Josh Turner - "I serve a Savior" album review and personal commentary
Happy easter weekend!
This past week I’ve been laid up from my egg retrieval surgery and subsequent recovery (click the link below for all the gory details) which meant I was watching way more TV than I normally do.
I was pleasantly surprised when the Today show had a series called “Frontiers of Faith” this week where Savannah Guthrie went to Jerusalem, visited the Holy sites and shared her personal belief in Jesus Christ and what a meaningful experience it was for her. For a nationally syndicated news show in the politically correct environment that is our society, I was surprised with how much talk time they gave the Christian religion and talked about Jesus in association with Easter. (YAY!)
This morning they had Josh Turner, a gospel and country music singer who has experienced tremendous success including being the second youngest member inducted into the Grand Ole Opry under Carrie Underwood, sing a song from his new album “I serve a savior” which debuted at #1 on the country album charts!
It peaked my interest so I purchased the album on my phone and listened to the whole thing. The album is comprised of music spanning from old hymns over 100 years old, to Hank Williams, to a few originals without much decoration or deviation from the original arrangements at all. In fact, besides a few low notes showcasing his rich deep voice, and a little guitar rift in Amazing Grace the whole thing is…well…. pretty simple.
If you don’t already know, I’m a total Christian music snob…there, I said it. And I realize I offend people when I share my opinions on this but there is so much rich culture and talent in the church I really feel like there is zero reason to settle for “less than”. The church is where musicians, artists, actors, sculptors, teachers and authors should THRIVE in their creativity and artistic expression!
While I really appreciate some modern Christian pieces such as “In Christ Alone”, and “O happy Day”, I have had a difficult time worshiping in church using modern Christian music because so much of it lacks depth lyrically and our society has a propensity to make our worship band [try to] look like a rock band with lights, guitar rifts, solos of “ohhhhh” that don’t really mean anything or add to the musicality, and extreme repetition coining the term “7-11 songs” (7 words sung 11 times).
My question has always been…would you really go to heaven and sing like that? Would you close your eyes, scrunch up your face, and sing “ohhhhhh” in heaven to the one who created you? (I’m making sweeping generalizations here)…While that’s totally ok in the car, on stage or your bedroom, I truly feel that the worship time on Sunday morning needs to be held to a higher standard. After all - the full purpose of that time is to come into the presence of God with sincere and full hearts singing praise to the best of your ability. In a way that the congregation can also participate as well without distraction.
The “I serve a Savior” album speaks to the fact that there is an audience, and in fact quite a large one, that still appreciates going back to the basics and I’m fairly certain the Josh Turner audience isn’t mainly comprised of adults 65 and up if you know what I’m saying.
There are still young people that appreciate lyrics that speak of salvation and a personal relationship to God, instead of cross over lyrics that could just as easily be sung to your HS boyfriend. This album speaks to the simplicity of appreciating good musicality no matter what time period it was written and not having to modernize it with additional bridges and instrumentation. Most of the album is simply guitar and voice with some backup singers. To his credit, if you don’t already know most of the songs you may not even be able to pick out which ones are new compositions which to me says a lot.
So. If you’d like some good, hard core, Jesus worshipping music this weekend without any fluff or frills, I would highly recommend getting this album! Fair warning, if you hate bluegrass, twang, or country, it might not be your cup of tea :)
“Just like a blind man I wandered alone
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord, I saw the light”
Hank Williams 1948