Friday, July 26, 2013

Music Review: Morning Rises by Aaron Shust

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: "Mighty Fortress" and "Deliver Me"
Cons: Songs all blend together after a while
The Bottom Line:
More great worship songs
The style could be better
But still much to like

Morning Rises in Praise to Our God

Aaron Shust's last studio release was a musical declaration of our faith.  And how does he follow it up?  The only way he knows how - with praise to God.  The result is Morning Rises, and it is sure to lift your spirit in praise.

The interesting thing about this disc is that first song.  It's the title track, but it only lasts 32 seconds and is instrumental with a bit of vocals that introduce the next song.  I can't think of another case where a title track was the shortest track on the disc by quite a bit.

Once things get going, we find Aaron is back in great form.  He is the one artist in the modern worship roster of artists I regularly listen to and enjoy.

The first full song is "God of Brilliant Lights," and it's the call to praise God because of all He has done for us.  It's a good up tempo track to start things off and get your attention.  (And yes, the phrase "morning rises" is part of the chorus here.)

From there we get one of the two hymn revisions on the disc.  "Cornerstone" is a modern take on "Solid Rock" but with a new melody and a new chorus.  We've gone down to piano based mid-tempo here, but it fits the hymn.  Since I love the hymn, I really enjoy this song.

The other hymn redo here is the final track.  "Firm Foundation" borrows heavily from the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" although it's much more different from the hymn, this timing going to the more familiar lyrics after the first chorus.  This is a toe tapping number to end with as Aaron plays guitar on the track.

Surprisingly, "Mighty Fortress" isn't a modern take on a hymn but an all original track.  The electric guitar and the beat here push it toward the soft rock category.  The song is a reminder that God is our defender no matter what is happening in our lives.  In the notes for the disc, Aaron shares how God used this in his own life after the challenging birth of his third son.  It's a moving story.

On the other side of the spectrum is "Deliver Me."  A much slower and quieter song, this one asks for help in the circumstances of life, but the chorus still expresses faith in God to do just that.

Unfortunately, the disc does fall into the trap of the modern worship genre.  For me, that's the repetitive sound.  I'm not sure why since there is plenty of different tempos and Aaron switches between guitar and piano, but after a listen or two, the songs all start to blend together for me.  That's a shame because there is some great stuff here.  And the amount of scripture that Aaron includes with the lyrics in the notes just shows why the lyrics are so powerful.  We are singing and praising God with Scripture if not literally with words that do have a strong scriptural base.

Despite this flaw, I know I will enjoy the songs on Morning Rises.  It might not get quite as much play time as some of his other releases, but there is good stuff here I will enjoy as it encourages my heart and lifts it in praise.

CD Length: 45:19
1. Morning Rises
2. God of Brilliant Lights
3. Cornerstone
4. Rushing Waters
5. God is For Us
6. Great is the Chorus
7. No One Higher
8. Deliver Me
9. The One
10. Mighty Fortress
11. Satisfy
12. Firm Foundation

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