Over the years, Phil Wickham has steadily delivered a plethora of quality worship music, mixing together a healthy dosage of both live and studio albums. While Wickham is undeniably one of CCM's most prolific and talented artists, some of his projects have had more to offer than others. After the success of 2013's The Ascension, an artist could be easily intimidated by the pressure to exceed their own standards and raise the bar yet again. Not so with Wickham. While his latest offering, Children of God, is somewhat difficult to break apart due to its cohesiveness, the album is no less fantastic than anything on his earlier discography, signifying a continued development of artistry.
The album opens with a new rendition of the "Doxology," a move which is not unheard of within the worship industry. Rather than presenting itself as some clichéd gimmick, however, it serves as a perfect doorway for which to enter a worshipful atmosphere. While I don't want to cement this claim, this track may actually be my favorite rendition of the "Doxology" hymn. At the very least, it's quite an accomplished piece, worthy of recognition.
The next two tracks, "Better Than Life" and "Your Love Awakens Me" roll right on by. They're both solid efforts, but fail to stand out due to their similarity with several of Wickham's songs from years past. "The Secret Place," a duet performed with Madison Cunningham, is one of the highlights on Children of God. The duo's voices intertwine to create a rich and embracing melody, where Wickham's signature vibrato perfectly fits into the piece.
"Starmaker" is one of the most exceptional tracks on the album. The passionate lyrics are simple and profound: "I can't look away; I am captivated / what else can I say but sing in adoration / You are holy above the earth." The swaying melody and ambient atmospherics give the song a beautiful texture which couples well with the interlude and wordless singing. The album's title track, "Children of God," was clearly written to serve as an anthemic worship piece with lyrics such as "we are believers in a hope on the Risen One / we are soldiers, we're fighting the faith in love / we are pilgrims on a journey to reach our home / we are standing together; we are the children of God." All in all, it's a good track, but it never seems to come to full fruition, almost as if it was mostly written for a live performance (likely).
While "Stand in Awe" gets off to a rocky start, the melodic chorus compensates for this, as does the "amen, amen, amen" tie-in to the opening track. While not at all bad, "Body, Mind & Soul" is a confusing song; parts of it are fantastic, and others just seem to stumble around as though the platypus on Children of God. The closing song, "Spirit of God," delivers the best of Wickham's various styles, packaged conveniently into one track. This song feels like the true anthem of Children of God and works to close out the worshipful album in magnificent fashion.
At times, the lyrical content fails to impress, but the "isms" within contemporary worship have been so overexerted that a handful of excuses may be allotted. Other times, however, Wickham's skills as a lyricist make a bold appearance, such as on "As It Is In Heaven." There are no songs that particularly stand out on Children of God, but as I mentioned in the introduction, the album is very cohesive and unable to be dissected in a more traditional manner. Ultimately, this is one of the best worship albums of the year, and will likely remain so. If you've enjoyed Wickham's prior albums, Children of God is a must-have. If CCM isn't your thing, this album is still worth checking out.- Review date: 4/20/16, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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