Hillsong have been releasing live worship albums since 1992’s ‘The Power of Your Love’… the latest ‘A Beautiful Exchange’ is their 19th… and for any band or group being able to keep a legacy like the one that Hillsong has been able to keep running is nothing but spectacular…
Now I have to admit I haven’t always been a fan of Hillsong albums as I felt that for a while in the the early 2000’s that their music was becoming a bit predictable, almost paint by numbers worship, and although there hasn’t been to many bands that have had the edgy feel that Hillsong have been able to retain, it was starting to sound s a bit laboured. This has been one of the great things that Hillsong has been able to offer , just when there is a fear that the group is in a rut along comes a new songwriter or a new song stands out from the rest an takes the group to a new place. And that has been the greatest thing about the group… with multiple song writers and worship leaders been able to add something new to the groups dynamics, certainly broadening it’s musical vastness.
In saying that the albums over the past couple of years has been somewhere between, U2, Cold play and The Killers, which brings us nicely to the latest album.
A Beautiful Exchange almost has the feel of a huge U2 or Coldplay concert, with the drummer giving the same pounding drum march feel that U2’s Larry Mullen Junior would give while the 4/4 feel and driving bass has the feel of a Cold play album, that you would could hear on Coldplays songs like ‘Fix me’… now please hear me this isn’t a bad thing as it takes a great band to be able to pull this sort of thing off, and isn’t what church music should be… a reflection of what is out in the world with the words of grace and love that the world has to offer?
The album is broken up nicely by two songs that were written and lead by women Brooke Ligertwood (nee Fraser) and Darlene Zschech. The song ‘incense’ that is lead by Ligertwood has a sense of familiarity to it as it is layered with the song ‘Sometimes by Step’ which is sometimes known as ‘Step by Step’ which was originally written back in 1993 by David Strasser and christian music legend Rich Mullins.
Hillsong albums are best listened to at high volume… why? Well they are preformed in a conference environment (Big stadium stuff)… that’s what they were designed for… Hillsong write songs for their own church, and they are able to have them recorded for the whole world to hear.
Hillsong have found their own niche market… the Big stadium worship… while Bands like David Crowder Band are pushing worship boundaries with what Worship is (which sometimes can be hard to actually play in church)… and Matt Redman is writing songs that have the directness of the ancient hymns with a modern spin… and Hillsong are somewhere in the middle. Pioneers in their own right.
So is this a good album to worship to?
As long as your idea of worship isn’t ‘Scripture in Song’ from the 80’s and Early 90’s… this is Stadium worship, with the bigness of a rock concert but with the delicate approach of a love song.
It is a beautiful exchange.