Musician. Missionary. Messenger.

There are many that find themselves burdened with one of those callings but very few who embody all three. Yet, for rising artist Jake Hamilton and his musical collective The Sound, those three words say it all.

Hamilton has spent the past several years building his resume, serving in ministry since the age of 19 and playing alongside CCM heavyweights like MercyMe and Jeremy Camp. Three years of performing with the Jesus Culture conferences and releasing two worldwide albums only helped to bring even more recognition to the artist but it doesn’t seem to have fazed him, his mission seeming to provide him solid ground.

“I’ve been in ministry since I’ve been 19 and the one I thing I know is I don’t know anything,” he shares, “But the more I’ve tried to figure it out, the further I feel from God. I see Him more when I give into the mystery, and I’m not afraid of the hurt or pain because I know He’s going to catch me.”

It’s a refreshing point of view that Hamilton brings and is one that, in some ways, runs countercultural to much of what the Christian music genre has tended to espouse. Hamilton shares a message of faith and love and challenges his listeners to a world of adventure and risk, a challenge that he himself has undertaken. Traveling from church to church, event to event, and even to other countries, playing for audiences of 5000 and then the next night for one of 50, the message is the same, “You are loved.”

“We’re actually part worship leaders and part missionaries in the sense that many of these places actually cost me money to go there and they are areas that wouldn’t normally hear any type of Christian music,” suggests Jake HamiltonHamilton. “Nothing for us changes no matter where we go whether we’re in a room of 50 or 5,000 because we play the exact same way with the same hearts.”

And on Beautiful Rider, the latest from Jake Hamilton & the Sound, those hearts are front and center alongside musical templates that bridge into some new territory for worship music.

It’s a territory that’s colored with organic textures, swelling strings and gentle piano as are found on the soulful “Just Beyond the Breaking” or gritty, down in the dirt blues riffs and raging vocals on “Never Let Me Down.” Hamilton and company’s sound is compellingly visceral and engaging. This is music that you can reach out and touch, feeling it all the way down to your bones through the ripe organ of “Save Me” and the gravelly-voiced chorus of “Slow Down.”

Simply put, it hits home.

Lyrically the record shines as well. Hamilton writes in a way that is fluid and passionate, keeping with a vertical push but incorporating authentic declarations of need and desire within. Hamilton shares his own wrestling’s with the greatness of God on album opener “Behold, God is Great,” singing, “Behold God is great and we do not know Him/Behold God is great who can number His years?/He’s so much bigger than any image I’ve made in my head/He’s so much greater than any storybook I’ve read,” while longing for salvation on “Save Me,” offering “I want to be the child you died to save/But I can’t teach this flesh to behave/So I again I lay down at your feet/I want to hear “well done” the day we meet.”

Hamilton frames “My Ballad to the Church of Laodicea” in legitimate rock apparel, crunchy guitars and throbbing percussion that enhances the bridge laden with passion and warning, “Laodicea, Laodicea, There is still time/There is hope for you, there is hope for you/This is just a warning, this is just a warning/Wake up, Wake up, Wake up, Wake up!” The reason for that hope is given on the title track as Hamilton encapsulates the Gospel, singing, “Our only hope was wrapped in hay/Our Fathers promise to show the way/He lived to set the captive free/And died to live inside of me” while soulfully offering thanks for that gift on the appropriately titled, “Thank You.”

Jake Hamilton & the Sound are not your typical worship band. On Beautiful Rider they have written and performed tracks that offer stunning worship to God over against a soundscape that just may not fit into some people’s conventional views of worship. But that doesn’t ruffle Hamilton’s feathers one bit.

“…I’m convinced there’s no such thing as Christian music or art. There’s just authenticity, and if it’s pointed at Jesus, it doesn’t matter how broken you are because it’s all worship to me. When the world sees the authenticity it blurs the line. I’m not going to compromise or remove the name of Jesus, but simply be a real person with a real sound and message the world needs to hear.”

On Beautiful Rider, Jake Hamilton does just that.