Nostalgia is an incredibly powerful emotion. People are inherently drawn to things that bring back warm memories of the "good ol' days." This has only been intensified during the tumultuous year of 2020. Such is also true for the Christian, whose varied stories of faith often have a cherished beginning - and therefore a set of songs that accompany it. Veteran acoustic-worship duo Shane & Shane are taking advantage of this by offering a cover album of sorts, featuring solely 1990's worship hits, titled Vintage. One may look at the tracklist and think they were in a time-warp, seeing song titles they've had ingrained into their brain since they were kids. But many of these songs have been slowly fading out of Sunday morning worship sets due to the inevitable passage of time, and the swath of new music coming in every day. The question then becomes, "Should these classics be resurrected or left by the wayside?" Put another way, is Vintage necessary?
The answer arrives in many varying facets. First off, if any artist is capable of giving new life and purpose to these old tunes, it would be the Shanes. In fact, the duo has created a successful worship-team-training-company under the moniker "The Worship Initiative," producing numerous albums of the same name, with the main goal being accessibility and ease of playing for worship bands. Vintage mainly succeeds in this regard by providing simply arranged, easily formatted renditions of these favorites, and worship leaders (myself included) will find a welcome opportunity to re-add them into their weekend worship rotations. The song choices are spot-on, and I was reminded of how Biblically-rich these praise classics are, most notably "Knowing You" and "Sometimes By Step." The album varies nicely between up-tempo and laid-back numbers, giving a seamless flow one might expect from an original album.
Stylistically, S&S delivers what they are known for: acoustic guitar driven, relaxed worship music, stripped of the bells-and-whistles of tech-savvy modernity. If you're going into this expecting a "hot take" or sophisticated remixes of these tracks, you'll be sorely disappointed. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the solemn and respectful tone in which the songs are built. Even the traditionally toe-tapping numbers "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" and "Ancient of Days" are given a more reflective makeover, perhaps helping them steal away from the criticisms of being "cheesy" or "out of date." Of note is Shane Everett's precise vocal harmonies; while they're his only role in the band (with Shane Barnard on lead vocals and guitar), he delivers them with such finesse and emotion that they come across as an actual instrument - and a vital one at that. I also enjoyed the inclusion of other well-known choruses such as the duo's own 2004 gem "Yearn" being mixed with Michael W. Smith's classic "Breathe," as an effective way to weave both melodies together, without sacrificing each song's original simplicity.
So the answer to the above question, whether Vintage is necessary or not, will likely depend on your needs and expectations. This reviewer-slash-worship leader is thankful for it, and hopes the up-and-coming generation uses it to rediscover the beauty of simple worship found in their parent's praise soundtrack. Likewise, if you're a somewhat seasoned Christian, hearing these nostalgic tunes will likely evoke fond memories of a past place and time in your Christian walk. On the other hand, if you believe these songs to be "past their prime" or worn-out, you may want to pass on this--just don't be surprised if you hear a few of them make a comeback at your next church outing.- Review date: 7/23/20, written by Joel Zaloum of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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