by: Matt Redman

Matt Redman's worship records have always walked the knife's edge between the kind of finessed restraint and elegance imposed by a recording studio and the dynamics dictated by the communal nature of the songs themselves. Until now that is. Facedown is a collection of all new material, recorded live. Redman is a revolutionary in the praise & worship movement. His unrelenting, single-pointed focus on the transformational aspects of praise & worship in private prayer and communal celebration is stubborn, it is razor-sharp, and it is edgy. On this set, Redman comes off with as much subtlety as the Dave Matthews Band and as much inspiration as Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, but subtlety is not the point. Radical, over the top, action-packed celebration is. Thankfully, his dynamic and musical presence on this record is something akin to that band's concert persona as well. He doesn't whip people into a frenzy, but his songs do. This is most notable on the anthemic opener, "Praise Awaits You," the shimmering "Nothing But the Blood," the transcendent manifesto of the title track, and the rocker "Mission's Flame." The reason they do is because they carry within them the grain of God personally experienced, not preached. It is the evidence of that truth shared as burden and blessing by a community, which embraces in song the paradox of trying to live in the absolute "now" toward a future as yet unrevealed. And for those cynics who believe worship music lacks poetry for all its conviction, one should give a cursory glance to Redman's lyrics. His songs highlight with both simplicity and complexity the human heart's transformational desire for the kingdom of his God to be made manifest on earth. And the guy can write a rock & roll song to boot. Facedown is a shining and innovative take on modern worship music to be sure, but it is also a fine example of a live album by a singer/songwriter of distinction. ~ Thom Jurek

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