Last Tuesday, February 15th, Hillsong United released their latest CD called, "Aftermath." I'll admit, I was a casualty of the pre-sale, "get a free song if you pay for the cd early" tactic and was happy to find it bought and downloaded onto my phone when I woke up Tuesday morning. As with all new music I get, I upload it to my phone and slip on my running shoes and head outside to my running trail to get a good listen. I had overly high expectations about this new cd but, crept out the door tentatively, knowing there was a very good chance of being disappointed. I mean, how many good songs can this band put out? How many CDs of boundary pushing worship songs can they actually record? So begins my run and so begins the first song, "Take Heart," written and sung by Joel Houston.
Here he is, the backbone of Hillsong United, who has written or cowritten 7 of the 12 songs on this new record, is the oldest son of the head pastor of the 20,000 person church, Hillsong, in Sydney, Australia, and is starting this new cd off with a slow song. Maybe he is being a bit cocky, after all who starts of the cd with a slow song? I think the type of person who has a vision for the whole CD. He knows where this record is going to go and he wants to start it off right and boy does he. With a drum beat that tiptoes and then marches into the song propelling my feet to a steady cadence, with lyrics that talk about finding God as our hope among our times of trouble, and with Joel's great vocal this song has quickly become a favorite and has set me to almost shouting (even though I don't know all of the lyrics yet) the bridge "He has overcome!!!" What better way to start out a time of worship than with that lyric? This record proves once again that Joel is not established by nepotism but by the actual ability to craft and record some of the best, most worshipful songs currently being sung by the church.
This is the first time, that I can remember, that Hillsong United recorded a cd without the gorgeous vocals or songwriting of Brooke Fraser. In the past, she has contributed some of my favorite Hillsong United songs, Hosanna and You'll Come. But although she isn't on the new CD she was replaced by another stellar female vocalist, Jill McCloghry. Jill sings on two of my favorite songs on the CD, Like An Avalanche and Bones (which she cowrote with Joel Houston). I don't think a day has gone by yet where I haven't listened to "Bones." It's a little bit Blondie and a little bit Abba, which means a lot of bit great. This is the song on the cd that makes my heart want to burst and so everyday I listen and let it burst with smiles and singing while planting the bridge lyrics deep inside my chest
"Breathe in me Your life I can feel You are close now I can never hide You are here and You know me All I need is You And I love You I love You I love You I love You
Breathe in me Your life 'Til Your love overtakes me Open up my eyes Let me see You more clearly Falling on my knees 'Til I love like You love Like You love me I love You"
A couple of my other favorite songs on the record are "Like An Avalanche," also sung by Jill McCloghry and "Rhythms Of Grace" led by Dave Ware.
This, 12th album released by Hillsong United, was produced by Michael Guy Chislett, James Rudder, and Joel Houston and let me tell you the collaboration of these three guys is wonderful. This CD is one of only 2 Hillsong United CDs that wasn't recorded live but instead all in the studio. It sounds fresh and boundary pushing. Worship leaders across the globe will be saying to themselves, "Can I get away with that? I am going to try!" and then once again they will see their congregations take deep breaths of gratitude for bringing this new life into their worship services.
This record is the words, melodies and sounds that will urge the church further into worship. I know I already have been and will continue. Here is the song placed on my tongue today:
"Take my life Take all that I am With all that I am I will love You Take my heart Take all that I have Jesus how I adore You" -Like An Avalanche