Every now and then, a worship album comes out of left field and sounds nothing like a typical worship album. And Audrey Assad’s Inheritance sounds nothing like a typical worship album, despite being packed with songs that many will find familiar. There are no big guitars, no crashing drums, no dotted eighth note delay. The primary instrument is Assad’s voice, interpreting some old hymns in an entirely fresh way.
In her own words: “I knew that Inheritance had to be much more than me going into the studio and simply doing pretty renditions of hymns we all know and love. I couldn’t be satisfied with that—I had to make something both bright and dark—colored honestly with my own doubts and weaknesses, so that the Lord who inspired these songs could be even more visible in it. Inheritance is an offering I am humbled, privileged, and challenged to make—and I pray it will be a gift to anyone who hears it.”
“Ubi Caritas,” the opening track, sets the tone for the album as a whole. It’s ethereal and vaguely dreamy, which are two attributes you could apply to rest of the songs as well.
From there, Assad launches into the familiar “Holy, Holy, Holy,” but in a way you’ve probably never experienced it. It starts out sparse and beautiful and eventually becomes expansive and majestic by the end.
Another standout track is “How Can I Keep From Singing,” and no, this is not the Chris Tomlin you do at church. This is a song from the 1860s and Assad truly does it justice.
She also includes one of my favorite songs of all time: “It Is Well With My Soul.” I’ve heard renditions of this song that bring something new to it, and I’ve heard renditions that are just plain awful. This one is pretty amazing. It’s just exceptionally well done. Rather than rely on my writing skills to describe it, check it out for yourself:
One last song that deserves a shout out is “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.” You know how in movie trailers, they’ll often use a “dark and gritty reimagining” of a popular song? It happens a lot, and it’s pretty effective. And that’s the best way I can describe this song. It’s a “dark and gritty reimagining” of the song, but better than that makes it sound.
You probably won’t sing these songs in church – at least in these arrangements. But Inheritance is an album that every worship leader should listen to. These are traditional songs of the church done in a decidedly non-traditional way.
Inheritance releases officially on Friday, February 12, 2016.