In late 2008 yFriday released a news update about their Prelude Tour; their live CD/DVD had captured everything that they had been as a band upto this point, however they felt that God was leading them in a different direction into 2009. Great & Glorious, yFriday's fifth studio album, is written focusing on this new direction; leading people into worship.
A couple of years ago yFriday released a 6 track EP called Songs of Heaven, which were the tracks that had been written, but didn't really fit on any of the other albums released, in the same way that How Can We Dance fitted into their music set, however didn't really fit on Universal. Songs of Heaven were tracks that were great to be used in church worship, however the music wasn't really used outside of a yFriday.
For their previous album, Universal, Ken Riley, the front man and writer, co-wrote a song called Everlasting God with Brenton Brown which really took off in both the UK and the US as a real praise driven track based upon Isaiah 40:28-31. Great and Glorious continues on this with a mixture of tracks written by Ken Riley, but also co-written tracks with other Christian musicians such as Matt Redman and Tim Hughes.
The album as a whole is very different from their back catalogue, as a whole it is very reflective, and this may be a shock for many yFriday fans who joined during the fan base when Revolution and Universal were released, however the style of the some of the tracks echos back to Rainmaker and Open, as well as progressing on incorporating new styles.
Great and Glorious, the title track really starts off the album as if it came from Universal creating the join between the two albums, however as the second track comes in, Alive, co-written with Tim Hughes, you can see a different style of music beginning to come through, musically you can hear Hughes' influence coming through, yet it still staying with the loud, upbeat yFriday'esque tracks that we have been used to.
However from track three the album really comes into this new direction that the band are going for, Come Let Us Worship is a lot quieter, yet still focusing on the great and glorious God. The chorus when I first heard it got it stuck in my head instantly, it is so simple yet so beautiful; "Come let us worship, come let us bow down, come let us sing of all the Lord has done", and then the verses follow this up focusing on the awesomeness of God; "He made the heavens, and they shine His glory, He moves the sun across the sky, so incomparable the star of morning; Jesus Christ..." Completely ripped straight out of the Bible - fantastic!
The album keeps with this all the way through from start to finish, focusing on praise and worship to God. One thing that really struck me, and this is something that I noticed in Universal also, is the use of what I have called scientific imagery to reflect the creativeness of God. For example in Wonderful (track three on Universal) the tracks opens with 'Cell by cell, come infect all of me, and overwhelm, my radiology' and then in Gravity (track six on Universal) the opening verse is 'You are the one, the star attraction, Brightest shining Son, The powerful, consuming passion, Fire burning at my core' and this space theme continues through out that track. This is something that continues on a couple of tracks in Great and Glorious; Creation (track six on Great and Glorious) boils down to everything that we can look at through a telescope or down a microscope revealing the creation power of God, the intricacies that 'sing of Your glory'.
The one track that stands out as an odd ball for me is You Will Not Steal Our Children, track eight, co-written by Martin Smith. The reason that it stands out as an odd ball is not the lyric more the style of the music which has been heavily influenced by where Martin Smith is musically. The verses felt fine, however the chorus, with the repeating of the lyrics 'You will not steal our children' would fit on the latest Delirious? album, Kingdom of Comfort, however it just didn't feel like it fitted on Great and Glorious to me... I could just be being picky!
Admittedly the ending of You Will Not does pick up the volume of the album musically to lead well into [the] Joy of the Lord, which is the third really lively track on the album that echoes back to previous yFriday albums, there is a lot of awesome synth and guitar, not to mention the fantastic lyrics too!
The final two tracks revert back to the new quieter reflective yFriday and it works out well in the scheme of the album. I think that when I first listened to the album the stand out tracks were the ones that reminded me of the old yFriday; Joy of the Lord and Great and Glorious, however the more I listen to the album the more I appreciate the other tracks and the way that the band are going. Currently top ranking tracks are Great and Glorious (1), Come Let us Worship (3) and You are Great (4).
It is really hard, however, to rank the album next to the other yFriday albums as it has gone in a different direction musically. What has stayed the same through out though is passion behind why they are doing it and this has, again, come out again in a new way, yet still keeping Jesus at the centre of the music.
I really recommend giving the album a listen as well as their back catalogue too if you haven't heard it already. The album can be purchased of the yFriday website
or downloaded from the (almost useable) Kingsway website
. Of course there are full tracks to listen to on the yFriday MySpace