Matt Maher, the worship leader best known for writing the church hit "Your Grace Is Enough," follows up his 2008 debut, Empty and Beautiful, this month with Alive Again. But in the sea of this year's worship albums, does it make itself unique enough to stand up on its own?
The first track "Alive Again" starts off slow and soft, building up to a satisfying finish, and it makes for a solid start to the album. It's the record's first single too, and rightfully so; it's easily the best song on the record. "Shout Of The King" and "Sing Over Your Children" follow, and while they are acceptable in their own right, it's hard to call them remarkable. "Hold Us Together" suffers from all-too-casual lyrics: "It don't have a job/don't pay your bills/won't buy you a home in Beverly Hills." This line and others tend to clash with the whole song's more serious theme of asking God to keep us from coming unglued. The following tracks, "No Greater Love" and "Love Comes Down," have good lyrical content, but the composition behind them is not especially interesting. At this point comes the halfway mark on the album, and the second act is less than ideal, to be honest. While the lyrical content here is great to ponder, especially on "Remembrance," each of these six tracks have slow, almost-dreary musical compositions. While it's good to have some slower songs on every album, this album seems to isolate them all to the second half of the album, which makes it a less bearable listen. Besides that, most of them go on for far too long. If these tracks had been either cut down a tad and/or mixed better with the rest of the record, this would have been a stronger project altogether.
After the closer "Garden" is done and over, I can't honestly say that Alive Again is that unique of a worship experience. Maher, in all fairness, experiments a little bit with each track throughout the record, but when it's all put together, the final product merely blends into the worship crowd. There have definitely been some notable records this year in the worship realm from artists like Danyew, Sarah Reeves, The Glorious Unseen, and even artists like Israel Houghton had enough uniqueness to legitimately stand out. Anyone looking for solid, unique worship would be wise to look there, but if you were a fan of Matt Maher's first outing, his follow-up will suit you just fine.- Review date: 9/20/09, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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