Eileen and I have been fans of Enter The Worship Circle since we were in college in Boulder, CO. Their ability to create non-commercialized, creative, artistic, and passionate worship music has always moved me. And their newest cd continues in that tradition, while adding some new twists. The best part about Fourth Circle is that it includes so many of the different artists associated with EWC. Ben and Robin Pasley are back, but now have Aaron Strumpel and Laurie and Tim Thornton alongside them, plus Karla Adolphe and Caleb Friesen. I’ve enjoyed the solo work of Aaron Strumpel and the Blackthorn Project (even back to Tim and Laurie’s time in Newcomer’s Home), and their contributions to Songs for A Revolution of Hope are some of the most creative on the cd. To have them all together on Fourth Circle brings a new depth to the lyrics and variety to the music. The instrumentation is different than past Circle cds, but it manages to keep the same organic and raw sound. Tim’s mandolin adds a fresh touch, as does the addition of strings in several songs. They also use a full drum set occassionally , in addition to the hand drums which have in the past led their music to be described as “tribal.”
Fewer of the songs are going to be useful for corporate worship than in First Circle or Second Circle, but the songs are still powerful. “Never Again” cries for justice, while “Give Me Your Hand” sings of the width of God’s grace. “Your House” and “Bright and Beautiful” both give a picture of what it means to be adopted as beloved sons and daughters of God, with God’s kingdom as our home. (I’ve never before heard a praise song use the words “adopting love”!) Altogether, it’s a great cd. Especially for people who were introduced to these artists through McLaren’s “Songs for a Revolution of Hope”, this is a great gateway into the worshipful music these musicians have been making for years.