For more than twenty years now, the Passion worship conference has introduced the Church to some of the most influential songwriters and songs in the modern worship canon. Such familiar names as Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Matt Redman got their starts with the ministry, and such now-standard Sunday morning songs as "How Great Is Our God," "Blessed Be Your Name" and "How He Loves" first found their way in the modern worship set list almost directly from the albums associated with these yearly worship gatherings. And while many may consider the yearly albums wildly hit or miss, there's no denying the heart, history and track record of Passion's gatherings.
Recorded on New Year's Eve, 2019, Roar (Live From Passion 2020) is a new twist on the familiar formula in that the organization invited several other well-known worship conglomerates to sing their familiar hits. With Hillsong United and Bethel Worship present (was Elevation Worship not available that night?), the album has a worship "variety show" feel, with the guest stars singing their most recent hits. Depending on your view of such things, the album either rises or falls on these guest spots. This "worship cinematic universe" gets the thumbs up from this reviewer, but only a hesitant one at best.
For "original content," the first two tracks are the best of what the album has to offer. Opening number "There's Nothing Our God Can't Do" rings out with an anthemic, chiming guitar and a compelling melody of hope. Passion veteran Kristian Stanfill delivers a fantastic lead-worshiper performance, and the song can stand in good company with some of the best that Passion has been involved with. Second number "All Praise" is just a tick below this, with a fine performance from Sean Currian and a neat lyrical take on Psalm 43:5's "why are you so downcast o my soul?" Hillsong United's "Good Grace" is a nice moment, while "Way Maker" and "Raise A Hallelujah" both deliver like the new "hit" worship songs they are.
With lots of current, notable songs and guest appearances, the actual live Passion concert event would have been an exciting and uplifting night of worship. And if taken along those lines, the album is a neat take-home souvenir for many who attended that night. And in uncertain times, songs have a unique, God-designed ability to lift the spirits. And seeing many familiar worship artists in one place playing their notable songs is a treat on many levels. But as a cohesive album, Roar (Live From Passion 2020) is only a so-so proposition.- Review date: 3/18/20, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: SixSteps / Sparrow Records / Capitol CMG
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