Prime Cuts: Delightful (The Sower Never Wastes a Tear), Sure Thing, Days Like These (TRUST U)
Overall Grade: 3.25/5
Stranded amid the countless scandals, it's understandable that Hillsong UNITED has decided to ditch the moniker "Hillsong." Therefore, the word "Hillsong" is conspicuously missing from their album cover and all their press releases. Besides dropping their "brand," the band has also become more Joel Houston focused. This is the first UNITED album where Houston has had a hand in crafting or co-crafting all the 15 songs here. In fact, a third of the record comprises of Houston's solo compositions. Other than sharing the vocals with his band bands, this is more or less a Joel Houston album.
Like many singer-songwriters' records, there is a prevailing same-ness that pervades right through the record. Many of the songs utilize the same tried-and-true template of commencing softly with Houston or one of his cohorts mysteriously whispering the lyrics before giving way to an explosive chorus and extended bridge(s). Rather than singling out the most repeated word in the chorus as the song's title, the titular is often an interesting term of phrase somewhere in the lyrics.
This is not to say there are no good songs on the record. "Sure Thing," which warns against trusting the idols of this world has some gorgeous lines, such as "'Cause I don't wanna build this life/On Babylons of bricks and pride/Sitting on a fault line bound to quake/I'd rather be a bedrock fool/Who trusts in nothing less than You." Meanwhile, "Delightful (The Sower Never Wastes a Tear)" is a creative reading of the Parable of the Sower. Unfolding with a cinematic anticipation is "Days Like These (TRUST U)."
However, is there a song of the calibre of "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" or "So Will I (100 Billion X)"? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In their heydays, many of these cuts would have been their album fillers. They are by no means ropey; it's just that it's quite draining to listen to them all the way through. "Blown Away" has so much potential in terms of the build-up of passion from the verses to the chorus, but the melody just isn't there. When UNITED ditched the "Hillsong" label, they have, in the words of Hillsong co-founder Brian Houston, "lost their soul."