Album Review: Young Oceans – Voices, Volume 1

by Sam Robinson

Brooklyn’s Young Oceans have returned with Voices Vol. 1, a compilation that takes their previously released songs and invites around a bunch of mates to feature on each track. It’s a really sweet idea that works an absolute treat – particularly in shaping Young Oceans’ tracks for a more accessible congregational setting. If this was their aim, they’ve pulled it off in spades.

The album opens with a beautifully textured version of Until These Tears Are Gone, featuring Harvest. Less atmospheric than the original, a tambourine slap and guitar make it perfect to sing along with. Leeland jumps on lead vocals on Come Holy One, a track of surrender to Jesus, accompanied by a great stomping groove.

For me, one of the highlights of Young Oceans’ previous release, I Must Find You, was the massive Only You. It’s one of the best worship songs of this decade. Here Evan Wickham translates it more to a congregational setting, with a country twang. Beautiful harmonies cover the track, and the arrangement is uplifting. The words still hit me hard:

‘Yes there will be trial and tribulation

And You’ll grant me breath to persevere

May my heart beat in pure anticipation

Of the day when You’ll dry these tears.’

Ellie Holcomb guests on the softly sung My All In Thee. Harvest Parker returns (with her stunning vocal range) on Praise the Lord Ye Heavens, which calls for all creation to declare the mighty ways of God. All Sons & Daughters guest on Great is Our God with lead vocal duties from Young Oceans’ Eric Marshall – a song that adopts the slow burn that Young Oceans do so well. Once again, the words are uplifting, as are the beautiful harmonies.

Sarah McIntosh lends her softly textured voice to Come to Us O Lord, a song that again asks for God to draw us near:

And we will stand,

Securely in the strength of the Lord

Every heart will surely come and adore

The Great I Am

Sarah also appears on To Hear Your Voice, a song that cries out to God, and explodes at the bridge. Mike Donehey, lead singer of CCM band Tenth Avenue North, sings on We Sing As One, a song with more sway than a sea shanty. Closing the album, Harvest returns on Let This Heart Not Wander, a restrained number centred on seeking God’s glory alone.

What I love about Young Oceans is that they make beautiful meditative music and strive to make it accessible for churches to adopt into their Sunday spaces. That you can grab chord sheets for every song at their website is a real bonus. Although this might not technically be new material from Young Oceans, it’s a really clever reimagining of much-loved songs by guest artists with incredible skill and passion. The title of Voices, Volume 1 assumes that another edition is around the corner, one which I eagerly await. 4/5

Voices, Vol. 1 by Young Oceans is available now on Apple Music.

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