Reviewed by Tony Cummings
It is notoriously hard to follow up a classic album and, as I believe United's 'Wonder' album to be in the top two or three best Christian music albums ever released, there's bound to be a certain amount of disappointment. Particularly as the band move away from the synth-dominated sci-fi rock sounds of 'Wonder' for this set, returning once more to the stadium-sized walls-of-guitars anthemic sound with which they built much of their reputation. I suppose with any worship album, one is almost bound to ask whether there is a song featured with the capacity to become a congregational favourite around the world's churches. My suggestion for that would be "Starts And Ends", and although it is unlikely to achieve the same phenomenal popularity of "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)", it is undoubtedly a congregational gem. Written by United's leader Joel Houston and Brooke Ligertwood, I'll be amazed if it's not sung in many, many churches very soon. Another absolute standout is "Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)", where again Taya Smith shows herself to be one of the most effective vocalists in Christendom over an arrangement which builds and builds until a crashing resolution. Taya is also heard on "Another In The Fire", where she's joined by former United singer Tulele Faletolu, who complement each other perfectly. The pre-chorus of this song hits hard, "I was found/Before I was lost/I was yours/Before I was not/Grace to spare/For all my mistakes/And that part just wrecks me." Maybe some listeners will find the length of this project (73 minutes, 23 seconds over the 12 songs) a bit challenging, but for me the memorability of the arrangements and production and the maturity of many of the lyrics make this live set a brilliant rejoinder to those who suggest that modern worship is running out of creative steam.
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