I first heard of All Sons & Daughters, the collaborative worship project from Leslie Jordan and David Leonard, a few years back. Since then I’ve hunted down every release and enjoyed seeing them engage with the likes of Paul Baloche on his last studio album, The Same Love.
For some people, the band’s initial songs were too melancholy in overall tone. For others, it was refreshing to have honest, fragile, vulnerable songs to sing that seemed to get deeper into the heart of the church regarding suffering, sin and the reality of the cost of our salvation.
What is most astounding is how quickly this band has matured. One full-length album and three EPs bring us to the new release of a live album, aptly named Live, recorded in the chapel at Oceanway Studios in Nashville, Tenn. Jordan and Leonard are joined by producer/drummer Paul Mabury, guitarist Stu Garrard (Delirious, One Sonic Society) and seven other ridiculously talented musicians.
With so many talented artists on stage, it would be easy for the sound to get mired in ego, but these ladies and gentlemen are more than musicians—they are worshipers. As such, they are committed to the glory of the One they worship, not themselves or the process of worship.
This is clearly a product of Nashville, as layers of Americana and tasteful country tones build and weave through the 13 tracks that span nearly 70 minutes. From cello to hammered dulcimer to pedal steel, accordion and the bubbling wonder of a B3 organ, there is much to soak up sonically, but the shining stars are always the words carried on the waves of sublime melody and harmony.
Opening with the beautiful and humble “Brokenness Aside,” Jordan’s voice intertwines with Leonard’s to open up the evening with a time of confession: “I am a sinner / If it’s not one thing it’s another / Caught up in words, tangles in lies.” But the chorus doesn’t end at our lack; it presses into the goodness of God: “You are a Savior and You take brokenness aside / And make it beautiful.”
The band structured the set to lead worshipers through the story of God and the gospel, beginning with our need and travelling through valleys and peaks of emotion. For example, “Hear the Sound” has a joyfulness that connects to “Oh How I Need You” and flows into declarations of God’s life-giving power on the new track, “Great Are You Lord.” Additionally, many of the tracks, such as the powerful “Wake Up,” have a prophetic edge.
While the album showcases a lot of previous material, there’s a freshness to the live experience that makes it worth purchasing even if you own the band’s entire catalog thus far. I would suggest going the extra mile and buying either the iTunes LP or the CD/DVD package, because the visual experience is powerful. Seeing musicians with simple lighting and no flashy backdrop pour out their praise, adoration, confession and petition, and lead a room full of worshipers in that journey, is profound.
Live provides us with more than just new songs to sing, or ideas on how to foster intimate worship. Each of us is in need of refreshing and leading into sweet intimacy with Christ, dependency on the Spirit and adoration of the Father. I cannot think of a more fitting musical accompaniment to the meeting of that need.