Release Date: January 13th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- This is Living
- This is Living (Acoustic)
- Sinking Deep
Hillsong, in all its facets, have been a prominent force within the worship music industry, carving and shaping the landscape of how worship music has sounded like throughout these last 15-20 years or so, ever since their introduction into church and music during the 1990s. Throughout Hillsong LIVE and UNITED, hits have sprung into life, from songs like “Salvation is Here”, “Oceans”, “Forever Reign”, “Mighty to Save” and “From the Inside Out”, to “Hosanna, “Greatness of Our God” and “Cornerstone”. Now with the newest incarnation of Hillsong Young and Free showcasing us hits like “Wake”, “Alive” and “Back to Life” from their debut album We are Young and Free, Y&F have a new album out this coming week, This is Life, a studio album, compared the countless live albums every facet of Hillsong seem to release each year. It is great to hear something new and unique from Hillsong, and This is Life is an EP that’ll certainly be in my iTunes rotation playlist for weeks and months to come. From powerful single “Sinking Deep” to title track “This is Living” and dance number “Energy”, Y&F pulls off all the stops to create an EP worthy to being both a dance/worship EP, something that’ll bring in younger listeners who want something different compared to the somewhat tired radio-friendly worship songs heard on K-Love or Air1.
“Sinking Deep”, one of my favourite songs on We are Young and Free, has been rerecorded by the band in studio format. Shortened from 7 and a half minutes to a tad over 4 minutes (to obviously fit the radio format), it was only after an Austin Adamec piano only cover that I thoroughly enjoyed the track. Sure, I heard the song on Hillsong Young and Free’s first album, yet I never really immersed myself into the track, considering the singles of “Back to Life”, “Wake” and “Alive”. Sung by Aodhan King (who sounds eerily similar to Phil Wickham), it is a song of being sunk into Jesus, His word, and being lost in His presence in everything we undertake on a daily basis. Piano prominent, we are met with a motif of us being lost in a sea of grace as we dive daily into God’s mercy. A song fit as an EP ender, well done Hillsong for such a poignant and heartfelt song, one that’s one of my favourites since “Alive” last year!
Title track “This is Living”, one of Hillsong Y&F’s better studio songs, is a moment of energy, dance, heart and poignancy as we see the band remind us that in order to live to the fullest, we ought to embrace here and now- the good and bad moments, the times when we feel like we can conquer anything as well as the times where we know God is teaching us through the trials and calamities we face. Recorded in a dance-worship format as well as acoustically, both version are as similar and unique to each other at once, as the band give us a great reminder to ‘…see the sun now bursting through the clouds, black and white turn to colour all around, all is new, in the Saviour I am found, this is living now…’ While at times the song can sound cliché- with all the right notes, lyric lines and everything else you can get from a radio worship song (or any top-selling Hillsong song in general), it is Lecrae’s addition to the title track that really brings the melody up a notch, reminding us that worship and rap can collide together and make a song sound much more appealing than if the elements were on their own. “This is Living” will hopefully bring in listeners of both worship and rap, as we witness one of Hillsong’s most unique and different song since “Oceans”!
From 7 minute “Pursue”, an electronic worship melody about the pursuit of God as we allow ourselves to be lost in the pursuit of hope, justice and the experience of God’s love during everyday life, to the 3 minute “Energy”, a song that is thematically sound yet musically similar to any other EDM worship track released thus far; Hillsong Young and Free have carved up a 5 track EP that brings out both the best and mediocre things about the band. While they aren’t necessarily the most interesting or impacting worship artists (not like Crowder, All Sons and Daughters or Phil Wickham), Hillsong nevertheless have shown their purpose- to provide songs for the church. These songs will be impacting for the church, even though they may not be as lyrically creative as many Christian music albums that have released within the last few years.
While Hillsong (in all its facets) may not necessarily be a favourite worship band of mine (I prefer Bethel or Passion more), Y&F’s This is Living is still a great EP, and one deserving to be listened to at least once before you pass judgement. A must for anyone who loves EDM and worship, Hillsong’s sound has been current with the years that pass, which will hopefully be a factor in bringing in a new generation of believers and unbelievers alike as they listen to music that’ll hopefully change their perspective on life as we learn that ‘…this is living, the life I’ve been given is a gift, if imma live it, imma live it to death…’ (“This is Living”).
3 songs to listen to: This is Living, Sinking Deep, Pursue
RIYL: Matt Redman, Bethel, David Thulin, Newsboys