I was given the privilege of hearing a preview copy of Chris Tomlin’s newest album, “Burning Lights.” Of course, I was happy to take part. Who doesn’t want to be an insider of sorts. So here goes:
First, let me say that Chris Tomlin is a very gifted songwriter. He obviously has a knack for writing worship tunes, and is our generations’ most prolific worship songwriter. You will likely find more of his compositions on the CCLI top 25 than any other single author.
Now to the music, the first few tracks on this album will please the ears of those who enjoy listening to groups such as “Coldplay”, “One Republic” and “Mumford and Sons.” The first two tracks carry sounds very reminiscent of “Coldplay’s” Viva La Vida, while at the same time the second track (Awake My Soul), is also very similar to “One Republic.” The fourth track, Lay Me Down, will definitely please those among us who like “Mumford and Sons” and “Philip Phillips.”
What we have come to love and even expect from Tomlin, we find on this album. We find themes that connect with people going through different circumstances. We also find variety in style and arrangement as well as a revision to an old hymn. I’m sure, that no matter what kind of church you lead worship for, you will find yourself doing one of these songs in the near future.
Plusses i.e. Some of My Favorites and Why
Ok, so my favorite on the album is Lay me Down. I have to confess that I’m kind of diggin’ the Mumford and Sons/Gungor/Philip Phillips thing right now. And, yes I realize they’re not really piano people, but I still like it. So, having another worship tune that fits in that style is great. Not too many of Gungor’s songs are very well suited for congregational singing, so having Lay Me Down will help those congregations who like the style but haven’t had the music.
My other favorites are Whom Shall I Fear and Crown Him. I think Whom Shall I Fear is probably the most singable song on the album. It will definitely add some real value to your worship services. It’s nicely anthemic, yet fully attainable for the average congregant to sing (after you lower it a step or four). And it’s theme is one that people definitely connect with right now. Of course, I love that he’s rearranged another hymn, Crown Him. It’s great to give new life to the songs of our history, and that’s exactly what will happen with this rearrangement of the old classic. He also write a chorus and bridge which fit nicely.
My Only Minuses
From a worship pastor and songwriter (granted, I’m very unsuccessful by comparison and wouldn’t ever compare myself to Chris Tomlin), I hear a lot of the same stuff on each of Tomlin’s Album. Yes, the styles change, but the structure stays pretty familiar. I know how similar my songs sound, and I know the extreme challenge to keep things fresh and at the same time keep them accessible for people to be able to belt out in churches. I would just love to see more in the way of trying new things and even failing from time to time, as opposed to falling back on the things that are tried and true.
That’s a Wrap…
So, all that to say, I absolutely think you should buy this album and work up some of the tunes to use for your worship services whatever they may be. And I really mean that for this album. There is quite a bit of variety. From a Hymn to a dance tune (God’s Great Dance Floor) which would be a great song for youth groups, students and churches who just like to move. (You can tell from how un-hip that sentence is that I have no idea what that means…)
Wait! Don’t Stop Reading!
There is some other good news, if you have listened to Episode 0122 of the Worship Ministry Catalyst Podcast, you know that we have been given the privilege of giving away 5 copies of the CD. So, you’ll want to check back to see how you can enter to win your copy. Seriously, who doesn’t want free music. (And I’m not even trying to force my music on you this time!)