Hillsong Music Australia / Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: April 6th 2018 [There Is More] / July 13th 2018 [There Is More: Studio Sessions]
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Track Listing (There Is More) + worship leader/s:
- Who You Say I Am [Brooke Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan]
- You Are Life [Matt Crocker, Karina Wykes]
- The Passion [Brooke Ligertwood]
- God So Loved [David Ware]
- Be Still [Ben Fielding]
- Remembrance [Jad Gillies, Michelle Cook]
- Valentine [Taya Smith]
- Touch of Heaven [Aodhan King]
- Lettered Love [Laura Toggs]
- The Lord’s Prayer [Benjamin Hastings]
- New Wine [Brooke Ligertwood]
- So Will I (100 Billion X) [Taya Smith]
- Seasons [Benjamin Hastings]
- Who You Say I Am (Acoustic) [Brooke Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan]
- Remembrance (Acoustic) [Brooke Ligertwood, Taya Smith]
- Touch of Heaven (Acoustic) [Aodhan King]
- The Passion (Acoustic) [Jad Gillies, Brooke Ligertwood]
Track Listing (There Is More: Studio Sessions):
- Who You Say I Am
- The Passion
- You Are Life
- Be Still
- New Wine
- Touch Of Heaven
Having already releasing the deluxe version of their 26th live album There Is More in April this year; one of the most popular, respected, prolific and inventive worship movements of all time- Hillsong Worship (previously known as Hillsong LIVE), 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 ever-revolving young worship team (now with worship leaders Brooke Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, Matt Crocker, Taya Smith and more), with massive hearts for Jesus, have carried on the church’s mission and vision to lift the name of Jesus above all others. Time and time again the worship movement soars to the top of the Christian charts (more recently the songs “Who You Say I Am” and “What A Beautiful Name”), 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 almost every year, Hillsong Worship 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; songs like “Mighty to Save”, “Hosanna”, “Scandal Of Grace”, “Search My Heart”, “Cornerstone”, “Hope Of The World”, “Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise)”, “Man Of Sorrows”, “Behold (Then Sings My Soul)” and most recently “What A Beautiful Name”, remind me that Hillsong has the anointing of the Holy Spirit on their music. This is evident in There Is More, as well as the EP There Is More: Studio Sessions which released this year in July. With the band lyrically still relevant in today’s somewhat already-saturated worship music market; let us see how the group’s most recent album sounds like to me, half a year out from when it released!
Recorded live during the 2017 Hillsong Worship & Creative Conference at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia; we are blessed to hear a variety of passionate worship leaders come together to bring God glory and honour, lifting His Almighty Name on high. The album opens up with the acoustic guitar led mid tempo ballad and first single “Who You Say I Am”, which basically reminds us all that ‘…I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who You say I am, You are for me, not against me, I am who You say I am…’; the notion that God speaks truth over us, and what the world says about us doesn’t matter because God says that we are special in His eyes, that we are perfect, that we are heirs to the kingdom of Heaven. Brilliantly led by Reuben Morgan and Brooke Ligertwood, and well deserving of its place on WOW Hits 2019; “Who You Say I Am” anchors the album thematically and musically, as we remember that it is only in Christ that we can find our identity.
Recently it was announced that Brooke Ligertwood (known as Brooke Fraser in the mainstream) would be the lead vocalist for Hillsong Worship (does this mean she’s not a mainstream solo artist anymore?); so, it’s fitting that she sings lead the most here. “The Passion” is a guitar led pulsating drums prominent hymn-like melody standing at just over 4 and a half minutes long, where Brooke ardently reiterates that ‘…our chains are gone, our debt is paid, the cross has overthrown the grave, for Jesus’ blood has set us free, His death to death and life for me…’– a more overt Easter themed melody; while “New Wine”- a personal album highlight- is the longest song on the album at just over 8 minutes as the piano prominent slow-paced ballad, as Brooke offers up a poignant, reverent prayer to God, asking Him to offer up new wine to us, to bring us something new, more of Himself so that we can see Jesus more in a different light. A prayer for God to bring revival to the land also, “New Wine” seems to be the next big hit after “Who You Say I Am”- and it’s clear that this melody will be travelling around the globe in churches everywhere in the coming months!
The rest of the album (9 songs on the standard edition) is sung by no less than 10 different singers, as we get a snapshot into the different vocalists from the global movement. CCM/electronic 3 minute pop tune “You Are Life” is quite different from something Hillsong Worship would record (maybe one would expect Hillsong Y&F) as Matt Crocker eloquently relays to us a dance anthem where he proclaims that Jesus is life to us and alive in us also; while David Ware explicitly states the gospel in “God So Loved”, a modern day retelling of John 3:16, the most popular and well-known verse in the entire Bible. Ben Fielding also is present with a track here, as he fervently delivers probably the most engaging track on the album in “Be Still”. An electric guitar led slow ballad highlighting the notion to us that we need to be still in the presence of God to sometimes understand and grasp what He is doing in our lives; we also are delivered the concept that we don’t have to be afraid in life, as His mercy, love, peace and kindness will follow us all of the days of our lives.
“Remembrance” (Jad Gillies) continues on with the reflective ballad genre, as we hear an overtly recorded communion type song asking God to never let us forget the price He paid for us, and to always let us remember his unending love for us displayed on the cross; while Taya Smith is at her brilliant best vocally as she authentically conveys a loving heart to a God of love in “Valentine”, where we are presented with Jesus showering us with many kinds of love, as Taya vibrantly declares ‘…this world is Yours, my God, this world is Yours, all You made to be Yours, I know You love us all…’. “Touch Of Heaven”, led by the exquisitely played and chilling piano, has Aodhan King channelling his inner Phil Wickham vocally, as we are met with one of the most vulnerable songs of the year, where Aodhan powerfully declares that all he wants to do is to be present in Jesus’ presence, for a touch of heaven (reminding me of the bible verse of the woman touching Jesus’ cloak!); while Hillsong Y&F vocalist Laura Toggs delivers a melody with no verses and no chorus, in the 3 minute light acoustic guitar and keys led “Lettered Love”, as we remember that Jesus’ love for us is shaping our lives day by day.
Sure to be popular in the coming weeks and months, and maybe popular in the mainstream as well; “The Lord’s Prayer” is a verbatim translation of The Lord’s Prayer in a modern day worship melody, sung by Benjamin Hastings. Yet it is the Hillsong UNITED penned “So Will I (100 Billion X)” led by Taya Smith that really tugs at my emotions (and ironically originally sung by Benjamin Hastings on Wonder). With the emotional slow tempo guitar led ballad and inspiring anthem vividly describing how even the stars that were made by God, worship Him as well; Taya delivers a near-perfect rendition and makes this song her own. There’s also a feeling that I get when listening to this Holy Spirit anointed melody that I can’t help but agree with Taya, that ‘…if everything exists to lift You high, so will I, and if the wind goes where You send it, so will I, if the rocks cry out in silence, so will I, if the sum of all our praises still falls shy, then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times…’. With this song having been recorded in so many different ways, and each version unique and impacting in its own way; “So Will I” is most likely THE track of the last few years (aside from “Reckless Love”) that will probably have a reach across many music markets beyond 5 years or maybe even longer.
But that’s not all. If you’re maybe more of a fan of Hillsong Worship than I am, then you will definitely love the deluxe edition of There Is More (including the holiday themed “Seasons” as well as acoustic guitar renditions of “Who You Say I Am”, “Remembrance”, “Touch Of Heaven” and “The Passion”) as well as There Is More: Studio Sessions (containing studio recordings of “Who You Say I Am”, “The Passion”, “You Are Life”, “Be Still”, “New Wine”, and “Touch Of Heaven”). There isn’t much more needed to be said about these extra tracks and an extra EP (would could have been attached to There Is More as a second disc- making much more sense), except that these renditions remind us that there’s still so much more that Hillsong Worship can give to us (in a good way!), and that they’re definitely not at their peak yet!
It isn’t known whether Hillsong Worship will retire (my guess is that they’ll keep going, and eventually phase out older members and introduce newer worship leaders, resulting in eventually a brand-new movement); however, I think personally that their best is yet to come! 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 12 inspiring and encouraging melodies (17 on the deluxe edition, as well as an extra 6 on the EP) show us the church in its brutal honesty and surrender to Jesus. These tracks are as good as Hillsong have ever been (honestly, I don’t even know why I waited 6 months to review There Is More!), and I’ll be eagerly awaiting more future projects in the coming months! Well, now it’s time. It’s time to review Y&F’s III, don’t you reckon?
5 songs to listen to: Who You Say I Am, Be Still, Touch Of Heaven, New Wine, So Will I (100 Billion X)
RIYL: Planetshakers, Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Young And Free, The City Harmonic, Elevation Worship, Passion, All Sons And Daughters