Music Review: Beatitudes by Various

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October 07, 2017
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Music Review: Beatitudes by Various

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Track Listing

Listen Pt 1- Becky Harding
Oh Blessed - Anthony Skinner
You Will Make A Way - All Sons & Daughters
Listen Pt 2 - Becky Harding
Carry On -Michael W Smith
Heaven Is Around Us - John Mark McMillan
Let My Dreams Fly - Terrian Bass
I Will Be Your Home - Audrey Assad (Feat. Hassan Al Zoubi)
Listen Pt 3 - Becky Harding
Oh Mercy - Matt Maher, Audrey Assad
Morning Light - Amy Grant
Undivided - Amanda Cook
In The Middle - Ste Garrard
Make A Little Trouble - Propaganda
Holy Troublemakers - Martin Smith
Listen Pt 4 - Becky Harding
The View From Here - Hillsongs United
Listen (Full Version) - Becky Harding

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The project reveals a wide world of connected stories: real people from all faiths and walks of life who embody mercy, poverty, meekness, the hungry and thirsty, the peacemakers, the mourners, and the pure in heart—as seen, heard and experienced through a 21st century lens.

Featured on the Beatitudes album are Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Hillsong UNITED, Matt Maher, John Mark McMillan, Audrey Assad, All Sons & Daughters, Amanda Cook, Propaganda, The Brilliance, Anthony Skinner, Terrian Bass and Becky Harding (spoken word), as well as Martin Smith and Stu Garrard (Stu G), which marks the first time these two have recorded together since Delirious? disbanded in 2009. Collectively, these artists have sold more than 62 million records, won 11 Grammy, 90 Dove Awards and amassed dozens of hit songs and millions of followers on social media.

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Beatitudes by Stu G & Various Artists
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Stu Garrard is no stranger to collaborating with people, one of the most well known bass and guitar players in Christian music he has appeared on many, many Christian albums. He rose to fame with The Cutting Edge Band which later became Delirious? As a musician and a vocalist he has very much had a similar prominence to the lead singer Martin Smith. These formative years and acknowledgement of his skill within music has led to this project which see's him collaborate with a whole host of recognisable names from the world of Christian music.

Stu G says that the Beatitudes have long been a favourite passage of his, and the idea of this project was to bring some of Jesus' revolutionary teachings to life in the modern day world that we live in. This project is bigger than just a collaborative album, there is also a book which Stu has written called "Words From The Hill" which involves a whole load of stories of people who's lives have been changed and people who are changing lives because of the words of Jesus. It is these stories and the original words of Jesus that have inspired the whole album too.

So this album opens with a spoken word challenge to "Listen" with Becky Harding, the challenge is split up and interspersed through the tracks with the full effect coming in the last track of the album. "Oh Blessed" by Stu G and Anthony Skinner just gently introduces the idea of being blessed by God, all these things are blessings not curses, it's all about God meeting us where we are. It's a track that grows on you on repeated listens and serves well to open the project, but it doesn't stand well on it's own. It's the third track that teams Mr G up with All Sons & Daughters where the project finds it's feet, and believe me it never loses them through the rest of the tracks. All Sons & Daughters bring their trademark melodies to this fairly simple track which speaks of God as the hope and the life-giver for those in suffering.

"Carry On" is a favourite track of mine, but mainly because Michael W. Smith is one of my all-time favourite Christian singers and his very distinctive voice carries this track, showing that he still has everything he needs to be bang up to date. However given the rather shallow nature of the first couple of tracks this suddenly finds a depth that was unexpected. What Stu has managed to do with each artist is to allow them to bring their own sound and style to this project. This must have been tricky because everything still needs to sound right, but he has managed to align this so it feels right. "Heaven is Around Us" is so distinctly a John Mark-McMillan track, it's absolutely unmistakable, yet it flows nicely from MWS. This is no mean feat when you have seasoned professionals like Amy Grant, but you also have newcomers like Terrian Bass. Then to blend these vocalists based tracks with others like rapper / hip-hop artist Propaganda.

I have to admit that I was blown away by the vocal from Terrian Bass on her track "Let My Dreams Fly" as this is my first exposure to her. I will certainly be seeking her own projects out! Of course there are going to be favourite tracks from an album like this, but it's hard to pick, such is the quality of the songwriting throughout and, of course, the quality of the collaborations! There are definitely some to look forward to for different reasons, the most anticipated for me upon reading the track list was track 15, simply because it reunites Stu G with Martin Smith for the first time since their Delirious? days. The track does not disappoint, it's not Delirious? but it is distinctly Martin Smith and that's never a bad thing!

I have to say that this album barely puts a foot wrong, possibly just the first song "Oh Blessed" because it doesn't stand alone! As a fully fledged concept this album flies along. The tracks are not clipped to a specific time with some lasting around 4 minutes but there are a number that are double that. This 80 minutes of pure Christian music joy - and yes there is a considerable message contained in this, through each song there is the DNA of God being for us, being on our side, and then us taking that message of joy and hope into a hurting world which, if it believes there is a God, believes He is out to get you, out to trip you up.

Ultimately this is probably one of the best collaborative efforts that I have heard in many years - there's a great range of artists, there is great music and a strong message. The last album I remember like this is the Exodus project which was released in 1998 and even then it wasn't a fully collaborative effort. Stu G has masterminded this great album, working with each artist, and pulling out that message of the vision for the Beatitudes project. Listen to this, really listen!

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