Written by Chelsea Jenkins. Media by Austin Stephens.
Former Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue’s latest musical offering comes in the form of a solo praise and worship project with The Water and the Blood. The album is full of sweet melodies, lilting harmonies, and ringing instrumentation, tracks from which you are sure to hear in future Vespers services if you haven’t already. The Water and the Blood successfully captures the progressive and contemporary praise and worship sound that college students have particularly come to love.
The Water and the Blood has served as my introduction to Kensrue and his music, having never listened to Thrice or any of Kensrue’s other solo efforts. I have to say, I’m not impressed. Much of the time I was distracted by Kensrue’s vocals, which are much too reminiscent of Marcus Mumford, and a Marcus Mumford in desperate need of clearing his throat, at that. While the album does contain some interesting songwriting, particularly in the track, “It’s Not Enough,” Kensrue doesn’t seem able to pen a praise and worship song sans a spiritual cliché, rather than find a new way to express his praise and gratitude for God. The Water and the Blood without a doubt contains varied instrumentation, from the folksy guitar and bell in “Rejoice,” to the harder and more dissonant arrangement of “The Voice of the Lord,” to the jaunty finale of “It Is Finished.” Even still, while tracks like “Suffering Servant” may accurately profess what Jesus did for us, they are so micro melodically repetitive that they feel like they never get off of the ground. Particularly with this song, it doesn’t until it’s practically the end of the song, and only because of a key and rhythm change; same micro melodic repetition.
Regardless of my not being a fan of praise and worship music as a contemporary genre, I see some merit in this album. It seems focused and sincere about singing God’s praises, but I certainly couldn’t find myself listening to this again when I want to sing God’s praises myself. I like my music a bit more challenging and less straightforward than this. Again, I recognize the point of praise and worship is to be straightforward; this album executes that perfectly. If you are a fan of the genre or are looking for Vespers material, you’ll love this, but as someone who doesn’t fall into either of those categories, I don’t.
Dustin Kensrue, The Water and the Blood: C+