Sunday, September 22, 2013

Awaken Love - Matt Gilman



Gilman captures the imagination with the beauty, majesty and humility of God.

Awaken Love
Artist: Matt Gilman
Label: Forerunner Music (www.forerunnermusic.com)
Length: 11 tracks/55 minutes

On Awaken Love Matt Gilman’s instrument of choice is the piano. The disk label shows Gilman from behind, his hands gracing the ivories. I imagine that this is how many of these studio tracks came to be. Each of these modern worship songs were written or co-written by Gilman. Producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder) gives this a full sound.  

It’s evident from the lyrical content and delivery, which is saturated with Scripture, that Gilman is earnestly passionate about worship. He seeks to capture the imagination of listeners with the beauty, majesty and humility of God. On “This is My Beloved,” every line is a description of Christ’s loveliness. As C. H. Spurgeon wrote, “Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness.”

Gilman’s piano playing lends elegance to the quieter tracks like “Though You Were Rich,” and the ending “Closer,” which are both stripped-down. The latter is just piano and a stringed instrument. The former was written as a four stanza hymn that covers the life of Christ. Both are favorites. I would like to hear more of this side of Gilman but recognize the need for the welcome diversity found on this release.

Those looking for anthems will not be disappointed. The piano playing frequently gives way to a crescendo of rock. The opening “As the Deer,” mines most of Psalm 84 before breaking into a driving chorus taken from Psalm 42. It’s also one example of Gilman drawing from multiple passages.

I like the combination of powerful sentiment and captivating music expressed in the bridge near the end of “New Jerusalem”: “I love the day of Your appearing / I want to hasten Your return / The Spirit and bride say come for Your beloved ones.” It reflects a healthy and holy attitude.

The opening lines of “Eyes of Mercy,” accented with a little hip-hop percussion, serve as a clear expression of God’s grace, “My heart is dark, but You say I am lovely / My shame is gone for I know that I am beautiful in Your eyes / Nothing can take me away from You / I’m Yours.”

This is the first solo album from this former International House of Prayer of Kansas City worship leader. Gilman, his wife Alexia, and their twin sons are becoming part of the Orlando House of Prayer.

His song, “Holy,” which is featured on this release, was recorded by Kari Jobe and Kim Walker of Jesus Culture.
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