and it will be the song that his new songs will be measured against. But Barrett is more than a "one song" artist ["Build My Life" and "The Way (New Horizon)" are also excellent corporate worship songs] and his new album, Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly, is filled with many great, hummable melodies and some creative worship-oriented lyricism.
Kicking off with the galloping "Long Way Home," Barrett shows his knack for writing a compelling song with this anthemic look at the journey of faith. Weaving in Old Testament imagery, "Long Way" is a great opener and wide-open bit of songwriting. The following title track is equally compelling, with a nice paraphrase of Micah 6:8 about the fundamentals of the Christian life: "It all comes down to this / What you require of me / Love my neighbor as myself / And You above all things / Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly / With You, God / In all things, in all ways, walk humbly / With You, God."
But its central song, "No Weapon," serves as the massive album's (clocking in at seventeen songs) best moment. With a natural congregational feel, the vertical worship tune engages both with its waltzing melody and its theme of the power of God to protect, "When darkness closes in on every side / When battles rage and when the waters rise / I fear no evil for I know the truth / Nothing can separate my heart from You / Cause there's no weapon stronger than Your love / There's no weapon stronger than Your love / No height, no depth can overcome / 'Cause there's no weapon / stronger than Your love."
With other nice moments (the duet with Chris Tomlin on "As For Me;" the great, quiet closer "Canvas And Clay") and a bit of filler material too, Walk Humbly mostly scores points for ambition and heart. Barrett is a solid songwriter who is slowly turning into a great one, and his work ethic and heart for leading others in worship on this album is to be commended.- Review date: 2/25/21, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Sparrow Records, Bowyer & Bow, Capitol CMG
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