Songs for the Road | Posted September 10, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Worship music has been gaining a new voice recently in a younger generation of artists passionate to use their love for raw, intensely artistic music to frame songs of response to God. Will Retherford is one of the latest artists to add his voice to the indie worship field with his album, Walk.
As a staff member and worship leader at Oral Roberts University, Retherford has a unique opportunity to create music that puts a finger on the pulse of the movement in a new generation of believers— and if this is any indication of the direction things are going, the future is bright indeed.
The album starts out with the optimistic "Arise," setting the tone with a chill coffee shop musical vibe balanced with solid, theologically rich lyrics. "Seasons" pulls a layer of female backing vocals to the forefront, solidly landing this album in some of the same musical territory as Gungor and All Sons & Daughters, though with a stronger synthesizer presence and a unique lyrical voice.
"He is Here" and "At the Cross" continue in the same joyful vein, proclaiming the character and goodness of God. "At the Cross" declares: "I am not ashamed of the choice I've made to receive the hope You gave-- I am now a sinner changed."
The tone of the album takes a turn halfway through with "Rescue Us," beginning with almost a groan over the keyboard— "oh, have mercy on us." This is a modern-day Psalm, rubbed raw with honesty, structured as a beautifully haunting prayer from a place of aching. "Out of the Mire and Mud" follows, an instrumental offering continuing in the same contemplative voice.
Title track "Walk" responds to the previous two tracks and sums up the message of the rest of the album in beautifully poetic phrases: "If there's a crack in your heart, then let in the sunlight. If there's a spark in your restless eyes and the rush of your apprehensions feels more like desire— walk into the light, see yourself come alive."
"Narrow" draws on a bit of a folk-inspired rhythm. By this point in the album a fairly complete picture of the artist's work has been provided, but each track is still engaging. "Holy" offers a refreshingly reverent tone, while "Let it Come" is intricate, layered, and lyrically sound: "This is the greatest wish of my heart: that chaos would calm as You walk, that destruction would hold its tide..."
"Run Your Way" wraps up the album in a sweeping track calling for a dedicated pursuit of God. The track builds towards its end, drawing on a more corporate worship sound as it closes.
Will Retherford offers a thoughtful and rich contribution to our modern day Psalms. In a market already saturated with worship projects, his richly textured songs and expression of theological concepts in fresh, honest words give this album the momentum to hold its own.