Prime Cuts: What a Beautiful Name, I Will Boast in Christ, Elohim
Taking its cue from Genesis 1:3 is Hillsong Worship's titular "Let There Be Light." And in at least three ways, this album is a return to the group's grassroots genesis. First, this 25th live album sees the return of Brooke (Fraser) Ligertwood as the worship leader on two cuts. Though Ligertwood has never ceased writing for the Australian worship team, she has not been on the microphone since 2010's "A Beautiful Exchange." Second, the same can be said of Marty Sampson. In the earlier days, Sampson used to be one of the most prominent male voices of the team. After a period of conspicuous absence, Sampson is back both as a songwriter of 2 songs and he sings lead on his self-penned "Elohim." Third, while their previous record "Open Heaven/River Wild" was a tad more experimental and ethereal, this new record gets back to their mother's milk of solidly congregational-focused songs.
One doesn't need to be a prophet or the son of a prophet to know that the album's current single "What a Beautiful Name" is going to be a mainstay in the top rungs of CCLI for years and years to come. Co-written by Brooke (Fraser) Ligertwood and Ben Fielding. "What a Beautiful Name" has a strong melodic structure (ala "Mighty to Save" and "The Desert Song") with words that poetically stunning: "You didn't want heaven without us/So Jesus you brought heaven down." After a few tepid misfires on the previous record, Reuben Morgan is back with one of his best songs. The anthemic "I Will Boast in Christ" finds Morgan seamless interweaving the hymn "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" with his newly written tune. This way, Morgan gives the older folks in our congregations an easier grasp on this powerful song inspired by Galatians 6:14.
Considering that Hillsong Worship had a song entitled "Yahweh," "Elohim" may come across as a cheap attempt to capitalize on the past. However, one listen to this Marty Sampson composition reveals that this is not so. Starting off soft and tender, Sampson is at his heartfelt best. He can even cause a tear or two when he sings: "God is patient, God is kind." Joel Houston's grainy voice is set in perfect contrast to Brooke Ligterwood's supple alto on the ethereal sounding ballad "Behold (Then My Soul Sings)." Taya Smith who has gained prominence of late, thanks to "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)," only gets to sing a solo lead on the somehow non-descript and forgettable "Grace to Grace."
Ben Fielding takes the lead on "In Control." With a tune that calls to mind "I Surrender," this ballad also has that sacred power that drive us to leave us at the foot of the Cross. The title cut "Let There Be Light" is a 7 minute long ballad with lots of elongated space that is acceptable without being exceptional. Its the type of song that belongs more on their "Open Heaven/River Wild" album. While "Look to the Sun," led by Jonathon Douglass, gives the ballads a recess with some techno driven bounce.
Though this may not be their best effort, "Let There Be Light" is still a fine return to form. It's definitely a vast improvement from last year's release. And it's definitely more in tune with the team's knack for stadium-filling, awe-inspiring, and congregational-inducing worship that they have been trademarked for.
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