If you look at the amount of songs that Chris Tomlin has in churches around the world you would have to say that he’s at the top of his game… he’s had some great songs the a lot of churches are using week after week as part of their worship. You could almost say that we are in the Tomlin era as far as worship music in church goes.
In the Southern Hemisphere we’ve been through the Hillsong era, the Redman era and now you could say that for some churches if there isn’t a Tomlin song you may think that something is wrong.
Now I have to be honest I have found the last couple of Tomlin albums a bit bland, now don’t get me wrong Chris always produces album with great singles on it, there are always great ‘church’ songs… however I was hoping that we would see more of Chris’ creativity on this album and the start of Burning Lights got me a little excited… The first track ‘Burning Lights’ is a mainly instrumental track and what follows is ‘Awake my Soul’ featuring Christian rap artist Lecrae. Ok, I love people who push the boundaries of what church music should sound like, which is why I love groups like Rend Collective Experiment, Gungor and David Crowder Band… however it seems to me that these days if a worship leader wants to push the boundaries they put Lecrae on the album… it’s almost starting to border on predictable.
The highlight of the album comes with the albums lead single “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)” – it’s an honest song that talks about the tension we have as Christians which is that we worship the God of Angel Armies and created the world, yet he’s also our friend and father… and I think this song put’s it into balance as well as you can in 4 minutes and 27 seconds.
‘Lay me down’ has Acoustic Jars of clay sound and has a great chorus, however the placement on the album seems a bit odd as the next track to follow is the Martin Smith penned track ‘God’s great dance floor’ with a churched down oonse oonse feel to it… think a updated disco cut of Chris Tomlin in a night club dancing to club music.
And while this album is pushing boundaries for Chris Tomlin, there are plenty of classic Tomlin moments ‘White Flag’ and ‘Jesus Son of God’ to name a few that have already appeared on, so if you’re a huge Tomlin fan you don’t have to learn to talk ‘street’ before buying this album.
As a whole album I think it’s one of Tomlin’s best, there is enough to keep you interested and wondering what will come next yet there is enough familiarity to make you feel you can take some of the songs from the album and sing them at your church. I found the balance refreshing as I have become a bit skeptical of ‘worship’ albums as many of them are working to a deadline, and I wonder does that takeaway some of the creativity?
And after listening to some worship albums you would have to wonder…
I think this album has a bit of something for everyone, and I’m glad people are starting to release church music that is a bit more upbeat rather than somber funeral marches you hear in some churches…
If you are a Tomlin fan you’ll buy this album regardless… if you’re not a fan yet, there are still songs on the album that may capture your imagination.