North Point Music
One of the first North American churches to commit to the role of record label in the post Nashville monopoly of worship production, North Point Church in Atlanta, Georgia, has consistently released a stream of high-quality worship designed for corporate gatherings. They are forerunners, frequently the first to embody the way worship is heading. Now Eddie Kirkland, the director of worship at North Point, releases Kings & Queens, yet again setting new standards for the worship genre.
Both rootsy and anthemic, quiet and overwhelming, Kings & Queens escapes the typical tropes that have given definition to the music Atlanta releases, yet remains in the general ballpark. One possible reason for this is Kirkland’s obvious choice to create music both from his personal experience alongside songs designed for a community of believers. The current worship industry trend consists of either a pop record with a single corporate worship song, or a full release of songs that work in congregational settings. Often times both approaches seem to have a goal of finding that elusive “worship hit.” Kings & Queens simply seems above that. Throughout the offering, the mood swings from power to pain, from fall to redemption, as well as from personal devotion to unified praises for the holy one who is faithful to complete his work in the world. All the while, none of it appears to be contrived to top the charts.
The authenticity comes from a refreshing simplicity in the production approach: the instruments are what they are, clean and clear and un-muddied—without over-the-top reverb and programming. Yet it’s creative in the understated strokes. Subtle guitars and backing synth ambience moves to straight piano/vocals (“Have Your Way”) as easily as full orchestra tones move to drum-driven power (“Here and Now”). The space is just as present as the sound. The result: an ability to express deep emotion and profound thought while keeping in the relatively accessible pop realms with music and melody.
What makes this release truly rise above is Kirkland’s ability to avoid escapism. Kirkland croons on “Brighter Days”:
Your Love, it breaks me down
Oh I’ve got to face this fight
So won’t you come and break my pride
Until there’s nothing left to hide
This sung prayer places appropriate responsibility on the self, while fully aware of where true redemption comes from. “Heaven’s heroes are the last and least on earth” is claimed in the title track; it’s a theme that resonates throughout a release that doesn’t shy from the muck of the earth, but also places believers directly in the thick of it as God’s redemption of all things.
Kings & Queens is filled with gut-wrenching poetry and subtle musical acumen, and it all seems to truly flow from both artistry and ministry—and a devastating vulnerability. Honest, artful, and missional, this offering is a prayer … and a commission to worship with song and life.