Hillsong Young & Free – All Of My Best Friends (Live)

Hillsong Music Australia

Release Date: August 28th 2020

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Hillsong Young & FreeAll Of My Best Friends (Live) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. World Outside Your Window
  2. Never Have I Ever
  3. Best Friends
  4. Indescribable
  5. As I Am
  6. Uncomplicated
  7. New Thing
  8. Need Your Love
  9. Glimpse
  10. Keep On
  11. All My Life
  12. Everything I Could Want
  13. Lord, Send Revival
  14. World Outside Your Window [Studio]
  15. Never Have I Ever [Studio]
  16. Best Friends [Studio]
  17. Indescribable [Studio]
  18. As I Am [Studio]
  19. Uncomplicated [Studio]
  20. Need Your Love [Studio]

‘…right around the Zion and Empire timing, Hillsong debuted to us another group founded within the confines of Hillsong Church. This new group of theirs, Hillsong Young and Free (Y&F), was like how UNITED was back in the day when they came into fruition in the late 1990s- a group geared towards the youth of the day and their needs of how they wanted worship to be that was a way to connect to the Lord…which brings me to my assertion, that people may not like- I can’t really connect that much to Hillsong Y&F’s music. Not that their music is bad. It isn’t. For the average casual listener, if you love the dance aspect of worship music, then you’re bound to love the new songs from Hillsong Y&F- and with songs like ‘Alive’, ‘Wake’, ‘Back to Life’, ‘Where You Are’, ‘Real Love’, ‘Falling into You’, ‘Love Won’t Let Me Down’, ‘Every Little Thing’, ‘Let Go’ and ‘P E A C E’, to name a few; Y&F’s music catalogue is enough for someone to dive into and listen to, even if that someone isn’t really me at the moment. Not that they’re not influential, I’m sure, Y&F, together with Hillsong Worship and UNITED, have changed the scope of worship music not just in Australia but throughout the entire world. But I haven’t connected with a lot of their songs compared to how I’ve connected more on a heart-to-heart level with songs from UNITED and Hillsong Worship…’

I wrote this above quote in April, when I was writing at length about all the facets of Hillsong– Worship, UNITED and Y&F, and their influence in music today- you can check out that blog right here. And as I’ve been reflecting upon what I said a few months ago, I ask myself this one thing- do I still stand on these assertions now, when the new album from Hillsong Young & Free has just been released. And the answer is…yes, my comments, albeit harsh in some places, still holds merit and value for me today, even as I listen to this highly produced album of songs that can easily go to radio (both Christian and mainstream pop format), or even in churches around the world. And maybe, I’m just not the target audience for Y&F– I didn’t really grow up with them. I was 23 when We are Young and Free was released, and as I did write about in my blog in April, there have only been a few handful of songs- ‘Sinking Deep’, ‘This is Living’, ‘Every Little Thing’, ‘Where You Are’ and ‘Wake’, are the songs that stood out for me over the years…everything else? Maybe let’s just say that sometimes, more often than not, the electronic music often hampen my enjoyment of Y&F in a general sense. Nevertheless, they are important in society, and just this last week or so, All of My Best Friends released digitally. And so what are my thoughts on the album? How does it hold up to various other Hillsong albums of the past, or even other worship albums released to us this year?

ABOUT ‘WORLD OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW’: The intention of that song was for 4,000 people to sing the words and to jump and to dance, which is what they did. That song kind of naturally fit the start of the album. The night when we recorded at the summer camp, it was the song that we started the night with and it was a song that we ended the night with. What’s funny about that song is the title of the song, ‘World Outside Your Window,’ it feels so poignant to the time right now, when you think about everybody who’s locked up in isolation. It makes more sense now than it did when we wrote it, when everyone was able to go outside [Aodhan King]

ABOUT ‘NEVER HAVE I EVER’: We did a two-week writing camp. Myself, Joshua Grimmett, and Michael Fatkin went in and I had the idea for a song called ‘Never Have I Ever.’ It’s familiar, but let’s put another spin on it. [Melodie Wagner]

ABOUT ‘BEST FRIENDS’: That song was very much for the idea of unity and togetherness, which is a thread throughout this album. Every time we make a Young & Free record, we are focused on our youth group and youth meetings that have been at our church every Friday night. I think we wanted to just remind young people that, ‘Hey, you don’t need to do this alone. Being Christian or worshiping God is not something that you have to keep to yourself, but is something that you can do with your best friend, and with community. [AK]

ABOUT ‘INDESCRIBABLE’: Ben [Tan] and I, ‘Indescribable’ was one of the first things that we mumbled when we were playing around with melodies on this song. That was just a placeholder, just saying, ‘You’re indescribable.’ It might sound like a love song that a person would sing to another person, but I think worship is, in essence, us singing our love and our praises and adoration towards God. But it’s like, how do you describe back to God, creator of the universe, how you feel about him? We just wanted to take the thinking out of it and have it feel as natural and organic as possible. [MW]

ABOUT ‘AS I AM’: In this song, we were speaking to a really important topic, unity and everybody being made in the image of God, which I guess for us as Christians is such simple language, but for some reason on the earth at the moment, that seems to be something that people are not fully understanding. Mel and I wrote this with a friend called Michael Fatkin. [AK] Production-wise, we went back and forth for a long time on how we wanted it to sound. We had a few different demos. But I think where it ended up is where it was meant to end up. There’s a lot of gospel influence on this song. We were listening to a lot of Chance the Rapper. [MW]

ABOUT ‘UNCOMPLICATED’: That song was definitely an attempt to get back to those simple, old-school worship roots, to compel people to simplify and come to Jesus in a way that’s not through a million hoops. Jack McGrath and Brendan Tan and Joshua Grimmett had most of the song, and then I heard and I was so stirred by it, so I guess that was a good sign. [AK]

ABOUT ‘NEW THING’: ‘New Thing’ is very much what we would call a prophesying song. It’s taking that scripture, when it’s God saying, ‘Behold, I’m doing a new thing. Do you not see it? Do you not perceive it?’ This song is speaking into what’s beyond what we can see right now. It’s meant to be faith-building. It’s really close to my heart, and I think it could be a really incredible encouragement to anyone who’s listening. [MW]

ABOUT ‘NEED YOUR LOVE’: When we set out to write this song, we were like, ‘Let’s make a house [music] song. Let’s make a song that feels like the beginnings of Young & Free but also just feels like a huge dance party.’ When you have 4,000 young people in a room, all you want to do is get them jumping and having fun with their friends and whatnot. So this song was 100% intentionally for that reason. Lyrically, we wanted it to feel simple, so they can sing it back to us. That’s always been how we made our songs. It would be this spontaneous on a night where it feels almost like the young people are writing the song with you. [AK]

ABOUT ‘GLIMPSE’: That song was very much ’80s-inspired. The girl who wrote it, her name is Karina [Savage]. She’s in a band called Glades. The music is that indie pop, ’80s vibe. Our genre of music, Christian music, I guess we just see as genre-less in some ways. We’ve always gone, ‘We need a fast song and a slow song.’ And some of those midtempo songs like ‘Glimpse’ have been so loved, because they’re not the usual kind of spots that we would hit when we’re writing songs. [AK]

ABOUT ‘KEEP ON’: The night of the record, I’m pretty sure that was the first time that anyone had heard this song, congregation-wise. Our youth ministry, any way that they can be involved and put their imprint on a song, they’re going to do, and we love it. That song’s all about ‘keep on keeping on.’ Short, simple, but I love what it means. [MW]

ABOUT ‘ALL MY LIFE’: I remember we were calling it the Celtic song for a while, because it was reminiscent of some of those beautiful Celtic hymns. I can’t imagine the album without that song now. On the night, it was just such an incredible moment. Everybody’s singing along. When we got to the chorus, that song just felt like this incredible release and beautiful moment. [AK]

ABOUT ‘EVERYTHING I COULD WANT’: We introduced that song on the night as well. I think because the song was so hooky, they gravitated to it and caught on so quickly. I think that’s even an element to why it is memorable, because it distinguishes itself against other worship music, and especially music that you’re hearing in church. This is the social media generation, so comparing yourself is just second nature. We wanted to have a song that says, ‘What’s the use comparing, worrying and stressing and trying to keep up with everyone? What is it actually good for?’ [MW]

ABOUT ‘LORD SEND REVIVAL’: That song at the time was written around the Australian bushfires. In Australia, in that time, November through to January, you would walk outside your house and the sky was completely covered with smoke for three months. ‘Lord Send Revival’ was a prayer and petition for the Australian bushfires, asking God that he would heal the land and pour out his raining spirit and get rid of these fires. When COVID hit, it felt right to release this song around the time everything just seemed the most uncertain. It’s a song of desperation, for sure. [AK]

As you can read in these ‘story-behind-the-songs’ that have been taken from the album’s Apple Music page, we can see the tremendous thought and emotion poured over these songs. And even though for me I’ve always had a mixed bag in terms of me enjoying any Y&F album, I’ve nevertheless come to appreciate the sentiment, thoughtfulness and care these guys have placed in this album, even if a lot of the songs don’t connect to me as much as I thought they would’ve. But even so, songs like ‘World Outside Your Window’, ‘As I Am’, ‘Uncomplicated’ and ‘Best Friends’ are some of the standouts for me, for different reasons of course. ‘World Outside Your Window’ encourages us to explore with wonder and awe a world literally outside our window, that maybe we are too afraid of discovering, because we’re comfortable within the confines of the four walls we find ourselves in. This can be physical, but the walls around us also refer to things mental and spiritual in our lives that obviously we can’t see with the naked eye. Such a song as this is a bolstering encouragement to take the leap and to jump out of the boxes that maybe others have put us in, or we’ve done ourselves, as we understand that as we realise that there’s a beautiful and wonderful world to explore right outside where we find ourselves in at the moment, we can rest in the knowledge in the enjoyment of these experiences, and the ability to go beyond our own comforts and see something in someone else that maybe they haven’t seen in their own lives, yet. ‘Best Friends’, the first radio single from the album, released earlier this year, speaks about this issue of friendship, and this ‘fake-friends-on-facebook v real-friends-in-real-life’ and sees a tension that a lot of young people have. They realise that connecting online in a superficial level isn’t necessarily healthy, but then they realise that they don’t want to feel alone when you do disconnect from the social media, we so hold dear. And thus, people connect superficially because of fear of being in a lonely state, even if these relationships are super-shallow. ‘Best Friends’ highlights this feeling people can have about social media, friendships, loneliness and everything else in between, and the song reminds us of this- that Jesus is our best friend, because of who He is and what He’s done for us. He’s our Father, protector, Saviour and friend. And in light of this understanding, we can hopefully dive deeper into our friendships and connect with people more on a soul level, and that even if we may not have as many ‘friends’ in the future, we’ll still have deep and meaningful ones, ready to go along this journey with us, difficulties and triumphs and everything else in between, included. ‘As I Am’ is a worshipful moment complete with light looping percussion as this track presents this theme of God taking us as we are to remind us to do the same for others different than ourselves; while the surprising hit from the album is ‘Uncomplicated’. The song itself strips away all the music and just has a piano and Aodhan King’s vocals cut through the bustling noise, stating the truth that God’s love is uncomplicated. Because it is. God’s love has no conditions, nothing that we can do to measure up to what we need to be accepted by God. He just loves because that is who He is- we do nothing when we accept God’s gift of eternal life. Just believe, and actions that overflow out of a transformed heart and a realisation of the gravity of God’s love, will come too. ‘Uncomplicated’ is by far one of my favourite songs on this album, and my favourite Y&F song I’ve heard since ‘Falling into You’ way back in 2017.

So what’s my decision with All Of My Best Friends? Lemme just say this- if you loved all of Hillsong Y&F’s albums previously, then this album will be sure to impress. But aside from that understanding…well let’s just say that because I didn’t grow up with Y&F’s music, the nostalgia factor isn’t really there. I’ve always responded better to Hillsong Worship’s songs and albums, and UNITED’s, far more than this ‘arm’ of Hillsong. Still, 10/10 for great effort, but the electronics for me felt a little too much…is a lot of electronics and looping percussion, the music that these teenagers right now want nowadays? Maybe this type of music isn’t the music that I enjoy right now, and maybe that’s ok. I’ve enjoyed the music of artists like Carman and Delirious? growing up, and sometimes, there comes a point in my own musical journey that I stop listening to music that keeps on releasing into the future, and focus on the music of my own childhood and the songs and albums that have shaped who I was, and have been, throughout the years. This music is good for a new generation of people that can somehow connect with a musical genre that maybe I was never connecting to in the first place. And that’s still ok. All Of My Best Friends is an album that pushes the envelope of what worship music really is, but for me, I’d rather listen to artists like Phil Wickham, Rend Collective, Delirious?, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, even UNITED, Crowder and Chris Tomlin, before Y&F. And that doesn’t mean that objectively this album isn’t good. Because it is. It just means that subjectively, there are far better albums that arrest my soul and challenge my own faith, than Y&F. Nevertheless, these songs will minister to people, just not me right now. Regardless, if you love EDM and worship, then this album is the key. If not, then check out the worship albums from Matt Maher (Alive and Breathing), Elle Limebear (Lost in Wonder) or Rend Collective (Choose to Worship) instead!

4 songs to listen to: World Outside Your Window, Uncomplicated, As I Am, Best Friends

Score: 3.5/5

RIYL: Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Worship, Passion, Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship

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