Get the new FREE JFH METAL MP3 compilation -- Vol. 3!
Get the new FREE JFH METAL MP3 compilation -- Vol. 3!

JFH Music Review


River Valley Worship, The Ensemble Project EP
CLICK COVER TO ENLARGE

River Valley Worship
The Ensemble Project EP



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Worship / Pop
Album length: 5 tracks: 24 minutes, 56 seconds
Street Date: February 12, 2021


READER RATING:   


Though they may not be the most prominent name in modern worship music, the year 2021 marks a full decade since River Valley Worship first sprung out of River Valley Church, a multi-campus mega-church based in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. Led by church worship pastor Ryan Williams, the collective of musicians and vocalists quickly released six full-length albums in nine years, the earlier ones being impressive enough to draw the attention of BEC Recordings, and the most recent of which was 2020's Altars, a live album that was one of the better modern "alt-pop" worship albums in recent years. The formula of Altars was fairly standard for today's live worship, with a lot of slow build quiet-to-loud dynamics, many of which were very powerful. However, the project bore a particularly treble-heavy and echo-drenched vocal mix that occasionally distracted from the quality of some of its best songs.

In an attempt to put the focus more on the quality songwriting, and less on the modern trappings of electric guitar and synthesizers, River Valley Worship returns in 2021 with the five-song EP, The Ensemble Project. In this case, the ensemble is a powerful collection of the eight vocalists of RVW singing five of the best songs from Altars in a stripped down, piano-based format. Three of these songs ("Hallways," "Real Thing," and "Shadows / Spotlights") feature striking vocal arrangements with nothing more than a single piano accompanying them. There is generally no "lead vocal" in these songs, other than sometimes an initial verse; instead, the strong effect of eight powerful and dynamic voices equally mixed is striking and often moving. Opener "A Wild Chorus (Altars)" also features a light string section which doesn't distract from the voices. All these songs play with the original song chords and structures in interesting ways, with one even adding a key change.

The only slight misstep is middle track "Fade," which begins strong but then turns into an awkward gospel-influenced take on what might be the most dynamic song on Altars that unfortunately veers from the stripped-down vocal focus in favor of a full band. The overbearing organ and small-sounding drum kit, which sounds lifted from 1990's worship, feel a bit jarring in the midst of an album that is otherwise about minimal instrumentation and a truly impressive and well-arranged vocal ensemble.

Worship music in the modern era -- and boy, there is plenty of it these days -- always must straddle a fine line between performance excellence and intimacy in God's presence. River Valley Worship has released some of the better modern worship of the last few years, and this further makes clear the considerable talent in the group, but it's also a fair question to wonder who this EP is intended for. If you are already familiar with Altars, you may be intrigued by a fresh take on these songs and the consistently remarkable choral vocal production, at its best when accompanied by a single, simple piano. But if you've never heard of RVW and you're just looking for great new modern worship, you'd be better served to get familiar with the many powerful songs on that album first, because The Ensemble Project is definitely more about the performance--though without question, it's quite a performance.

- Review date: 2/9/21, written by Evan Dickens of Jesusfreakhideout.com



(JFH Sponsor Spot)

Listen to the debut EP from the band Hopeful.!

 

. Record Label: BEC Recordings
. Album length: 5 tracks: 24 minutes, 56 seconds
. Street Date: February 12, 2021
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. A Wild Chorus (Altars) (Ensemble Version) (4:58)
  2. Shadows / Spotlights (Ensemble Version) (5:31)
  3. Fade (Ensemble Version) (5:30)
  4. Real Thing (Ensemble Version) (4:24)
  5. Hallways (Art House Session) (4:35)

 

 JFH Album Sample Player

 



Leave a Comment

 

 

go to main Album review page
go to Album review archive

 


(JFH Sponsor Spot)

 

 

                 
Listen to the debut EP from the band Hopeful.!

Search JFH




This Friday, April 26, 2024
ALBUMS
Mack Brock Time and Time Again - EP [Centricity]
Aaron Cole Sorry, I Changed [RCA Inspiration]
Alex Henry Foster Kimoyo [Hopeful Tragedy]
Gileah Taylor Slow Parade [Velvet Blue]
Various Artists Unsung Hero: The Inspired By Soundtrack (Digital/CD) [Girder]

SINGLES
My Epic Northstar - Single [Tooth & Nail]
Nate Parrish I'm Alright - Single [Fair Vaux]
Unspoken What He Says About You - Single [Centricity]

VINYL
Various Artists Unsung Hero: The Inspired By Soundtrack [Girder]

DVD
Travis Tritt Country Chapel DVD [Gaither]

Next Friday, May 3, 2024
ALBUMS
Soweto Gospel Choir History of House, Vol. 1 EP [Gallo]

SINGLES
Coquí Today - Single [DREAM]
Brandon Heath Highly Favored (feat. Ryan Ellis) - Single [Centricity]
Bay Turner Brand New - Single [Centricity]


For all release dates, click here!
 



Listen to the new EP from Saved By Skarlet!




Listen to the new Album From Tim Juillet!

Check out depositphotos for royalty free images