The tide continues to turn in modern worship. Faux-hawks are increasingly being covered with thinking caps. I met John Gooch a few years ago when he moved to Denver from out of the state. He’s finishing up a degree at Denver Seminary, and one of the primary goals of his studies is to be the best worship leader he can be. I praise God that we’re seeing more up-and-coming worship leaders hungering for deep theology and wide biblical reflection. Would to God that more aspiring worship leaders believe that the best thing for their craft is a deep love for God honed in the woodshed of thoughtful, intentional Bible-training. Because John is one of these kinds of worship leaders, I value him, even enough to ask him to sub for me at Cherry Creek when I’ve been out of town.
John has just released a stellar EP entitled The Waiting Room. It’s a clean and clever pop-rock album, some of the songs on which have great congregational potential. My favorite track is “Home,” a powerful ballad which internalizes and personalizes the story of the Prodigal Son. You get the sense that John is writing from the perspective and voice of the Prodigal himself and yet sharing something deeply personal about his own story. There’s a lot in this song for everyone to identify with, as the first verse and chorus illustrate:
I’ve been a liar
And I’ve been a thief
I’ve killed another’s hope
And I’ve stolen their dreams
How could You ever love such a broken man like me?
Still You say, “I love you, son. Come home.”
All my fear, all my shame
On the cross You took my blame
In Your grace I’m not alone
God, you say, “Come home.”
Ahh…the good news just never gets old.
There are a lot of emerging singer-songwriters out there making records. What makes John stand out? Well, for one, not every singer-songwriter has a great voice, and even fewer have that natural, knock-you-out vocal sound (I think I fall short of this, myself). John does; his voice is pro. Secondly, if The Waiting Room is the beginning of John’s official songwriting journey, then we’re in for a treat as we see him develop in his craft, because these songs are both solid and deep. John has a clear passion to inhale theology and exhale praise through song. The Waiting Room typifies this and prophesies of greater depths to come. Part of my hope and prayer for John is to figure out how to wed the passion and heart of modern worship with the church’s rich history of hymnody. I don’t know that we’ve fully seen the potential of that explosive combination, and I think John’s the type of songwriter that will have the chops to do it.
The album was recorded in a fine studio (Epicenter) out here in Boulder, CO, and its mix is fresh and clean. I love some of the electric guitar choices and colors, especially on “Beautiful Savior” and “You Are.”
Go give The Waiting Room a listen, and pick up a copy while you’re at it!