Definitely more than "noise" | Posted March 02, 2010
“With every breath and every song I sing, I echo back Your love for me”
This statement from the liner notes of Pocket Full of Rocks’ third major studio release sums up both the spirit and the intent of the album perfectly. The release is all about a heartfelt love for an ever-loving Savior, God and King.
The album opens with a pair of songs that flow straight from a grateful heart. “Alive” is a rollicking anthem – a joyful celebration of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, while “Strong” is a powerful statement of humble confidence and unwavering faith in the God who understands our weaknesses and sympathizes with our pain.
With the table set, Pocket serves up some sweet food for the soul in the next three songs. “Come As You Are” is a plaintive, almost mournful plea for all who are lost or broken to give Jesus a chance to heal them and lead them home. You can feel the heartache in Michael Farren’s vocal. A great companion piece to this song is “Ever Close To You”, a song written from the point of view of one who has already come to Christ and now longs for nothing more than to remain in “such holy, sweet communion”.
“Jesus Dies My Soul to Save” serves as the albums centerpiece – a modern hymn as simple and powerful as any written by Wesley or Luther centuries ago. The theme of the entire album is summed up in the chorus: “How my grateful heart now aches/to say it louder, the refrain/Jesus died my soul to save”. This song should be sung in congregational settings for generations to come.
In the “good old days” of the vinyl LP, “Let God Be Praised” would be the perfect song to open the second side of the album! It is an up-tempo, God-centered tune that reminds us there are an infinite number of things about God that are praiseworthy! We can sing His praises 24/7 for the rest of eternity and never run out of reasons to worship Him.
This shout of joyous praise is followed by “Wonderful”, an absolutely lovely (perfect?) love song to our Lord and Savior, and “Let It Rain”, which may be one of the most beautiful and powerful worship songs ever written – an out-and-out cry for the Holy Spirit to pour Himself out in unending measure. Some listeners may be familiar with older versions by Michael W. Smith (2001) or Bishop Paul S. Morton (2003), but here Pocket offers the definitive version of the Farren-penned tune.
As great as the music has been up to this point, the disc ends with my three favorite songs.
“Your Love For Me” is the beautiful ballad quoted in the liner notes – a perfect reminder that our gratitude toward a loving Savior must be played out in deeds as well as in words; by showing and sharing His love with everyone around us, in good times and in bad, regardless of what it might “cost” us.
…and the thought of sharing God’s love is a perfect segue to what may be the albums most powerful song, “When Love Whispers Your Name”. This tune, partially penned and sung by Farren’s teenage daughter Madison, is all about reaching out to those who have lost hope amidst “a wave of fears and a flood of tears”. If we, as professed followers of Christ, will not love the “unlovable” in meaningful and tangible ways, we do the cause of Christ more harm than good.
The album closes with “A Worshippers Prayer”, a quiet, meditative summary of all the records’ themes. Here Farren acknowledges that his songs – as beautiful, touching and truth-filled as they are – remain an inadequate expression of his love for God and his gratitude for the mercy extended him – and us. When all is said and done, the true worshipper can only say, “Here I am”.
If any criticism is warrented, it is, as another reviewer has noted, that there simply isn't enough of these great songs! More from Pocket? Yes, please!
For more than a decade, PFOR has been a “well kept secret” in the modern worship music pantheon. With the release of “More Than Noise”, that should change quickly. Buy the album. See the band if they come anywhere near you. You won’t be disappointed – I guarantee it.
"That is why I cannot remain silent (further, it would be inappropriate to do so) about the great favours and graces which the Lord deigned to grant me in the land of my captivity. For the way to make repayment for that revelation of God through capture and enslavement is to declare and make known His wonders to every race under heaven."
- St. Patrick, Confession