With two million records sold across its first five efforts, Oregon rock band Kutless had already made a strong name for itself. But the late 2009 release of It Is Well, the quintet’s second worship set, continues to be a complete game changer. On one hand, the edgy act’s first No. 1 adult contemporary single, “What Faith Can Do,” is remarkable, as are the rave reviews (“Cleverly arranged covers, soul-catching originals” —Christian Music Today; “Perfectly fitted guitar work” —allmusic; “No tracks worth skipping” —Jesus Freak Hideout). But even more important is how this batch of songs reflects the ways these men are growing in spirit, in creativity, and into one of today’s most exciting, thoughtful rock-meets-worship collectives.
Beyond the band’s brightening internal artistic merits, it’s inspiring to hear the Kutless members talk about what they are learning outside of their own instincts—the lessons that transcend any given genre to improve both creative and ministry impact. They’ve watched gospel-based acts like Israel Houghton and aspired to bring similar passion and dedicated musicianship to their own rock concerts. They’ve spoken with recent tour mates Casting Crowns, adopting its practice of walking through the empty performance halls ahead of show time, touching the seats and praying for those who will be in attendance. And there were plenty of insights gained from working with veteran producer Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, MercyMe) on It Is Well’s standout hit, “What Faith Can Do,” written by outside friends Scott Davis and Scott Krippayne.
“That song came in at the last minute, and we spent three days in Nashville tracking it with Brown, who is such a gentleman and a brilliant musician,” Luetkenhoelter recalls. “Kind of like what Dave Lubben did, he would ask—Is that the best you can do?—after every take and really helped us understand how to make the tune resonate with the listener.”
Sumrall likes how “What Faith Can Do” supports the worship theme throughout It Is Well and felt from the start it was the right song for Kutless in this season, an affirmation of the band’s decision to make the music God placed on its heart. It certainly addresses the ultimate goal of reaching the world with a message of hope; industry tracking indicates the tune was making more than eight million impressions per week while atop the charts, where more of the album’s stirring compositions are likely headed.
“We’re getting a flood of e-mail from people about how the song is impacting their lives,” concludes Jon Micah. “Our continuing prayer is for the entire record to point to Christ and remind us all that there is more to worship than worship albums. We must live a life of worship.”