By Matt Johnson, jesusfreakhideout.com
He's sold millions upon millions of albums, each one containing a plethora of Christian radio hits. His music can be heard in virtually every contemporary church on any given Sunday. The yearly awards he's earned are often too many to list. His music has helped to coin the phrase "pop-worship." Where does an artist go after all of that? We set to find out with a listen of Chris Tomlin's latest release, Hello Love.
The quick answer is... more of the same. The record opens with the upbeat, high energy "Sing, Sing, Sing." This one is sure to be another favorite in church worship services. It then tapers down a bit into "Jesus Messiah," which reminds us of the supremacy and love of Christ. This one is already hitting radio as a single as a number one hit, but with the audience that most of Christian radio caters, to it's hard not to say that any song on this album will chart.
"God of This City" might be the brightest spot of the album. Taking a break from the typical worship fare, this song deals with God's desire to work in a city that seems hopeless. It reminds us that our God is the God of everyone, no matter how out of place or untypical they seem. It would have been nice to hear something about God's desire to use us in that mission, rather than just praying for things to change. "I Will Rise," which starts out very light and builds into Tomlin being backed up by a choir, makes for a pretty dramatic moment musically. "Love" encorporates a children's choir from Uganda to add a different flavor to this very vanilla collection, while Chris chooses to pay homage to worship music history with a rendition of "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" as an appropriate album finale.
The rest of the record is just par for the course lyrically and musically. There were a number of moments in which I couldn't help but think, "Haven't I heard this song before?" As someone who worships to, listens to, and plays modern worship music, I wasn't pushed to any deeper spiritual ground. It's an expression of where we've been and where we are as a worshiping Christian family.
If you're a Chris Tomlin fan, then I'm sure you're going to be more than pleased with Hello Love. It's only a matter of time before we'll be hearing several of these tracks in our churches on Sunday mornings. However, if you're looking to go somewhere new, somewhere deeper in your worship, then there are a few other places you should go instead.