- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 May
- I Am Free
- The Freedom We Know
- How Good and Pleasant
- Again I Say Rejoice
- Made Me Glad
- Break Through
- Lord of the Breakthrough
- Alpha and Omega
Does Israel Houghton ever stop? Between flights to South Africa, a Christmas album, his first-ever Grammy award, and the recording of his group's new live album, the charismatic frontman of Israel & New Breed doesn't seem to take a break. His latest venture is Sound of the New Breed, a new series of recordings aimed at introducing a number of popular praise choruses to the gospel crowd using New Breed's trademark multicultural style.
With similar projects from Fred Hammond (In the House) and production team PAJAM (Sing to the Lord) already released through Integrity Gospel, it seemed only a matter of time before the label asked Houghton to do one. Of course, reinterpreting popular choruses isn't a new thing for this worship leader. Over the years he has injected new life into "Trading My Sorrows," "Everyday," and "Here I Am to Worship," just to name a few—the results always remarkable.
When sticking to corporate arrangements, Freedom sounds equally remarkable. Don Moen's relatively sedate "Arise" takes on newfound joy with a Caribbean personality. Hillsong's "Made Me Glad" is more jazzy and serene than its predecessor, and quite inspiring. Later, Israel & New Breed's own "Break Through" and "Alpha and Omega" remain breathtaking, even when stripped of the bombast and the densely packed wall of sound that the group is known for.
But while Houghton was careful to scale back the amount of layers in each of the songs, most of it is still too advanced or fanciful for the average worship band to replicate. For example, New Breed's knockout "Again I Say Rejoice" is still an awesome call to worship, but its instrumental intricacy is dizzying and perhaps intimidating to most worship teams. Nothing wrong with complexity, especially when you're just looking for a solidly performed worship album. But overall, it seems like Freedom only gets it half right, sounding more like a collection of worship performances than something to be implemented at the local church.