Release Date: July 17th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Here With Me
- Only the Brave
- Pocketful of Faith
- Set Apart
- Sky High
- The Cross Stands
- The Way
- Hope and Glory
- The Way (Acoustic)
Just like how Chris Tomlin has been the major driving force of worship music in America of late (if you don’t count Jesus Culture and the whole movement out of Redding, California), the same can be same of Tim Hughes in the U.K. (others could argue that it is Matt Redman…). With hit songs like “Here I Am To Worship”, “Name Above All Names”, “When the Tears Fall”, “Counting On Your Name”, “God is Coming” and “At Your Name”; Tim’s latest album has been a long time coming (his last album Love Shine Through released in 2011). Four years and a sea-change later, Tim’s uprooting of his London home with his family to a smaller town in the U.K. primarily for a church plant has led to this collection of 13 songs. Borne out of years of life experience and a heart for the church and its people, songs like “The Way”, “Set Apart”, “The Cross Stands” and “Hallelujah” have been impacting congregations all around the U.K. and around the world via the Worship Central movement. As Tim has said himself about his own sea change and releasing this album in tandem with his big move, ‘…on this journey I’ve been thinking about obedience and how often we don’t like to embrace its challenges. It can be so easy to get caught up in building a successful career thinking about how we can become safe, secure, comfortable, happy but actually Jesus’ call on our lives is to follow, and obedience is at the heart of that command…stepping into the unknown, trusting and believing that God will come through…’ Produced by Nathan Nockels and co-writes with Phil Wickham, Martin Smith, Matt Redman, Jonas Myrin and Reuben Morgan to name a few; this is a perfect album for any worship enthusiast.
Released previously on Worship Central’s 2014 live album Set Apart, Tim reminds us all in lead single “The Way” of why he is still one of British worship music’s most powerful, emotive and talented singer/songwriters. Similar musically to “Let It Be Known” with an electronic/dance atmosphere, we are encouraged to embrace the truth that Christ is the only way- as we are brought back from shame to freedom and from hopelessness to rejoicing. Electronic worship music seems to be a trend these days, and Tim has indeed shown us the best of what this musical genre can offer in this song. As Tim cries out ‘…You are the way, lost and dead but Your love came to find me, Jesus You are the way…’, we are able to declare alongside him in what I believe to be one of my favourite worship songs of the year so far! Also releasing an acoustic version of the song as the closing track to deliver a more intimate setting for the song to impact listeners; “The Way” is as powerful and poignant as any song I’ve heard from Tim, ever!
“The Cross Stands” and “Set Apart” have all been previously recorded on Worship Central albums, and all have been highlights and personal favourites over the years. “Set Apart” is an acoustic guitar driven 4 minute radio friendly anthem that encourages us all to make a conscious choice to be ‘…set apart for our God above, set apart for the One we love, set apart for Your glory…’. While it can be a tad lyrically cliché at times, bordering on being Hillsong-esque, Tim nevertheless manages to bring forth a new song of praise in one of the standout performances on the album. “The Cross Stands”, from Let it Be Known, offers hope and comfort in the cross that Jesus bore, through keyboards, gang vocals and a plethora of string arrangements. A song to be sung during Easter, Christmas and other celebrations as we collectively express joy and gratitude, we are to know that ‘…the cross stands above it all, burning bright in this life…’ The resurrected Christ and the cross are both proof that the love poured out for us then is the same love given now, along with the freedom and the promise of new life that comes along with it.
The remaining tracks on the album are new melodies recorded by Tim, and each present to us reasons why Tim still continues to assert himself within the British worship industry. “Hallelujah”, a simple acoustic melody, declares praise to God in spite of our circumstances and is similar musically and thematically to Ben Cantelon’s “Hallelujah” (though Tim’s recording contains less repetition and more original verses); while “Hope and Glory”, a piano led melody with a hymn-like feel, is sure to gain modern hymn status in a similar vein to other songs gone before, like “In Christ Alone” and “The Wonderful Cross”, as we are reminded that ‘…only You can move the mountains, only You can heal our land, Christ alone, our hope and glory, Christ alone, in You we stand…’ “Symphony” is brought to life with powerful drums and a riveting keyboard riff undertone as Tim invites us all into the symphony we are to take part in which is God’s love imparted to people we are in conversation with during our daily lives, and “Only the Brave”, standing at 3:15, continues to bring the energy as Tim asserts the theme of us being brave regardless of whether we are scared on the inside or not- as with Christ, we ought to be brave because of His presence within, behind and before us.
The happy-go-lucky pop/radio friendly “Plans” encourages us of God’s plans to prosper and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11), and though this is a song where people would either love or hate because of its poppy/radio nature, what Tim has done is record something out of the blue and different- which is a good thing. “Arms”, standing at nearly 5 minutes, tells us of how Christ’s arms are big enough for us and everything that we carry when we run to Him with forgiveness from everything we’ve done, as the song builds from a piano introduction to a powerful anthem certain to be sung in churches in months to come; while “Sky High” tries to depict the heights of God’s love, and only shows us a fraction of the heights God’s love reaches, as we as listeners have a good enough description of the depth and height of God’s love for His children
“Here With Me”, the first track on the album, features fellow worship leader Phil Wickham (yet another one of my favourite worship artists) as both Tim and Phil asserts the theme that Christ is here with us, and especially in the difficult moments we could find ourselves in. Yet it is the title track “Pocketful of Faith” that is my favourite track on the album. At more than 6 minutes, Tim brings to us a reflective to begin with, yet a powerful anthem to enjoy toward the end (the contrast in musicality works quite well, as Tim earnestly declares for Him to accept our faith, even if it is a pocket full. The song gives us a great reminder to not feel guilty even if we have little or no faith for the situations we’re in, and “Pocketful of Faith”, though not necessarily the most church/radio friendly, will be noticed for its raw honesty in weeks and months to come!
‘…I was keen that the album captured this blend of celebration and raw abandoned intimacy that seemed to be so much of what life is about. These moments of joy and exhilaration, adventure, excitement, mixed with moments of pain, insecurity, fear, uncertainty…all of this, we find God…my prayer now is that these songs would be a blessing to many churches and individuals as they seek God earnestly, trusting and believing in someone that has a greater purpose for our lives…’ Pocketful of Faith, is as good as a worship album is from Tim, and stands tall amongst other worships albums released this year from artists like I Am They, Third Day and Lauren Daigle.
It is in spite of the long wait between albums where he has mined and dug and now uncovered 13 quality tracks- songs that are well worth the wait. From standouts like “The Way”, “Pocketful of Faith” and “The Cross Stands”, Tim continues to give hope and songs for the church in every album he releases, and Pocketful of Faith is no different. With this album becoming arguably the most diverse musically out of all of Tim’s albums in the past; Tim’s co-writes have certainly helped him as the collaborations may increase the interest in not only Tim’s music but a flow over into other artist ministries, like Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher and Matt Redman. From the title track to songs like “The Way”, “The Cross Stands” and “Here With Me”; this is an album not to be missed if you are a Tim Hughes enthusiast (like myself) or if you enjoy any worship music at all! Enjoy listening.
3 songs to listen to: The Way, The Cross Stands, Pocketful of Faith
RIYL: Crowder, Christy Nockels, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin