Robbie Seay Band, coming from the same state (Texas) as the more popular David Crowder Band, is doing stuff in worship music that you should pay attention to. So listen up. Yeah, you in the back with the bad mustache. Pay attention.
If you’re following church fads at all, you’ll have heard something about this whole “emergent church” thing. Like most church fads, I agree with parts and disagree with parts, but I’ll save my analysis for another blog. For some reason, many leaders in the movement have adopted Robbie Seay as their poster child for what worship music should look like. People from Donald Miller to Brian McLaren just love the band, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s his interesting use of poetic lyrics and extra-biblical imagery. Maybe it’s his willingness to look at doubt in the midst of heart-felt worship. Maybe it’s his social consciousness that bleeds through into his lyrics. Maybe it’s his sick bassist, Ryan Owens.
In a realm of music that as of late has been crowded with “new” songs that simply repeat the lyrics of old songs in a new order (modern worship music), Robbie Seay is challenging conventions.
Musically, Robbie Seay Band (made up of Robbie Seay on vocals and guitar, Dan Hamilton on drums, and Ryan Owens on bass) often relies on standard worship rock formulae and instrumentation. You know, bass, guitar, overproduction, just a touch of effects, etc, but their newer songs are definitely getting more interesting and experimental, which gives me a lot of hope for the band. I’m probably sounding negative, and I don’t mean to – it’s not consistent musical greatness, but neither is it musical boredom. What makes the band stand out musically is the way Ryan Owens can carry a whole song with a simple but compelling bass line when the band lets him (which is too rarely, in my opinion). And in the midst of it all you’ve got Robbie Seay’s gravelly vocals adding something extra cool to the mix.
So, musically, I’d like to see more emphasis on the vocals and the bass, not that Robbie Seay cares what I think, but this is my blog so I’ll say what I want. I read a story about RSB somewhere on-line (so it must be true, right?) how, back when the band had just formed and was starting to play local shows around Houston, they got a call from David Crowder (a friend of Robbie Seay’s brother, who co-founded a church with him) begging that RSB let go of Ryan Owens so he could become the David Crowder Band’s bassist instead. Ryan Owens makes RSB awesome. When he’s setting the pace on bass, they’re awesome. When he’s not, they’re just really good.
Either way, it is in the lyrics where RSB really stands out amongst the copycats of the worship world. RSB often uses personal stories and social issues in the midst of worship songs, which is practically unheard of. They also pull in new metaphors that may not be explicitly in the Bible, forcing you to think a little harder and see things from a new perspective. I know a worship leader who staunchly refused to play the song “Jesus, Garden of My Rest” because he didn’t understand what the metaphor of Jesus as a garden of rest meant. How many modern worship songs would get that treatment? “Eyes that blaze with hoy fire?” I get it. “Lamb of God, slain for the world?” I get it. “Heart of worship?” I get it. But “Jesus, garden of my rest?” That you’ve got to think about a little.
Here are three of RSB’s songs for you to check out. The first two are from the Better Days album and show off Ryan Owens on bass, and the last is a new song off the album Give Yourself Away to be released tomorrow. If you need more songs, go here for another from the new album.
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