Anyone who's attended a contemporary worship service or Passion event is probably at least familiar with Charlie Hall's music, and if not by name, then at least they've sung along to "Marvelous Light" once or twice. After 2006's outstanding Flying Into Daybreak, from whence the aforementioned song came, expectations from the postmodern worship fan may be high. Even though the title of his latest album, The Bright Sadness, may give the impression of a bittersweet affair with less of the boisterousness prior works exuded- it is in fact quite upbeat. Hall returns and I'm pleased to say he's brought all that God-given talent with him again.
Immediately, "Chainbreaker" allays those fears of a more brooding work, with a driving guitar intro and rousing chorus- declaring the greatness of Jesus' role as our Redeemer. Aside from the opener, "Walk the World" may be the most immediately added into your Sunday morning worship roster, with its typical progression and generally accessible melody. Not to say either song is dull- they simply do what they were designed for, in providing sing-able, upbeat praise with well-penned lyrics.
Conversely, songs like "Bloom Again" are more in the vein of indie-experimental worship (ala recent Crowder) with its ever-expanding epic atmosphere and building, echoed instrumentation. But the experiment goes slightly awry with "Thrill" and its out-of-place synth hook, accompanied by a chorus and lyrics which are rather… well, boring, actually.
Hall expands his storytelling ability beyond the church walls with "Hookers and Robbers" and "The Second Alive," taking inspiration and hope and reflecting the message out to those who exist in the fringes of our culture. You have to applaud his effort to share these tales, instead of playing it safe and keeping to his attributed genre. He goes so far as to include some slightly more personal lyrics in "My Brightness," reflecting Hall's inner fights wonderfully: "Yesterday I felt so angry/ and today so insecure/ And I hated that I wrestled/ with the God that I adore." The melding of the personal, the reaching, and the worship all converge in the album's final track "Mystery," a tender declarative hymn that seems to focus all the energies touched upon in the earlier songs into a musical arrow aimed squarely at Jesus.
All things considered, The Bright Sadness is a very good Charlie Hall album, worthy of any fan's attention. Although never quite reaching the polish of his previous collection- there are some quality worship tunes, and some poignant and lyrically affecting moments scattered throughout.- Review date: 8/18/08, written by David Goodman of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: sixstepsrecords
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