Prime Cuts: Hosanna, Selah/All My Life, Take Heart (MMXX)
Overall Grade: 4.75/5
In lieu of their perennial new live worship albums, for 2020, Hillsong Worship has decided to release a "re-imagined" album instead. A more devotional album peddling on their softer and acoustic side, "Take Heart (Again)" features "pandemic-era" takes of songs taken from the songbooks of all three of their collectives: Hillsong Y&F, Hillsong UNITED and Hillsong Worship. Most exciting is that they have reached back to as early as 1999 for a revived version of Rueben Morgan's "Eagle's Wing," a song that Darlene Zschech once admitted was her favorite Hillsong song. The rest of the songs are more or less garnered from their more recent outings with a few other surprises (which we will get too).
Brooke Ligertwood gets the ball rolling with album opener and lead single "Hosanna." While her 2007 original finds her sharing the microphone with Darlene Zschech, this updated take finds her on her own. The song sets the template for the record. Setting her emotive alto in the company of acoustic guitar riffs, "Hosanna" becomes more an intimate prayer for God's intervention than a rock stadium power ballad. Ligertwood follows up with UNITED'S oft overlooked "For Those Who Are to Come." Meanwhile, the John Leventhal-seque electric guitar pickings of "New Wine" give this Ligertwood composition an Americana take which is refreshing. With a female lead, courtesy of Taya Smith, 2012's "I Surrender" gets a more tender disposition. This is so befitting considering that the song speaks about emptying ourselves before God's presence.
These new takes also bring a renewed spotlight to songs we may overlook in their initial releases. "Selah/All My Life" is a prime example. While the electronica of Y&F's original "All My Life"shreds all threads of intimacy, this stripped down version actually brings the melody and the lyrics to the fore. And it's actually a very good song of solemn commitment to God. However, Joel Houston's "Broken Vessels/Life" is too electro-ethereal for the record. Much better is their new take of UNITED'S "Take Heart (MMXX)." Ligertwood's gorgeous-sounding falsetto brings an air of confidence to the promise of Jesus in John 16:33 that he has overcome the world.
A couple of surprises closes the album. Though it is a pleasant surprise to see the team revisiting 1999's "Eagle's Wings," it's bit of a disappointment. The song, albeit being too short, is mostly an instrumental with vocals featured on a fraction. 2003's "Still" is another throwback entry; however, the song is performed at a chord far too high that may deter churches from reviving it as a contemporary worship choice. Nevertheless, despite some minor flaws, this is a much welcomed release. Well-executed, intimate, and most importantly, this album is made for such a time like this.