Former Hillsong worship pastor Darlene Zschech (pronounced "check"), most famous for the song "Shout To The Lord," is back to writing and singing worship songs after a miraculous recovery from cancer. Her latest project, Here I Am / Send Me, is a live record featuring of all new material. The album is performed by her worship team at Hope Unlimited Church in Australia and written alongside respected songwriters, such as Martin Smith and Paul Baloche. Here I Am / Send Me is a focused project, declaring God's unchanging love while promising to praise Him in every season of life and share his love to the nations and our neighbors.
It's easy to imagine these worship songs being sung in churches around the world because they are simple proclamations of truth and generally characterized by an easily memorable chorus. The sound and production of the record hits the sweet spot of being full without being overdone--a tricky balance to maintain in worship music (especially in a live setting). There are a few quiet moments that are instrumentally minimalistic and intimate ("Love and Wonder" and the first half of "Emmanuel") but the majority of the album is comprised of rousing and powerful anthems ("You Are Great," "Here I Am"). The strong delivery of these songs is largely due to Darlene Zschech's pleasant and commanding vocals. Zschech does take a back seat to several guest features, including the entirety of "First Love," led by Luke Taylor, a lively track that provides the only danceable beat in the middle of the album. Unfortunately, like many modern worship albums, the repetition here is excessive and the lyrics rely on familiar phrases. It certainly makes it easier to sing along, but as an artistic statement, it feels underwhelming. Most tracks are even a couple minutes longer than necessary. Also, the melody on Isaac Watts' beautifully penned "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," in the second half of "Beloved," sounds a bit awkward, as does the ambient sounds and distorted cries from those in attendance at the end of the song.
Overall though, Here I Am / Send Me is a good addition to the library of anyone who loves listening to corporate worship music and "You Are Great" and "You Will Be Praised" (among others) are solid choices for any Sunday worship service.- Review date: 3/1/17, written by Christopher Smith of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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