Prime Cuts: Secret Place, Freedom, Resurrender
Overall Grade: 4.75/5
It has been a couple of years since Hillsong Worship released an album's worth of new material. With These Same Skies (Live) they have return to form on at least two fronts. First, gone are those sloppy song writing tropes where the hooks of songs are lifted from a hymn or an old praise song or worse still from Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." Second, the album is more focused on Hillsong Worship rather than UNITED or Y&F. Gone is the endless list of anonymous sounding worship leaders. Back in the fold is Reuben Morgan (who has written some of their classics such as "Cornerstone," "God is Able," and "Mighty to Save") who gets to co-write three out of the 9 songs here.
Solid song writing is the earmark of this new record. Best of which is the Brooke Ligertwood co-write and led "Resurrender." Using various verses from Holy Writ about how our bodies are God's temple, "Resurrender" is a stellar specimen of how songs should delve deep into biblical theology. Chris Davenport's "Secret Place" breaks the cardinal rule of modern CCM writing by not having verses, a chorus, and a bridge. Rather, with only verses, this contemplative ballad speaks of how we need to carve out time and space for God in our lives.
Reuben Morgan spins his magic with "Freedom." Destined to be ginormous, "Freedom" has that strong anthemic built-up we have come to love from Morgan. Mi-kaisha Rose who is the team's latest find gets to lead Morgan's catchy "Surrounds Me" as well as the single "Never Walk Alone." The latter, written by Jenn Johnson, Hannah Hobbs and Ben Fielding, is more on the non-descript side. Much better is Joel Houston's "All to Him." Calling to mind Jeremy Riddle's "All Hail King Jesus," Houston puts his smoky vocals to work on this smouldering ballad that builds to a powerful climax.
Not to be missed is Y&F's only contribution "Song for His Presence." While Y&F is known for their dabble with electronica, "Song for His Presence" is light years from their noted sound. With traces of pop-country in the intro, "Song" has an appealing pop vibe showcasing the maturity of the team. Hillsong Worship is such a mainstay in contemporary worship music that you can always count on them delivering church-friendly songs. This one's no exception. It's full of songs ready to serve the church in the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ.