Album Review - Worship Central: Spirit Break Out

I love live albums.  There is a sense of size, of depth, of warmth.that you really cannot get in even the best studio recording.  The last couple of years have seen some great live worship recordings: The I Heart Revolution by Hillsong United, Happy Day by Tim Hughes, Remedy: Club Tour Edition by the David Crowder* Band, to name a few.  So I was eagerly anticipating getting a review copy of Spirit Break Out to listen to.

Tim Hughes is one of my favorite worship leaders and songwriters.  We play a lot of his songs at church, I love the Happy Day record, and I think "Here I Am to Worship" is one of my favorite worship songs.  Tim's footprint  is all over this thing, but so are the footprints of a lot of other great people like Ben Cantelon and Nikki Fletcher. The title track is brilliant, a combination of power and depth that I really like, especially when the easy, deep rhythm gives way to an unexpected rap by Myles Dhillon.  The opening track, "Spirit of the Living God" is a perfect entry into this experience, building from a gentle drum rhythm to an powerful anthem, leading into the peppy "New Day," which is reminiscent of "Happy Day."

All in all, this album is a great listen, and will be, I'm sure, a great source for some new songs for the church.  I already plan on doing a couple of them, and Worship Central is more than happy to share, with chord charts for their entire catalog on their website. They even have an iPhone app with charts and a transposer for all their songs.

Spirit Breaks Out released in the UK in September, where it cracked the top ten album downloads on iTunes.  It drops in the US on January 24.  They are touring in the UK and France in January and February; one can only hope that they decide to do some shows in the US later in the year.  In the meantime, enjoy this:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Kingsway/Integrity Music to listen and post a review on this site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


  1. Interesting viewpoint. I was very kindly given Happy Day as a birthday present, played it in eager anticipation and recoiled at the arrangements. In fact I tried the DVD, then had the CD in the car. I must be becoming a grumpy old man, because the arrangements wind me up so much I don't even want to play it again to discover if there are songs I can use off there. Maybe it IS time to listen again, because I can't now remember *exactly* what it was I didn't like so much.

    This IS serious BTW, and not just a whinge.

    And I'm struggling with not wanting to become a latter day lover of Sankey Specials or the equivalent (Ira Sankey wrote a lot of songs that were hugely popular at the time, but are utterly fixed in their era musically and horribly cliched now). At the same time it's really hard to find things that I want to sing that weren't written between 1970 and 2001. There are exceptions, but that's exactly what they are. I have a recent worship album by a *very well known Christian worship artist* that I cannot bear to play at all and cannot find anything I would want to sing in church from. I'm grateful We Shall Not Be Shaken and 10,000 reasons had some usable songs, but they still seem to be padding, rather than the ones that actually get the people into worship. Who is writing the songs that make the throne-room real and present God as glorious instead of telling Him about what we're going to do for Him?

    So to the point, I was recommended this album by a friend this morning. There's a sense of being loath to blow fifteen quid on something I'll wish I'd never bought, but I may just have to bite the bullet.

  2. I did like Happy Day. Some of the arrangements are more concert than worship service, but I really like "Here I Am to Worship" and "Consuming Fire" on that record, plus a couple others.

    I don't think Tim Hughes has to worry about being Ira Sankey, but I get your point. Some worship songs are timeless, most have a season. Knowing the difference is important. While Matt Redman, for example, has written many of the latter, he has a couple that stand the test of time. (And I've done "We Shall Not be Shaken" at a worship service)

    Passion guys in general tend to be of two camps: there's the Tomlin/Redman camp of safe, easy worship songs, and the Crowder/Hall camp of edgier, deeper songs. I prefer the latter.

  3. Thanks Mike, but maybe I didn't explain very well. The Sankey comment was about becoming someone who could only worship to "the proper songs", which of course were all the ones written in a narrow frame of time and style. I know that the Church has traditionally always done that very thing, but many of the Sankey songs were quite pants outside their era, just like many of the songs from the 70s and 80s (I don't want to sing Shine, Jesus Shine any more).

    It's not that I see Redman/Tomlinson as being safe or usable so much as finding fewer songs that talk about God in a way that seems real. I find even less with the little of Crowder that I've listened to, but don't have enough experience to know if that's true generally.

    Some of this is me just whinging/trying to work through what I sense in this conversation, but some is a very real concern. As a guitar player I realise that I gave up the dream of being a rocker in order to experience the reality of God's presence when I play. That's not to say that God isn't around if I'm rocking, but the focus of why I play is different. I'm a worshipper first and making music second. But I just can't seem to overcome the feeling with so much of what I'm hearing that it's the other way round in the songs.

    And there's certainly some personal preference going on too.

    A couple of years back I obtained Audacious Band's Majesty CD. The lyrics are somewhat thin on good theology and can get desperately repetitive (and they really wouldn't work for present congregation) but there was a spirit behind the music that seems to be so completely missing from so much mainstream stuff - it could sometimes literally make me well up instead of feeling guilty for wishing something better was playing. Maybe it just pushes the right emotional buttons?

    I need to start writing songs, but really struggle to a) find the time and b) to find a way to do so that makes them transmissible.

  4. I've been feeling a lot of that myself lately. I find myself drifting toward songs that are deeper, harder, more prophetic than what is offered on most contemporary Christian stations. I getting into Daniel Bashta, I like John Mark McMillan, and some others.

    This past weekend we had a get-together of about 14 small church worship leaders and did some free worship and songwriting, and things seemed to drift that way as well.

    One of the reason's I like Crowder's last (and final) release is because it deals with things like that - death, fatigue, emptiness - and God's restorative power.

    Don't get me wrong... I like a good hook as much as the next guy, especially to open a set or to really bring a certain emotion. But I find myself craving a deeper experience.

  5. Now here's an interesting thing. I used 3 songs from 10,000 reasons and one from Happy Day this morning - mp3s lifted directly from the CD because I was preaching and also didn't have a singer to work with me (I NEED someone else to help keep things in tune). They did seem to really lead people (at least some people) into worship.

    Just when I'm being clever I have to realise it's the Spirit of God that makes a song work or not.

    We used: Here for you, (Tim Hughes) Consuming fire, Endless hallelujah, 10,000 Reasons. We also had I know He rescued my soul (my redeemer lives) as a bouncy song for the children, which they resolutely didn't bounce to!

    Showed me!


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