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The Bright Sadness

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Aug
The Bright Sadness
Sounds like … a midpoint between David Crowder Band's left-of-center approach to modern worship and the more accessible, congregational style of Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman.At a glance … he may not be nearly as popular as his labelmates, but Charlie Hall stands as the most forward-thinking member of the Passion gang with his latest project.Track Listing Chainbreaker
New Year
Walk the World
My Brightness
The Second Alive
Hookers and Robbers
Bloom Again
You Are God
Knit My Heart

Long before Chris Tomlin and David Crowder Band became the primary draw at the Passion conferences, Charlie Hall was quietly doing his thing, leading worship and singing of God's renown. Actually, Hall was one of the first disciples to catch Passion founder Louie Giglio's vision for a collegiate ministry, standing front and center during the movement's first few releases, including its benchmark second album, Better Is One Day.

That was nearly a decade ago. Today, Hall is a different kind of lead worshipper. Back then, he was content singing the worship hits of the day; now he's a worship artist in every sense of the term, offering some of the most personal, progressive songs of praise to ever come from the Passion ranks. His latest album, The Bright Sadness, works as a continuation of what Hall started with his previous full-length, Flying Into Daybreak—the first fruits of a worship approach that's become increasingly more introspective than it is corporate.

Part of this winning formula is due in part to Hall's collaborators, band member Kendall Combes and former Evanescence keyboardist David Hodges. Together, the trio creates an ambiance that's less populist than your typical modern worship album, heavy on synth elements, sonic quirks, and an overall alternative atmosphere. There are still rock guitars and pounding drums to be found, but they're part of a broader tapestry of sound, not the central element.

Factor in Hall's penchant for the conceptual, and The Bright Sadness becomes even more impressive. More than ever before, the worship leader is intent on presenting a unified message, one that highlights the paradoxes of the Christian walk. With the brokenness of a psalmist, Hall sings from a place of sorrow, pain, and questioning, but Christ reigns supreme in every melody, firmly enthroned regardless of whether the worshipper is mourning or dancing.

The bulk of The Bright Sadness is admittedly far from the stuff of Sunday morning church services, but that doesn't negate its effectiveness as a worship album. It's alternative, but it's still a terrific disc that could well find an audience among more left-of-center congregations and ministries. Better yet, it sounds great on a stereo, which makes it ideal for a time of worship in a personal setting.

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