In 1997 in Sherman, Texas two guys named Louie Giglio and Jeff Lewis had a vision. That vision was to see a spiritual awakening take over the next generation through prayer and worship. They named this vision, Passion. Since then, the people behind the Passion Conferences have put on not just a life changing experience but have also produced some of the greatest catalysts of worship music today. Artists such as David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, Steve Fee, and the list goes on. With the latest offering from the Passion events we see glimpses of the vision in Awakening.
The album simply opens with a piano and worship leader Chris Tomlin on the title track "Awakening." As Tomlin sings, "In our hearts Lord, in this nation, awakening. Holy Spirit, we desire awakening," he sets the stage for the theme of the album. The song's lyrics and music aren't complex, the melody is simple, but the heart of this song is a deep calling on the Lord to wake us up. While some modern worship bands feel it is necessary to start an album off with a "pump-up" song, the Passion group goes against the grain and aims right for the heart of worship. However, this intimacy transitions quickly into the first fast track, "Say, Say," which sings of being loud about the saving grace of Jesus. The only problem with this song is that it feels abrupt and almost disrupts the intimacy created by the opener. Nevertheless, "Our God" returns to the softer sounds of worship proclaiming the greatness of God, which is something Tomlin regularly does in his worship songs. To say the least, you can expect this one to become a regular on the Sunday morning set list at your local church.
"How He Loves" marks the return of David Crowder to this Passion event. While this song was already featured on Crowder's Church Music, it's great to hear the rawness that a live recording produces. "Healing Is In Your Hands" continues the softer depths of worship. While it is a very heartfelt song, it's not a track that is easy to listen to. Nockels belts it out with a load of passion when it could have better been done with gentle vocals. "King of Heaven (Isaiah 61)" brings us back to the upbeat mood. While not a track that compels a mosh pit of worshipers, it's a great anthem that calls us to see the king of Heaven for who He is (Also, it's great when a song is evidently pulled from scripture).
Unfortunately, that upbeat atmosphere plateaus with "You Alone Can Rescue." Let me state that the song is not bad, it's just out of place. With the tempo feeling slower than the previous song, it feels like a bumpy roller coaster of worship rather than a flowing river. "Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is" goes back to the faster side of worship as Tomlin and Nockels sing a beautiful duet about the liberty that the Lord gives. It's another simple song with lyrics we've probably all heard before, however the way it is delivered is strong and actually creates a good atmosphere for worship whether corporate or personal. However, "Rise and Sing" follows a, quite honestly, very awkward intro. As Steve Fee, a newcomer to the Passion group, yells in a moment of unbridled excitement it kind of caught me off guard. But the song turned into a very enjoyable track proclaiming that the Church is meant to rise and sing of the glory of God. "Like a Lion" premieres a new song from Crowder, and honestly it's unlike a lot of what we've come to associate with the boys out of Waco, Texas. To say the least, it's original and fresh as Crowder sings, "Let love explode and bring the dead to life…our God's not dead, He's surely alive. He's living on the inside roaring like a Lion!"
Tomlin returns to the list with "Chosen Generation" and the title pretty much says it all. It's a straightforward song about how God has chosen his church to live steadfast for Him. And something new to the Passion Conference was the involvement of Hillsong Church out of Sydney, Australia with a song from one of their latest annual offerings, "With Everything" which was actually a pleasant surprise as the arrangement had been changed quite drastically and was a great way to conclude the album.
Truth be told, the Passion group has produced some of the greatest worship songs in the past decade. With Awakening, sadly, the album lacks flow. It feels like some tracks are out of place and disruptive. While not bad songs, they don't transition well which is extremely important in creating an atmosphere of worship. That being said, Awakening might not be their strongest compilation but it still holds true to the heart of the vision; a spiritual awakening. And as the hearts of the church are opening more and more to it… it will definitely be happening.- Review date: 6/3/10, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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