Matthew James Mason: Refuge

  1. God Is A Refuge
  2. Ever Surrounding Me
  3. Ember And Flame
  4. Matchless (Majesty)
  5. Overcome The Grave
  6. Usher In Your Presence

Matthew James Mason is a songwriter, worship leader, and pastor at Radiant Life Church in Dublin, Ohio. His debut EP, Refuge, centers around the theme of God’s faithfulness and the hope that only He can bring. Vocally, Mason reminds this reviewer of Matt Maher and, stylistically, this album sits somewhere between a laid-back Hillsong or Tim Hughes with just a little bit of The Cure thrown in for seasoning.

These are definitely songs written with the local church in mind and all are easy to sing with memorable melodies and hooks. The best of the bunch being the somewhat muted “Overcome the Grave” which begins at the cross as Mason sings about the price that needed to be paid by Jesus, and ends up as a celebration of the new life that was brought because of the resurrection. The relaxed arrangement was a bold choice here given the nature of the lyrics, but as I listened I was struck by the peace that this event should bring us every day, and although I’m not sure that was his intention, it took me to a different place than most other Easter songs about Christ’s ultimate victory.

The album’s title track takes a melodic page right out of Chris Tomlin’s book with it’s driving drum beat and rhythmic electric guitar riffs as Mason sings about the Oasis that Jesus is for His people amidst life’s struggles. It came off a bit cookie-cutter, but still had some individual depth and warmth.

This was a nice first collection from Mason. I thought he did a good job of staying thematically consistent with his writing throughout each song, and the guitar work is really good on this album. Although I like his voice, He seemed a little lazy vocally in a few spots where he really could have shown off his vocal gift, which hurt the energy of that particular song. This maybe is due to the fact that he is indeed a worship leader and as such, may tend to tone it down for his congregation. A few cliché’s tended to invade the musical landscape now and again, but nothing too bad. There are a few useable tracks that could find their way into your Sunday setlist.

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