Dustin Smith "Coming Alive" Album Review

dustin smith

Prime Cuts: Now and Forevermore, Be Exalted (In the Dust), Come Rushing In

The success or the failure of a worship record hinges upon the album's raison d'etre.  If it's one's desire to pander after lofty sales figures and chart positions, concessions are often made so that the songs ingratiate towards human needs rather than allowing the songs to channel us towards the glory of the Almighty God.  And if it's one's penchant is to emulate the biggest names in the genre in order for churches to embrace these songs into their portfolio, then something of the God-given individuality and identity of the worship team are often effaced.  On both fronts, Dustin Smith passes muster.  Never one to kow tow to numerical successes and never one to disguise his full-bodied passionate worship workout,  "Coming Alive" is definitely a record that brings us right into the presence of our living God in ways that are personal, heartfelt and awe-striking.  

"Coming Alive," released under the Integrity Music imprint (Desperation Band, Darlene Zschech, Paul Baloche), is Smith's sophomore album following 2013's "Rushing Waters."  "Coming Alive" was recorded live at the World Revival Church in Kansas, City in May earlier this year.  Working with Kyle Lee (Michael W. Smith, Leeland, Hillsong UNITED) on the helm, Smith has single-handedly co-written all the 12 songs here with a red carpet of scribes including Michael W. Smith, Ed Cash, Stu G, Jack Mooring, and Michael Farren.  For starters, it is important to say Smith is a passionate worship leader. When Smith gets to sing about Jesus, he invests every fibre of his being into his songs in such a way that is so contagious that it's a challenge for us to listen to this CD and not want to worship along.    

As soon as the music starts, Smith takes us for a nose dive right into richness of God's word.  Album opener and title cut "Coming Alive" is a bombastic worship number that dramatically brings us back to Ezekiel's Valley of Dry Bones where we get to see how God puts flesh, sinews and skin back to a pile of dead bones.  Like the unreeling of a dynamic movie script, this powerful worship anthem guides not only our ears but also our eyes to see the Almighty power of our Savior.   Thumping over a militant beat before exploding with an inferno roar is "Now and Forevermore," an explosive declaration of trust in God.  And when Smith pauses to allow the congregation to take the lead in singing, you can't help but be awed by the united voices of thousands singing in unison  professing their trust in God.  Reminding us of the Psalmists who love to ask pointed rhetorical questions, "Who is Like Our God" magnifies God in such glowing magnitude that the song itself has already served to answer the question posted by its titular.

"He's Alive," being co-written by Michael W. Smith, Dustin Smith, Seth Mosley and Michael Farren, is certainly the album's "buzz" song.  However, despite having Who's Who among Christian songwriters on the song's credit, "He's Alive" is pretty average both on the lyrical and melodic planes.  Much more affecting is the couple of Spirit-related songs "Breathe on Me" and "Come Rushing In." Katie Wormly who sings lead harmony vocals with Smith on "Come Rushing In" is to be applauded as she has a way of drawing us into this song that by midway through we can't help but find ourselves singing:  "Let the Spirit of the Lord come rushing in/Come rushing in, rushing in."  In an album that is quite heavy and dense in its sound, the gorgeous ballad "Be Exalted (In the Dust)" is a much welcomed recess.  Somehow calling to mind Hillsong's "I Desire Jesus," "Be Exalted (In the Dust)" captures that heartfelt surrender that gets at the heart of what worship is all about.  

At the end of the day, though there are indeed many worship leaders who can sing, few can sing with such a roaring passion as Smith does; and based solely on this point alone, this album is already worth the price. 


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