Music Review: Emu Youth
Music Review: Emu Youth
2 September 2017
Emu Youth is a collaborative music ministry that claims to create church music that is both practical but also theologically sound.
Founded in Sydney, Emu Youth’s music resources have reached as far as the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Their latest album, This is the One, offers music that aims to help shape belief.
Music can indeed shape belief. While some of The Salvation Army’s earliest hymns were rewritten from working-class drinking songs, the lyrics still shaped congregational beliefs about salvation and sanctification. That the doctrines of The Salvation Army are still included in the back of the songbook highlights the instructive function of these old songs.
Times change, so has music and use of the songbook is no longer ubiquitous in The Salvation Army’s congregations. In fact, outside of traditions with formal liturgies, most congregations have largely turned to an industry known as “Christian contemporary” for musical material. The question that often follows; with the old songs increasingly going unsung, is which music is shaping belief now?
Emu Youth aims to fill that void with a fairly familiar style of feel-good pop and soft-rock ballads. The arrangements on This is the One aim to be as practical and easily recreated as possible as to enable that influence. Not every church has professional musicians, after all. As a result, this album never exceeds the capacities of a competent rhythm section and the album resource includes sheet music and devotional material for congregational use.
The title track is an upbeat pop tune that speaks to the power of Jesus, revealed through stories of miraculous acts but also loving forgiveness. Won My Heart displays the group’s signature harmonies, with a possible touch of autotune, and builds with emotion and poetry at the bridge.
A close listen reveals that This is the One doesn’t contain a single verse or chorus that isn’t drawn from Scripture or hasn’t referenced the person of Jesus in some sense. While deep doctrinal details aren’t covered in the music – nor should they be – Emu Youth’s claim that their music is practical, Bible-based and Christ-centred holds up.
Emu Youth is indeed shaping belief and, given the changing times, it’s a necessary resource for contemporary church congregations.
This is the One is available at Koorong and on iTunes.