With Worship Central's Spirit Break Out recently becoming the first-ever worship album to reach the U.K. charts and Delirious? scoring a Facebook campaign-assisted Top Five single, British contemporary Christian rock is arguably in the rudest health it's ever been. Hoping to capitalize on its growing popularity is Northern Irish 15-piece Rend Collective Experiment, who are already making waves in the U.S. after touring with the likes of Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio. Recorded in several churches and various members' homes (hence its title), their second album, Homemade Worship by Handmade People, could well be the record that truly transcends the scene's core audience. Indeed, it's a spiritual album that doesn't necessarily have to be for spiritual people, thanks to a warm, rich, and inviting acoustic sound which easily holds its own alongside the emphatic boogie rock of Kings of Leon ("Praise Like Fireworks"), the foot-stomping nu-folk of Mumford & Sons ("Build Your Kingdom Here"), and the life-affirming indie epics of Snow Patrol ("Second Chance"). However, the follow-up to 2010's Organic Family Hymnal is by no means just an attempt to replicate the sounds of various Q Magazine cover stars. "You Are My Vision" bravely transforms the traditional hymn into an authentic slice of harmony-laden bluegrass, "True Intimacy" showcases a rare female lead vocal on a gorgeous glockenspiel-led number which could have come from the modern Lilith Fair stable, while "The Cost" is a rousing hillbilly anthem packed with anthemic chants, handclap rhythms, and Sigur Rós-esque choral melodies. The ballads are just as enchanting, from the string-soaked atmospherics of "Desert Soul" to the heart-warming jangly acoustics of "Keep Me Near" to the brass-tinged melancholy of "Alabaster," a far more suitable finale than the rather pedestrian "Shining Star." Whether you choose to listen to it as a celebratory worship experience or just a conventional pop/rock album, Homemade Worship by Handmade People works on both levels.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien