Family Nights, Vol. 1: All Your Heart

Almost 10 years ago Jess Ray and Taylor Leonhardt, two young singer-songwriters, met in Raleigh, N.C., and quickly became friends and musical partners. They started a weekly gathering where a group of people shared a meal and a time of worship together. That led the pair to start writing songs that addressed the needs of their community. They chose the name Mission House for their musical partnership and began sharing these songs with a wider audience.

Their latest album, Family Nights, Vol. 1: All Your Heart, is a stripped-down live recording with two acoustic guitars, piano, and voices, including the voices of the congregation. Like most good music for congregations, these songs do not depend on production or a huge sound to work well. Ray and Leonhardt alternate lead vocals and harmonize well, but this album is not about impressive vocals or instrumental virtuosity; it is about simple songs that invite listeners to join in. This is made clear in the opening song, “Sing with All Your Heart,” a call to worship and words of welcome to all who gather.

One of the highlights on this album is when they’re joined on lead vocals by pianist Dee Wilson to sing “If I Was a Bird.” Wilson’s gospel-infused vocal, along with the sparse instrumentation, puts the focus on the lyrics, based on Psalm 84. Family Nights, Vol 1 is a fresh worship album that invites us to listen and sing along. (Integrity Music)

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