When the author of such pervasive worship anthems such as "Beautiful One" and "Here I Am to Worship" comes out with a new album, there's a certain expectancy attached to it. You end up listening with the subconscious thought of "Hmmm… I wonder which one of these will be integrated into the worship at my church." So enters Tim Hughes' latest assembly of Heaven-directed praise.
Hughes describes his muses for Holding Nothing Back as various concepts of God he's personally encountered in the past few years. Whereas his previous release When Silence Falls lyrically focused on the hope for the desperate which God provides, his new songs focus more on God Himself, His greatness, His life shared with His people. So it's a natural progression, chronologically, from struggle and hope therein- to hope in continuing deeper in relationship with Jesus.
He's chosen an interesting set of collaborators this time around, including various co-writers on several songs. With guest vocals by Hillsong alumna Brooke Fraser and guitar work provided by Delirious? axe-man Stu G, the production value is evident. Perhaps too evident. The work as a whole feels polished to a glistening sheen, and I think the raw emotional praise Hughes was going for in his writing and vocals ends up glossed over. "God of Justice," for example, just tastes like it would have been better presented with just Tim and his guitar- earnest and simplified. Instead, every song is filled with a wall of sound, priming the sensation of Passion event-readiness. If you're looking for experimentation, or any sort of paradigm breaking- this is not the modern worship album for you.
But the songs are brewed for congregational use, with choruses full of lyrical repetition and melodies just catchy enough to flow with the message. The first half of the album is lively, with the kickoff track "Happy Day" in all its boisterousness… but doesn't really grab your attention and make you sing along until the beautiful "Out of the Darkness." There are plenty of great songs to facilitate your attention upward, but on occasion the over-production might prove more distracting than anything. Although there's marginal divergence from previous albums, it's still a good collection of praise and worship from one of the UK's modern legends in the genre.- Review date: 4/2/07, written by David Goodman
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