Prime Cuts: First Love, Jesus Loves Me, Heart of God
Overall Grade: 4/5
Although Young and Free (Y&F) share the same moniker "Hillsong," it is quite a different entity compared to their older counterparts such as Hillsong Worship & UNITED. Y&F, as the titular suggests, is the youth worship team of the Australian megachurch. And it is helmed by the church's global pastor Brian Houston's daughter Laura Toggs. Moreover, Y&F has its own pool of songwriters quite distinct from the major adult worship team and Hillsong UNITED. Since Y&F is the youngest (in terms of the age of the members and the group itself), they have yet to charter their signature in the way "Shout to the Lord" is to Hillsong Worship and "Oceans" is to Hillsong UNITED. Not sure if their signature song is in this set, but "III" (their third studio release) definitely has its share of great songs.
Relative to their two older counterparts, the songs of Y&F are more personal with a greater proliferation of the pronoun "I." This quality by itself makes their songs more devotional and personal. "First Love," a top-notched worship ballad, is a sincere prayer to God to effect his call on friends who have wandered away from the faith. The same transparency is manifest in "Jesus Loves Me." Wrapping a new tune around the children's chorus of the same titular, Marty Sampson, Benjamin Hastings and Aodhan King brings immediacy and dimension to the simple (but profound) truth that Jesus loves us.
Though a few tracks (such as "Love Won't Let Me Down" and "Every Little Thing") ride upon cliche upon cliche, they are balanced out with some stellar theological gems. "Push/Pull," cowritten by Brooke (Fraser) Ligertwood, Ben Tan, Aodhan King, and Tracy Pratt, deals with the perennial temptation all of us face whether we are 20 or 80 years-old, how do we stay holy in this idolatrous world? The answer the team gives is astonishing sublime balancing judiciously between God's sovereignty and human responsibility, presented in ways that a palatable to the theological unschooled. Camping on Romans 2:7, "Heart of God" sounds like a track that could have made its way onto a Hillsong Worship album with the scriptural saturated content.
Current single "Just Jesus" is fresh sounding with its class A drumming patterns. But it's a little too simplistic with far too many blanketed statements waiting to be unpacked. "I love You more than I love anything/I need You/I need You/So let Your love reign over everything/Take the world I'm content." Nevertheless, despite a few fillers, the album is top quality with songs that are going to make it to the Sunday setlist of countless churches worldwide. But more importantly, these songs because of their personal touches are going to be our sonic companions as we walk with our Lord in our daily lives.