Capitol CMG / Sparrow Records
Release Date: March 29th 2022
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- YAHWEH (No One) (feat. Elevation Worship)
Chris Tomlin is Chris Tomlin is Chris Tomlin. At this stage in Chris’s career and the hits he has amassed over the years, you can introduce him as Chris Tomlin, and most people would know his career thus far. Well…at least they should. Creating powerful songs over the years that have been sung in many churches on Sunday mornings over the world for decades (songs like ‘How Great is Our God’, ‘Our God’, ‘Indescribable’, ‘Holy is the Lord’, ‘Jesus, Messiah’, ‘I Will Rise’, ‘God of This City’, ‘We Fall Down’, ‘Forever’, ‘Famous One’, ‘Enough’ and ‘Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)’ to name a few), Chris is by far one of the most recognisable worship singer-songwriters of today, maybe even second to the music of Hillsong (in all of its multifaceted forms- Worship, UNITED & Y&F). So it’s with no surprise that after his wildly successful and crossover CCM/country album Chris Tomlin & Friends (alongside it’s subsequent EP Chris Tomlin & Friends: Summer EP)…you guessed it, a worship double-single, ‘Always’. You know that the country-esque sound that inspired arguably one of the most ‘out-of-the-box’ releases of 2020, wasn’t going to last long term, right? Regardless of how innovative and unique Chris Tomlin & Friends was, he was always going to go back to his tried and tested sound we all knew and loved (or even loved less and less as each album released). Regardless of how we feel about Chris and his music, there’s no denying the impact he’s had on CCM. And so here we are, with double-single ‘Always’- comprising of newly-recorded ‘Always’, as well as a cover of the newly recorded Elevation Worship song, ‘Yahweh’.
My favourite era of Chris Tomlin music was the ‘Arriving to Burning Lights era’. All of these albums released in that era were gems. Not that I disliked any of the other albums released outside of that era (Not to Us, Never Lose Sight and Love Ran Red were decent and solid, and Chris Tomlin & Friends was very innovative and unique), but nevertheless, that’s the era of Chris’s music that I gravitate to, every time. So how does Chris’s two new songs ‘Always’ and ‘Yahweh’ stack up, on years gone by? Is Chris really offering something new to the worship music table that bands and artists right now like Hillsong, Elevation and Bethel are dominating right now?
‘Always’ is a great reminder of Jesus’s omnipotence, His never-ending power, wonder, awe and faithfulness, and though not as flash as ‘Our God’ or even ‘How Great Is Our God’, I’ve enjoyed this new song by Chris as I’ve heard it through a number of times, with each time, my enjoyability factor increasing ever so slightly with each listen. Chris doesn’t really reinvent the wheel per se, but this new song ‘Always’ has a sense of joy and wonder that captures the Chris Tomlin of old, in all the good ways imaginable. ‘Yahweh’ the next song doesn’t leave much of a mark on me as much as ‘Always’, but it’s still a rousing song, something expectant of Elevation and their music right now. Maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with Elevation Worship’s music, that I don’t see myself as excited by this song compared to other songs of Chris’s past…but it’s still a good listen. Just good. Nothing greater. Sounds like something Kristian Stanfill would record at the next Passion event, would become a great and successful radio single, without ever really challenging the artistic nature of worship as we know it. At least the title track of Chris’s double single reminds me of something that would’ve been recorded in his Hello Love days…and that’s a good thing indeed.
Chris will always be polarising. They’ll be people who love his music, and then they’ll be people who’ll think he’s ‘basic’. I fall in the middle, some albums I absolutely love, and then there’s others, where I appreciate the album from an objective standpoint, but I myself can’t connect to it as much as others. For this double single, I feel both feelings on this. ‘Always’ the song is great, personally one of my favourite ‘song’ releases since ‘Jesus’ back in 2016. ‘Yahweh’ on the other hand isn’t as capturing, in my opinion. Nevertheless, Chris is still going to be Chris. For now, here’s hoping that they’ll be another Chris Tomlin & Friends in the future, or his upcoming album would be something like See the Morning or Hello Love. Whatever the case, Chris is here to stay. His song’s for the church is evidence enough of this.
RIYL: Crowder, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes