The Riverside Worship Project is a group of five college guys from Auburn University in Alabama. They make worship music that’s influenced musically by artists like John Mayer and Coldplay. What caught my eye in the band’s press release was this line: “The album opens with lead singer Steven Hale yelling at God ‘Are you here?’ and what follows can only be described as a musical tug-of-war between spirit and flesh, God and the devil.”
Don’t think all this group does is yell. Actually, there’s not too much yelling on their new release called “So Sing.” It’s not a hard rock album, and it’s not screamo. Instead, the sound would best be described as “what Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers would sound like if they were worshipping the Lord with their music.” I especially like band member Andrew McQuaig’s keyboard/synth work on songs like “Freedom,” where nothing’s ever overdone but just right. And while many of the songs are pretty mild, musically, the band does rock out on some songs, like the anthemic “May Love Reclaim This World.” Drummer Jason Hermansdorfer keeps the beat intense and the crunchy guitars courtesy of Brian Alpizar and lead singer Steven Hale, along with the pounding bassline by Ryan Campagna, will get your shoulders shaking.
“Redemption” has that hypnotic feeling you get when you hear Coldplay’s music, so I am instantly drawn to this particular track. “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul” also has that epic, ethereal quality which helps you feel as if you’re swept up in the song, as if you’re a part of it.
Get the physical copy of the band’s CD just to enjoy the stunning artwork– a lost art these days, right? The graphic design is well-done, making The Riverside Worship Project’s packaging so visually appealing.
The group has their act together. It wouldn’t surprise me if they start playing more and more gigs outside of their weekly church commitment at the First Baptist Church of Opelika in Alabama. –Mark Weber, Christian Music Makers