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Sounds like … Michael W. Smith's live Worship album performed like a Hillsong Australia recordingAt a glance … though well performed and intentioned, Worship at Red Rocks is entirely too similar to certain other recent worship albums, failing to distinguish Tesh's gifts as a composer and worship leaderTrack ListingYou Are GoodAbove AllBreatheGod Is My RockTrading My SorrowsLord Have MercyDraw Me CloseAlways ForeverGod of WondersOpen the Eyes of My HeartVoice of OneAlways Forever
It was nearly a decade ago when "Entertainment Tonight" co-host John Tesh bolstered his recording career with the Gold-certified Live at Red Rocks album and its accompanying PBS special. Having become gradually more outspoken about his Christian faith in years since, it seems fitting that the pop composer and worship leader should return to the legendary venue for Worship at Red Rocks, a CD and DVD that he conceptualized, produced, and funded himself.
The production is impressive and the performances solid, with good vocals, musicianship, and pop arrangements propelling a number of your favorite worship songs … but hold up a second. "Breathe," "Above All," "Open the Eyes of My Heart," "Draw Me Close," and "Lord Have Mercy"? Half of this album is Michael W. Smith's Worship project, and while the arrangements aren't exact recreations of Smitty's platinum-selling success, they're similar enough to generate far too many instances of déjà vu. The other half features routine covers of other well-known favorites, the best being a spirited version of Israel Houghton's "You Are Good" (made famous by The Katinas) that sounds exactly like Hillsong Australia. The album fares better with two studio recorded originals: the energetic "Voice of One," featuring rich piano and jazzy vocal harmonies, and "Always Forever," which is much smoother than the live version that precedes it on this disc.
Sure, the worship team does a fine job covering these songs and I'm confident the experience was powerful in person. But honestly, unless you're a rabid Tesh fan or you want a tangible memory from attending this concert, do you really need such a predictable and rehashed worship album? Such unoriginality coming from such a proven talent only yields one of the year's biggest disappointments.