Sparrow Records/Hillsong Music Australia
Release Date: July 1st 2014 (Standard Edition)/29th September 2014 (Deluxe Edition)
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- This I Believe (The Creed) [Matt Crocker]
- Heaven And Earth [Dave Ware]
- Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) [Taya Smith]
- No Other Name [Joel Houston]
- Depths [Reuben Morgan]
- Calvary [Reuben Morgan]
- Thank You Jesus [Annie Garrett]
- All Things New [Matt Crocker]
- My Story [Reuben Morgan]
- Our Father [Autumn Hardmann]
- Mountain [Jad Gillies]
- No Other Name (Brian Houston Message) *
- Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) [Alternate] *
- Calvary [Alternate] *
- This I Believe (The Creed) [Alternate] *
- Thank You Jesus [Alternate] *
- All Things New [Alternate] *
Releasing the deluxe version of their 23rd live album this week, one of the most popular, respected, prolific and inventive worship movements of all time- Hillsong Music, frankly need no introduction at all as they have been releasing annual albums since the 90s. They’re the biggest church in Australia; their music touching the lives of many locally and globally. Since its inception, this young worship team (now with worship leaders Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith and more) have carried on the church’s mission and vision to lift the name of Jesus above all others, and time and time again the worship movement soars to the top of the Christian charts, and their songs are probably the most sung in churches around the world, even though at times I may roll my eyes at some of their cheesy lyrics.
Releasing live albums very year in July, Hillsong Worship, formerly known as Hillsong Live, are part of the Australian movement that are one of the most popular Christian movement in the CCM and worship market today. With the passionate young group of worship leaders not being afraid to expand and reinvent the worship genre by infusing dance, pop, electronica and worship together; what does this mean for the most recent album No Other Name? Songs like “Mighty to Save”, “Hosanna”, “Scandal Of Grace”, “Search My Heart”, “Cornerstone”, “Hope Of The World”, “Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)” and most recently “Man Of Sorrows” remind me that Hillsong has anointing of the Holy Spirit on their music, and songs on this album refreshes and reinvigorates me greatly,as I sing along and worship Jesus, so much that some songs will be uttered in the same breath as the ones aforementioned.
Starting the album off with the worship anthem “This I Believe”, based off the Nicene Creed, the light piano led hymn like track is the perfect way to start the album. As Matt Crocker fervently sings out that ‘…I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in the Holy Spirit, our God is three in one…’, we are immersed into a vertical worship song bound to impact any who listen. With the lyrical content simple yet effective, and Matt’s voice brilliant as ever (he was superb in “I Surrrender”!), it’s a nice reminder of our faith and the reason we worship Jesus, without being too flowery in the language. Its accessibility is great for me, and this song sets the tone for the rest of the album.
With this album overall flowing more so than any other album in recent history (yes, even “Glorious Ruins”), we are met with a variety of genres, different singers, a variety of topics, but one God that we are praising. “Heaven And Earth”, littered with electronic and remix-y effects, sounding like something that Hillsong Young and Free would record, is emphatically led by Dave Ware and reminds us of the power of the love of God reaching down from heaven to earth, to come as save and heal us. A gentle reminder that we can be free and we can surrender to God anytime we long to, as Jesus is ‘…bringing the dead to life, all for the glory of Your Name…’; this song is a worthy second track. “All Things New”, led by Matt Crocker, is another album highlight (with a captivating piano and guitar solo/instrumental bridge). Though sounding a little CCM-ish, with the simple and semi-repetitive lyrics of ‘…You make all things new, yesterday and forever…’; Matt’s passion is so infectious, and I find myself crying out and shouting out that Jesus reigns forevermore!
“My Story”, also led by electronic effects, and littered with synth, is this time led by Reuben Morgan. One of the original Hillsong worship leaders, Reuben’s voice is just as strong as in previous years, and in this song delivers a powerful and timeless message about our testimonies and that we are free in Jesus, that our chains are broken. With a similar theme to “This Is Our God”, we are encouraged that our choices don’t define us, and our story is Jesus, period. Comforting and liberating, this song is the first of three led by Reuben, with the first promotional single “Calvary” (an acoustic guitar gospel message song that explicitly reminds us that the cross has covered our sin and our shame, that they do not count against us anymore, making us new in Jesus), and the moving guitar led anthemic mid tempo “Depths” (a straight up worship song that declares that God is the One we love with all of our hearts, similar in theme to “What A Friend I’ve Found” from Delirious?) rounding up his offerings. All three of these songs are moving, inspiring and encouraging, and have me enjoying Hillsong music more and more, and the most since I have seriously listened to their discography!
The album closer “Mountain”, sung by Jad Gillies, takes the music down a notch, with the slow tempo piano led melody wrapping the album thematically and lyrically, as Jad eloquently reminds us through metaphors and Biblical imagery of a reassurance we can have in the refuge, hope and home that Jesus Christ is. As the words are powerfully and mightily sung that ‘…my life is Yours, a living stone, for Your glory, heart and soul, surrendered all to build a home…’, we understand the sacrifice that Jesus undertook for us, and our hearts pour out in gratitude at the lengths Jesus went to remove mountains and to make us closer to him. The title track (which does seem a bit repetitive near the end…), led by soft piano, building to an epic crescendo and a stirring chorus and finish with a full band, has Joel Houston joyfully highlighting us the fact that Jesus’ name effects proactive and meaningful changes in our lives, as we ardently cry out that ‘…there is no other Name, Jesus Christ our God…’. But it is the 3 tracks that is led by the female worship leaders that impact me the most.
“Our Father”, a mid-tempo song driven by light keys and acoustic guitar, and led by newcomer Autumn Hardmann, vocally reminding me of Jaime Jamgochian, Darlene Zschech, and Roma Waterman, is a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer with brand new verses written. To me, this version is just as encouraging as the Bethel Music version of the Lord’s Prayer, maybe even more so, and that’s partly due to the passion, heart and soul exuded out from Autumn- it’s clear that she loves Jesus, and in this song she’s not afraid to show it to the world!
“Thank You Jesus”, led by Annie Garrett, is a prayer that outlines to Jesus that He has set us free, and a song that I could never be tired of singing, as Annie’s voice is sublime, and worth many listens as she majestically and emotionally praises and thanks God for who He is and what He has done. Yet the track that for me embodies what the album is all about is “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)”. Led by Taya Smith, who previously led “Oceans”, the God-breathed melody seems like it could be “Oceans Part II”, as Taya continues where she left off thematically and musically. Musically slow and led by the acoustic guitar, there’s a hint of folk in this song, as Taya earnestly cries out, gently reminding us that it’s God’s grace that has set us free. With the chorus of the song borrowing words from the timeless hymn written by John Newton; the brand new verses written for this album speak about how Jesus moulds and shapes us like jars of clay. Vocally Taya is at the top of her game, and a song like this, despite the nearly 10 minute length, is sure to resonate with everyone who listens, given the subject matter as well as the familiar lyrics. Well done everyone involved with the making of this album- it truly is magical.
With acoustic versions of 5 of the songs and a Brian Houston message rounding up the deluxe edition tracks, No Other Name is a joy to listen to, as we are blessed with a great album to add to the worship albums this year. On par with Glorious Ruins and Cornerstone as a whole, but also boasting more songs which are my favourite; the Aussie band does not seem to be slowing down any time soon. Even though I do enjoy the Hillsong United albums better than the Live counterparts (really, what is the difference besides a few worship leaders on one and others on the other?); the megachurch is are a force to be reckoned with, both in CCM and worship. They make the 3-4-albums-a-year aspect work, and if they stick with what they know, then it will definitely work for them in the future! Overall these 11 tracks, 5 new renditions and 1 sermon, show us the church in its brutal honesty and surrender to Jesus. These tracks, especially the front half, are as good as Hillsong have ever been, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting any future project from them! Well done to this humble Aussie band whose ministry is guaranteed to touch many lives!
4 songs to listen to: Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace), This I Believe (Creed), Our Father, Calvary
RIYL: Desperation Band, Jesus Culture, Planetshakers, Bethel Music