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How Great Is Our God

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
How Great Is Our God
Sounds like … a more mainline CCM version of Martha Munizzi, or the female equivalent of veteran worship artist Clint Brown, with shades of CeCe Winans and Mary MaryAt a glance … the parts are greater than the sum, but How Great Is Our God is otherwise a faithful look at the multiethnic worship ministry of LaRue HowardTrack Listing How Great Is Our God He Is Open the Eyes of My Heart God Alone Blessed Be Your Name Got Joy He'll Make a Way Worship & Praise Essence of Your Presence His Majesty Is Here Blessed Assurance

Looks can be deceiving. Aesthetically, newcomer LaRue Howard falls right in line with many other starlets in contemporary gospel. But a close and detailed dissection of her EMI Gospel debut How Great Is Our God reveals a worship leader whose sound is unlike anything in her field. One needs look no further than the album title and track listing for clues. On one hand are several covers of familiar worship tunes by the likes of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Paul Baloche. On the other, the overall sound showcases her love of contemporary gospel.

The two extremes form the essence of How Great Is Our God, and it can be explained by Howard's day job. She's the worship pastor at FaithWorld Center, a multiethnic church where she reports directly to Pastor Clint Brown, a veteran worship leader with dozens of albums and hundreds of praise tunes under his belt. Howard's connection to Brown is intriguing because, like him, she's equally comfortable singing simple pop/rock arrangements or highly soulful, rhythmic creations.

On the Christian pop side, Howard phones in her selections with little sense of personality—there's not much here that's different from what has been attempted many times before. At least her piano-accented take on "Blessed Be Your Name" is interesting—at its pinnacle, the track even passes for Coldplay, and you can't really get more un-gospel than that. On the whole, however, her recreations are too faithful and by the book, offering few surprises.

It's the soulful tracks where Howard sounds more convincing as an artist. She sounds as elegant as CeCe Winans on "Essence of Your Presence," recalls Mary Mary with urbanized tracks like "He Is" and "Got Joy," and brings to mind her mentor Martha Munizzi in the delightfully corporate "His Majesty Is Here." In the end, as far as worship is concerned, there's a little bit for everyone here. A mixed bag for sure, but at least the album is faithful in its representation of Howard's local church ministry.

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