Having amassed a wealth of songwriters and musicians over the last two decades, Hillsong have consistently released top quality music.
God is Able follows in the footsteps of Hillsong’s other live albums and does little to move away from the church’s successful formula.
The album begins with Hillsong United front man Joel Houston singing Rise. Hillsong’s sound has always been distinctive and this track is no different. There’s a guitar riff, strong drums and top-of-the-voice singing.
The verses of With Us have a more interesting groove. But the mid tempo chorus lacks impact and lets the rest of the song down. It's a dissapointing opening.
The soft and reflective Unending Love is next.
“Now all I am I lay at your feet / I’m humbled by the wonder of your majesty / One thing I know / I’ll find all I need / In your unending love”
In terms of dynamics, the six-minute song is near-perfect. Unending Love continuously builds and drops, even allowing the thousands that make up the crowd to lead the singing towards the end.
Ben Fielding’s and Reuben Morgan’s The Lost Are Found is next. The bridge is the high point of the song, as the band drives the powerful lyrics home.
“The Lost are found / The blind will see / The lame will walk / The dead will live / And you our God / Forever you will reign”
Reuben Morgan has been writing outstanding songs well over a decade. Some of Hillsong’s biggest hits such as My Redeemer Lives, Mighty To Save and Yahweh have been composed by the worship leader.
As we reach the mid point of the album, can Morgan’s songwriting efforts spark a predominantly dull album into life?
Title track God is Able is certainly a step up from the songs heard so far. Kicking off with a catchy riff, the song gets off to a good start. Morgan’s voice is as distinctive as ever and the arrangement compliments a song which is full of life.
“Lifted Up / He defeated the grace / Raised to life / Our God is Able” the crowd sing before the riff begins again.
The Difference is clearly a Hillsong United song. But sadly it’s far from their best composition. The lyrics lack inspiration and often verge on being cliché. While the almost constant ‘cmon’s and ‘sing it out’s were likely provoking on the evening, they do little to inspire the listener retrospectively.
Alive In Us is a victorious song celebrating that “death has been defeated by love”. While the lyrics of the song are much more thoughtful than The Difference or With Us, musically the song fails to match the greatness of Hillsong’s earlier albums.
You Are More contains a beautiful melody matched with inspirational lyrics. The piano riff and strings add great strength to an already powerful song.
“I will see the season through / I fill fix my eyes on you / Only you” Chantel Norman sings as the band create a powerful yet sensitive sound.
Braden Lang’s Narrow Road sounds dry to begin with. But after an uneventful introduction, the song bursts into life with a strong declaration of:
“Lord here we are with humble hearts / To see your will be done / Let love shape us to your own desire / To bear our maker’s sign”
The emphasis on living a humble life and walking a difficult path is a theme often missing from modern day worship songs. Narrow Road should be considered one of the strongest songs on God is Able for that reason alone.
My Heart Is Overwhelmed is also one of the better songs on the album. Minimalist piano work, strong beats and a stunning vocal performance differentiate the track and the final couple of minutes stand out as one of the most weighty moments on the entire recording.
The eleventh and final song Cry Of The Broken is free from drums and electric guitars. The stripped down performance features a cello, some outstanding piano playing and soft guitar picking. It’s a strong end to a not so inspiring album.
God is Able is far from Hillsong’s strongest release. While the younger Hillsong United team successfully pushed boundaries with their studio album Aftermath, God is Able doesn’t allow Hillsong to take any big steps forward as a movement. What was once a unique formula has become a prison the worship team has locked themselves into.
While Mighty to Save has been picked up by hundreds of churches across the country, it’s difficult to find even one song on this album that churches will grab hold of.
Having said this, there is much to be grateful for. God is Able, You Are More and My Heart is Overwhelmed are all excellent songs, but the band have saved the best till last with Cry of the Broken. Longtime fans of Hillsong are sure to find at least a few songs to enjoy. With every song being an original, this is a good purchase for somebody wanting to discover some fresh songs. Just don’t expect it to blow you away.
Rating: 5 out of 10
February 16th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes