Music Review: Saved By Grace by Chris Sayburn

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November 28, 2017
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Music Review: Saved By Grace by Chris Sayburn
Chris Sayburn - Nothing But Grace | Lyric Video | Saved By Grace

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Spirit and Truth
Up and Alive
Nothing But Grace
My Jesus
Great Is The Lord
Praise His Name Forever
Trust In You
Have It All
Come To The Water

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A gifted Songwriter, Chris Sayburn has collaborated and written with many other worship leaders which has, in turn, led to his songs being sung all over the world. As well as his current church and other organisational commitments Chris has been writing more and more of his own songs. This has guided him to release his first full length album, Saved By Grace.

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Saved By Grace by Chris Sayburn
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I am so pleased that Chris has finally had the chance to record and release his worship songs for the worldwide market. I was really impressed by his involvement on the New Wine albums from the last couple of years and the chance to bring his songs to a wider audience is fantastic. Chris himself is a Curate at a church plant in Salford, Manchester, and this means that he is writing songs in relation to the local church. This means that straight-away these songs are repeatable by other fellowships, because everything has been kept simple in the best way. Adding to this there is the production from Ben Cantelon who brings a wealth of experience to the project as a writer, worship leader and recording artist.

The album opens with "Spirit and Truth" which is a simple song about worshipping God in Spirit and Truth which is, of course, a direct Biblical reference. Straight at the beginning of this album Chris is keen to talk about worship and declare it, but it centres first and foremost on the cross. Sounding a little bit like an older Matt Redman or Tim Hughes track this song builds through it's almost 5 minute run time to a worshipful chorus. The guitar comes to the fore with "Up and Alive" which is more about our expression of worship with dancing because we have a reason to celebrate and worship, and it's not just about what God has done, it's about that and dancing for His glory! This track was co-written with Brenton Brown amongst others but I could imagine Martin Smith singing this track, there is definitely a Delirious? edge to it! With the nature of the lyrics of this song it will probably come as no surprise that this track moves at a fair pace, it's the closest this album will get to a modern dance/worship track.

"Nothing But Grace" explores the idea of what God gives us freely as He pours out His love over us. Bringing the pace to a much slower and reflective place this follows through with "My Jesus". For people who grew up earnestly singing the latest Matt Redman and Tim Hughes songs in their youth groups with a youth leader who could bang out a few chords on a guitar will appreciate many of these tracks. They cover that worshipful expression that actually in the right atmosphere, with the Holy Spirit moving may well see people on their knees in worship, even as the guitar crescendo builds, this is a song of worship and devotion.

There have been numerous songs called "Great Is The Lord" and this version is catchy enough, but doesn't really bring out anything new. I could see this catching on in church worship because of it's relatively simple structure and vocally it would be no great stretch for any of us who are a little vocally challenged! "Praise His Name Forever" seems to be an attempt to shake things up a little bit. Trying to reach out to a pop audience this track seems a little bit empty and repetitive compared to what has gone before. This is a bit of a shame because it's probably the only real mis-step on this album from a style perspective.

Bringing the album back to what we have come to expect is "Trust In You" which is a slowly built up track that drips with atmosphere with the synths in the background and Chris passionately brings the words about our trust and worship, but it is the bridge which really captures the heart and soul of this whole album. It is then fitting that the track fades out with a more acoustic version of this, it's the sort of chorus that no-one would quite know when or where to finish.

"Closer" is a very emotional track which looks at how despite our failings God still wants us to know Him, God's overwhelming love allows us to draw near. At that point we have the opportunity to lay down things at the foot of the cross and then we can come to where we belong. The place where our relationship with God feels like our home. This is probably the best track of the album, there are a couple of others that come close, but I think this one has the edge! Chris explores from this point the idea of sacrifice in "Have It All" and the opening lines state "I found my life, when I laid it down, there is freedom in surrender..." This is a Kingdom viewpoint that doesn't make sense in other areas of life, but when we give to God and lay down everything, we receive love, peace, security. Of course there is still that fight, but we should be in surrender in our worship and leave our battle there and then get up and walk into what God has for us. That is, of course, easier said than done for many of us!

The last slow worship song "Come to the Water" is a track that has been included on the Wildfire album, it's not a song written by Chris (or even co-written) but it definitely works as a way to finish this album with this appeal. If you struggle with some of the concepts of God's love for you, if you have been fighting with some of the concepts of surrender and grace on this album, then the invitation is to come and find it "in the water". The waves of God's love, grace and mercy can wash over you!

This first album from Chris is a brilliant start. I have referred to a few worship artists in this review and these are all complimentary comparisons. I think that there is a developed sound based from people and worship that has inspired Chris, but some of the album feels a little bit safe, and yes I say that knowing that one of the times he tried to do something different in "Praise His Name Forever" it didn't feel like it worked. I would love to hear more worship from Chris, he has a rich and passionate voice and there is probably a stronger element of theological understanding underneath the words than in many other modern worship songs.

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