A big part of being a good Worship Pastor is constantly keeping an eye out for new elements that can be utilized in or used to inspire the weekly worship experience. So, I wanted to give some recommendations and reviews of some artists, albums, and songs that are on my mind. Today I wanna share an album I have found interesting, unique, and refreshing…
The Royalty is the first full length album from The Royal Royal. I discovered these guys before any of their songs were actually released. I was scouring worship blogs one day and I noticed Elevation Church was using this song called Praise Him by this band I had never heard of. Out of curiosity I started looking around. Shortly thereafter, they released their first EP simply titled Royal. I was really surprised at what I heard once I got my hands on it.
These guys are stepping back from the mainstream methods of modern worship and putting their own indie/retro/new wave/folk spin on everything they write. The first several tracks I put on were Praise Him, Love, and Heartbeats, all of which are catchy, light, accessible, and yet different than anything heard in the world of modern praise and worship. Electronic beats, lots of vocal reverb, yet these guys still manage to keep a very rootsy, heartfelt, personal sound that clearly flows from a deep love for the true God.
The Royalty was released on October 12, 2012. This bad boy included even more of the goodness: stripped down tracks, more sweet melodies, simple choruses of praise, and just enough tech punch. I am digging it more and more each time I play it. And, for me, in a world where everything is designed to hook you immediately but bore with time, this is a very refreshing aspect.
I know when you hear the words “tech” and “electronic”, our minds immediately shoot to folks like David Crowder*Band. Here’s the big difference: Crowder*Band stuff often gets so artistic, complex, quirky, that it begins to exit the realm of “doable” in worship and is often passed up by most worship leaders, excluding a few songs, of course. The Royal Royal stuff is not that way at all. These guys are basic, simple, to the point, and I believe, with some work, many of these tunes could be pulled off in a worship environment. Pulled off comfortably!
I offer the comparison of the Avett Brothers vs. Mumford and Sons. The Avetts are far simpler, yet I find their tunes far more touching and accessible. Mumford, on the other hand, has lofty, wordy lyrics. They play more complex tunes. Both are great, but I would say the Royals are to DC*B as the Avetts are to Mumford and Sons. In the small town church worship world that’s a big difference.
So here is what I like… This is a fun album. It is something you don’t hear on the average Sunday morning, but has songs that are accessible enough to be pulled off in a worship environment. Hillsong has already released their own version of Praise Him. Songs like Savior, How Wonderful, Mighty Hands, My Salvation, and Draw Near could be used in a worship set in a modern church. Draw Near has some killer steel guitar. Some of these tracks will surprise you. If nothing else, this album can serve as a challenge to strip away all the fluff, complexities, and pretenses we often tie into our relationship with Christ. Things are to the point and they direct you to the basics of our faith: glorifying our Father and testifying to what He has done for us. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?
What’s not optimal… Although I am really loving this album, there isn’t one mega-hit that hooked me from the first listen. I know I bragged on that aspect earlier, but for a first time listener with less patience, they might not find anything to latch onto in that first listen and let this gem fall to the wayside.
I recommend this album to anyone who likes to shake things up, anyone who likes simplicity, anyone who thinks less truly is more. Don’t miss these guys. I hope to hear lots more from them in the years to come.
For more info and tour dates, check out the Royal Royal site.