Review: Freedom’s Tree – Southville Music
By Fin Sheridan
An encouraging trend in churches across the UK is the increase of songwriting and local congregations producing albums. Whilst churches like Hillsong, Elevation, Passion Music and individual artists such as Matt Redman, Kari Jobe and Chris Tomlin continue to be gifts to the world of musical worship, it is exciting to see more and more music made by smaller churches; worship leaders writing for their own congregations and also to serve others.
Enter Southville Music, a collective of songwriters based at Elim Church Yeovil. Southville is led by worship pastor, Tim Williams and “consists of a number of different creatives who are enjoying growing and exploring just how far God can take the gifts he has given them. Over the last year they have written the beginnings of over 100 songs and have already started on the next 100 for the follow up album due to be released in 2019. Southville brings together songwriters from as young as 13 all the way through to 96.”
“Southville brings together songwriters from as young as 13 all the way through to 96.”
So, what does such a innovative (and productive!) approach produce? Well, later this year, Southville will release ‘Freedom’s Tree’ and the album is as creative as the approach. Firstly, the sound. By involving K Collective in the production of this album, ‘Freedom’s Tree’ has clear gospel and R&B influences which give it a refreshing and unusual spin. The album’s upbeat songs aren’t classic guitar pop but weave in electronic and more produced strands and that’s a brave move that pays off.
There’s stories behind the music too. Songs like ‘Every Call’ have noticeable depth. Williams explains why saying “About 17 months ago we were going through a period of time as a church that was really difficult. It felt like we were under attack, there was a lot of serious illness, particularly among the children, and it didn’t seem like it was going to end. This song came from that and instantly was an anthem for us through those challenges.” Keep your eyes out for an interview telling that story coming really soon!
‘Freedom’s Tree’ is a impressive album; the process, lyrics and sound are all excellent. Southville Music should be pointed to as an example for what is possible for medium-large sized churches here in the UK – they clearly have invested well and have worked hard to produce an album, but more significantly, a sound that is worth hearing.