The Bible tells us in the book of Psalms, "Sing a new song." Thankfully, the worship band at Hillsong pops out those new songs by the dozen every year. However, with this year's batch, a question comes to mind, "Are these new songs or just the old ones repackaged with new album art?" That decision will really depend upon the listener. They have to choose to either walk away feeling that they've wasted their time or if they've received something wonderful from A Beautiful Exchange.
The album kicks off right with the anthem "Our God Is Love." First, it must be stated that the song did not start with the overused driving kick drum - which is a big deal. Unfortunately, it would be false to say that the "thump-thump-thump" is completely absent from the opening track. "Open My Eyes" continues the praise segment which, in all truth, the song resembles previous songs from Look To You or even For This Cause, and it feels mildly hokey. And sadly, there are moments throughout the record that continue with that awkward corniness. However, A Beautiful Exchange has some songs that truly shine.
The true standout song on the album is "Like Incense/Sometimes By Step." Although long, it is one of the most intimate tracks Hillsong has put out to date. It's very powerful as Brooke Liegertwood sings, "May my prayer like incense rise before you… oh Lord Jesus turn your eyes upon me. For I know there is mercy in your sight." And to top it off, it connects with an old Rich Mullins song, "Step by Step." You can expect churches will be looking to add this song to their weekly rotation.
"You" is a great energy boosting song that will be a surefire hit with youth groups. It has an 80's revival spin on it with rocking distortion. The energy it produces calls for movement; jumping, dancing, shouting - this is honestly the best fast song on the album. "Love Like Fire" returns back to that deep worship that really draws people to brokenness before God. While not the strongest or most original lyrics, it is an honest cry from the heart as the worship leader sings, "Your love is like fire, it burns for all to see; my only desire to worship at your feet so let this fire consume my life."
A Beautiful Exchange has some very powerful moments and some weak ones. However, we as listeners are outsiders looking in. A well-known pastor recently said, "The glory of corporate worship is dynamic in the midst of the saints that cannot be experienced by those who catch the webcast." To build off of that thought, it cannot truly be experienced on a CD/iPod/DVD either. We could be in a moment of deep worship but the music will continue to the next track and that depth will be interrupted. So worship leaders, this album will definitely give you new songs for the Church service but make sure that they will minister to your church and not just be another song to add to your repertoire.
What Hillsong does is admirable as they supply music to churches around the world. Could they use more originality in their new songs? Yes. Could we all use more worship in our lives? Absolutely. You might not find everything you're looking for in A Beautiful Exchange but you'll definitely find a heart of worship.- PReview date: 6/12/10, Review date: ; written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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