Hillsong Music Australia
Release Date: August 12th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- With Everything
- Touch The Sky
- Mighty To Save
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
- This I Believe (The Creed)
- Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
- Break Free
- The Stand
- Forever Reign
- Back to Life
Hillsong, especially Hillsong UNITED, have become popular around the world within the last few years. Ever since their chart topping album Zion back in 2013, along with their ever more popular follow-up album Empires in 2015, the humble band with beginnings in Australia have taken the world, and especially America, by storm. Releasing songs throughout their career like “Hosanna”, “With Everything”, “The Stand”, “Oceans”, “Mighty to Save”, “Search My Heart”, “Awakening”, “Scandal Of Grace”, “Lead Me To the Cross”, and “Point of Difference” to name a few; this is a band whose better days I’m sure are still to come, and as they released their acoustically driven Of Dirt and Grace (an acoustic version of their album Empires) in July, ahead of their music documentary Let Hope Rise releasing to theatres in September 2016, a precursor to such a big event is indeed the original soundtrack to the documentary, also titled Let Hope Rise and released just last Friday (12th August 2016).
What began in Australia in the late 1990s as a side-arm to the Hillsong LIVE annual conferences is now a global phenomenon. The song “Oceans” proved that. Now in 2016 and on the back of such a chart-topping album in Empires, as well as their acoustic album Of Dirt and Grace, the soundtrack to their documentary releases. While most, if not all these songs could be found elsewhere on other UNITED albums; what UNITED have done is re-record all these songs in their entirety, and while most stay true to the original recordings in a stylistic way; there are little moments of differences, like a live version of “Touch the Sky”, or Taya leading “Hosanna” instead of Brooke. “Oceans” is even lengthened when it was recorded live, while Young and Free are also represented in this collection, with powerful radio hit “Back to Life” from their self titled debut album in 2013.
In the 1990s and the 2000s, worship music has followed a somewhat safe formula- verse, chorus, verse, repetitive bridge, free worship, chorus again…you get the picture. Empires, and maybe even more so Zion seemed to change all of that- as the structure of most of these songs seemed to be more fluid- that as the Spirit led, the song would respond. This was why many of the songs on most of UNITED’s albums, as especially this album Let Hope Rise, were long- not tedious long, but long to be reminded that the Spirit could flow in the confines of a worship track. UNITED, through Of Dirt and Grace; and even through this new album, continue to remind us all that worship isn’t really a genre of music, but a way of creating music without the formula, so that God can move through what He wants to move through. What has resulted was a great worship experience featuring songs that span a wide range of their musical career. While the exhaustive track list of 14 doesn’t feature all of their top hits, it does however give a snapshot into the songs that make up UNITED and what they stand for. Some songs are well known and others lesser so, yet in the end, this song selection is a great representation of a band whose best I reckon is still yet to come.
With songs like “Hosanna”, “With Everything”, “Touch the Sky”, “Relentless”, “Forever Reign” and “The Stand”; this is a great album to look at if you are an avid Hillsong UNITED supporter. And while the album may be somewhat redundant considering Pandora and Spotify nowadays, what this album has is that it was all recorded live- no re-hashes from previous live UNITED albums. Let Hope Rise, both the album and the movie releasing September 2016, will be the most talked about album and movie of the year thus far. I may not know whether it’ll be good things or bad, we’ll have to wait and see. Yet hearing this album makes we want to watch the movie/documentary even more. And for non-Hillsong enthusiasts…this is also a perfect album to hear, as a snapshot will indeed make the listener more intrigued and interested in hearing the rest of their album, and hopefully discography.
Hillsong’s latest is a testament and a timely reminder, that worship can be creative and still be presented in a live format, that it can be unique, powerful, and still structured and somewhat formulaic. That songs can carry the weight of sometimes a sermon, and that Hillsong and their music is revolutionising the entire worship music industry, ever since their chart topping album Zion. If you were to pick a band that has made the most impact within the worship movement industry throughout the years, it would be Hillsong (in all its facets). These 14 tracks have taken on a whole new meaning for me when they have been redone, and I hope it will be a unique experience for you all as well. Well done UNITED for such a unique and powerful album. Can’t wait for the next album when it releases! And bring on the documentary movie Let Hope Rise in September I say!
3 songs to listen to: Touch the Sky, Forever Reign, Oceans
RIYL: Hillsong Worship, Passion, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Desperation Band