REVIEW: Grace Rising – self-titled

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Capturing and catering to the individual tastes of an ethnically diverse, multigenerational congregation is a challenge for any worship team. Crafting new worship music that is both relevant & timeless without being “abstract” is even more challenging. Worship Pastor, Christian Nuckels, & Grace Rising have done both.

In the vein of Elevation Worship and Worship Central, Grace Rising amazingly blends modern, synth-driven arrangements while not sacrificing depth, meaning, and biblically rich lyrics. In a “Worship Culture” that often creates songs that inspire and focus on sing-ability, yet lack spiritual substance, “fluff” would not be the word I would use to describe this debut. Inspiring is the word that comes to my Spirit.

As a lyricist, the very first lines of the first song “Adopted by the King” captured my attention. “I was a wanderer, Wayward in all my shame.” To be truthful, it caught me off guard, as the upbeat, melodic synth-driven intro didn’t feel like it would lend itself to such a bold opening statement. As Chris Tomlin says, this is a song “I want to sing;” but also a song “I need to sing.” Energetic, and singable, “Adopted by the King” will be heard in many churches.

The song “Running” stood out having a great vibe, yet again deep, meaningful lyrics. With a “Let It Be Known”-influenced, nonpredictable, yet very refreshing rap bridge, this song is one I can hear congregations echoing. I loved the lines of the Chorus “We Are Running, Running After You, We Are Chasing, Chasing After You!

Risen” starts off with a very nice sig guitar riff that leads into an artfully crafted lyric reminiscent of Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen.”

For me, “Lift Up Your Voice” is easily the most anthemic of all the songs & features a GREAT chorus hook while remaining congregational.

Melodically, “One Desire” is one of the best tracks on the album. I would personally like to hear it stripped down and without the “Oooo’s” as it is such a powerful declaration and the chorus could be used in many contexts alone within a service.

To be completely candid, God taught me a lesson in reviewing this project. As God has used several songs this year to wreck my heart, I found myself looking for that one song that did the same. You know that one song you put on loop and listen to a gazillion times while God tears and rearranges the very fibers of your soul. While I did not find “that song,” God showed me that not every album would have that one song for me; yet it may for another. He also showed me that it isn’t necessary to have that one song in every project as with Grace Rising, the whole is a seamless message of who God is and who we are as His children. Every song testifies to that.

This album is well rounded, moves well throughout all ten tracks, and is evidently free from shortcuts. There is a “Bright” overall feel centralized within most of the project, and the production and arrangements are done at the highest levels, honoring God. After listening, I am pleasantly pleased to hear not just the modern, but a stretch into a decade from now that craft fully melds & injects heartfelt, deep & meaningful lyrics that drive you to the Heart of God. If you are looking for new, “Modern” worship to use & introduce that your congregation can easily grasp, and is most importantly scripturally and lyrically sound; Grace Rising is a great place to start. Well Done, Very Well Done!

Chip Conner is a Ragamuffin, Song Receiver, & the CEO of A Thousand Hills Music, LLC.