One Man In The Middle brings you regular, unbiased and honest reviews of music EPs and albums from Christian artists and musicians, of all styles and abilities, from all over the world. Here we have “Okan EP” by Temitope with a fantastic overall review score of 9.5 out of 10.
Temitope (Teh-ME-toh-PEH) is a worship project. The name, originating from the Yorùbá tribe in Nigeria, means “mine is praise” which is the heartbeat of this project. Every lyric, every melody and every note is offered as a praise offering to God.
Temitope “Tobi” Peters is the son of immigrants from Nigeria and England. He is passionate about creating music that clearly displays the wonders that God has done, is doing and will do. His prayer is that the lyrics and melodies inspire the Church around the world to join in the sound of heaven. These songs aren’t merely meant for listening. They are exhortations inviting the listener to become a participant. All glory, honor and praise to God alone.
So this acoustic release from Temitope is just coming up to its one year anniversary from release, so that seems like the perfect time to share my thoughts. While his name means “mine is praise” the word Okan means “one” and it is this heart for unity in worship is part of the driving force behind this album. This is something we see from the very beginning with his first track “Calling All”, talking about all colours and all people being welcomed by God Himself with open arms. As we come to worship we need to come in unity of heart and spirit, knowing that we are worshipping God who is one and while there is room for diversity there is no room for division. The music behind the vocals is quite intense acoustic piano and guitar which shows that there is some incredible musical talent underpinning this release.
What are the reasons that we come together and worship? There are so many reasons, we delight in God, we declare His promises, we thank and worship Him for who He is and what He has done, but more importantly, our lives of worship are to show and declare His glory on the earth. With the showcase of the worship music industry sometimes even worship pointing to God becomes more about the performer, the mix, the atmosphere, the response, the talent of the musicians and whether we like the style of music and that is the wrong focus. In “God You Reign” the point is to “take and use them [our lives] to bring your Kingdom, for Your glory, not ours”. There really is an important principle that we forget so often which is declared in a beautifully humble and understated way.
In the next track “Mercy Song (Iwo Imole)” Tobi brings the need for Gods grace and our need for His mercy. The ‘Iwo Imole’ from the title is from the Nigerian Yoruba and as far as I can tell it means ‘view the light’, although I am no language student. That is because although the song starts in English is does have a Yoruba chorus, something that we have seen become common in the UK with many artists with a Nigerian background choosing to have part or whole song in their native dialects. While I don’t pretend to understand the language, I love the diversity that it brings to our worship. “There is Hope” is a declaration of the hope that we have in Jesus for our redemption through the cross.
“Give Me Your Eyes” demonstrates that it’s not just the piano where Temitope is a gifted musician, but also on the acoustic guitar. Although “Mercy Song” was also guitar backed the sound is more prominent on this track. The theme of this song is something that has been echoed through the three releases that I have reviewed today, so perhaps God is speaking to me, because the music has all been different, from Seventh Day Slumber to Shae Wilbur to this album, there has been a thought that we need to see ourselves and others how God sees us. This EP rounds out with a track called “There is Hope” featuring Emily Hamilton. This track has a much fuller arrangement of instrumentation and more prominent acoustics. This is a song of the hope that we have in Jesus. This track really highlights a sound that can be transferred from the more acoustic tracks into full church worship and that Temitope isn’t an artist that can be put in just one box. This last track keeps the heart and integrity of the previous songs but moves the feel into a bigger space, the equivalent to the sound produced by the bigger-budget mega-church worship.
This album is a revelation and I love Temitope’s integrity and his desire to express his worship in a way that draws us together and is about unity but still allows for diversity. The stripped-back nature allows these songs about who we worship to hit home. Apparently to get to these six tracks Temitope had to choose from over 100 songs that he had written. I really hope and pray that he will be encouraged by the way that this EP has turned out and we will be seeing more of this expressive heart being offered to God, that we can all add our worship too in one voice.
For track listing & snippets, ranking breakdown and more, check out onemaninthemiddle