When one thinks about the city of London in the UK, what locations come to mind? Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben, the London Eye, and sometimes the renowned recording venue Abbey Road Studios. Artists from all musical backgrounds have had the distinct honor of recording in the legendary British studio, with many especially notable albums of all genres produced from the site. And it now seems it is worship leader extraordinaire Israel Houghton's turn; off the heels of the Grammy-winning album The Power Of One, Houghton follows up on his success with Love God. Love People. - The London Sessions. Given its grand production location, how does it hold up?
Love God. Love People. could be called somewhat of a concept worship album. Every song on the record shares the mutual theme of loving God with all of your heart, as well as loving your neighbor as yourself. While it could be argued that this album's main subject is vague and simplistic, it's a novel idea that really does make a noticeable impact on the album's fluidity and execution. With one constant theme strung across the tracks, and along with seamless transitions between some tracks, the album feels more like an experience, making Love God. Love People. stand out. The ballad "Others" is a particularly excellent take on the theme, as is "Yahweh (The Lifter)" with its exciting gospel melodies it displays. All throughout the album, Houghton's famous implementation of a variety of genres make a great effect on the album; listeners will find gospel, rock, funk and even a little power pop thrown into the mix, all in an attempt to make Love God. Love People. its own entity of an album.
Not every track found on Love God. Love People. is particularly strong, however, mostly for their individual issues. Along with the unfortunate use of the auto-tune effect on Houghton's vocals, the opening title track's chorus is simply, "Love God, love people / love my neighbor as myself / my brother, my sister / everybody love somebody." It's sound, but hardly profound lyrics such as these that are scattered throughout the album, possibly as a side effect of the album's central theme. "Love Rev" also has unfortunate lyric choices which try to be lighthearted, but unfortunately feel out of place ("some of us complain and fuss about things like internet connections"). The cover of Chris Tomlin's ever-popular "Our God" is mostly synth-driven, but the song dynamically never really seems to ever get started and sticks out in a negative fashion. And much like The Power Of One, Love God. Love People. is a very long record for twelve tracks, mostly because of several songs that should have wrapped up quicker than they do ("Love Rev," "You Hold My World," "Surprises," "Name Of Love," "Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher)").
With a little musical experimentation and a constant theme strewn throughout the album's twelve tracks, Love God. Love People. is indeed a cut above most worship records, and it's more evidence of why Israel Houghton's talent and body of work are so revered by his contemporaries. But it's frustrating to still find noticeable holes in his work, whether it is cliché or cheesy lyrics or overly drawn-out compositions. Hopefully Houghton will eventually pinpoint an approach that works in multiple ways across the board, but for now, Love God. Love People. does a reasonable job of staying unique and staying worshipful, giving Him credit where it is due.- Review date: 8/29/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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