Sometimes, small local bands can surpass mainstream ones by leaps and bounds. This is definitely the case with Nick Thurmond, a praise and worship leader from Norman, Oklahoma. His 2008 album Not Alone is 11 tracks of creative lyrics, excellent music, and superb vocals. Thurmond is a slightly more organic version of Phil Wickham, yet he manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of popular praise and worship artists. Not Alone is a very professional, impressive album that shows Thurmond could easily go far in his career.
Thurmond leads worship at Summit Church in Newcastle, Oklahoma and Life Church in Oklahoma City. He sings and plays the piano and guitar along with an accompanying band. I learned about Thurmond by working at a summer camp in Oklahoma where he performed, and I was extremely impressed with his ability to perform well and still lead worship effectively. Most of his shows outside of church are played in the Oklahoma and Texas areas, at venues like camps similar to the one I worked at or in churches. Not Alone is his second album of three, and his most recent album is a live recording of his week at Christian camp Wild Week.
Not Alone is a refreshing change from other popular praise and worship bands. I appreciated that Thurmond does not rely on loud music and repetitive lyrics, such as bands like Hillsong or Chris Tomlin. Instead, his music is more subtle and does not distract from the lyrics. The song “An Honest Prayer” had excellent, simple lyrics with unpretentious music in the background that fit the lyrics perfectly. “Missing You” and “We Will Shine” are also notable for their clear, straightforward style.
However, my favorite song by far is “Shines.” It’s a gorgeous rendition of the old hymn “Be Thou My Vision” with a chorus added in. It was one of the first Nick Thurmond songs I ever heard, and I have heard it hundreds of times, but I still listen to it almost every day because of its mellow guitar, gorgeous piano, and excellent treatment of a classic hymn.
My only complaint about Thurmond’s album is his version of “Mighty to Save.” It’s a song that can be heard at least once at any church service across America and even the world, so any version of it must be striking to break its standard, everyday feeling. Thurmond falls just short of that. His version of this song, while solid, failed to impress me. The music was ordinary, and there were no unique touches to the vocals or lyrics. Listening to it felt just like another Sunday morning at church, which is not what I want to hear on my iPod.
Overall, Not Alone by Nick Thurmond is an exceptional album by a local artist with extraordinary talent. His clear, simple style surpasses many mainstream praise and worship, and I enjoy listening to it immensely. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future and will be checking iTunes periodically to find out if he has any new music to download.