The name Paul Baloche is synonymous with worship music. Ever since 1992 with his inaugural Integrity Music project "He is Faithful," Baloche has serviced the local church with copious CCLI top ranking staples such as "Open the Eyes of My Heart," "Hosanna," "Today is the Day" and "Your Name." Further, notable worship leaders (such as Darlene Zschech, Michael W. Smith and Chris Tomlin) have had recorded Baloche's songs. However, Baloche's last non-seasonal record of brand new songs dates back to 2012's "The Same Love." Last year, he re-cycled his 2009 effort "Glorious" in French as well as releasing a Christmas live effort. Whether it is writer's block or not, Baloche has (mostly) harkened back to his catalog again with the release of this year's "Live." With only 2 songs spotting a 2014 copyright, most of the 11 songs here are either Baloche's older songs revisited or they are the songs he has had contributed to the albums of other artists.
Again released under the mother imprint of all worship albums, Integrity Music, "Live" was recorded in Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville Ontario, Canada. In an effort to heightened the unity of worship in the land up north, thousands of worship teams across Canada were brought together to form the congregation of the recording setting. Newly composed for this project is "You Lift Us Up." Sharing the pen with Matt Maher, "You Light Us Up" is the type of song we have come to love about Baloche. Crackling with jolts of electrifying verve over lyrics that speaks of how God's grace lift us up of our sin and discouragements, "You Lift Us Up" can easily work its way into any worship team's repertoire. The other song earmarked with a 2014 copyright is Baloche and Brenton Brown's "Jesus Be My Savior." Lyrically this worship ballad is a breath of fresh air: when was the last time have we been blessed with a song that gives us pause to reflect upon the elements of the Lord's Supper.
Shipped currently to radio as the album's vanguard single is the Graham Kendricks' co-write "He is Risen." Originally surfacing as a duet with Kendricks on his stellar "Worship Duets" album, here Baloche offers his own solo take. Just as "Jesus Be My Savior" specifically deals with the Last Supper, "He is Risen" sets to music the narrative account of Jesus resurrection morning. Likewise "God My Rock" was first recorded by the song's co-writer Brenton Brown. Here Baloche adds his own touch to what is one of the catchiest songs that affirms the reliability of God: "You will stand when others fall/You are faithful through it all/God my rock/God my rock."But this is more than just a list of songs stringed together.
The value of "Live" lies also in the way Baloche leads worship. Worship pastors would do well to learn how Baloche seamlessly segues from one song into another. Also, if you listen close enough you can sense Baloche really wants his congregation to know the love of Jesus when he's leading his hugely popular "The Same Love." And never one to ostracize hymn lovers "Mighty Fortress" and "Glorious/Holy Holy Holy" are exemplars of how Baloche deftly interweaves the classic songs of the church with his very own. "Live," at the end of the day, is more than just a record. It's this veteran worship pastor in action caught on CD and DVD.