North Point Music
Release Date: August 14th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Eddie Kirkland- Kings and Queens (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
One of the rising worship leaders in the Northpoint Community Church Illinois, Eddie Kirkland has captured my undivided attention in his label debut Kings and Queens. I first heard about him through the John Waller-covered song “Hands of the Healer” back in 2009; and instantly was hooked on the worship music with a rock twist. With many layers throughout each of the 11 tracks, and familiarities being brought to my mind of Steve Fee, Tim Neufield of Starfield, and Matthew West in terms of singing style; Eddie’s offering is a musical and lyrical journey that you would not want to miss. It is clear that with worship leader like Eddie, Casey Darnell and Seth Condrey; NorthPoint may rival the Passion Conferences in the future…
Starting off with a gorgeous synth riff and hand clapping as the beat, Eddie proclaims that the church should be a place where it is ok to let down our inhibitions and let people see us for who we really are; and that church should also be a place where we welcome people as they are as well. The statement that Eddie is making is not new, as too often in church we may find ourselves living through a façade, and too judgmental of others. But Eddie sings out in the chorus to God to break off these thoughts, obviously from the devil, and declares on Christians a promise of God being in our hearts and giving us peace- ‘…all are welcome here as we are…for our God is here, every heart…let your mercy rise, let your hope resound, let your heart in our hearts be found, let your grace run free, let your name bring peace, heaven come in the here and now…’. The gang vocals and the big booming vocal of Eddie, and the use of many anthemic instruments, has my heart and feet dancing to this captivating opener full of amazing God truths! Well done Eddie for grabbing my attention first up!
As the album progresses, it’s clear that Eddie’s style of worship is very diverse, with upbeatsongs and ballads interwoven together; with the nature of many of his tracks akin to Phil Wickham and Leeland, while maintaining the ever present hope that we can find in Jesus. “The Solution” is a cry for help and assistance to those who do not have a voice, with Eddie telling us that as Christians we need to be the hands and feet for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are in dire situations. As Eddie cries ‘…I’ll be a light for the eyes that cannot see, I’ll be the voice for the lips that cannot see, to the broken I will carry you along, woah, woah, I will be part of the solution…’. And that does not necessarily mean that we travel to Africa or become a pastor. We can do our bit in our own backyard- everyone has their own ministry, our own solution we can be a part of; and this inspirational first radio single from Eddie has given me a push to act on loving my neighbors and friends, and showing Jesus to those around me who do not know Him. “Brighter Days” takes the tempo down a notch, and this somber tone is in tune with the vulnerability and emotion heavily present in this acoustic track; and the continuing presence of the banjo give a country presence to this heavy yet inspiring rollercoaster of a song. Eddie bears his heart, as he sings ‘…oh, oh, oh, I need You like the oil needs fire, come lead me to the final fight, til we see brighter days…’; alluding to the time where we meet Jesus face to face in heaven. Until then, this world will always be full of troubles, but as God ‘…[rushes] like a hurricane, come lead me through the flood and flame, don’t let me walk away…’ we can rest easy as we know, with Him, we will be ok- God has our best interest at heart. And it’s refreshing to know that ‘…pain is not the end of me…’.
“Hosanna” packs a punch as it starts with lively guitars and beautifully played keys as Eddie cries out ‘…all you sleepers awake from the grave again…all you poets arise, let your story be told…’. Soon a celebratory raucous arrives as we proclaim that the curse of death is broken, and Jesus has already saved us all from sin. What a fantastic notion to cry Hosanna! With similar vocals to Aaron Morgan of Seabird in this track, Eddie has deftly created a track worthy of radio placement. Will this take off like Brooke Fraser’s “Hosanna”? I sure hope so! The title track is next as Eddie experiments musically with the sounds of an organ (or strings), present in the intro, followed by the meticulous piano riffs as lyrically, he presents a mind boggling concept that Jesus presented in Matthew as well- that the last on this earth are first in heaven, and the first are last. Do we take this literally? Does that mean we sell everything we own and live out of a shack somewhere in the country? The questions that Eddie poses in this confronting orchestral track are valid; and something to ponder. As the words are sung ‘…Heaven’s heroes are the last and least on Earth…’; I can understand where this concept is going- as Christians we cannot get too consumed and tied up in this Earth and its material possessions as one day it will fade. Once we truly get that; then we can live in freedom, as the ‘kings and queens’ that we are in God’s eyes! What a beautiful metaphor as we approach half way on the album.
“Keep Holding On”, “Glory To The King”, and “Anchor” make up the middle tracks on this stellar worship experience. “Keep Holding On” gives Eddie an Andy Cherry-like vocal, as once again it is a stripped back acoustic ballad, a simple played track that I could imagine being sung in an intimate setting like a campfire. A motivational track where Eddie encourages listeners that ‘…the Love that fires the furnace of the stars, the Love that turns the fury of the storms, the Love that lays itself down on our behalf, is the very Love that whispers in my heart ‘Keep holding on’…’; we are uplifted that ‘…Someone is calling my soul by name…’ and God is backing our abilities and our success 100%, no matter the circumstances! He is for us! Laura Story’s presence in this track as a guest vocalist is another plus as well! “Glory To The King” seems like it was fished out of or recorded in an orchestral setting, complete with big band instruments and booming synth. Eddie then proclaims God to be glorious all throughout the 5 minute declaration- this gigantic and larger than life soaring ballad is one of the most lyrically sound on the entire album. Reminding me thematically of Newsboys’ “He Reigns” or Peter Furler’s “Glory To The King”; Eddie’s proclamation that ‘…only You are holy, we give you all the glory…’; is completely magical and a treat to my ears. “Anchor” starts of slow, however builds to a massive crescendo as more instruments are added to this progressive worship track, as Eddie sings out that Jesus is our anchor, our lifeline in the times of trouble ‘…Your love is the centre that holds me together…Your love is the anchor who holds me forevermore…’. Using imagery that likens Jesus to an anchor, a safe place to run to without condemnation, is certainly true as I am immerse and soaked into the utter passionate worship of Eddie. A sure rising star; this album reaches its peak in the last three tracks.
At track 9, I was scratching my head as I didn’t understand what the lights of Manhattan meant. Then I googled it, and figured out that the lights of Manhattan refers to an area in New York where the lights are on 24/7. Manhattan is the city that never sleeps! And Eddie then takes concept and runs with in this allegorical and metaphorical song, as he sings across the synths and driving guitars ‘…if I could take the lights of Manhattan, and hold them all together in my hands, I would make them shine for You, I would make them shine for You…’. Even if some parts of humanity are not praising God, Eddie alludes to the fact that the inanimate objects of the earth, like lights, oceans, mountains, rocks, are already praising God with their beauty and splendor. The creation of this earth is enough to prove that Jesus is here, amongst us, and is doing great things. So like the lights of Manhattan, let us join together and proclaim that Jesus is Lord. We can sing for Jesus as we ‘…let Your praises fill the skies till the whole world knows…let Your fire within me grow till the whole world knows…’ that He is here, and He love us!
“What a Savior”, from the 2011 Here And Now EP, showcases a Steve Fee like upbeat track where Eddie complements Jesus on the fact that He is a Saviour, and that ‘…there is no one greater, Son of God be lifted up…’. The woahs and the gang vocals already enhance such a brilliant track; and amidst the busyness of the guitars and keys, is a worship leader wanting to make Jesus’ name famous, and this track is the right way to shout God’s fame, as we sing ‘…Jesus, what a Saviour, what an awesome King of Love…we will shout louder, and make His praise greater…’. The album closer is “Have Your Way”, a hymn like acoustic track reminiscent of Jeremy Camp’s Give Me Jesus, for some reason! With Eddie fully surrendering to Jesus, and reminding us that we need to fully trust that God has our best interests at heart; this perfect album closer can shock the listener, and maybe prompt them to look at their own lives to see if there is anything we are holding onto that we need to give over to God. We should all eventually have the strength to say ‘…have Your way, Lord, have Your way, in my heart, Your kingdom make…’.
With such a musically diverse debut, Eddie Kirkland has done Northpoint Community Church proud, and he has stared in the face of the concept of a debut album, and arisen from the ordeal a more accomplished singer and writer. It’s a matter of opinion if this will top An Epic No Less, The Classic Crime, or Israel Houghton in sales, which all released on this same day, but what matters is that the Holy Spirit is on every track- there is just something about it that just says ‘special’ and ‘unique’. If you’re a fan of modern worship in the vein of Phil Wickham, Leeland, Starfield, and the annual Passion albums; then Eddie Kirkland is for you! Well done Eddie for a compelling first album! Hopefully there’s not a long wait between album #1 and #2.
- Here and Now
- The Solution
- Brighter Days
- Kings and Queens
- Keep Holding On
- Glory To The King
- Lights Of Manhattan (Let It Rise)
- What A Savior
- Have Your Way
Favourite Tracks: Here and Now, The Solution, Hosanna, Glory to the King, Lights of Manhattan (Let It Rise), What a Savior