Decade - Israel Houghton

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  Be the first to comment

Israel Houghton has established himself as one of the greatest gospel artists of the past ten years.

Decade celebrates and showcases his talent, songwriting and musicianship.

Whether you’re a longtime fan or you've never heard of him before, you shouldn’t miss Israel's excellent new release..

The 26 energetic and passionate songs that make up the CD deserves to viewed as much more than yet another compilation.

Rather than just creating a mixed tape of Israel’s Greatest Hits, many of the songs have been re-produced and arranged specifically for the album. This has resulted in a crisper sound, meaning that even those who already own plenty of Israel’s previous albums will have good reason to buy Decade.

Opening with Israel’s most famous song, Friend of God, the album is off to a flying start. Starting softly with the lyrics “Who am I that you are mindful of me?”, the song begins to build as multiple guitar parts, a complex bass line and a strong horns section add great depth to the song.

 

If there’s one thing you’ll learn through listening to this album it’s this: You can't help but listen to Israel Houghton's music with a massive grin on your face.

 

Again I Say Rejoice continues the energy Israel & New Breed began in the first song. Inviting us to “come bless the Lord”, the song encourages the listener to “rejoice in the Lord always”.

The funky gospel sound continues with You Are Good. Powerful drumming, fast strumming and punchy horns have resulted in another fantastic song.

There’s another seamless transition as Israel sings “thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in his name”. We Have Overcome is still upbeat, but is a simpler song than its predecessors. It’s a song of victory filled with the usual declarations of “hallelujah” and “wo-o-oah”.

There’s even a guitar and keyboard solo in the mid section before the choir declare “we’re on the winning side”, the band nail the chorus one last time, the choir sing “wo-o-oah” and the rest of us catch our breath.

If there’s one thing you’ll learn through listening to this album in general, and these first four songs in particular, it’s this: You can't help but listen to Israel Houghton's music with a massive grin on your face.

Not Forgotten is one of many songs with an outstanding rhythm section. African influenced drumming keeps the beat and Israel’s voice comes complete with orchestra hits. It’s a testament to the worship leader’s songwriting ability that this song has been re-produced so widely. Even Hillsong Kids in Australia have covered it.

The next few songs may have a slower tempo, but they are just as powerful. 

Second to last track, Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher) is an 8 minute studio-recorded anthem of praise. Expect to be dazzled by multiple key changes, swirling keyboard sounds and plenty of vocal layers.

Whether he’s in the studio or leading worship in front of tens of thousands of people, Israel Houghton is a master craftsman. 

 

The final track on this first CD comes as a surprise. Not only is Jesus At The Center a brand new song, but it’s very untypical of Israel’s music. Gone are the gospel and funk influences. Lyrically, it’s a heartfelt song of dedication, but musically it’s disappointing.

The second disc has more of a studio feel to it. Opening track, Saved by Grace is possibly the funkiest song Israel has ever written. Whether he’s in the studio or leading worship in front of tens of thousands of people, Israel Houghton is a master craftsman. 

The second disc also features With Long Life and the worship leader’s last single Love God Love People.  Plus, it wouldn’t be a greatest hits album without the rock/gospel anthem Say So, co written with Michael Gungor.

The Power of One was originally written for a well known pop artist (although Israel refused to say who). But after standing back and looking at the song he’d written, Israel felt it was too good to give away. It became the title track for Israel Houghton's 2009 studio album.

Decade closes with a live version of Moving Forward. It’s bold and full of truth: A fitting end to a powerful album.

Decade should help give one of Christian music’s most talented musicians, songwriters and producers a wider audience. It’s been a truly magnificent career so far. We’ll watch the next ten years with great interest...

Rating: 10 out of 10

27th March

March 27th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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