Reviewed by Tony Cummings
The first time that Cross Rhythms encountered Phil Wickham, he was an unknown worship leader who, sacrificially, had made the long trip from his Californian home church to the West Country to minister to a sparse crowd (sparse by American Christian festival standards) with a batch of his own self-composed songs. We thought he was wonderful then, and were probably one of the first magazines or websites to do an in-depth interview with him. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, and tomorrow we will be publishing a news story telling our readers/listeners that he's been awarded a RIAA-certified Platinum plaque commemorating the fact that his song "This Is Amazing Grace" has had over one million single sales and streams. Now comes Phil's first new album in two years. It's a truly superlative album. The title track, co-written with Bethel Music's Brian Johnson, is a delicate piano-driven mid-tempo song which celebrates the truth that it is the loving kindness of Jesus that has brought us freedom. Those hipster reviewers so inclined to critique modern worship songs for their "unimaginative" or "clichéd" lyrics ignore the fact that a lot of great worship songs are based on Scripture and such critics might score a small point if, after carefully listening to the lyrics of song one, the surging anthemic rocker "Great Things", and song two, "Living Hope", they pick up the point that in both songs there is almost an identical observation that Jesus breaks every chain. But such nit-picking is unfair. From first to last, these are stirring and uplifting songs with passionate, expressive singing and clever arrangements. And whether it is the ricocheting, electric percussion on "Till I Found You"; the duet with Hollyn on "Song In My Soul"; or the singalong "How Great Is Your Love" where one can almost imagine a stadium full of worshippers swaying along in their mobile phone light; or just about anywhere else on these finely crafted songs, one encounters material every bit as good as Phil's million-seller. The best cut of all is the final one, "Christ Is Risen", which daringly begins with the first verse of Newton's "Amazing Grace" before building into a spine-tingling climax. A magnificent album which has the potential to enrich the spiritual lives of huge numbers of churchgoers.
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