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Jesus Is

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jun
Jesus Is
Sounds like … Hillsong Australia and United, with some obvious Brit pop influences like Coldplay and Matt Redman, as well as Australia's Planet ShakersAt a glance … it'd be nice if Hillsong London developed a musical identity that wasn't so similar to its parental church in Australia, but there's undeniable energy and quality to the music found on Jesus IsTrack Listing Lord of All Only One for Me It's a New Day Follow the Son Let the Whole World Hosanna Saviour's Love Til I See You I Lift My Hands Greatest Gift Where the Love Lasts Forever Above All How Great Is Our God Jesus Is

Planted by Sydney's famed mega-church, Hillsong London made an impressive debut in 2004 with Shout God's Fame, which didn't quite garner the same level of attention as albums from Hillsong Australia and its youth worship offshoot United, but there was something refreshing in the energy of the praise team's arrangements and performance. Hopefully people will discover that themselves with the equally effective follow-up Jesus Is, recorded before a congregation of thousands in their weekly worship center, the Dominion Theater in London's famed West End.

To their credit, Hillsong London follows United's lead in style, demonstrating considerable rhythmic punch in rockers like "Lord of All," "Follow the Sun," and "Let the Whole World," with strong melodies and hooks that make you want to shout along your praise to God. But perhaps they're too closely patterned after their Aussie brethren, following the same predictable formula—the upbeat openers, followed by a sequence of lengthy passionate ballads, and then the anthemic finale. Then again, maybe that's a little like criticizing a more traditional church for using the same liturgy week after week, but "Til I See You" and "Where the Love Lasts Forever" come straight from the United songbook, and "Only One for Me" could easily pass for "Tell the World."

At least Hillsong London distinguishes its sound by embracing its Brit rock heritage with the mid-tempo "Hosanna" (featuring Delirious guitarist Stuart Garrard), the terrific Beatle-esque ballad "Greatest Gift" (featuring Matt Redman), the Coldplay-styled "Above All" (not the Lenny LeBlanc standard), and the gorgeous Pink Floyd-meets-Radiohead feel of the title track, closing the album with a powerful declaration of God's sovereignty. Combine the musical highlights with an accompanying 38-minute DVD revealing one of the most impressive light shows ever used in church, and you have one solid modern worship album. Still, Hillsong London would be wise to work harder in developing their own worship music identity, rather than closely imitate their parental church from down under.

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