Worthy the wait
Nicky Chiswell and Rob Smith (EMU Music)
In the history of Sydney evangelical music there are two names that have popped up time and time again.
Nicky Chiswell and Rob Smith have made many contributions over the years as congregational songwriters – principally through EMU Music – as well as making singer-songwriter contributions of their own.
Their last direct collaboration on an album was No Other Name, which produced congregational stalwarts such as “New Song In My Heart” and “The Spirit Has Come”, so a second instalment could fairly be considered overdue.
Rather than being a series of co-writes this second instalment, titled Worthy, mostly alternates between tracks from each artist, recorded in their own studios with their own instrumentation, collaborators and bands. While this does spread Chiswell’s and Smith’s songs evenly across the album and gives their contrasting styles a chance to shine, it does occasionally sound like one is listening to two different albums rather than a collaborative effort.
A particular difference in this album compared to other offerings is that the lead track, “Worthy”, is rerecorded and appears again as the final cut on the album. The first version is a straight-ahead rock-styled song about the worthiness of the name of the Lord; the second is a stripped back, slower version with minimal instrumentation and a clearer intent as a congregational song.
It’s a good reminder of the differing needs of different congregations, or even within congregations, for arrangements tailored to need and use, as well as an encouragement for bands and musical directors to consider how songs can be made radically different through careful arrangements.
One of the highlights of the album is Chiswell’s “The Glory of God”, an energetic poppy tune with a bluesy groove and soaring chorus. It combines an interesting, driving musical idea with a very singable melody and a worthy lyric about the glory of God being revealed in his actions in all circumstances, most especially in the person of Jesus. The rest of the album is a well-written, well-produced mix of songs combining ballads and more driving tunes, each easily recognisable as the work of their respective writers.
In all, Worthy has been a long time coming and is well worth a listen for fans – and for anyone who has been a beneficiary of two of Sydney evangelical music's most long-standing contributors.