In the Hands of God
- Reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2009 5 May
Sounds like … modern rock sprinkled with dance beats and the occasional worship ballad.
At a glance … Newsboys' textbook contagiousness (albeit a little older and less witty) with forgettable fluff stuffed in between.
- The Way We Roll
- No Grave
- This Is Your Life
- In the Hands of God
- The Upside
- My Friend Jesus
- Lead Me to the Cross
- RSL 1984
Even though it's been three years since the band's last studio album—the recent buzz around the Newsboys has little to do with In the Hands of God. Instead, most headlines have focused on frontman Peter Furler's decision to step down from the microphone—at least on the road.
Though dc Talk singer/solo artist Michael Tait is the band's new touring frontman, Furler is still the Newsboys' vocalist on the new album, wrote the songs, and is even on the cover—with drummer Duncan Phillips, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, and guitarist Jody Davis (who returns after a six-year absence following Paul Colman's departure). Despite switching members more often than Journey, the current collection is at least somewhat consistent with the group's classic '90s pedigree, updated with modern day instrumental appeal.
And so, In the Hands of God boasts hints of the band's most appreciated eras. "The Way We Roll," for example, is a textbook example of the group's classic blending of sugary dance beats and growling guitar chords. While nothing here reaches the instantly hooky heights of mega-hits like "Breakfast" or "Shine," new songs "Glorious" and "Dance" are on par with the pure-bred pop of most standard Newsboys tunes.
While Furler's vocals are as good as ever, his wit as a lyricist has clearly dulled with age. Neither "Glorious" or "Dance" pack the sardonic punch of Furler's heyday and many show off a more serious, less quirky side—despite a co-writing credit by Steve Taylor who is partially responsible for several of the most fun and quirky Newsboy favorites.
The CD's weaknesses are made more apparent because the album has only ten tracks and lasts just 37 minutes. This brevity suggests that perhaps the recording session was a bit rushed by the Furler to Tait transition. More evidence of haste comes in the form of the uneventful ballad "This Is Your Life," which sounds like a pre-produced demo composed in a bedroom.
For a band with two decades of experience, In the Hands of God isn't its best showing. Still, it stands far above the Newsboys' early works and has broader base appeal than its exclusively vertical-leaning endeavors. While the lyrics could stand a jolt of caffeine, there's enough musical zest here to know that the Newsboys aren't going down for the count just yet.