All of the Above
- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 May
- Point of Difference
- Break Free
- Desperate People
- Draw Me Closer [Selah]
- Lead Me to the Cross
- For All Who Are to Come [Selah]
- My Future Decided
- Never Let Me Go
- Saviour King
Slowly but surely, Hillsong United, the youth ministry branch of Hillsong Australia, continues to make a name for itself across the globe. Michael W. Smith endorses them; teens across the U.S. can't seem to get enough of them; South America and other territories adore them; and more and more contemporary churches are singing their songs. They've gotten so popular, in fact, that their newest album, All of the Above, had to be recorded in the studio to accommodate the group's busy schedule.
The move to do everything in a contained environment is curious. To this point, the ensemble's main draw has been the music, a dynamic mixture of energetic praise rockers, contagious choruses, and passionate ballads—not unlike their grown-up counterparts at Hillsong. These factors were elevated by the live component of their worship sessions, which allowed them to worship without boundaries, sing at the top of their lungs, jump off speakers, and even mosh a little.
All of the Above does all of the above, but in a more restrained, polite manner. Instead of the usual pop/rock, their songs have adopted a Brit-pop/rock essence that's more about atmosphere and feel than about passion and euphoria. Fans will be taken aback by the meditative "Devotion," the Parachutes-era Coldplay of "Desperate People," and the shoe-gazing alternative of "Never Let Me Go"—all fairly atypical for the group. There are a number of rockers ("My Future Decided," "Break Free"), but they're certainly not the norm on this disc.
Even the worship is more missional than vertical. Inspired by their global travels and their upcoming I Heart Revolution initiative, the album's lyrical scope is more about inspiring young people to live out their faith rather than simply sing about it. It's a respectable calling, but one that doesn't lend itself as well to corporate worship. For a movement that became known for their in-concert vitality, it'll be interesting to see how these songs go over in a live setting. The congregational value here seems limited compared to United's previous efforts.