Dropping worldwide on May 12, the excitement around Planetshakers’ newest album, the Outback Worship Sessions could not be more intense. The band, stemming from Planetshakers’ City Church in Melbourne, Australia, has garnered fans from all over the globe with its high-intensity rifts and praise anthems, and on this their 31st release (no, that’s not a typo), they come back to their roots and celebrate where they started. In the Outback Worship Sessions, we are given an intimate take on some of the bands most popular tracks, as well as the addition of a new one written by Grammy Awarded Producer of the Year Ed Cash.
Opening with “Like A Fire,” an ethereal and beautiful take on a classic from One is delivered. Steering clear of the synth and pizzazz they are known for, this is an acoustic guitar and keyboard driven tune that uses the layering of vocals to establish the depth of the song. The climax comes in and after the bridge when the lead singer says, “Come like a flood/ And saturate me now”. The key change and the conviction in the vocals increases, and we see the electric guitar act as more of a garnish, adding color to the song.
A beautiful piano melody makes way for “Spirit of God,” and soulful vocals cut through and immediately create an intensity called for by this album. As the song builds so does the music, and we see elements of Planetshakers iconic instrumentation create a vast and beautiful landscape. Gentler and less exuberant than their normal work, this new song from Worship Pastor Bj Prideham and Ed Cash will likely be more appealing to the older audience the band can sometimes miss in their music. “Leave Me Astounded” is anchored by an acoustic guitar, and is unassuming in its delivery. Soft and rich in percussion, it will allow people to step into worship with ease as it soars towards the end of the track and the fullness of backing vocals is added in.
“My Soul” contains the classic sound that Planetshakers are known for as Sam Evans leads a ballad suitable for corporate worship. Simple in melody, the Biblical truths in the lyrics work to create a chorus churches will gravitate towards. Following on with “Endless Praise,” a stripped back version of the dance anthem gives it a fresh flavour that their older audience will be drawn to. The strength of the male vocals is a highlight on this album, and the quality in the vocals of this song and the following “Nothing Is Impossible” gives it a maturity likening them to Hillsong United.
The new arrangement of “Nothing Is Impossible” is incredible, and there is hint of rock to the vocal delivery and the change in tempo that lifts the repertoire of Planetshakers to a new level. The new version of “Covered” keeps the album going from strength to strength and the other worldly sound of the acoustic guitar with impeccable vocals will probe you into your own worship time.
“Father” is a beautiful piano based ballad, and as a kick beat is added in, the tempo picks up pace and the female lead has the chance to shine and shape the song with lightness and command. Strong electric guitar drives “Made to Worship,” and the use of percussion mellows it for a more intimate experience. Evans’ vocals take command toward the end of the song, and this strengthens the message of the lyrics.
Bringing it back up, “This Is The Day” feels like a dance remix of the beloved tune. Quirky electro sounds sit behind the vocals which sets it apart from the acoustic sound of the rest of the album. That being said, it is a fun and exciting take that adds a new dimension to the Outback Worship Sessions. Rounding it off with “This Is Our Time,” a funky rendition of their previous album’s title track leaves listeners with the fullness of the outback worship experience.
Carrying the electricity of Planetshakers most beloved songs but delivered with a simplicity and richness many bands strive for, the Outback Worship Sessions is a carefully crafted album that will usher in a new generation of fans. Showing the breadth of the talent within the band both vocally, in musicianship and in the level of song writing, listeners will come away with a deeper awareness of God’s great love for them and the world. If the band are hoping to increase their audience to include young adults and up this album is a step in the right direction, and the strength of the tracks led by male vocalists is their key card to broader and more enriching things.