Prime Cuts: Highest Price, Better Word, The Sending
Overall Grade: 3/5
Towering at 15 tracks, with 9 tracks clocking in at over the 6 minutes mark, this is a garrulous album to get through. Compound to this musical verbosity is that many of these are intense anthemic big ballads which by themselves are acceptable. But to have one flowing after another, the listening experience can be taxing; and mind you, the spontaneous worship moments linger and linger that it can be truly be a test of one's patience. One understands that you really can't put a stop watch to the time it takes for the Holy Spirit to work; and Leeland are just trying to be faithful in capturing such anointing moments of worship. This is where a wise and Spirit-filled producer comes in. You can edit these tracks in such a way that you can still unleash the Spirit-imbued blast without making them sound endless. Also, the album suffers from too many fillers; if one should edit it down to 10 cut; the record would definitely ace with a sharper focus.
Nevertheless, the dearth of sharper editorial skills should not overshadow the merits of some of the songs. But before we get into the songs, it's important to say a word of intro to Leeland and this new record. Leeland comprises of Leeland Mooring and Casey Moore. "Better Word" is the duo's 8th release and their debut live recording for Integrity Music (Darlene Zschech, Lincoln Brewster). Recorded live this year at Christ For The Nations (CFN) in Dallas, Texas, the album features the two boys co-writing all the tracks, save for the album's lead single "Way Maker."
The album does have three top-drawer worship contenders, all of which deserve wide circulation. "The Sending," which Leeland wrote with Passion's Kristian Stanfill, Brett Yonker and Jess Cates, has a ear worm chorus that has a way of ringing in our ears long after the song's ended. More importantly, this song invites the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts. In this regard, this is more than a song; it's our life goal framed in such an engaging way. Then you have the gorgeous "Highest Price" a top-tiered power ballad that poetically captures the Gospel in detailing what Christ's sacrifice is all about before challenging us to surrender our lives to him. Continuing on with the theme of Christ's sacrifice is the title cut "Better Word" which wisely calls upon Christ's blood to be the definer of our identities.
Though none of the other songs on the record match the above mentioned stalwarts, lead single "Way Maker" is not bad. Originally made popular by Nigerian gospel singer Sinach and later by Michael W. Smith, "Way Maker" is one of those big worship songs that solely places its focus on the sovereignty of God. "Inhabit" with its marching rhythm is a great worship set opener. There's something hauntingly beautiful about the piano noodling of the visceral ballad "Wait for You." However, Leeland and label mate Noel Robinson's duet "Rain" is disappointing. Not only is there no chemistry in the way the two men interact with each other, the song is pretty nondescript. Quite vanilla too is the long-sounding "Wellspring" and the monotonous "Where You Are."
"Better Word" is a fine album; but it just needs some editing. Seriously, the fillers need to be removed; the songs need to be edited (do we need a chorus to be sung 4 times in a row?); and perhaps bringing in a couple of female duet partners (perhaps label mate Darlene Zschech?) may break the monotony of album's flow.