Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Introducing Brenton Brown
"Brown's debut is solid, his new songs inspiring."
Brenton Brown is being billed as the "The Most Popular Worship Leader You may Never Have Heard of". And with good reason. This Cape Town, South Africa native has penned five of CCLI's top 100 worship songs, has had his work recorded by Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, Rebecca St. James, and Flyleaf's Lacey Moseley. His songs have been sung by countless believers in churches throughout the world. And yet while most of the songs on his new EP Introducing Brenton Brown will be quickly recognized, the face of the man who created these works isn't necessarily one you would know. At least not yet.
Brenton Brown has taken a bold step forward and has recorded a six song EP featuring four of those five songs on the CCLI listing. He's also added two songs, "Amazing God" and "Adoration" to the line-up, both songs born out of his life experience and commitment to worship God in all circumstances. Not only was this a bold move, given the comforting, expressive quality of Brown's gentle tenor voice, this was a wise move as well.
The track listing is laden with recognizable tunes like "Everlasting God," "Lord Reign in Me," "All Who Are Thirsty," and "Hosanna (Praise is Rising)", and it's interesting to hear the Brown's musical arrangements of these songs. I would go so far as to say that since he is closest to the songs, his musical interpretation may be the one that most effectively delivers their messages. It's interesting to know the stories behind the songs as well. Both Brown and his wife have struggled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and "Everlasting God" took on new meaning in Brown's life throughout the medical challenges that CFS presents. I think hearing Brown sing his own work, this one in particular, adds a layer of interest to each song and brings their personal, intimate sentiments into sharper focus.
Brown is no stranger to pain and grief. In addition to their dual diagnoses of CFS, Brown and his wife Jude endured a difficult tragedy when their first daughter was still born. The anguish of that time produced the beauty of the song "Adoration", the song that begins the EP. "Adoration" is a stirring anthem marked by an easy tempo, simple lyrics and a memorable melody. The focus of the song is strictly on the praise of Jesus, a no holds barred kind of worship that acknowledges the holiness and worthiness of Christ to be praised even in times of difficulty. There are distinct images created by the lyrics that mirror a lot of the imagery in the book of Revelations. The song builds throughout, yet Brown's voice never loses it's tender quality. I can imagine this song being one that is quickly learned and quickly loved by congregations and worship leaders throughout the country.
The other new song on the EP "Amazing God" is an up tempo, urgent proclamation about the goodness of God and his ability to take all that is worthless and painful in our lives and turn it into something amazing. Again, Brown has traveled a road of desperate pain and overwhelming circumstances, so his take on this theme is heartfelt and powerful. Musically, this is the stand-out song in the collection. The way the song has been orchestrated and arranged gives it a feeling of joyful urgency, one of complete conviction. Brown's vocalizations match this vibe, and while his isn't the most beautiful male voice I've ever heard, it is certainly one of the more expressive.
Brown's debut is solid, his new songs inspiring. He's taking these songs on tour this fall, and if his intent for doing so is to lead believers in memorable moments of worship, I believe he will be successful. I watched over 80,000 people worship under the leadership of Chris Tomlin this summer, and it's not that Tomlin does anything spectacular onstage. But he's massively sincere. Brown's EP seems to mirror that sincerity. With these recognizable songs and his unarguable ability to create new songs that grab our attention right away, it won't take long for Brenton Brown to lose his billing as "The Most Popular Worship Leader You May Never Have Heard of". His name and face, as well as his music, will be ones we associate with meaningful corporate worship that reminds the Body of its unity, its faith, and the worthiness of its Creator to be praised.
Brown will be touring this fall with Tenth Avenue North. For more information
about Brenton Brown, you may visit his web site at www.brentonbrown.com
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com