Normally when doing an album review, I look to pick out the standout tracks, pointing out which songs might connect with both a listening audience and the church at large. With Andy and Rachel Graham‘s album, Gather: live in the living room, I took a different approach because of the unique nature of this release. The Graham’s didn’t only release a worship album but gave us a peek behind the curtain – a night of worship with their small group in a living room.
Using both originals and covers, everything uniquely embodies the Graham’s folky, earthy style. With simple but sufficient instrumentation and a nice use of the gang vocals, “King of All the Earth” kicks off the album (and night) with a raw, authentic feel that does a good job of communicating the desire for community. The next vocal track, “Invitation Song,” changes things up with a drum-led, folk feel with friend Mathis Turley providing lead vocals. A Spontaneous track follows a testimony time blending newer and older songs with a communal response to the testimonies shared.
Possibly my favorite arrangement of the entire album is “Man of Sorrows.” With a beautiful, haunting arrangement, Andy and Rachel combine elements of both Stuart Townend and Ascend the Hill via their use of guitar, vocals, and slow harmonic rhythm. I would use this arrangement in a worship service because of how well it transcends style.
They follow up “Man of Sorrows” with another unique version of “Great Are You Lord,” medlied with the chorus of “Worthy of My Praise.” I love how the Grahams take both newer and older songs to connect with their community.
The musical portion of the album ends with “Spirit Pour Out,” using the stacked acoustic instrumentation to fill out the song – a perfect transition coming from the time of intercession.
“Songs of Freedom” ends the CD with a Rend-Collective-like declaration to send out the group.
Apart from the music, I love how Gather models each part of a worship gathering. The album starts with an invocation – a gathering song – into an invitation which confesses our need, followed by testimonies of thankfulness and provision as well as exhortation. Then the spontaneous time invites and reminds us of Holy Spirit, followed by the recognition of our Savior and His greatness. Taking time to intercede led into knowing the Spirit’s power, and then finishing with the declaration of freedom and commitment to go. Overall, this is an excellent CD to remind us all as believers of the beauty of worship together, whether live or recorded.