I Have a Hope
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Mar
- I Have a Hope
- Hallelujah, We Will Sing
- In the Light of Your Glory
- Speak to Me
- Do It, Lord
- I Believe, I Believe
- Your Love
- From Jerusalem
- Pass It On
- Holy Spirit Come
Before Israel Houghton and Chris Tomlin, there was Tommy Walker, a worship leader for 15 years with several songs on the CCLI chart, including "Mourning Into Dancing" and "He Knows My Name." Hard to say why he's failed to earn widespread recognition to this point, but after a lengthy four-year absence, he's back on the scene with
For those unfamiliar with Walker's sound, imagine Daryl Hall or Steven Curtis Chapman singing to a smooth, soulful pop style. A trained jazz guitarist, the dude knows how to assemble a skillful worship team, from the gospel-styled backing vocalists to the experienced instrumentalists—hence comparisons to Israel & New Breed's talented musicianship.
Perhaps it's the studio setting, but
What helps boost Walker's sound is the confident and established production of Ed Cash, who wisely avoids steering Walker toward Tomlin territory, opting instead for the jazzy grooves of Monk & Neagle. "Pass It On" (not the well-known '70s worship song) is the closest thing to Tomlin-styled modern worship here, an up-tempo rocker about sharing the greatness of God to others through worship, and it's a welcome change of pace amid all the soulful balladry and R&B influenced grooves.
The production serves to elevate Walker's masterful worship writing, which is driven by smartfully worded expressions of praise, a firm grasp of congregational-friendly melodies, and the freedom and confidence to use instruments for God's glory. These qualities bring a powerful swell to songs like the Revelation-themed "Hallelujah, We Will Sing," spirited musicianship to the prophetic "Do It, Lord," tenderness to the ballad "In the Light of Your Glory," and lyrics that inspire both heart and intellect in mission themed "From Jerusalem."
I've never heard a worship leader lead from the studio quite as successfully as this album, which is perhaps testament to the considerable gifts of Tommy Walker, a pioneer who may have been ahead of his time early on, but precisely what's needed to kick-start the modern worship movement from tired conventions.