Album Review - Hillsong Live : This is Our God
Strike another blow for sameness.
That was my first thought listening to Hillsong new release, This is Our God. This album definitely plays into Hillsong's strength: contemporary congregational worship suited for big churches. These songs are easy to listen to, easy to sing, easy to pick up. All in all, that's not a bad thing, given the mission of the album and the ministry. Still, I found myself wanting more from such talented artists.
Even with new material, I found this record less enjoyable than The I Heart Revolution compilation album. Perhaps it was that there was less energy, less power in the recording, even though this record was recorded live in Hillsong's backyard at the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.
The record also marks a changing of the guard, so to speak. Darlene Zschech has stepped back a bit in this project, allowing Reuben Morgan to take more of an active role. In fact, Zschech only contributed one song to the album, "High and Lifted Up." The song is pure Zschech and Hillsong, inspiring and lofty and at once familiar.
Zschech's lack of contribution leaves room for the up-and-comer in the Hillsong songwriting department, Brooke Fraiser. She wrote two songs on the record, "You'll Come" and "Desert Song." I really like "Desert Song." It's got a great beat to it, and a great message as well about worshipping god at all times and in every season.
Don't get me wrong: there are a lot of good, high energy songs on the album, and it does a great job at highlighting the new faces of Hillsong worship leaders. Joel Houston's "Run" is a great song, full of all the things that today's younger worshippers like in a worship song. Ditto for the collaborative "Across the Earth." I'm sure these songs will be heard in churches all around the globe soon enough.
The real superstar of the record is "Healer," of course. This heartfelt cry to God by worship leader Michael Guglielmucci has been all the rage in the worship leader community, not only on the song's own merits, which are formidable, but because of Guglielmucci's own performance of it at a recent Hillsong conference. Suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that has wracked his body and caused him to have over thirty broken bones, Michael grabbed his guitar and dragged his oxygen tank out to center stage to perform the song. How a man holds out hope when faced with that is a testament to his faith.
The record is certainly a keeper. I'm sure I'll be playing several of the songs in service before the year is out, and a few of them will find their way to my mp3 player. Just don't expect anything ground-breaking here. This is Our God is more like an old, comfortable chair. And in the end, that's not such a bad thing.