At the risk of sounding reductive, there are few nationalities that throw a musical celebration as well as the Irish do. And Rend Collective is a group of Irishmen (and women) who can joyfully party with the best of them. But far from an empty good time, this band rocks and stomps with purpose and a true heartbeat for celebrating the Lord and His salvation, and the implications (both political and personal) that this salvation brings.
Whosoever, the latest in a fine run of joyful-yet-poignant albums by the band, is a welcome bit of good energy heading into the fall months of the year. Kicking off with the rollicking title track, the band wins points for its take on true, Biblical inclusivity: "There's no audition for true love / No matter what, you don't have to earn it / If you've ever felt like an outcast / There's good news if you've never heard I / God so loved the world /God so loved the world /He never left you out of it / Whosoever needs a shelter / Needs a Savior, come in closer / All who wander, every outsider / You are safe here, whosoever." In a time when "inclusivity" is a bit of a buzzword, the band works hard (in their typical, energetic way) to remind the listener that the Bible is clear in its language about who is welcome at God's table.
The following, blistering "Let It Roll" sounds like an Irish party mixed with the ancient Psalms. Against a wall of fiddles and harmonicas, the group wisely states that the Biblical ideas of justice and worship are not exclusive of each other: "Let worship and justice / march hand-in-hand with / The righteous tide of change and the sound of breakin' chains / Let the sound of our praises be one and the same as / Jubilee reclaimed to the sound of breakin' chains / Let it roll, roll, roll like a river / Let it roll, roll, roll on forever / Let it roll, roll like a stone from the mouth of the grave." The "let my people go" repeated refrain in the bridge of the song connects it to old spirituals and is a great call back to socially conscious Old Testament inspired songs of the past.
The band continues this great a-political theme (in terms of the current American political climate) in "Beloved," a wonderful, slow-paced call to Christian unity in a divided time: "I can't imagine what it feels like as a Father / To have to see your children tear apart each other / Out of all the hating and the fighting, all the breaking and dividing / Will the answer ever come? / I know You pray that we'd be one / We are Your beloved / All of us beloved You don't see left or right, / You just see Your precious child / We are Your beloved." This theme of humility and unity continues in "Boast In The Cross," "It's the anchor of my universe, my gravity / And my whole world revolves around the mystery / It's the focus of my heart it is the centerpiece / All of my pride is in the cross / It's in the cross, yeah / I'm not ashamed of the gospel / I'm not ashamed of revival / I will boast in the cross."
But all is not so serious and somber. The jaunty "Plans," and the rip-roaring "Hallelujah Anyway," celebrate the all-embracing love of God and serve as a nice counterpoint to the weighty ideas (like the beautiful and heavy "True In The Light") in other songs.
A band as stylistically fun and zany as Rend Collective might not get many kudos for their incisive songwriting, but below all that foot-stomping fun, Whosoever is a set of fantastic, timely lyrics that cut to the heart, and echo with timeless truths. It takes a true veteran band to make such statements and ideas go down easy. And that's a series of truths that you can turn up loud and dance to!- Review date: 8/31/22, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Capitol CMG
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