Prime Cuts: All My Hope, Miracle, Hills and Valleys
Overall Grade: 4/5
With the pandemic still hanging over us, it's a rare opportunity to attend a full-length live concert. In order to service fans who are itching for those former days of being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people worshipping together, Tauren Wells has released his first live album. Recorded in January of 2020 at Lakewood Church in Houston Texas, this album finds Wells re-visiting some of his biggest songs as well as the never-been released "There's Something About that Name."
Despite the record's titular, Citizen of Heaven (Live) isn't a "live" counterpart of his 2020's studio album of the same name. Rather, it is more of a "greatest hits" collection where Wells garners songs from both of his studio albums Hills and Valleys and Citizens of Heaven. Additionally, he has also included songs he has had contributed elsewhere, including "All My Hope" (which was from Passion's Whole Heart) and "Echo" (from Elevation Worship's Hallelujah Here Below). To further enhance the excitement, Wells has also brought in a red-carpeted list of guests including Bethel Music's Jenn Johnson, Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox, Christine D'Clario, and Davies.
The set opens with a couple of entries from Wells' debut record Hills and Valleys. "Never Let Me Go" and "All My Love," with their thumping percussion lines and their accessible pop melodies, set the tone of the concert. It's upbeat, bright, and energetic. However, the real gem comes with song #3, "Miracle." When Wells recorded the studio version of this song last year, it was sublime. The live version takes the song to another level. The swift Michael Jackson-beat, the 80s underlining melody, and Wells flawless delivery, make this performance a highlight.
Though only clocking in at under 2 minutes, it's great to hear a Gospel-ish remake of the old worship chorus "There's something About that Day" courtesy of Wells and new artist Davies. This segues fittingly with the hymn-like "All My Hope." Considering that this concert was taped at the launch of Wells' studio album Citizens of Heaven last year, it's such a pleasant surprise to hear fans in the congregation already know how to singalong with Wells on "Known."
Jenn Johnson and Christine D'Clario are not on autopilot when they sing with Wells on "Famous For/Do It Again." Rather, parts of the song are even sung in Spanish. Rascal Flatts' Gary LeVox is in fine voice when he joins Wells on "Until Grace." But they are let down by the song, which sounds more like a reject from one of Rascal Flatts' albums from the early 2000s. Moreover, when it comes to the bridge of the song, the two men sound like they are trying to out-sing each other. Much better is "Hills and Valleys," which features Wells' delightful falsetto over a gorgeous piano backing.
In a time when live concerts are a rarity, this album, which is impeccably executed and passionately delivered, is a treat.