If you are familiar with the worship genre of music at all, chances are you are familiar with Hillsong. This is a worship team that drives forward the sound that is considered popular” in the worship genre. Hillsong year after year releases a new albumthrough whichthey consistently bring new songs to worship our God and supply churches with numerous new songs to throw into Sunday morning worship. Sometimes Hillsong in their albums keep treading the same waters and for those looking for something new they aren’t always going to find that from a Hillsong album. But if you want a great worship album Hillsong always delivers and there is no doubt that they bring their best in honoring God.
Now I am usually more a Hillsong United fan and usually enjoy their releases more than Hillsong’s releases. But lately the lines of those bands have kind of crossed and especially in this album I notice a big United flavor on the album. A lot of this could do with the fact that a lot of United’s worship leaders make appearances on this album so you will notice a lot of United-sounding songs. That said I was very surprised with how much this did sound like a United album and how much I like this album.
Joel Houston starts off the album with the anthem “Our God Is Love.” Joel Houston is easily my favorite vocalist and songwriter out of the Hillsong/Hillsong United team. I have always loved his voice and tend to connect very easily with the songs he writes and leads. This track is no different as he offers the powerful lyrics:
“This is love/and#8232;Jesus came and died and gave His life for us/and#8232;Let our voices rise and sing for all He’s done/Our fear is overcome/and#8232;Our God is love/and#8232;Our God is love”
Reuben Morgan follows up with another upbeat number in the form of “Open My Eyes.” But the real highlight is the following track “Forever Reign ” led by Jad Gilles. This is easily one of my favorite songs written by Hillsong–this song just blows me away. This track slows things down a bit but it has such a powerful delivery. I really like the lyrics on this track which simply show how our Lord will forever reign and how he is the one thing that matters in this life. This powerful chorus constantly gets stuck in my head after hearing it:
“Oh I’m running to Your arms/ I’m running to Your arms/ The riches of Your love will always be enough/ Nothing compares to Your embrace/ Light of the world forever reign”
“The One Who Saves” continues this slowed-down pace that has a simple yet powerful message which sometimes are the best forms of worship. Brooke Fraser Ligterwood leads “Like Incense/Sometimes By Step.” This song is written around the chorus of Rich Mullins’ track “Sometimes By Step.” Brooke has a beautiful voice and it leads you through this great worship track. The next track “The Greatness of Our God ” is your typical worship fair and not one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Two strong tracks follow: “The Father’s Heart” is a 6-minute worship ballad and “You” brings in a lot of energy. “The Father’s Heart” focuses on the greatness of God and is a great worship track. “You” is a Hillsong United-flavored track through and through. Led by Joel Houston this track has a lot of energy and has a nice rock sound; this is easily the best upbeat track on the album and my second favorite track right after “Forever Reign.”
“Love Like A Fire” and “Believe” aren’t bad; they just sound similar to some previous tracks on the album and don’t stick out as well. Also since these are both slower tracks they don’t differentiate too much in sound. The title track is nearly eleven minutes long and may wear you out if you aren’t into very long worship tracks. It slowly builds up from a ballad to an all-out worship anthem. I found it very powerful and if you can get into it this is a great track even with its long length. The beautiful exchange is about how Jesus willingly gave up his life for our sins and what a beautiful thing this was. Even though I probably would have enjoyed this even more if it was just a few minutes shorter this is a strong track to begin to wrap the album up. These lyrics will also get stuck in your head easily and you could sing this all day:
” When only love could make a way/ You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange/When only love could break these chains/ You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange/ Holy are You God holy is Your name/ With everything I’ve got/ My heart will sing how I love you”
It almost would have been better to end the album with “Beautiful Exchange ” but if you were falling asleep during the last one Reuben Morgan comes back with an upbeat track called “Thank You.” This is actually an ideal track to have follow “Beautiful Exchange” since this track is thanking Christ for the gift of giving up His life and being able to receive salvation through him. It’s not as powerful as the previous track but nonetheless a solid song. The album then ends with a radio version of “Forever Reign.” The only difference is this doesn’t have the life feel to it and is a little shorter–not a ton of differences but it’s still as good as the original track and wraps up this solid worship album.
Overall this album impressed me quite a bit and it has grown on me overtime. Most the time I have difficulty listening through a whole Hillsong album whereas withHillsong United I have no problem. This usually is due to many of Hillsong’s tracks being very long and not always that engaging. With this album however I didn’t have a problem listening all the way through and it’s been one of my favorite worship CDs to listen to lately. That’s were it gets a little hard to rate this. As a worship experience this is a 5 out of 5 no questions asked. Everyone on the Hillsong team has hearts focused on Christ and helps lead you through a great time of worship with our God. Sure we have heard the similar musical stylings from Hillsong before and even some of the lyrical themes but that doesn’t make this an awful album.
Between Hillsong and Hillsong United there are very few worship bands that I would say are able to lead large groups of people in a great time of worship and still be able to play solid music. If you don’t like Hillsong because you think all of their stuff sounds too alike and isn’t creative enough musically then you probably won’t like this because not much has changed. But the musicians are by no means untalented.All these guys and gals are very talented and make some great music that is perfect to worship with. It comes down to personal worship taste but as far as typical CCM worship goes Hillsong/ Hillsong United lead the pack and are without a doubt the ones who do the style best. This is definitely my favorite album by Hillsong. I still like Hillsong United a great deal more and there are a couple other bandswhose style of worship I enjoy a little more; nonetheless this is a great worship album and is great for a time of worship.