Music Review: The Gathering by Casey J

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Updated June 07, 2019
The gathering Cover
Casey J - If God / Nothing But The Blood (Official Live Video)
Casey J - The Gathering (Official Live Video)

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An Atlanta, Georgia-based worship leader and former elementary school teacher, Casey J (Hobbs) grew up in a house filled with God’s Word, watching as her grandmother hosted Bible studies and home church groups. That mantle for sharing the Gospel outside of traditional church settings now rests on Casey who began holding “pop up worship” events in public places. With vulnerability and joy, she shares Jesus through song, inviting others to join her in worship, no matter the location.

“It all started with the question, ‘What about the people who aren’t coming to church?’,” says Casey. “So God placed it in our hearts to just start popping up at local parks in Atlanta with one agenda: to gather people together and share God’s love using worship as our vehicle… we would pack up guitars, percussion instruments, and a few blankets and just sit in the grass and sing.”

“We started to see something beautiful… an intersection between the Church and those who we are called to serve that reached beyond just our Sunday experiences,” she continues. “From that grass grew a deep and solid purpose to create experiences that put all eyes on Him — both inside and outside of the church — and to write music that is the soundtrack to not only Sunday mornings on pews but Tuesday afternoons under the stars.”

It was in that missions-focused spirit that Casey recorded The Gathering live in the park-like setting of Serenbe just outside of Atlanta with a small group of worshippers. The resulting 10-track album captures the beauty and power of corporate worship in an unrestrained, organic form and with an eclectic style that mixes Gospel, Pop and Americana influences. The album opens with new single “The Gathering”, which serves as a call to worship and sets the tone for the entire project.

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The Gathering by Casey J
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Stellar Award winner 2016 for 'New Artist Of The Year' is back with a brand new live worship album. Casey has a heart to take organic and genuine worship out of the four walls of the church buildings and into the open spaces like parks and similar venues. So even this live worship album "The Gathering" was recorded at an open-air venue to capture more of the feeling and heart behind this project of bringing worship into the public arena.

The album opens with the title track, "The Gathering" which is a setting of the reason for people to come together, the agenda is simply Jesus. This is an invitation to Jesus to come and be present in the midst of this event. This track sets the scene for the rest of this worship experience, the vision is totally on Jesus. There are some great gospel elements to this first track's arrangement. It ends with a desire to see the Kingdom come and God's will to be done in the meeting. This fits nicely with the second track, "Hosanna" which is a call to focus on the worship and a reminder that when Christ arrives in a moment or place then it will never be the same again! This track keeps a very similar style to the first track, in fact, I was half-listening to this earlier and I didn't realise it had changed tracks! The sound for "1000 Hallelujahs" changes with a more organic sound and this simple song of praise has an incredibly catchy chorus.

From the simple structure of the previous song, there is more lyrical complexity in "Creation Testifies". This track starts in the throne room of Heaven where the angels join with creation, and we also join in and add to the ongoing worship. The chorus reminds us that the creation around us shows us Gods goodness. There is a great blend in all these tracks between Casey's excellent vocals and the backing vocals. It all works together in a rather ear-pleasing way, but up until this point everything has been Gospel style so the next track changes things up a little with a great country-style worship. "Resting Place" really feels different from what has gone before with a prevalent banjo sound. The next track keeps things mixed up with a more gentle electro-pop sound. "Everything I Do" is about how we do what God asks, and how we live our lives for Him alone. "Grace Wouldn't Leave Me" returns back to a country feel but the point of this song is to praise God for His grace to us. It is clear that this takes inspiration from "Amazing Grace" as it uses some of the familiar elements of that song, but it also adds other Biblical imagery from Psalms and other books.

"One Word" takes us back to the throne room of Heaven to consider the Angels praise of God. The point that is made is that they have a whole vocabulary at their disposal, yet they choose to sing one word over and over again to honour God, "holy". I love the way that Casey makes the point that when we sing out that God is holy we are singing in agreement with the angels! "Adopted" is a great song that reminds us of how loved we are by our Father God who has taken us in and adopted us as Sons and Daughters. Before we can move onto the final track Casey shares a short message that none of us are beyond God's touch or irredeemable, we are adopted children of God and He longs for us to come back to Him. The album finishes with a medley that deals with issues that the world faces, cancer, disease, violence and the answer is that we simply know and believe that "if God is for us, what can stand against us?" this drops into "Nothing But The Blood". This final track really is a beautiful combination and reminds us of the power and strength we can face whatever the world throws at us.

This album of live worship is a powerful resource to remember who we are in Christ and to bring worship to the Father that reflects the throne room of Heaven. Casey has a voice that works so well with the Gospel style that the first tracks on this album really does emphasise, but thankfully she explores outside of this one sound as the album continues through. The very last track really shows the gentler side of the vocal tones that Casey has and it is a great end to the album.

There are some songs that are catchy and simple on here, and some that explore some aspects of life and worship in a bit more depth and overall it's a good combination and fans of a light gospel style worship will really enjoy this, but if you like a more serious Gospel sound then I think you will probably give this a miss! It is great to hear different flavours of live worship coming from a bigger label. It would be easier for them to have more churches that sell big numbers like Bethel and Hillsong, but I think it's really important that we remember and have diversity in live worship styles.

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