Thanks to KC Clark for sharing this review with the worship community. Originally published at: http://musbkc.com/2012/01/a-love-better-than-life-brandon-gilliam-album-review
GIVEAWAY AT BOTTOM OF INTERVIEW
With so much music coming out of both the mainstream and indie scenes lately it’s hard to keep up. One of the things I love about being a part of such a large music community is that it sometimes reaches beyond our city and introduces us to new faces. This is the case with Brandon Gilliam. Gilliam has been leading and equipping others in corporate worship for over seven years. Serving as worship pastor at River’s Crossing Community Church in Cincinnati, OH.
I met Brandon on one of my frequents visits to Gat3 Studios in Charlotte. At the time he was in pre-production with producer Joel Khouri (John Mark McMillan). To be honest that was the first and last time we met. But soon after, I began seeing tweets about an upcoming EP from Brandon. Which was a short-term strategy to his full-length CD titled “A love better than life” which was released independently on October 18th. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon.com and through his website, www.brandongilliam.com.
This album feels like the voice of one calling in the desert, but what John the Baptist had not seen – Brandon has lived and experienced and it is evident in his music. Songs that draw attention to what God has done and what He continues to do. A call to true biblical worship with songs that are real and for the church of today.
“We wanted this worship album to be authentic,” shares Gilliam. “It’s so easy to get carried away in the studio with all the advances in technology. You can edit every little thing if you really want to and editing definitely has its place. But we wanted to give the listeners a fresh sound, a real sound–something they would hear if they were to see us play live. So what you get is an incredible sounding album but it still has that raw, live feeling to it in some ways.”
With six original songs and four covers Brandon, boldly navigates the characteristics of God and how we should respond. These are songs for the church and to the church. With strong roots in scripture and personal experience this album gives voice to those looking to worship God in a fresh way.
“All Praises Rise” calls us to remember what God has done and continues to do. The title track “Love Better Than Life” proclaims an unending hope in an always faithful God. “Surrounded” is an invitation and a surrender to God’s presence, and the outro section is pretty close to what I hope worship in heaven will feel like. One of my favorites is Brandon’s remake of Nothing But the Blood in “Oh the Blood” . . . a simple but powerful way to close the record . . . “Praise His name, my debt is paid”
As I said before, with so much music coming out these days, it’s hard to sift through and find the goods. Brandon has managed to capture something that will encourage the believer and proclaim the greatness of God to everyone. I highly recommend you giving it a listen and add it to your playlist really soon.
His heart is for the Church to awaken to biblical, authentic worship and step in to the reality that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead is now alive in us, empowering God’s people with victory and a reason to sing. Brandon’s uncompromising pursuit of excellence is evident in his songwriting and it’s experienced through his unique ability to lead you, by the Spirit, in to God’s awe-inspiring presence.
Brandon and his wife, Megan, live in Cincinnati, OH.
For more information, show dates, and more, stop by www.brandongilliam.com.
The Worship Community also had a chance to interview Brandon Gilliam:
1) Tell us a little about Brandon Gilliam.
Let’s see. I’m originally from Greenville, SC, where I began playing the guitar in various student ministries, camps, and churches while still in college. After graduating, I had the opportunity to lead worship in a few churches in the Upstate. I currently reside in the wonderful snow-filled area of the country, known as Cincinnati, OH, with my beautiful wife, Megan, and our Siberian Husky dog, Maya.
In 2008, we were called to Rivers Crossing Community Church, where I currently have the privilege of serving as their Worship Pastor. The fact that I’m allowed to do this for a living still blows me away.
2) What is the background for your album? What inspired you to go for it? Did you write the album to record as an full-length album, or is this a collection of songs you’ve written over the years that “made” it on to your album?
When we began serving in Ohio, I felt a strong need to invest myself fully in the local church ministry. That was very important to me. I was convinced God was also calling me to record an album — but it would have to be His timing and not mine. For the next two years, I continued to write songs while playing them in different venues, including Rivers Crossing, which helped to decide which songs to include in the future project. I’m learning that God’s timing is just around the corner when He begins to make things happen without any help from me, like meeting the right people, such as Joel Khouri, at Bright City Studios. His desire to create real, authentic music resonated with my vision for this project, which consists of original songs, a few covers, and songs co-written with Joel.
3) As a worship songwriter, what would you say are your best 3 “tips” when it comes to writing for the Body?
- Practice waiting on the Lord. Most of the time, writing songs doesn’t come easy for me. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this struggle. When I try to force something, the songs tend to lack emotion and power — but when I pray, pause, and wait on the Lord, He remains faithful to give me the lyrics that are authentic and powerful for His Church.
- Pursue intimacy. My good friend Larry Reese puts it this way, “When writing for the Body, I believe that we’ll maintain fresh expressions as long as our intimacy remains fresh with Christ.”
- Be willing to invest in others. When writing songs for the local Church, we need to be willing to invest our time and energy into the lives of those God has placed in our sphere of influence, which allows us to better understand their needs. We can also ask the Lord to give us prophetic words to speak and sing over His people. And I believe that out of those moments we’ll begin writing incredible songs for the Church.
4) What encouragement would you give to worship writers?
Be intimate with Jesus. It’s the only way to know the heart of the Father. If you’re in a season where you want to give up or you feel like you don’t have what it takes to write another song, then reacquaint yourself with God’s heart, dive into His Word and welcome the opportunity for His Spirit to minister to you.
5) What is YOUR favorite song from your album?
Man, I’d have to say Glorious. It’s the first song I wrote after moving to Ohio and it seems to be one of the favorites with our crowd at Rivers Crossing. Surrounded is a close second as it speaks of inviting the Spirit of God to move in our lives and churches. When Joel Khouri was tracking piano on this song, all I could do was sit in the studio and fight back tears. It was a powerful moment and I believe it was captured well on the album.
6) What was the most difficult thing about the process in getting your album finished?
Waiting. And waiting. And waiting. The recording process isn’t a quick one, but it’s well worth the time required. I wanted the world to hear the album as soon as possible after hearing the ten songs come to life in the studio.
7) What is God speaking into your life right now?
Many things, but I think the main one right now is my identity in Him. I continue to ask the Lord to remind me that my identity is not determined by what I create or what I do. My identity is grounded in the fact that I’m His son, period — and I have to constantly ward off the enemy who would like to convince me otherwise.
THE WORSHIP COMMUNITY HAS PARTNERED WITH BRANDON GILLIAM TO BRING YOU A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF HIS ALBUM. TO ENTER ANSWER THE QUESTION BELOW BY NEXT WEDNESDAY (FEB. 22, 2012).
- Please only answer the question one time. Feel free to respond/reply to comments as many times as you like, but only ONE (1) entry per person will be counted.
- Please Respond by next Wednesday, February 22 (12 midnight Eastern).
- Only U.S. Residents please.
How do YOU maintain intimacy with Christ? What things has Christ shown you to help pursue and maintain that intimacy?
(Answer in comments below)