Saturday, April 02, 2011

Love Shine Through

I’ve read plenty of reviews of Tim Hughes’ latest album on the internet.  They are overwhelmingly positive.  But they are also wrong.  Some quotes:
‘the most complete album Tim has ever made’ – Louder than the music
‘the songs here are unremittingly strong’ – Cross Rhythms (10/10)
‘fills the gap left by Delirious’, ‘a wonderful offering’ – Amazon (curtrently on 5 stars, which on Amazon is an impressive feat)
‘more than just 11 fantastic worship songs, it’s an inspirational experience for worshippers everywhere’ – Eden

Now, I think Tim Hughes is great.  Consuming Fire is probably by second favourite worship song ever.  Maker of all things, You, Happy Day, Holding nothing back, Everything, Whole world in his hands…the list of great songs goes on.  And I do not think that Love Shine Through is an awful album.  Not at all.  But it is nowhere near as good as many internet reviews claim.  It’s ultimately a bit of a disappointment, given Tim’s previous releases.

My thoughts might (probably will) change in time, but for now, here they are.

Chris Juby summed this album up better than I ever could.  He said (paraphrased) ‘there are lots of moments that make me go “yes!”, but there is not complete song that make me go “yes!”’.  That is a great summary.  Each song has something cool about it, but there are a total of zero great songs on there.  The best song on paper is Jesus Saves, but the version on this album is hideous.  It is so thin and weak, and sounds like it was recorded in a rainforest.  Of the 4 minutes of the song, only 30 seconds actually works and sounds like Jesus Saves should sound.  It should sound big and exciting, but most of the song is small and whimpery.

So, what are the highlights?  For me, they are tracks 1, 5 and 12.
Track 1, Counting on Your Name, has an opening minute that sounds like Tim was trying to be Sigur Ros.  And it sounds quite good, but it is not the way to open a worship album!  After this uber mistake, there is a decent song about depending on God.  I don’t agree that the phrase ‘counting on your name’ sound like gambling on God and merely hopeful that he’ll be enough.  To me, that phrase means ‘depending on your name’.  This is a good song, but sadly I am completely aware that part of the reason I like it is that it sounds like Matt Redman!

Track 5, All Glory, is one of the more downbeat songs on the album.  Solid lyrics, and a beautifully catchy piano part.  In the second half, it builds (at last, as it starts to get boring), but makes too much use of a gospel choir.  Je ne suis pas un fan of this.  But cut this out, and it becomes a good song.  Well done Tim.

Track 12, At Your Name, is an interesting one, because it is also track 6.  Track 6 is a longer and much quieter version which doesn’t really work and goes on for too long.  Track 12 is much better, a genuinely good song.  The one weakness is that the line in the chorus ‘Yahweh Yahweh, we love to shout your name O Lord’, sounds a little clunky.  But generally, a good song.  It really should have been placed at 6, and the other version put at the end.
One other track to mention – track 2, God Is Coming.  A good example of what Tim does better than almost anyone else – building into and then releasing anthemic choruses.  This track sounds very like much of Holding Nothing Back, his previous album.  Unfortunately, the lyrics sound like an enthusiastic but ultimately inexperienced 14-year-old wrote them.  They don’t say anything, they don’t go anywhere, they’re just words.  Shame, because the musical side of the song is good.

I know this sounds like I’m slating the album as a whole.  It’s really not that bad, it’s just really not that good either.  It’s ok.  It has a few really good songs, several that are mediocre, and a few that are weak.  It’s not a bad alum, it’s just not as good as I’d hoped for based on Tim’s previous work, and the massacre of Jesus Saves is hard to forgive.

(Disclaimer: I’m writing this from a listener’s point of view, rather than a worship leaders point of view.  I imaging worship leaders may have other comments).

No comments: