One of the things I love about looking for new worship music to introduce to my congregation is coming across bands I was previously unaware of that are producing solid worship music. Sixteen Cities is just such a band. Originally from Seattle, Washington, the band now leads worship at “The Heights Baptist Church” in Dallas, Texas.
Their latest album is The Depth of Your Love, and you can read my review of it below:
The Depth of Your Love is a combination of worship covers and original songs from the band made up of Josiah Warneking, Josh Miller, and Chad McCutchen. Their have a contemporary rock sound similar to bands like Vertical Church Band and Passion, though Warneking’s piano is more prominent in the mix than on most worship albums of the past few years. This is actually a plus as his playing adds a lot, even to the most upbeat songs.
Innovative Covers… Sometimes
5 of the 11 tracks on the album are covers of other worship songs, and are a mixed bag in terms of originality. Their version of “This is Amazing Grace” by Bethel Music is pretty similar to the original, but relies more on electric guitar than synth to carry the energy of the song. Likewise, their rendition of Kristian Stansfield’s “Jesus Paid it All” is also similar to the original, but has a bit more of a rhythmic punch. I did appreciate how the band simplified some of the melody lines and rhythms to make the songs more accessible. For those churches looking to introduce either of these songs to their congregations, these recordings would serve as a good model.
In contrast, their versions of “Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)” and “Cornerstone,” both by Hillsong, are fairly innovative takes on these songs. “Oceans” trades the etherial, ambient approach of the original for a driving, piano led version. It doesn’t have quite the contemplative power of Hillsong United’s recording, but this arrangement would be much easier to include in a worship set. On the other side, the band softens “Cornerstone” to create a more reflective rendition that surprisingly works very well. Both of these versions could easily find their way into a church’s repertoire.
The final song on the album is an upbeat arrangement of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” with the chorus of “The Solid Rock” thrown in as a bridge (which is interesting coming right off of “Cornerstone”). There’s nothing particularly original about their update to these hymns, but it is one of the better contemporary versions I’ve heard of either song.
Simple, Heartfelt Worship
The rest of the tracks on the album are originals written mostly by Warneking and Miller. “Greater is He” and “Once For All” are fairly upbeat, scripture-based songs that could easily fit a worship set. The lyrics are fairly simplistic and the rhyme schemes leave a bit to be desired, but both are solid worship offerings.
The best original song is “Psalm 148 (Highly Exalted),” co-written by Warneking and Jennie Lee Riddle of “Revelation Song” fame. As the name implies the lyrics are taken almost word for word from Psalm 148. This is a psalm that has not often been used in contemporary worship songwriting, and Warneking and Riddle do a nice job of creating a melody that works for the text and works musically.
The one slightly disappointing song is the title track, “The Depth of Your Love”. The melody is solid and the arrangement works, but the lyrics are so repetitive that after the opening verse and chorus it begins to get a little tedious. In fact, this is the main issue with most of the new songs on the album. The lyrics and musical elements are just not deep and engaging enough to stand apart from the dozens of other worship albums that will be released this year. These songs would probably work very well for a youth group or college age audience, but for a more mature congregation they are fairly forgettable.
Tight, Well Performed Music
From a listening standpoint The Depth of Your Love is a solid, well produced album that avoids a lot of the distractions that fill up other worship offerings. The band plays cleanly, yet simply, making the most of just a handful of instruments, and Warneking’s vocals are top notch, right up there with guys like Kristian Stanfield and Phil Wickham.
All in all, The Depth of Your Love is a solid album from an experienced worship band that is slightly better at arranging songs than writing them. The album is worth owning for the covers alone, and the original songs, while not spectacular, could certainly fill in the gaps of a worship repertoire.
Recommended Songs For Worship: “Cornerstone”, “Psalm 148 (Highly Exalted)”, “Come thou Fount/Solid Rock”
Buy the album here!
Visit Sixteen Cities on their website: sixteencities.com