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Sounds like … a familiar blend of contemporary worship styles that recall Hillsong Australia, Terry MacAlmon, Paul Baloche, and Travis Cottrell.At a glance … a good contemporary worship album of original songs that can find practical application in many of today's churches.Track Listing Hear Us from Heaven Beautiful More Than I Imagine I Am Free On My Lips I Stand in Awe How Great Thou Art Amazed Fairest Prepare the Way Sing to the King All Creation God Who Comes to Save Upon Our Praise The Whole Earth
Only those firmly ensconced in contemporary worship are likely to recognize the name of Ross Parsley. Though highly regarded as the chief worship leader for the 11,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, he's yet to leave his mark with a widely embraced anthem like "Shout to the Lord" or "Here I Am to Worship." That could potentially change withI Am Free, his third album for Hosanna!/Integrity Music.
Recorded onsite in May of 2004, the 70-minute recording demonstrates a contemporary pop worship style that's equal parts Hillsong Australia, Terry MacAlmon, and Paul Baloche. To Parsley's credit, I Am Free isn't as formulaic and repetitive as recent Hillsong albums have become. Rather than begin with the usual fade-in of crowd noise followed by a rousing praise opener, this disc refreshingly begins with the pleasant ballad of invocation, "Hear Us from Heaven." Several tracks, like "Upon Our Praise" and the familiar "All Creation" are of the soaring, harmony-heavy variety. Some may also recognize a few from New Life's Desperation Band recording From the Rooftops—the soothing ballad "Amazed" and the driving call-and-response of both "The Whole Earth" and "I Am Free."
But not enough of I Am Free stands out. "I Stand in Awe" and "Prepare the Way" are examples of worship songs that aren't badly written, but nevertheless sound a bit routine. And the attempts at blended worship sound a little forced, as if the need to incorporate hymns were an afterthought—"How Great Thou Art" is only a one-verse introduction to another song, and the simple rendition of "Fairest Lord Jesus" doesn't measure up to the similar/superior version by Watermark on Passion: Hymns. Still, if you're looking for an album of original worship that can find practical application in the church, I Am Free will likely satisfy to some measure.