Album Review - The Power of One: Worship Leader Edition - Israel Houghton

I just wanna say - wow!

When I was asked by Integrity to do a review of the Worship Leader Edition of Israel Houghton's latest album, I was excited to say the least. After all, I seriously liked this album anyway. My worship team has been talking about it since it came out, and we've been discussing how in the world we were going to be able to do any of the songs off of the record.

Here's the answer.

The Worship Leader Edition comes in three discs: A copy of the original album, an enhanced CD that contains 10 audio tracks, sheet music, chord charts and lyric sheets, and a DVD that contains a live "unplugged" concert, song demos and other goodies. I already reviewed the original album when it released, so I'll focus here on the new material.

  • DVD

The main part of the DVD is an intimate concert that was recorded at Lakewood Studios in Houston. Ten of the songs from the CD were performed by Israel, Aaron Lindsay and two others. (I'll talk about the actual songs later in the "Audio CD" section.")

The most important part for worship leaders will be the "Tutorials" section, where Iz himself goes over the guitar parts of the songs. The tone of these tutorials is very casual and easy-going. (On the tutorial for "I Receive," Israel says that on the record the song was in C, but "'s 1:20 in the morning, so I'm going to do it in A." On another part he discusses his propensity for songs in E, claiming "I'm not much of a guitar player." Yeah, right.

These lessons are helpful (Iz's self-deprication aside) as they give a basic framework that worship leaders can use to construct arrangements for their churches. The very stripped-down arrangements are not complicated at all; in fact they are quite approachable. I found myself watching and saying "Man, I can do that!" on just about everything. Israel takes you through the chord voicings he uses (some which are different from the full-production versions) on guitar, and any little riffs or tricks he plays.

Additionally on the DVD are sections devoted to the stories behind 11 of the songs on the album, and a short documentary on the making of the album. The latter is interesting, and I've always found it helpful knowing the inspiration for a particular worship song when playing it at church.

  • Audio CD

I'm referring to the audio portion of the enhanced CD, which is an audio recording of the concert on the DVD. Ten of the songs off the record are provided here, in arrangements that generally include an acoustic guitar, a piano, a bass guitar and various hand percussion instruments - not a Les Paul or drum kit in earshot.

"Just Wanna Say" is still my favorite song on the record, and I think I like this acoustic version better. In fact, I like several of these songs better than the ones on the album. Of course, the songs that were the most simple to begin with sound the most similar to the full recording. ("Moving Forward","Surely Goodness) Producer Aaron Lindsay does the piano duties here, infusing the songs with a jazzy vibe, and percussionist Javier Solis leaves you not caring in the least that there's no drummer.

The song to me that seems the most "different" from the original arrangement is "I Receive." On the record, the song is a moody, mellow homage to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" - centered around a gradually building drum track, with slick production and a feel of impending sunrise. Here, it's a resounding piano anthem that grabs you from the beginning, inverting the chorus and first verse to let you know right away what you're singing about. On the other hand, "The Power of One (Change the World)" transforms into an intimate piece, leaving behind the horns and choir for a simple, musical conversation.

  • Enhanced CD

The "enhanced" part of the CD is the real toolkit for worship leaders. There are chord charts (in PDF format) for the songs, complete with fret diagrams for all the chords. (C13? Really?) I warn you now, you might go blind looking at "Moving Forward," there are so many chord changes, and "I Receive" has 18 different chords! But, these are a great starting place for a worship leader to begin arranging the songs for his or her team. There is also piano sheet music for those of you (and I say "you" because it's not me!) who enjoy such things. Finally, there are simple lyric sheets. (The copying of all this material is covered under a church's CCLI licence, so be sure you have one.)

It seems almost superfluous that there is a copy of the original CD in the package, as almost anyone who buys the Worship Leader Edition will likely have one. But it is nice to have it all in one package. Integrity has done a great job with this release, making one of today's most popular Christian artists approachable for churches large and small alike, and guaranteeing that these songs will be sung in worship services around the world. I can only hope they continue the trend.

The Worship Leader Edition is availible from Integrity Direct.


  1. This is a great way to spread the gospel. Soulful music and tutorials.


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