Thanks to Mark Snyder for sharing this review with TWC!
Parker’s Mercy Brigade is the latest offering from worship songwriters extraordinaire Bobby and Kristen Gilles. If you are familiar with the story of their son Parker, who died at birth last year, then listening to this album will be hard to do without connecting with the deep pain and deep faith shown by Bobby and Kristen during their loss. But this album is not only a personal journey, but it is musically one that is destined to be shared with the church. The song’s speak to a faith and hope that every follower of Christ can lay hold of and hang on to.
Musically, the album is diverse. It features piano driven modern hymns and mid-tempo ballads, and some upbeat country-rock numbers. The production is fresh and suits the songs. Kristens vocals are beautiful.
The Gilleses and their blog mysonginthenight.com are a great resource on the web for songwriting advice, and the songwriting on ‘Parker’s Mercy Brigade’ displays their excellent craft. The lyrics are biblical, fresh and poetic, and the melodies are well suited to the lyrical themes. The songs have memorable hooks and parts that make you want to sing along. Yet there is a heart-touching depth and seriousness that will take you on their journey, and will resonate with your own church. These are songs your church should sing.
For example, ‘You Answer’ they set the stage with this verse:
Lord we call in our frustration
Hearts break while Satan prowls
All around the nations
For whom he may devour
He knows his days are ending,
And he seeks to slash and burn,
Give us strength here in the waiting
For Your blessed return
And build to the insistent and faith-filled bridge:
God who hears, God who sees
Your people on their knees.
God who heals, God who saves,
You overwhelm the grave!
I tried to go through and pick highlights of this record, but honestly it was impossible. The songs are all great. The album is full of poetic, powerful songs, and to list a few would do the rest of them an injustice, so your best bet is just to get this and listen to them all, and take time to digest each song and its message. You will leave having learned more about the character of God and with some great musical tools to help your personal and corporate faith journey.
As a way to honor their son’s memory, Kristen and Bobby they are donating half the proceeds from Parker’s Mercy Brigade to their friends at Nadus Films, who shine the light on cases of social injustice and extreme need around the world, and then partner with local relief organizations in those countries. So, by buying their album, you also join Parker’s Mercy Brigade, hence the title.
Stems from two of the tracks from Parker’s Mercy Brigade are also available at www.worshipsong.com, to help you employ these songs in your church. Many thanks to Bobby and Kristen for the privilege of listening to their advance copy and for providing their stems.
As the daughter of a worship pastor,Kristen Gilles became involved in music ministry at a young age. Accomplished as a vocalist, pianist, guitarist and songwriter, she has led worship in various churches and conferences, toured the United States from New York City to Dallas, Texas and many points in between, and recorded an EP in 2009, Embrace The Bigger Picture. Connect with Kristen at Facebook.com/kristensmithgilles.
Kristen currently leads worship in Sojourn Community Church and was featured on Sojourn’s 2011 album The Water And The Blood: The Hymns Of Isaac Watts, Volume Two.
Mark Snyder is a longtime worship leader, software engineer, and lead songwriter for the Tree Hill Collective (www.treehillcollective.com). He runs the web site www.weekendwarriorworship.com as a resource to provide songs for the church from its weekend warrior songwriters, focusing on the art of the worship song as it applies to the worshiping church of all ages.