Chris Tomlin's Latest Has a Been-There-Heard-That Sensibility
- 2010 18 Nov
Artist: Chris Tomlin
Title: And If Our God Is for Us …
Tomlin's new album has a few inspired moments, but the majority of the tracks sound curiously similar to his past hits …
Along with his contemporaries Matt Redman, Darlene Zschech, David Crowder, the late great Delirious, Tim Hughes and everyone making music at Australia's Hillsongs Church, Chris Tomlin has been writing the soundtrack for Sunday morning worship services around the world for more than a decade now.
From "Famous One" to "How Great Is Our God" to "Indescribable," "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" and countless others, Tomlin has clearly demonstrated a knack for crafting memorable, anthemic choruses that everyone can easily sing along with, and that's precisely what's endeared him to such a wide range of listeners.
Strangely enough, though, these tracks have rarely sounded as compelling when they're merely recorded in the studio, and the material on And If Our God Is for Us is no exception.
See, without the emotional component of the audience lifting up their praises up to the One the songs were written to in the first place, the album's bombastic production that's often heavy on the strings simply doesn't mesh well with the sheer simplicity of the lyrics.
For whatever reason, many of these corporate-minded songs get lost in translation with all the proverbial bells and whistles, whether it's the already popular declaration "Our God," which provides the project's thesis statement, "And if our God is for us/Then what could ever stop us?" or the Coldplay-esque "I Will Follow," a piano-driven track that would probably fare better as a pop song than something intended for the Sunday morning crowd.
And while you gotta give Tomlin props for briefly stepping out of his comfort zone on "No Chains on Me," an upbeat track that's brought to life by a catchy electronic beat and the moody closer "Awakening," the second half of And If Our God Is for Us, definitely has that been-there-heard-that sensibility as Tomlin relies on his favorite chord progressions and turns of phrase that immediately remind you of songs he's already written.
If anything, And If Our God Is for Us can't help but make someone wonder if Tomlin might benefit from—and even enjoy—stepping out of his familiar role as a worship leader for a moment to try something new artistically. But even if that's not his next move, sticking with live worship projects may be the way to go because there's something a little flat about listening to worship without the benefit of audience participation.
**This review first published on November 18, 2010.