In 2000, Essential Records put together City On a Hill, an amazing project of collaboration between such heavy-hitting artists like Jars of Clay, Third Day, FFH, and Sixpence None the Richer. It was such a phenomenal project, that it's no wonder a sequel was put into motion the following year. February 2002 debuts City On a Hill: Sing Alleluia, the second installment in what might just become a regular series.
City On a Hill 2 has one problem... it's a sequel. When a motion picture comes to the theaters and does extremely well due to its uniqueness, intrigue, originality; the success usually demands a follow-up film. The sequel is made, usually trying to be bigger and better, but not always, and usually the film pales in comparison to its predecessor. The sequel might be good, or maybe even as good as the original, but because we've already seen something like it before, the wonder that the first possessed is not present in the second. City On a Hill 2 is no exception to the sequel rule, however, it's still an excellent record.
Naturally, it seems only right to compare the two somewhat, although Sing Alleluia does indeed stand alone well by itself (probably the reason why they didn't officially name it City On a Hill 2). The album kicks off with "All Creatures of Our God and King," a short choral prelude which doesn't nearly have the impact that "God of Wonders" did on the original, however, it creates a new feel for this COAH record that differs from the first. Probably the sweetest song follows, the title track "Sing Alleluia!" This time around, Jennifer Knapp is on board and in this track joins Third Day's Mac Powell, and solo artist Nichole Nordeman. Absent this time around who were featured on the first is Sixpence None the Richer and Gene Eugene (who passed away). The creative minds behind the project are still the same. A lot of the writing for both projects was done by Marc Byrd, known best for being lead singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter for the band Common Children. This is an especially interesting fact when listening to "Holy Is Your Name," a song written by Byrd that sounds exactly like a Common Children song (so if you like this song, chances are you'll love Common Children's 1998 record Delicate Fade). Here, instead of Byrd, vocal talents from Bebo Norman, and Caedmon's Call's Cliff and Danielle Young join forces to even sing the melodies like Byrd might. "Holy is Your Name" is still also another album highlight.
Nichole Nordeman's vocals drift through "You Are Holy," a nice COAH addition. Third Day's Mac Powell teams up with Fernando Ortega on "Our Great God," yet another strong offering, followed by Derek Webb of Caedmon's Call's "Marvelous Light," joined by Sandra McCracken. Jars of Clay's "The Comforter Has Come" is next, a song that was actually first featured on a CD released last fall entitled The Renewal. Jars played a more collaborative part on the first COAH, but "The Comforter..." still fits in nicely here.
A nice list of 13 songs which alone is a great collection and a nice follow-up to the debut City On a Hill project, but doesn't exactly top the original. Nevertheless, City On a Hill: Sing Alleluia is still a great modern worship project that shouldn't be overlooked.- Review date: 2/5/02, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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