Shine: Live in Studio by The Glory Collective is the fourth album from Mysterium, a new Catholic music and publishing concern dedicated to the place “where truth and beauty come alive in the human heart.”
The first album for The Glory Collective — a group of musicians who share the Mysterium vision and perform together in various combinations — Shine is on its third iteration. It began as an EP with several songs included with a talk, “Beauty Has Saved the World” by pianist and Mysterium co-founder Jimmy Mitchell, then came out last fall as a 12-song music album, and has just been re-released as a 17-song “deluxe edition” album in hopes of attracting greater distribution in stores.
Short version: Should you buy it? Yes. If you own the 12-song edition, are the extra five songs worth the price? Yes.
Long version: Like all good compilations, Shine includes a lively, well-chosen mix of artists, styles, and tones. The label is based in Nashville, so expect a decidedly Nashville flavor throughout. The project’s Noisetrade description says the album is “for fans of Matt Maher, Nickel Creek, Sara Bareilles, Dave Barnes, and Audrey Assad,” which aren’t necessarily the first names that come to mind for this reviewer (those include The Band Perry, The Fray, and acoustic Coldplay songs), but does give a hint of what you’ll find.
As a Catholic label, Mysterium steers clear of the “worship songs” and Christian pop songs that are now common for Christian bands. Mysterium artists tend to opt for straight-up hymns and other sacred music, or for songs that don’t mention God at all — regular songs, though with a Catholic perspective on life.
Shine is all sacred music, either traditional hymns such as O God Beyond All Praising and Holy God We Praise Thy Name, or contemporary songs with a traditional feel, in musical styles ranging from acoustic rock to “old-timey” country.
The album includes one “youth conference-type” original song — Shine, sung by Chris Cole with a a crowd (The Glory Collective began at Glory, a Nashville youth conference) and originally ended with a rousing group-rendition of When the Saints Go Marching In that showcased a number of singers and musicians before it segued into a moving a cappella version of the first verse of Amazing Grace.
The traditional songs are given lively, surprising arrangements that make even the oldest seem as fresh as if they were just written. Marie Price’s raw-edged vocals give Veni per Mariam a yearning urgency; Kevin Heider’s spare, indie take on Sing of Mary, Pure and Mary make sit sound like an acoustic performance in the corner of a coffee shop; and if you can listen to the Appalachian-inspired strings in O Mother Dear, Jerusalem without stomping your feet, you’re dead.
There is not one indifferent voice or musician on Shine, which has top-notch production values that make the most of the inventive arrangements. Each rich vocal performance is captured beautifully, and the musicians get their showcase on Fount of Love, the instrumental that ends the deluxe edition. Based on Come Thou Font of Every Blessing (the tune familiar to many Catholics from Sing a New Church) the piece moves back and forth from contemporary to Celtic-inspired piano and violin.
Original pieces, such as Kevin Heider’s haunting The Great Flood fit seamlessly with the rest, as solid as if they’ve been sung by generations. And the old hymn How Marvellous (My Saviour’s Love), with vocals by Maria Price and Kevin Heider, is a rollicking celebration. Like the group effort Holy God We Praise Thy Name, that song alone is worth the price of the album.
I’m looking forward to more from Mysterium and the artists feature on Shine.
Shine: Live in Studio Deluxe Edition is available from Mysterium and as a digital download on iTunes.
See a video of The Great Flood, with vocals by Kevin Heider and Maria Price, and scenes from the Glory 2012 conference, at the album’s Kickstart page.
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