Prime Cuts: How Awesome Are Your Works (Laura Hackett Park), Filled Us with Glory (Jaye Thomas), Come Joy Now (Justin Rizzo)
Overall Grade: 4/5
In anticipation of Onething 2017, IHOPKC's annual young adult conference, IHOPKC community of worship leaders have put their hearts and heads together to record "Fully Alive." Democracy seems to be the command of the effort as 15 worship leaders are credited as taking leads on this 15-song set. Though some of the singers are configured together providing harmonies for each other, this must be one of the worship albums with the most number of different lead vocalists. Besides the usual bunch of Laura Hackett Park, Jonas Park. Jaye Thomas and Jon Thurlow, it is refreshing that newer and unfamiliar talents have also been brought to the fore of the fold (e.g., Abi Bennett, Odeta, Olivia Buckles and others).
What unites these songs together is that all the songs are solely fixated on Christ and the unfolding of the Christian Gospel. Songs that immediately jump out from the speakers into our memory bank include the lead single "Fingerprints." Co-written and sung by Abi Bennett, "Fingerprints" bears its imprint with Bennett's smoky vocals which is reminiscent of Hillsong Worship's Brooke Fraser. While most of the artists only get to lead on one cut, Laura Hackett Park is the exception. She gets to step up into the limelight on 4 cuts. "How Awesome Are Your Works" preponderate over many worship tunes in that it accentuates the work of Christ in such majestic proportions that we can't help but fall on our knees in worship. "Loved by You," a puissant prayer to make worship our life, is another faith-declaration that is a must-hear.
The guys don't pale in comparison either. Brandon Oaks offers some moments of intimate worship with the reflective "Drawing Near." Talking about intimate, Justin Rizzo's "Come Joy Now" is a stellar example of how to draw not just individuals but the entire congregation from the distractions of life into God's holy presence. Of note also is the Jaye Thomas-led "Filled Us with Glory." Though imbued with some trendy EDM beats and some elongated synth loops, the anthemic chorus with its commanding melodic line call to mind the golden-era of worship when classics such as "Shout to the Lord" and "Mighty to Save" were the default soundtracks of the church's worship.
Nevertheless, though there's not a dud in this collection, not all the songs pass with honors. Lauren Alexandria's "Freedom Song" (didn't Christy Nockels just release a song of the same title?) is weakened by the song's effete clichés. While Jaye Thomas' "I Have Decided," unimpressive in its melodic structure, bears too much thematic similarities with the hymn of the same titular. While "Jesus My Brother" is seeded with an interesting song idea but it is let down by the song's sloppy developments. Also, why is Misty Edwards conspicuously missing from this set? And why does Jon Thurlow, one of the team's strongest singer-songwriters, only get to sing harmony on one track?
Though "Fully Alive" does have its share of imperfections, this is still an enervated effort of many of IHOPKC's musicians coming together to pour out their hearts in worship. And with such heart rendering lyrics like, "Grateful love is my unending song, I'll pour out all my love here at your feet," it's a challenge not to worship along.