Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive H

THE HALL SISTERS : Here And The Other Side. (Skinny Chicken Records)
The Hall Sisters are Jessica, Lydia, Natalie, and Valerie. Raised in Garner, North Carolina, the sisters have been singing together from a very young age. This is my first taste of their music, and there are some lovely melodies on this album. Their sound is pop, and comparable with the likes of Selah and Wilson Phillips. The recent single “Magnificent Obsession” must have been an obvious choice for release. Great production and fantastic vocals. “From Now on with Carry On” has, almost, a dance feel about it, at times. I loved the addition of some fiddle sounds, which blended well with the other instruments. One of the best songs on the album is “Original” which celebrates the fact that God made just one of each person. The vocals are top quality once more, and a lovely guitar solo is also on show. We get to track 9 before we clearly hear the sound of a southern gospel banjo. It’s the perfect backdrop to an upbeat song called “Up.” What a feel-good song, and an infectious chorus. To close the album, the sisters, once more, show their instrumental talents, with a version of “Scarborough Fair.” The Hall sisters are certainly a talented bunch of young ladies, and I really enjoyed this release. 8/10. (May 2021)
HANNAH MARY : Desperately Seeking Something. (
'Writing songs is my absolute favourite thing to do’, says Essex based Hannah Mary. ‘The songs on the album are inspired by many things... experiences in my life, sermons I hear or passages in the Bible. I have loved recording the album, and look forward to sharing my music with others.’ This debut release, again, highlights the talent and gifts that God bestows on people from all walks of life. I’m not sure if Hannah Mary will be the next Lou Fellingham, but on the basis of this album, many should find her ministry invaluable. Through producer, Justin Johnson, Hannah Mary has come up with a very listenable album of light pop music. Vocally, I thought that she sounded like Lena Marlin at times, whilst also resembling Carolyn Arrends. ‘I Am The Lord’ is a very engaging song, while the title track, is a mid-tempo, pleasing number. ‘The Narrow Path’ tells of calling to God for help, and to be led back on the path of righteousness, while there are some great hooks in the radio friendly ‘Surrender to My Love’. People in this world look for protection in times of trouble. On ‘Who Else Could It Be’, Hannah Mary sings of the ever present God, who protects us, no matter what is thrown at us. Simon Brady provides some nice mandolin sounds on ‘My God Is Real’, and there’s more sweet vocals from Hannah Mary on ‘Higher Than The Heavens’. Definitely a name to watch out for in the future. 8/10. (February 2013)
THE HARBOUR LIGHTS : Closed for the Winter. (Soul Cafe Music : SCMCD003)
With most of the writing credits going to Phil Baggaley, it's the wonderfully warm tones of Bethan Court's vocals that brings each song to life. Touted as a cross between Clannad, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Rusby, I think that is a fair description of this folk/roots outfit. I can't say that any of the lyrics were out and out Christian, but I enjoyed most of what was on offer. 'Gunmetal Grey' starts things off, and I think it's one of the strongest cuts on the album. There again, 'Five Senses' would push it a close second. It's an album of easy listening music, and one that you could play at any time of the day, whether you just want to relax or, like me, must have some music on when working in and around the house. 'Watching It Slip Away' was quite repetitive and luke warm, but the cry for help on 'Mayday' is soothing and gentle. The folk roots of this release are probably best summed up in the closing 'Another Rainbow'. It's modern folk, and produced to the highest quality. An album that I think, will grow on you. 8/10 (July 2008)
Harrison Rimmer hails from Fleetwood, and is another one of the lively musicians currently plying their trade around the pubs of York, whilst studying at university. This three track single features two original songs, plus a cover of Nirvana’s ‘About A Girl’. The single’s title track is up first. It begins quite reserved, but explodes into life when reaching the chorus. I didn’t like the song at all when I first heard it, but it’s one of those that grows on you, the more you hear it. Musically, it’s rather raw, and lacks a telling bass line, rather like White Stripes. For the cover, Harrison tries to recreate the unplugged version of the Nirvana song, but doesn’t really pull it off. His vocals are out of tune quite often, and his acoustic guitar really takes a beating. ‘Small Worries’ was written about a friend who had just found out that he was going to be a father for the first time. This song shows that Harrison has real talent. It’s well written, well sung, and thoughtfully put together.For Harrison, the lesson to be learned would be to forget the screaming vocals and guitar bashing rhythms, and to concentrate on more songs like the ‘Small Worries’. There’s promise there. It just needs to be polished. 5/10. (October 2014)
HARRY CORNICK Jr : Alone With My Faith. (Capitol CMG)
Performing and tracking each of the album’s vocals and musical instruments by himself in his home studio, what started as a creative outlet and an intimate retreat from the dizzying uncertainty of the pandemic quickly evolved into a vulnerably healing collection of inspiring music. Across the project’s 13 tracks, Harry Connick Jr. journeys through the range of human emotions with music that is anchored in his faith and brimming with universal hope. And, that hope is never more evident than in the lyrics of the, rather disjointed, title track. “What gives me assurance, when I don’t know what to do? I don’t have the answers but I have always known. I’m eternally faithful, so I am never alone.” There’s a bluesy feel to “Because He Lives,” a song that improves as the tempo rises. There’s no doubting Harry’s pedigree, he’s won numerous Grammy & Emmy Awards, and sold over 28 million units worldwide. His voice is smooth, and he takes each song on this album, with ease. Old favourites like “Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross,” and “How Great Thou Art,” all get the Cornick treatment. The middle one of those three does suffer from a rather odd-sounding, organ, introduction. The jazz/blues style doesn’t always sit well with one or two of the songs, such as “Benevolent Man” and “God and My Gospel.” There’s some great boogie woogie piano playing on “Old Time Religion,” and it really sounds like Harry was having a great time recoding it. This is my first journey into Harry’s music and it a rather hard listen. With apologies to harry and the 28 million previous album buyers, it sounds like I’m the odd one out here. But, my honest opinion is that I won’t be replaying this album any time soon. 5/10. (April 2021)
HARRY SECOMBE : Timeless Classics - Songs of Praise. (Word/IC: INCLD001)
While America has the likes of George Beverly Shea recording classic hymns of praise, the UK has it's very own Harry Secombe. While never been a very big musical fan of his, I've always had time for this guy who's brought so much joy to countless millions over the years. This recording carries 20 well known tracks featuring the man himself as only he can sing. A surprising inclusion is Bernstein & Sondheim's "Somewhere" alongside the traditional "How Great Thou Art" and "Faith Can Move Mountains". Harry's vocals are at their best on stronger tracks such as "The Old Rugged Cross" and "When I Survey" but there's hardly a dip in quality throughout. I found myself sitting back with eyes closed, visualising him singing each song, with such vigour, truth, and personal faith. It may not be original but this release IS a timeless classic. 10/10. (April 1999, Album of the Month)
HAVALINA : Sapce Love & Bullfighting. (Tooth&Nail Records)
Well, I'm not quite sure where to start with this review. It's got to be one of the quirkiest things I've ever come across in my years of CCM. Havalina come from Long Beach, California and have stayed away from current pop fads to stay true to what they want to play. Their influences include The Pixies and Neil Young, and the result is early 60's British pop with latin rhythm overtones. Singer, Matt Wignall, has one of those voices that isn't always quite in tune, yet draws the listener into staying with each song until conclusion. The songs themselves are way out, and I had difficulty in relating any Christian message from any. "Bullfighter" may have had some reflection on the story of Jesus, but I couldn't be more than 50% certain. "Losing You" is a Spanish lullaby, while "If You Like" has some great organ sounds within. Fun, seems to be the order of the day with Havalina and that does come through in the songs like "Pluto" and "Rocket Ship". It's different, it's weird, it's definitely in a class of it's own, and I like it. 8/10. (September 2002)
HAWK NELSON : Smile, It's the End of the World. (Tooth & Nail : TND45613)
Another Canadian band is Hawk Nelson, all hailing from Ontario. With power/punk influences, this band have paid their dues by playing in all sorts of venues. The album is one which took me a few listens to appreciate and definitely improves with age. Saying that, I still think that the opening " The One Thing I Have Left" is pretty uninspiring. But, then comes "Bring 'Em Out". Unashamedly a Blink 182 clone of a song, very infectious, and 10 times better than anything that had gone before. "Everything You Ever Wanted" talks about trying to live upto Jesus' standards, and failing, while "Something on My Mind" gets the beat going again. This song has everything - great guitars, great chanting chorus, it's just a great song! Similarly, "Nothing Left to Show" has the same type of energy, and I can see some of these songs going down a storm live. Not so sure about the melancholy ending, but these guys are ready to excite. 8/10. (November 2006)
HAWK NELSON : Crazy Love.
CD 1 is the "Crazy Love" CD itself, which kicks off in punk style akin to Sum 41 or Fall Out Boy. It settles down a bit, giving more space for the songs to work in whilst not dropping the energy level too far. Even the picked guitar of "My Next Breath" has pace & energy. Whilst there are the thoughtful moments, the general tone of the CD is upbeat and joyful - almost in McFly territory at times. The mix is very good - the vocals sitting just far enough above the rest of the band to be clear without sounding like the band are unimportant. This all adds to the energy of the CD, making it great to listen to. "Thanks For All The Beautiful Memories" borrows the vocal line from the worship song "I Just Want To Praise You" which shows clearly where the heart of the band is, whilst not letting up the sheer joy of their performance (and I'd love to hear it done this way in church). CD 2 is (as the name implies) much lighter. "California" (the opener) is purely vocal and the harmonies are very Beach Boys (although, given the title that may be intentional). In general the songs are very similar to CD1, but played on acoustic guitar rather than electric (the drums & bass are the same but mixed lower) which really adds to the McFly comparisons. This isn't too surprising really, as they're acoustic versions of favourites from previous albums. It's a nice bonus, but not a patch on CD1. Best Track: "Fraud". 8/10 Paul Ganney. (September 2011)
HAWK NELSON : Made. (Fair Trade : 60519)
This is a CD of upbeat guitar led rock / pop songs, There are some good songs on this album, dealing with the turmoil and general angst of life as a believer that most of us will be familiar with. The lyrics are very honest, and explain well how the character in the songs are feeling, the tunes are quite catchy too, and there is no feeling of every track being the same. The band are a very tight outfit, and I should think that they would be worth checking out live, although I’m not sure that there would be much chance of them leaving America to play here. There are a couple of outstanding tracks, “Every Beat Of My Broken Heart” is a worship song about finding a closer walk with God. “Words” is an interesting track, about the way words can build up or knock down, and I reckon it’s the best song on the CD. This is a CD that is worth getting hold of. 10/10 Andy Sayner. (October 2013, Album of the Month)
HAWK NELSON : Miracles. (Fair Trade : B079HLWG3X)
This is pop rock of a very high quality, in a very modern style echoing One Direction, The Wanted, Bruno Mars and so forth with the slightly dancey keyboards behind a thumping bass drum and distorted electric guitars. Over it all is Jon Steingard’s voice, soaring and making you listen (see the “I am falling” line on “Parachute” for an example) and reminding me at times of Robbie Williams in his pomp. You can almost visualise the Big Weekend dance moves as it plays, with the crowd singing along to every word. I don’t recall being overly impressed with the last album (looking back it was actually the bonus CD I wasn’t impressed with), but this is very well performed and recorded. It’s equally in your face about the faith basis to their lives and music – “He Still Does (Miracles)” being a clear pointer. There’s some very good arrangements too, “Right Here With You” being an excellent example of how to build a song without resorting to key changes. The overall tone is uplifting, proclaiming God’s glory and grace in a way I don’t think I’ve heard for a while. It certainly gets its message across. Best track: He Still Does (Miracles) 8/10. Paul Ganney. (April 2018)
HAYDON SPENCELEY : Circles. (Knuci Records : KNUCI CD004)
Haydon Spenceley's brand of electronica and melancholic vocals remind me a lot of the Mutemath EP from a few years ago (no surprise as he states that Mutemath are an influence). There are even some Enigma elements too and on one track, "Heaven on Earth" the vocal line has hints of Duran Duran. All good comparisons in my book and all help to create an album that is markedly different from the usual CCM fayre. The former Freeslave frontman also keeps it lyrically fresh too. You have to listen hard to hear the Christian themes, but they are there and the effect is a cd that will build bridges and straddle boundaries. It's also a well crafted album in its own right and not a mere imitation of Haydon's influences. What I also like is the attention to detail - there are some real subtleties to the arrangements and production on this album which demonstrate that it has been put together with a caring and loving hand. All in all, an album that definitely lives up to its pre-release billing. 8/10 Robin Thompson. (December 2008)
HAYDON SPENCELEY : Heart Strings. (Knuci Records -due November 22nd 2010)
Haydon Spenceley first made his name in ccm as the wheelchair-bound lead singer in alt rock band Freeslave. Here we have his second solo offering, the follow-up to debut 'Circles' which was released back in 2008. As with 'Circles', the guitar-driven sound of Freeslave is replaced by a much more synth based sound - if electronic pop melody is your thing, Haydon is your man. I have really enjoyed listening to this album. It has evidently been 18 months in the making, and it shows. Haydon has a way with lyrics as well as melody and it is obvious that this release comes from a man with a heart for Jesus. Good though 'Circles' was, the professional sound and feel of this latest offering represent a noticeable advance. Things get off to a rousing start with 'Heart Strings' - a hook-laden tune that will quickly worm its way into your consciousness! Other standouts for me are the slower numbers 'Lost my heart', 'Heaven on earth' and the excellent 'Crying' - but there are no 'poor' tracks here. The only criticisms I have are minor and concern the vocals - the effects tend to emphasise a slightly nasal quality in Haydon's voice, highlighted on some of the tracks by the fact that, to my ears, they are mixed a little high. It is obvious however that this album stands out as something original amongst today's run-of-the-mill ccm, and deserves a wide audience. Check out Haydon's videos on You Tube for full plays of 'Lost my heart' and 'Heart Strings'. Excellent. 10/10. Dave Deeks (September 2010, Album of the Month)
Long time NFN contributor, Haydon Spenceley returns with his third solo album. He says; “For a long time I wasn't going to make another album, and then all these songs started pouring out. Then we convened a great bunch of people across the Atlantic Ocean over the best part of a year and made this, Mirrors, a collection of songs that says a lot about who and where I am as I enter a new season in life.” As well as his solo work, Haydon has also experimented as a band member, with groups like Freeslave and Ghost Tree. This 7 track mini album sees further musical progression, and certain influences making a play. “Come Undone” is a cross between U2 and Duran Duran, as one friend commented, and has a definite 80’s feel about it. ‘Friends for Life’ is more Manic Street Preachers, and well produced. “(We Are Born to) Rise”, is a medium paced plodder of a song, while ‘Beyond the End’ enters into the realms of 70’s progressive rock. My favourite song has to be the guitar driven sound of the title track. A little bit of punk, and a little Billy Idol snarl as Haydon sings “Listen as the Earth cries out”. ‘Interlude’ is an instrumental piece, which I sounds a little out of place with the other tracks, but on its own would be fine for personal meditation. Finally, ‘Gloria’ sees Pink Floyd meet the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. Lots of FX on the vocals and some visionary sounds, as the song lyrics “search for God”. Ably assisted by some great musicians, Haydon manages to musically keep you guessing where he’s going next. Some very interesting songs on this album that should satisfy many tastes. 8/10. (September 2014)
HAYLEY ADESINA : Where Would I Be Without You? (@Hayleys Worldwide Music Ministry)
Hayley is a gospel artist from UK who has passion and inspiration to share the gospel. She has previously released an EP with 5 songs, and says that she has 2 new releases coming soon. This song acclaims God, and asks if YOU know that there is no-one like Him. Musically, it begins with light percussion and simple piano chords. Hayley’s vocals are clear, but occasionally strays off-key. After quite a credible bridge, the track suffers from some awful, machine-gun drum beats, as she tries to build the song into a powerful close. Somehow, it doesn’t quite work. On a positive note, the basic song has plenty of merit. And, for he most part, Hayley’s vocals are good. Unfortunately, the production lets it down. Hopefully, the next release will see an improvement in this area. 5/10. (September 2020)
HAZEL PARKER STANLEY : Through the Good and the Bad. (
Hazel has a heart to worship and to see lives changed. She is dedicated to the cause of Christ! She began singing with her dad at the age of 7 or so. She fell in love with Gospel music, and has been inspired by singers and songwriters such as Andre Crouch, Candi Staton, Jimmy Swaggart, Quinton Mills, Dudley Smith, Crystal Lewis, and The Crabb Family. This single has been released and it’s quite an enjoyable little ditty. The lyrics are simple; “Through the good and the bad, I will follow You.” The tune plods along and I kpet hoping that the chorus would liven things up a bit. Sadly, it doesn’t. It’s all one pace and, for me, there’s a little something lacking. Saying that, I still found myself listening to it again later in the day, and the tune does buzz around your head. Visit Hazel’s website and listen for yourself. 7/10. (June 2017)
HEART OF WORSHIP Vol.6 : Worship in Spirit & Truth. (Authentic : 8203852)
Tracks on this double CD were recorded in the UK, USA, and New Zealand, with such singers as Simon Goodall and David Lyle Morris amongst others taking part. The sleeve notes say that "In recent years this collection of songs has set the worshipping church alight", so I was expecting great things. Sadly, the first Cd just didn't live up to those expectations. I wanted excitement. I wanted exuberant praise and worship, but there was none to be found. "Salvation is Here" offered brief hope but, mostly, the songs were very weak. "Nothing In This World" is a nice, pretty song, that was only spoilt by the intrusive use of a saxophone solo, which sounded terrible. Disc 2, however, really takes up the challenge, and things take a change for the better. "From All that Dwell" has a real expression of love within it, and "Sing of Your Love" leads worship with great effect. By the time you get to "Giver of Life" and "How Great Is Our God", you get a real feeling that those gathered have a real belief in what they are singing. Simply, the second CD knocks spots of the first. 6/10. (September 2006)
HEAVEN’S MOUNTAIN BAND : When His Blood Fell.   (
Heaven's Mountain Band was formed in February 1986, and their first appearance was at a local benefit singing. Prior to that, Roger and Deborah Johnson sang at church revivals and gospel meetings. Soon after, they recorded their first major release with The Eddie Crook Company in Nashville, Tennessee. Their first chart song was, "I Feel the Later Rain Coming Down." Heaven's Mountain Band's primary goal has always been that the lost would be saved and hurting hearts would be lifted up. The smiles and the tears observed when they sing is evidence that people are being blessed and affirms that they are doing what God has called them to do. Heaven's Mountain Band always wants to be anointed by God, and they count it a blessing that God has allowed them to be in His service. This new single is in typical bluegrass style, with tight harmonies leading the way. The title pretty much sums up the story of the song, but there’s some nice fiddle playing that links the verses together. The new album “Old Fashioned Worship” has also been released, and should prove a big hit with lovers of this genre.   7/10. (October 2016)
HEAT : Can I See Heaven (Survivor Emerge : SURCD049)
Survivor have started this series, 'Emerge', specifically to introduce new worship bands to a greater audience. Heat are kicking things off here in great style. Hailing from Manchester, they are also Christian workers in that city by day and maybe it's that experience which produces the depth to their music and lyrics. It seems to me that the barrier between 'performance' style CCM, and worship music is continually being broken down - and here is a case in point. Guitar based, but with some nifty keyboard background fills, the band is tight and the lyrics shine through. There were points when I thought a guitar solo would have enhanced matters, but that's just me. The title track, 'Arms of Love' and 'Arise and Shine' are worth a special mention, but the acoustic track, 'To Love You More' I found really beautiful and uplifting. All of the songs are written and sung by guitarist James Gregory, a man of real talent - note the name, you'll be hearing more of it. It's a shame his otherwise excellent singing voice sounds like Martin Smith/Matt Redman. It seems to be a trend - if you sing this kind of worship material, you have to sound the same. But that's only me being niggly. At £6.99 for 7 tracks, this album represents excellent value. Go on, turn up the Heat! 8/10. Julie Lord. (January 2001)
HEATH McNEASE : Fort Wayne (Songs Inspired By The Film)   (
“Fort Wayne” is a film produced by Heath McNease himself (and is available on YouTube) in which he plays a down-and-out singer/songwriter stuck in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The bonus tracks (which for some reason came first on my copy) are very atmospheric voice and acoustic guitar stuff (plus a small amount of backing) and are very pleasant listening. Heath has a very good, clear, voice that sweeps and soars through the lyrics. The music inspired by the film has a more cinematic feel to it and if anything buries his voice within it. The guitar figure on “Eastbound 94” with mildly bored “Hallelujah”s over it demonstrates this feel well. The pace is easygoing/lazy and evokes images of hot days when nothing much wants to move and what does would rather leave, in a wistful sort of way. Overall it felt a lot like “Nigel Lived” by Murray Head, both in tone and some of the delivery, although “Starry Eyes” was more in the Robert Plant midwest drawl camp. “Codes” stood out from the film-inspired tracks, with its jaunty piano line and very emotive “I’ll Hold My Breath For You” lyric. Overall it was all OK, although the bonus tracks were generally the better ones, showing what Heath McNease is capable of. Best track: “Codes”.   5/10.   Paul Ganney (July 2015)
HEATH McNEASE : Among Thieves. (
Hot on the heels of “Fort Wayne” comes this acoustic project, written over a month (and only 6 weeks after the release of “Fort Wayne”) demonstrating the hot streak of creativity Heath was in at the back end of 2014. It’s released as either free of charge or paid-for: as far as I could tell they’re exactly the same album, so it all depends on how much you want to support his work I guess. The music is acoustic-guitar driven with Heath’s voice very much to the fore. There’s not a band behind “Among Thieves” as such but the additional rhythm that occasionally appears sits very much to the back and underpins well on these tracks. This means you don’t miss the clever fingerwork on songs such as the title track. The whole album is quite reflective (and quite introspective and regretful) in style and the vocal is quite laid-back befitting such. The guitar work is a mix between C&W and some of Ed Sheeran’s acoustic material and very good indeed. I felt the album kind of washed over me in a pleasant enough way but didn’t really have enough “reach out and grab you” moments aside from the title track (the best by a mile), probably the Beatles references in “Along Came Molly” and some vocal tricks such as in “The 24th”. Great for a melancholic evening, but not really going to get the party started. Best track: “Among Thieves”.6/10. Paul Ganney. (August 2015)
HEATHERLYN : Being Breathed. (Heatherlyn Music)
Colorado singer-songwriter Heatherlyn’s long awaited EP will be released on Tuesday July 9th. Inspired by the irresistible way music can connect and carry us, Heatherlyn has built an international community around songs, poetry and gatherings designed to pull listeners deeper into their own stories and the stories of others. There’s an ethereal sound to the opening “Be Here Now.” Many years ago, a husband and wife duo called “Troy & Genie Nielson” recorded an excellent album of similar music, and this song is just as good. “You’re the Song” is a light pop number. The radio friendly “Ever” is my pick of the bunch. Of the song, Heatherlyn says; “My favourite part is this section that says: "May we choose courageously. May we hope defiantly. May we love outrageously. And walk on lightly in humility." because it's the part that emphasizes these beautiful gifts are ours for the sharing!” Heatherlyn’s vocals are excellent throughout but it’s this last song were I think she really shines. I was just sad that there were only three songs. 8/10. (July 2019)
HEATHERLYN : Songs of the Season. (
Following the last summer release from Heatherlyn (Being Breathed), she returns with this intimate 3-track Christmastide tribute. It’s a deeply honest and personal solo acoustic EP , which is quite refreshing and in such a contrast to the many over festive releases. On “Winter Cardinal” she tells of the “most difficult years, living the starving artist story.” Hardly able to pay bills, or afford gifts, she even questioned her calling to make music and sing. But, Winter Red Cardinal birds kept appearing to her and reminded her of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:26. The song is quite sad, but has a wonderful message of hope. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day2 was originally written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863. Written about the American Civil War, the words are quite poignant, and Heatherlyn’s vocal interpretation is splendid. Indeed, after hearing her summer release, I instantly recognised the same high quality in her voice throughout the three songs. The final track is called “Warmth of Your Eyes.” She says that it’s been a comfort to “many folks who are missing someone they love, especially during this season.” It has to be my favourite of the three songs. Musically, I think it flows well and emanates that “warmth” that is mentioned in the title. It’s a short and sweet recording, but well worth a listen. 8/10. (December 2019)
HEATHERLYN ft Nine Beats Collective : Dance of the Deep. (Plankton Records)
“Losing, loving, lamenting and longing are all around us right now”, says Denver-based artist Heatherlyn. “We’re all in the dance of the deep, and no matter how fragile things seem, the waves of grace and the pull of the tides call us to love more when the waves are highest.” Returning with this new EP from the NINE BEATS Collective stable, Heatherlyn’s ‘Dance of the Deep’ EP is a haunting collection of songs to provide soul medicine for these heavy times. The first song is called “When Dies the Day.” It’s one of those songs that the first time you hear it, you gasp with amazement as to how beautiful it is. It’s a lament with a Celtic flavour, and was instantly replayed by this reviewer. “River” lends a passing nod to southern gospel in style. “River” in this case is the ‘river of life,’ and the invite to all is to walk into that river, the giver of life. The next song, ‘Paper Boat,’ reminded me of Judi Tzuke. Heatherlyn’s vocals are pure and simple, backed predominantly by a piano. I’ve got to admit that songs were the music is stripped back are such a refreshing change. This 4 track EP ends with the ethereal “Grace, O Grace,” and asks why grace is so hard to find, these days? Co-songwriter Steve Bassett says; “Heatherlyn is a rare artist who can make the listener feel like the song is sung purely and only to them, so that it reaches deep into the heart. So, our collaborations here are about creating small moments of beauty and hope, to speak stillness and love amidst the chaos.” I think that I can safely say that sums up these songs perfectly. 8/10. (October 2020)
HEATHER CLARK : Overcome.   (Elevation : ELE1815D)
Heather is another artist from the Jesus Culture movement, and lives in Kamloops. She travels internationally singing, leading worship and speaking, calling people into a greater place of wholeness, healing and freedom in their lives and in their relationship with God. This live album was recorded at the Bethel Church in California, with a host of fine musicians behind her. ‘Come In’ starts things off. It only has a few lyrics but this rocky song makes worship a must. The problem with live worship recordings is that it sometimes fails to capture the true feeling of God’s spirit, as felt by those at the event itself. At just under 9 minutes, the title track falls into that category. For me, it just seemed to go on and on. Similarly, ‘Undivided Focus’ (again, over 8 minutes long) sounded the same. The shorter songs seemed to grab my attention, and ‘Shadow of Your Wings’ really picked up the action. It’s a great rock song, with a fine reprise at the end. It’s just a pity that songs that follow don’t live up to that one. Most suffer from a dull, live recording sound, and the lack of any audible audience appreciation only drags the songs down further. On the plus side, Heather does have a really good voice, and I hope to hear a better recording in the future.   5/10. (September 2012)
HEAVEN’S MOUNTAIN BAND : For A Moment of Grace. (Heaven’s Mountain Band)
Heaven's Mountain Band was formed in February 1986. Having sung at church revivals and gospel meetings, Roger and Deborah Johnson were asked to sing at a local benefit singing, they left that night with requests to sing at other places. Heaven’s Mountain was born. Over the last few years, Heaven’s Mountain Band has established themselves as one of Bluegrass Gospel’s top groups. This album left me with a feeling that the band members aren’t happy with both, today’s churches, and the way they worship. Indeed, a lot of the lyrics hanker for the days of old. On “Something’s Missing,” the band state that something is missing, and God is left out of modern worship. The tune itelf is quite mournful, and I guess that’s because Heaven’s Mountain Band are grieving! The banjo features greatly throughout the album, and begins on the opening title track. There’s a very distinctive lead, male, vocal who sings about being saved by Jesus. “Covered in Grace” is sung, purely, with just vocals and, again, they didn’t sound too happy about it. Things do brighten with some nice fiddles joining the banjo for “That’s Just the Way I Was Raised.” The band are soon longing for times gone by, once again, on the foot tapping song, “The Old Church Bell.” The lyrics tell that in days gone by, there were “Prayer warriors, praying for the lost. Praying ‘till their souls were saved from hell.” Now, all we do is shake hands with sinners. To be honest, listening to all this negativity was really getting me down. But, then, I wondered – do they have a point? Are we watering down our religion? Is God really at the centre of our worship? In that respect, the lyrics did make me think. As for the style of the songs, I wasn’t too impressed. 4/10 (October 2019)
HEAVEN'S SAKE KIDS : Bible Songs. (Pamplin : PMCS9732)
HEAVEN'S SAKE KIDS : Father, Son & Holy Spirit Songs. (Pamplin : MMCS9809)
When someone sends you kids tapes to review, you have to forget about your aversion to them and hear through the ears of a child. Aimed, I presume, at the 4-9 year age group, these tapes present a collection of easy to learn songs for use in the home, the car, or at Sunday School. The lyrics are, on the whole, very repetative but catchy enough to appeal to youngsters. The music is quite robotic but, again, I'm sure that kids won't mind. New songs like 'Three in One' are quite good in their own way , but a disco version of the traditional 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus' plummeted this listener to the depths of despair. How can I describe the sounds overall? Well, tune into Sesame Street and you'll get a good idea. Both tapes have split track facility which means that you take out the vocals for your own performances or just lower them down for a guide. For Sunday schools...... 7/10. (January 1999)
HEBRON : For Such A Time As This.   (Manna Music : Mannacd044)
Hebron comes from a Hebrew root meaning friendship, companionship, unity and fellowship. The singing trio called Hebron, consist of Simon Elman, Chrissy Rodgers and 60’s recording star, Helen Shapiro. The group Messianic believers have put together this 16 track acoustic album that is, in general, a folk music collection. Taken from Isiah 60, “Arise, Shine” is a lively song with lovely harmonies and a ukulele accompaniment. “Adon Olam” has that unmistakable Jewish sound, while Shapiro’s vocals really stand out on the gentle rendition of “Psalm 23”. The whole album has a calming effect, with only the foot tappin’ “Little Bit of Heaven” and the bluesy “If That Don’t Make You Wanna Go” getting just a little energetic. In between, the threesome provide the listener with Bible truths and verses, put to simple musical backing. Other highlights include “They Overcame” and the prayerful “Song From Isiah 53”. You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the songs here, and the unassuming production makes a welcome change.   8/10. (October 2015)
HEBRON ROAD : In a Moment. (Stow Town Records)
This is the highly anticipated debut from this Dallas-based modern Inspirational trio, comprising of Rick Briscoe, Alan Monk and Jarrod Monk. The opening ‘Every Other Throne’ is a big production number, and contains excellent vocals in the style of the Gaither vocal Group. The following ‘You Say’ is a slower number featuring some solo lead vocals, as well as the three guys together. The formula works well throughout the album, with powerful songs like the title track, and the bluesy ‘All My Hope.’ Celebrating being “washed in the blood,” the latter is a celebration of being loved by Jesus. ‘Strong Love’ is a catchy number that is a highly enjoyable, while the closing ‘He Walks With Me’ gets that same feel of the first track. The instrumentation is super throughout, and I can’t fault the vocals at all. Like a number of albums over the last year or so, there’s only 7 tracks on the recording. It just leaves me feeling like there should have been more. However, Hebron Road show that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this release. 8/10. (May 2022)
Taking their name from a line of a C.S. Lewis poem, The Hedgerow Folk were formed in Auburn, AL in 2012. Jon Myles and Amanda Hammett began leading worship together in their local church, and were joined later by Bryant Hains. The style is a cross between folk and 60’s Buffalo Springfield, and is a pleasant mix. The opening “God Who Sees Me” is a nice song, but the following “Never A Day” is so much better. Banjo picking moves the song along, but vocally the voices are on top form. The song is about Jesus dying on the cross and what that act did for us all. It’s quite moving. “Reflection” has a distinctive feel about it, which is carried on by the following “Delight.” The latter is praise to God; “You take my weary heart, and offer me your own.” That line really stood out for me. The music throughout is predominantly acoustic, and the closing “Hard Road” benefits from this, pure, sound. Even when the song begins to motor, each word of the song can still be heard. If you like your music to be quite intimate, then you’ll enjoy sitting back and giving The Hedgerow Folk a listen. 7/10. (October 2020)
HELEN JAYNE McKELLAR : It's Not Too Late. (
It's more than 7 years since I last reviewed any music from this young lady, and over a decade since I saw her live, promoting her "Safe" album. At that time, she was tipped by many for big things. Sadly, a long illness knocked the wind out of her sails and those big things have never really happened. But, like the title of this 6 track CD, it's never too late. I often thought that Helen's vocal's reminded me of Cherry Keaggy, but her delivery is very much like Amy Grant. In fact, I couldn't stop thinking how alike Helen and Amy sound in this area. 'He Will Cover you' starts the ball rolling about God's protection, and it really rocks. The title track has a big production behind it, and Helen's vocals carry the song to a very high standard. Indeed, that quality gets even better on her song for the lost, called 'Hard Cruel Day'. There's a real feeling of compassion that comes across, and I was hooked by this one. The final song is 'Do They Know?' - a question to those about knowing God beside you through all things. I'm sure that this is a terrifically personal song for Helen, and she handles it well. How I would have loved a full album of songs. If this lady enjoyed better health and lived in America, I have no doubt that she would be enjoying bigger success. There again, that would be a big loss for the UK Christian public. 9/10 (June 2009)
HELEN JAYNE McKELLAR : The Last Minute. (
I had to check my diary when I received this EP, as I couldn’t believe that it was 1994 when I first saw this Welsh songstress in concert. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and, for Helen, health struggles. However, the songs for this release began almost a year ago, when her writing began to flow. Some of the 6 tracks are co-written with Judi Tzuke, who lends herself to various backing vocals. She also takes the lead on one of the verses to Helen’s new rendition of her song “Ladies Night.” The track itself brings new life to what was, always, a classic song. By Helen’s own admission, the songs here are secular in content, and most seem to refer to broken or difficult relationships. The title track starts off with bright keyboard sounds, and shuffles along nicely, with a catchy rhythm. “Twisted” comes across as a lively, modern country number, with the lyrics sung from a hurt person’s point of view. Helen’s voice hasn’t suffered over the years, and it still has a lovely quality about it. On “You’ve Come Home” there’s just her vocals and a piano backing. An unassuming soundscape, but a terrific song. “Let Me Let You Go” is a poignant “break-up” song, while the closing “Always By Your Side” benefits from some smooth, bluesy, keyboards. The latter number took me back to 1994 and that concert, leaving me with a smile. It’s good to hear Helen back to her best, and I hope that her writing continues to flourish. 9/10. (May 2018)
HELEN ROWE : Light Shot Through. (CD £12.99 from: the community, 70 Catton Grove Road, Norwich, UK, NR3 3NT)
You could never claim that this album was just another CCM release, as it marries a fusion of so many influences and styles. There's jazz, rock, folk…they're all there, and it's an interesting experiment by Helen Rowe, a newcomer to the Christian scene. Instrumentally, too, there's a whole range of electric, wind, and stringed instruments, as well as the percussion sounds. The album is supposed to tell of Helen's journey from darkness (before knowing Christ) to having a full loving relationship with Him. Therefore, there are, musically, some very dark moments, such as "Dungeons", "Lift the Shroud" and the all consuming "Not Ready". Her voice doesn't quite work with the rockier numbers but, in parts, her style is that of an early Heart, or even Pentangle. "Two-minded" finds her in reflective mood, looking at the past, present and future, while "The Reason" even adds a touch of Jethro Tull - whistles and all. Despite the description of her journey, it's not an album that I'd like to listen to if I was feeling down. I found more despair lurking within the music and only brief shafts of Jesus' light shining here and there. Not your run of the mill album, as I said, but well worth investigating if you're looking for something "out of the ordinary". 6/10. (March 2004)
This is Helen’s fourth studio album, but it’s the first that has arrived at NFN Towers. Last year, she won the NCM Contemporary Artiste 2011 award and was recently one of the finalists in the UK Songwriting contest 2011. Her latest single "Do You Seek An Answer" was number one in the NCM UK and Europe charts, and is the strongest cut on offer. I love playing it loud and letting God’s love pour out over me. ‘Bullet’ is all about Jesus dying for us and is well written. Vocally, Helen reminds me of another UK artist, Rachel MacDonald, and that’s no bad thing. ‘Never Too Late’ has a dance beat that somewhat intrudes on her vocals at times, and I thought that the song suffered for it. However, ‘Sign’ and ‘Get It Together’ both shine, while the closing ‘Surrounded By Love’ took me back to Janis Ian songs of the 80’s. Only 6 tracks on offer here, but a good taster of things to come. 7/10 (January 2012)
HELEN SHAPIRO : Enter into His Gates. (ICC : ICCD21830).
Yes, this is the same lady who, more than 30 years ago, was 'Walking Back to Happiness' in the pop charts. Brought up in the Jewish faith, this is Helen's 4th album that expresses her beliefs. To be honest, the traditional Jewish feel of most tracks can be quite trying to the average listener. The title track is rather good, complete with it's 'Hava Nagila' type chorus but, on two out of three CD players, my copy curiously stopped and had to be started again on track 2. Backing vocals are provided by the talents of Paul Field and David & Carrie Grant while Terl Bryant and Mike Haughton produce a lot of the music. Most of the songs have been gleaned from Messianic Jewish songwriters but the strongest track is the beautiful version of the Wesley classic 'And Can It Be'. 'Enter Into His Gates' is a solid album without been anything special, but many may find it does have warm moments of intimate worship. 5/10. (January 1998)
HELEN SHAPIRO : The Gospel Collection. (ICC : ICCD6543)
Despite it being around 40 years ago, Helen Shapiro is still regarded by many of the girl who sang "Walking Back To Happiness". For the uninitiated, Helen has since had a career in tv and on stage, as well as touring regularly with her gospel evenings. This singly priced double CD takes 35 of her best songs to date and captures them on one collection. As soon as the music begins, it's her unmistakable vice that powers through on "The Pearl" and "I Go to the Rock". The praise medley halfway through the first cd is quite nice, but the closing duet with Cliff Richard proves to be the highlight. For the second disc, "Oh Lord, Our Lord" is full of greatness, while the gentler "Oh Deep, Deep Love of Yeshua" is caressed with light piano and a hint of strings. I can't say that many of the songs moved me, but Helen's Mesianic praise has brought great joy to countless thousands over the years. As a taster to her music, you could ask for nothing better. 6/10. (September 2002)
HELEN SHAPIRO : What Wondrous Love Is This?. (Manna Music : Mannacd043)
There can be few 14 year old singers who, some 50 years later, are still as popular. From her days of number one singles such as 'You Don't know' and 'Walking Back to Happiness', Helen Shapiro is one of our most enduring stars. She recorded her first gospel album back in 1990 and her outreach evenings have been presented all over the UK, as well as South Africa and Russia. This latest release sees her mix jazz, gospel and pop and opens with the only self-penned number, 'Bless the Lord O My Soul'. Based on Psalm 103, I found this to be one of the weaker songs on the album, as Helen seems to stumble into fitting the lyrics to the tune. 'Lovely Jesus' is a soft sound is a simple song of prayer, finishing with the chorus of 'I Love you Lord'. Her Jewish background comes to the fore on 'Hinei Ma Tov' and 'Blessed are the People', while 'I Was glad' is a pretty little number. Helen's voice is as strong as ever, and it's instantly recognizable, even on the southern gospel track called 'What Manner of Man is This?'. This lady shows no sign of easing up in her musical world and why should she? This album should keep lover's of her music more than happy. 8/10 (March 2010)
HELEN TURNER : Permission. (CD £11.50 inc p&p from: Helen Turner, c/o Tollbooth Music, 8 Clarenden road, Reading, Berks, England, RG6 1PH).
I must declare from them outset my allegiance to Helen's musical cause, and a certain amount of bias. We have been friends for 8 years, and have collaborated together on various musical projects, although I had nothing to do with this album - so some element of objectivity does still remain! Helen was previously the singer for York based quartet The Rumours Are True, an Iona tinged band that favoured high drama and excellent musicianship. However, as good as Rumours were, "Permission" is a huge step forward, due primarily to the fact that the songwriting is warm, distinguished and frequently beyond what many bands ever achieve. Anybody who enjoys singer-songwriters, or generally honest and sincere music, will find something to enjoy here. Helen puts her heart utterly into her music, and songs such as "Grass Is Greener", "Lye-di-Dy" and "Helium" showcase not only her ability as a writer, but also some stunning vocal, where she manages to come close to the intimate grandeur of Sarah MacLachlan. Best of all is "Raynbird Street", a very moving and poignant song that's enough to soothe a raging Oasis fan at 100 yards. "Permission" heralds the arrival of a tremendous talent. Recommended. 9/10. Miles Cain. (June 2000)
HELEN YOUSAF : Custodians of Fire. (Elim Sound)
It’s been seven years since Helen’s last studio album. Her brand new album ‘Custodians Of Fire’ is a compilation of some of the prophetic songs Helen has been singing out over the past two years. Ian Yates and the Elim Sound team partnered with Helen to gel these fragments of prophetic ministry into songs that would encourage the body of Christ and speak a word in season to the atmospheres we find ourselves living in for His glory! I found the album quite difficult to review because, on the whole, these aren’t songs that you can singalong to. Kristene Mueller came to mind, when comparing Helen’s vocals sound but, maybe, the album is in similar style to Angie Lendon’s “Be Still.” The opening “High Horse” tells how we should choose to love the way that Jesus loves, even if that means loving our enemies. With little more than piano backing, Helen weaves her lyrics to powerfully get the message across. The title track explains that we are all “Custodians of [God’s] Fire” and that we are living to carry on His glory in this world. “I Come Alive” moves into mid-tempo territory, while the epic “I Pitch My Tent” sees the singer almost crying in worship. At the end of the album, both “Generous Father” and “Hope Remains” turn out to be “normal” songs. The former has a catchy tune, while the latter is quite sweet in delivery. Helen’s powerful voice speaks to those in pain, or feeling a lack of purpose. These songs of honesty, hope and heartfelt passion will draw the listener in, encouraging, uplifting and inspiring in their personal journey knowing they are carrying God’s glory into every area of their lives. 7/10. (May 2017)
HELLEN : Amazing God.   (
Singer/songwriter Hellen says; ““I wrote Amazing God in 2021. I had just returned home after recording my debut Single, Bread of Life. Amazing God is my song of repentance for doubting the gift that God has given me, and His call over my life. I am praising God for His Amazing Grace and Mercy, even though I don’t deserve it.” A gentle introduction sees Hellen praise God with the words “What Amazing God to me; I surrender to your will.” Backing singers carry on the melody, while Hellen leads over the top. She’s obviously got a decent voice, and the song has a certain quality that stands up well. My only concern was what sometimes happens with gospel praise; that is, the main lyrics seem to be repeated far too many times. I’m guessing that this is meant to sound more like a spontaneous outpouring of love for God. Unfortunately, to my ears, it sounds more like the writer ran out of ideas. That said, there’s enough here in this track for me to say that Hellen will be worth watching out for in the future.   6/10. (March 2022)
HENRY DICKSON : Your Love is Greater. (Diadem Multimeadia)
This is the debut single from singer, songwriter, producer, music director, instrumentalist and recording artiste, Henry Dickson. Nigeria’s fastest-growing record label, Diadem Multimedia (DMi) has also made an official music video available, as well. “Your Love Is Greater” is a mid-tempo Christian contemporary gospel song that bounces along and speaks volumes in a manner conforming with God’s nature of love. According to him: “The song anchors on 1 John 4:9-10. “I was thinking of all the unseen battles God fights without our knowledge then the words started the flow in my spirit as I worshiped at home on my piano.” Henry’s got quite a decent vocal quality, and the backing singers do an admirable job in support. Musically, there’s excellence there, too. As you might imagine, the song title does get repeated rather a lot, but I still found this an enjoyable introduction to Henry’s music. 7/10. (October 2020)
HERE BE LIONS : Peace Over You. (Integrity Music)
This single is from the upcoming project ‘Still God, Still Good’ set to drop April 9th. Singer, James Galbraith says; We all face chaos and things we cannot understand in the world, but this song reminds us of the importance of speaking the peace of God – his goodness and life – into situations. “God wants us to be activated with the power of his kingdom on earth.” Beginning with just an acoustic guitar, the vocals stand out clearly. James sings of peace and life coming into the room and washing over you. There’s a slight nod to a Celtic sound, here and there. The result is a lovely song! 8/10. (April 2021)
HERE BE LIONS : Still God, Still Good – Live from Hope UC, Nashville (Integrity Music)
Here Be Lions is a Nashville based ministry collective founded by pastor and worship leader Dustin Smith which focuses on discipleship, music, and community. The collective takes its name from the old mapping tradition in which explorers marked unknown, dangerous territory with a symbol and the phrase “Here Be Lions.” Originally meant as a warning it’s now more of a calling to advance God’s kingdom through their ministries. Their first album “Only a Holy God (Live)” debuted in 2018, since followed by a single and an EP titled “I Speak Jesus”, done in collaboration with Darlene Zscesch. “Still God, Still Good” is their freshest release and another live album recorded at their Nashville church which Darlene attends, although she doesn’t feature on the album. The first thing which jumped out at me from the album wasn’t necessarily the music but the nature of the lyrics, which throughout the songs had a theme of the mightiness of God and His ability to overcome all things; His victory, which is a great theme to have! ‘Let it Out’ kicks things off and is a good choice of opener as it is certainly not lacking in musical energy. Although the lyrics of declaration were very passionate, the song wasn’t anything new or exciting and to me. And, sounded a little like stuff I may have heard 20 years ago. Similarly, ‘Praise Leads the Way’ sounded similarly dated in style with a dash of Hammond Organ in the background reinforcing that feeling. The third track is a ‘spontaneous’ build-up prelude to the title track ‘Still God, Still Good’, but I’m afraid that for me, the spontaneity felt a little overworked and not all that authentic. The title track itself is styled in a similar way to many of the songs on the album; a slower guitar/keys intro followed by drums, remaining instruments and vocalists joining in a while later to build the track into a louder middle with a faded ending. It was OK but that’s as far as it went. ’Heaven’s All Around’ is a monster of a track lasting just over 7 ½ minutes but with the oft repeated lyrical phrases, I found myself looking forward to the end! Probably a track that worked for the assembled congregation at the end but doesn’t necessarily translate all that well into a live release for a wider audience…something I find with a lot of recordings of this nature. ‘Crave’ was a slower track throughout but was a significant improvement with passionately sung lyrics which sounded heartfelt and reminiscent of maybe some past Vineyard material. The classic Matt Redman ‘Better is One Day’ followed on, or rather a reprise of it which didn’t do the original justice. It seemed to go round in circles repeating lyrics and adding in ‘spontaneity’ which all left me wondering when the end was coming. There were unfortunately no tracks on here which particularly stood out and for me, too many sounded too similar and were quite formulaic and repetitive which was a distraction from some good lyrical content. There is certainly a team of skilled musicians and worship leaders who play and sing with gusto, but I’m afraid it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 5/10 Simon Redfern (May 2021)
Here I Am To Worship - Hymns. (Kingsway : KMCD2629)
The front of the CD insert on this 2 CD set proudly announces 'Now is the time when the true worshippers will worship' and '32 new live recordings' - so it would only be fair to have high hopes! In the event, it turns out to be a more than reasonable set of well recorded tracks. All vocals are good - some very good indeed, including 'How deep the Father's love for us' which is an excellent tune delivered with a simple but effective arrangement. Other arrangements of note include 'In Christ Alone' and 'O God of Burning Cleansing Flame', which includes some brilliant drumming. Another high point is 'Praise my soul the King of Heaven'. There are less successful attempts to update well known tunes however, by introducing riffs that don't match well with the melody. 'Thine be the glory' unfortunately suffers in this way, as do 'Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty' and 'Joyful joyful we adore Thee', both of which are forced into the sort of pre-programmed drum and bass sequences that come built into home keyboards! A personal dislike of mine is recordings where the praise leader announces the first lines, so another down point for me was 'Joy has dawned' where he does just that. Overall however, much to enjoy and worth 7/10 Dave Deeks (August 2005)
HERITAGE : Hymns of Our Faith.   (
This album is the result of a shared vision between a singer and a musician. Sebastian Demrey & Jimmy Lahaie want to share their own musical heritage by revisiting the most beautiful hymns of the past centuries. Wishing to keep a more organic sound, the duo uses acoustic guitars, mandolin, acoustic piano, string section, percussions and an upright bass. The project also features fellow Canadian artist Genevieve Falleur and a renowned Montreal cellist, Carla Antoun who notably recorded albums by Celine Dion. The result is a very pleasing and endearing collection of hymns. ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ is almost reminiscent, in style, to Simon & Garfunkle, especially when the duo harmonise. There’s a jazz feel to ‘What A Friend We Have in Jesus’, while ‘Blessed Assurance’ suits its new, catchy pop tune. The total lack of any electric instrument, means that the sound is clear and pure throughout. The vocals, too, are very impressive. There’s a very pretty rendition of ‘I Surrender All’, and some fabulous mandolin on ‘It Is Well With My Soul’. The stand out track for me, has to be ‘Nothing But The Blood’, complete with its use of strings. There are 14 tracks on the album and the only sad thing is that I missed out on their recent, UK tour. I don’t think I’ve ever described and album like this before. Overall, charming. Quite charming.   9/10. (June 2015)
HEZEKIAH WALKER & THE LOVE FELLOWSHIP CHOIR : Family Affair II - Live at Radio City Music Hall. (Zorba Recording Group).
A live worship album with a difference! Instead of the usual fare of Redman, Smith and Kendrick songs served up in an acoustic rock style, here we have a full gospel band and choir - and a very impressive one at that. I have a well developed softspot for this kind of music, the light jazz/blues style and close harmony singing has an indefinable quality that is extremely uplifting, and the LFC do it very well indeed. There is a good mixture of uptempo and more laidback songs, with "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow" and "What A Mighty God We Serve", respectively, standing out. Towards the end some modern style dance music creeps in and, amazingly, it works really well. My only criticism (common with live worship albums) would be that 7 to 10 minute songs with a myriad of repeats might work live but don't translate well to CD. That apart, if you like gospel you should definitely check this out. 8/10 David Cooper (November 2002)
HEZEKIAH WALKER & THE LOVE FELLOWSHIP CHOIR : Nothing But the Hits. (Verity : JADV-53744-2)
With a title of "Nothing But the Hits", you might quite rightfully expect a few familiar ditties in there, but oh no! I didn't recognise a single one! Does this make me a bad Christian? I have to admit I had many pre-conceptions of what to expect from this CD, but I was trying my best not to be judgemental before a fair hearing. In this case though, it gives you what you expect, an album of very stereotypical American black Gospel tracks. A little over produced with lots of cheesy warbling "Hammond organ" sounds, plenty of clapping and group vocal harmonies...not my cup of tea I'm afraid to say. There were some very funky bass-lines which were catchy & I thought these may have been the redeeming features I was looking for, but alas, the accompanying rhythms & vocals didn't inspire me to listen to the remainder of the respective tracks! Neither did any of the lyrics grab my attention. This may appeal to a small market in the UK, but I would think that this album is likely to do more in its home US market. You would have to have a serious heavy duty liking for Gospel music to invest your hard-earned cash in this one, but it would have me running for the hills rather than to my nearest church or musical emporium! I am certain the musicians & vocalists are highly accomplished, but Mr Walker & his choir don't float my boat in the musical sense. Worth 3/10 for the bass-lines. Simon Redfern (April 2004)
HEZEKIAH WALKER : Asuza The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration : 88691-96120-2)
It’s hard to believe that gospel music gave us so many of our current popular music genres. Back in the day, when a few brave souls risked the wrath of their respective churches to broaden their musical horizons and venture out into the secular world, little could they know that they had started the musical version of the butterfly effect. As such, these days it can be hard to see a connection between a group of scruffy, hobo like rock’n’rollers and the rather more perfectly coiffeured Gospel practitioners like Hezekiah Walker. Gospel is a peculiarly American institution and, in spite of the odd successes of singers like Witney Houston, it has never really been mainstream in the UK. Yet, within Christian music circles, there is a strong and unrepresentative emphasis on gospel music. This album proudly displays its gospel foundation and fans of the genre are unlikely to be disappointed. As is in keeping with this kind of style, there are a number of guest vocalists and Hezekiah’s job seems to be more to whip up the crowd than actually lead them in singing. The first three tracks on this are pretty excellent. “Every Praise”, “Break Every Chain” and “I Feel Your Spirit” are all excellent uptempo, uplifting praise numbers, sadly absent on many worship albums these days and work, in my opinion , partly because they tend to be more gospel inspired than straight gospel tracks. It’s a very positive start and one which the album should build on. Sadly it doesn’t and becomes a collection of gospel clichés and vocal extemporisation. It’s what you expect in many ways, but after such an interesting start it just feels a little disappointing. 6/10 Robin Thompson. (October 2013)
HI-SONOROUS : Frozen Dust
Southampton-based Hi-Sonorous have put together an interesting set of 8 songs for this CD, a follow-up to The Waiting Line. I had a lot of trouble categorising this CD: listing it as Dance/Electronic originally, but it’s far more the latter – even though a lot of the material is guitar-based, the rhythms are more hypnotic in nature. That has a lot to do with its inspiration: the plight of the Dalit people. The CD is downloadable and all proceeds go to building a school in the Pujab, so this is not only inspired by it but is trying to do something about it. Hi-Sonorous are Chris Taylor and Sanjay Rajo, who describe themselves as record producers. This shows in the layering and arrangement of the music. It’s carefully put together and ranges in influences, some of the keyboard patterns are Einaudi-esque, some of the guitar work Kinks-like (and, on “Delete”, shows shades of Nirvana), the vocals are from a series of guest singers so range from plaintive (“Break The Cycle”) to angry (“Delete”) and the synth work veers into Depeche Mode territory (“Dust”). The sheer variety makes it difficult to review, but easy to recommend. Overall it’s probably the most sonically interesting CD I’ve reviewed in a while and it easily bears repeated listening. Best track is a toss-up between “Delete” and “Break The Cycle”, with the latter probably shading it. 8/10 Paul Ganney. (December 2011)
HIGHLAND WORSHIP :: Jesus You Alone. (Highlands Worship)
For those new to Highlands Worship let me set the scene of where this third album “Jesus You Alone” was birthed and originates from. Highlands Worship is made up of a team of “pastors, musicians, worship leaders, and songwriters who serve every week at Church of the Highlands”. You have heard about mega churches, Church of the Highlands is the second largest church in America based in Birmingham Alabama. The church was planted by Pastor Chris Hodges in 2001, with many locations throughout Alabama, this church has seen God move in a powerful way and from humble beginning in 2001 with a 34 core group membership, it has now grown to 60,000 members with a regular weekly attendance of 43,600 people around the 17 locations, that is a staggering number. Lead Worship Pastor John Larson has a worship team of 900+ people, with 70 full time and part time musicians on staff. Part of the Highland Worship teams charter is to focus on “creating an experience where authentic, Holy Spirit-inspired worship connects people with the heart of God”. Their tagline is “Love God, love people, pursue excellence, and choose joy”. These are the four core values at the heart of the work of the musicians, singers and songwriters who are part of the Highland Worship Team. So, the team have a passion to “encourage congregational worship, create resources for churches and draw listeners closer to God”. This third album Jesus You Alone, consists of 15 tracks giving the listener over 70 minutes of music. Six of the tracks are new, full band recordings from Highlands Worship’s acoustic EPS, Vol 1: Wonderful Things and Vol 2: Jesus You Alone, alongside nine other songs of worship. It was no surprise to me that this album recorded at the Church of the Highlands was produced by Highlands Worship’s Chris Griffin, and mixed by Sam Gibson (Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Chris Tomlin) instantly reminded me of the great albums that have come from Hillsong plus their Young and Free albums, Jesus Culture, Planet Shakers type albums. Consisting of big praise and worship congregational tracks and sounds with lots of focus on the percussion and often bottom end instrumentation. “Jesus You Alone” begins with tracks bringing big sounds and up tempo tracks followed by a more slower gentle section of tracks. A stand out track for me is “How I Need You” written by Bethany Phillips, Chris Griffin, Nicole McLean & Micah Massey. Nicole McLean says of the album “In this me-centred world, these songs are very vertical, glorifying Jesus in a fresh way, yet with ancient themes gathered from Scripture,” reminding the listeners of the truth that “The Word of God is living and active”. When these songs were written the team hoped that these songs would be refreshing and encouraging to those who would be listening to them. The songs focus on Jesus and who He is. This album will take you to church as you listen or worship. The lyrics are definitely Jesus focused throughout the whole album so yes, refreshing and encouraging. “Who is like the Lord” beautiful standout track Who is like the Lord, strong in battle/Who is like the Lord/mighty to save/Who is like the Lord, King forever/Jesus reigns, Jesus reigns. Followed by a beautiful gentle track Your Love Is Enough “Oh-oh, Your love always is enough/Oh-oh, Your love always is enough/Your love in us, overflowing/Jesus, Your love is enough/Nothing higher, nothing wider/Nothing deeper than Your love”. 9/10 Vivienne Neville (September 2019)
HIGHLANDS WORSHIP : Shine Heaven's Light (Highlands Creative Publishing/The Fuel Music)
To start with anyone who uses a full orchestra for a recording has to grab the attention. After a year or so of the release of Elvis/Carpenters/Roy Orbison with Orchestral overdubs this is refreshing. 6 tracks, a mixture of well-known Carols and new songs. The melodies remain but the arrangements are fantastic. As some carols wash over in the hustle and bustle of Christmas this grabbed my attention.Vocally very good, recording mix excellent and the band blends in perfectly. Nice beat behind O come o come Emmanuel and Born in Bethlehem (O little town of Bethlehem) with addition worship lyrics.Joy to the world with a well played funky guitar is good. Go tell it on the mountain blended in too. (A performance arrangement which features all the vocalists’ talents.) Funky Gospel?The earth stood still is new well written and arranged.Let there be peace - stomping beat with lots of whoo ohs for those like them.He has come. Gentle song well performed. Very enjoyable. 9/10. Noel Donaldson. (December 2019)
HIGHLANDS WORSHIP : Prayers to the King. (Highlands Worship)
Produced and co-written by Highlands Worship’s Chris Griffin and mixed by Chris Greeley (Bethel Music), Prayers To The King has been meticulously crafted to create a peaceful and worshipful environment to encourage and inspire listeners to connect with God in prayer. Nine of the songs were also co-written by legendary Hosanna! Music songwriter Lynn DeShazo. They’re 2019 release ‘Jesus You Alone’ scored a 9/10 NFN rating, so I was expecting another quality album this time around. The opening ‘Ever Close’ has quite an ethereal feel to it. The theme being, that God is ever close to us. ‘You’re Coming’ begins with lyrics taken from the Lord’s Prayer.' Vocally, I found the male lead to be rather tiresome, with its whispering tone. I much preferred the pretty song called ‘You Can Do All Things.’ A lovely acoustic backing and sweet vocals from a female lead. The album took me another listen before I really settled with its theme of prayer. Gentle sounds like ‘Control’ and ‘Echoes’ are really good if you’re needing some help in focussing on prayer. No, it’s not quite what I expected, but this album continues to grow on me. 7/10. (September 2021)
HILLSONG : Live Worship For Kids - Jesus is my Superhero. (Hillsong : HMACD181)
Regular readers will know that I usually cringe when I get a kids album to review. So often, they're so condescending in their delivery, but that's not the case here. Some of those cringe tingling album makers should take heed of the fantastic collection that's on offer here, and learn how to produce a good kids album. Hillsong take all their know-how into using the modern chart sounds, and use great sounding vocals to accompany the thumping bass, and electronic sounds. "King of Majesty" is a pop/groove thing that's bound to get the kid's dancing and singing along, and "You're the One" follows in similar style. Recorded live, it really sounds like a brilliant party atmosphere, although things do slow down a little for classy worship songs like "Oh How I Love You" and the powerful "Anthem of Praise". If, like me, you thought you'd heard enough kids songs to last a lifetime, think again, and buy this now! 9/10 (May 2005)
HILLSONG : Songs for Communion. (Authentic : HMACD191)
Subtitled, 14 songs for intimate worship, that really does describe the contents of this album. It's certainly not one for listening to in the car whilst you're driving, as I'm afraid that your concentration may well be affected. For best results, relax and close your eyes, and let the waves of prayerful reverence wash your spirit clean. Songs such as 'Nothing But the Blood' and 'The Only Name' are very soft and gentle in sound, whilst 'Saviour' is sung with real authority and is a tremendous song. Throughout the album, you're simply pulled into a time of closeness with God, and whether you're alone or with friends, this collection will empower. 8/10. (June 2006)
HILLSONG : Live - Mighty to Save. (Hillsong : HMACD198)
This is Hillsong's 15th annual live worship album. Hillsong was founded in 1983 and now has over 19,000 worshippers attending each Sunday. Recorded earlier this year at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, this latest offering is just full of inspirational music like only Hillsong can produce. "Take It All" and "The Freedom We Know" give the album a great triumphant start, and "For Who You Are" really sets the place alight. "You Alone Are God" slows things down a little, but it's a wonderful, atmospheric number. Similarly, "At the Cross" I found to be very moving and passionate. I wasn't so keen on their gospel number "More To See" but songs like "Adonai", "I Believe" and "Oceans Will Part" sound like everyone is praising God in one terrific cacophony of noise. It's an album for everyone to enjoy. 9/10. (November 2006)
HILLSONG : Live - Saviour King. (Authentic : HMACD206)
This is the 16th Hillsong praise and worship album, recorded live in March after two and a half incredible days of the annual Hillsong Colour Your World, Women's Conference in Sydney. More than 13,000 worshippers gathered, led by Darlene Zscech and the team. There's a whole host of new songs on show, for you to enjoy and use in your daily walk with God. From the opening jumping up and down feel of 'I'm Not Ashamed' to the quieter 'Lord of Lords', Hillsong provide a super collection of songs. 'In Your Freedom' is an epic worship song about being rescued, and it's a very powerful number. 'God of Ages' is one of my favourite tracks and easy to pick up, but perhaps the highlight is 'Hosanna'. It's a female vocal (Darlene?) and is praise of the highest order. Hillsong rarely disappoint, and this release is amongst the best. 9/10. (October 2007)
HILLSONG : This is Our God. (Authentic : HMACD216)
Upon hearing this album, a colleague said to me "Hillsong albums are too predictable." Well, if he meant that they're all full of high quality contemporary praise and worship songs, then I guess he's hit the nail on the head! From the moment the album launches into 'Your Name On High', you sense that you're part of a very special gathering. It's the usual high tempo start and you're soon sucked into praising with all your might. 'Run' and 'Desert Song' follows the same pattern, before you're led into some beautiful worship with the title track. There's a sure claim that Jesus is coming back to this earth on 'High and lifted Up', while 'You Are Here' has a warm, reassurance about it. There are 16 tracks on this release and rarely does the quality dip. Hillsong provide some great music for God, and this is another top quality release. 9/10 (March 2009, Album of the month)
HILLSONG : The Very Best of...Live. (HMACD232)
When labelling an album as "The Very Best of...." I always wonder who it was who chose the songs? Not that I’m complaining, but after listening to Hillsong albums over a number of years, there were only a few of these tracks that I actually recognised. There’s a steady opening with ‘Salvation Is Here’, while ‘My Redeemer lives’ has much more passion about it. ‘For All You’ve Done’ has a real feeling of happiness about it, and the music strikes just the right chord. Sound-wise, things get a bit mushy from time to time but songs like the worshipful ‘Worthy Is the Lamb’ survive well. There’s an attack feel to ‘Take it All’ , while everyone seems to join in with ‘Everyday’. It’s a song that’s easy to pick up, and has an infectious chorus. ‘Hallelujah’ brings a more quieter time of worship, while ‘One Way’ triumphantly declares that Jesus is the one way to the Father. It took a few plays for me to really enjoy this album, due to the number of new songs included but, in the end, it’s well up to the usual Hillsong standards. 8/10 (March 2011)
HILLSONG : God Is Able – Live. (Hillsong : HMACD219)
God Is Able is the twentieth album in the live praise and worship series of Christian Contemporary music by Hillsong Church. It was recorded at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Australia by Reuben Morgan, Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong Worship Team on 7 November 2010. Unlike many live worship recordings, the album does not begin at break neck speed. Joel Houston’s ‘Rise’ is more of a plodder, that builds up in power as the song progresses. ‘With Us’ follows at similar pace, while ‘Unending Love’ is gentle and full of worship. Now, I’m not sure I’m alone in my thoughts, but I couldn’t help thinking that this album wasn’t any different to those that have gone before. The songs are all sung and produced to that great Hillsong standard, but they’ve all started to sound the same. Is it me? The title track left me somewhat lethargic, and as soon as ‘The Difference’ began to play I began to think that I Had heard that song so many times before. Sclour the internet, and you can find reports and reviews saying that the Hillsong Team are as strong as ever, and that their gatherings grow in popularity. Alas, for me, I’m just a little tired of the format and need something fresh and exciting. 6/10 (January 2012)
HILLSONG : Glorious Ruins. (Hillsong : HMACD277)
Released last summer, this album continues the long series of live praise and worship releases from the Hillsong Church in Australia. With Darlene Zschech concentrating on her solo releases, the songs here are mostly male led. ‘Always Will’ is a terrific opening number, which gallops along as it holds Jesus high with cries of “Your love in unfailing”. Joel Houston leads those gathered on ‘You Never Fail’. It’s a more majestic song and one of those that begs for lots of arm swaying. My favourite songs has to be ‘Christ is Enough’. There’s “No turning back”, once you’ve decided to follow Jesus, and it’s a superb call to all. The Holy Spirit comes to the fore in ‘Where the Spirit of God Is’, while the worshipful title track follows on. There’s some more high energy music with ‘Closer’, before tracks 8 to 12 are rather less energetic. ‘We Glorify Your Name’ has an old fashioned hymn feel about it, especially when everyone joins in to sing in glory. ‘You Crown the Year’ is very similar, while ‘Anchor’, I believe, will become a church standard for many years. “Your Name is higher, your name is greater, all my hope is in you.” Some media people have suggested that one Hillsong album sounds very much like the next. For me, that’s no problem, as the standard and quality of the songs remain as high as ever. 8/10. (June 2014)
HILLSONG : There is More. (Absolute Marketing : B0794L26K3)
Church worship songs have never been the same since Hillsong came on the scene. Writing and recording some of the most sung songs in churches all over the world, they now present us with 12 more. From the off, it’s an album of declaration of our great God. “You alone have made a way for us” comes from the song “You Are Life.” It’s not only rousing, but exciting too. “Our chains are gone, our debt is paid.” Now, how many times have I heard those lyrics in a Christian song? However, this mid-tempo number stands up well, with Brooke Litergwood providing the vocals. Mid-album, I found “Be Still” and “Remembrance” to be a little bland. However, “Valentine” picks things up again, with quite an endearing melody. The strength of Hillsong albums is the consistency in writing good, accessible songs. “Touch of Heaven” is a big worship number, while “The Lord’s Prayer” benefits from some fine keyboard sounds, and good production. Finally, there’s the epic “So Will I (100 Billion X). Sung by Taya Smith, it epitomises everything that has made Hillsong a phenomenon in the world of Christian music. 9/10. (September 2018)
HILLSONG MUSIC AUSTRALIA : Touching Heaven Changing Earth. (Alliance : 1901292)
Wow! At last, worship with guts! We've come to expect a highly professional, polished performance from Darlene and Co. but they just keep getting better. This is definitely performance worship but why not? Along with brilliant arrangements, superb instrumentalists and singers, they still manage to keep that personal touch, especially in the slower numbers such as 'Holy Spirit Rain Down', 'Jesus You're All I Need' and 'The Potter's Hand'. It's the dynamics that create the drama in these songs and pull us into the worship experience. The fast songs seem to emit power and enthusiasm, and the full brass stabs and fills remind me of the raw energy of early soul and motown. The sentiments expressed in songs such as the opener 'That's What We Came Here For' and the title track, immediately make us feel part of the event. This is unusual for a 'live' worship album. Darlene's great voice and expression, with her inspired ad libs, are crucial and I'm sure she'd maybe up there with Madonna and Celine Dion if she ever got tempted to cross the great divide. Let's hope she doesn't! A really great album. 10/10. Julie Lord. (October 1998, Album of the Month)
HILLSONGS AUSTRALIA : Hills Praise. (Alliance : 1901332).
If my church's weekly praise began like this album, it would really shake the older members who grimace as they sing any sort of chorus. Happy, joyful, full of life and energy, were just a few of the phrases that sprang to mind during the first couple of songs. "Your People Sing Praises" and "People Just Like Us" just set the place on fire. By the time "I Can't Wait" begins, we're in the realms of rock and roll and the response of those gathered almost drown the backing. Hillsongs have become increasingly more popular over here during the last 18 months and this album is sure to continue the trend. "My Heart Sings Praises" slows things down a little but it's back to normal with the well known "God is in the House". Listening to this release is either going to really charge your spiritual batteries or leave you physically drained. I need a lie down! 8/10. (April 1998)
HILLSONGS AUSTRALIA : Shout to the Lord 2000 (Hosanna Music: 14242).
Worship leader Darlene Zschech is joined by Alvin slaughter and Ron Kenoly on this live recording from the '98 Hillsong Conference, in Sydney. A brilliant compilation of old and new songs, with the guest singers only adding to the enjoyment, as I listened to this album. It's an album to really lift your spirits. All of the tracks are very good and "Shout to the Lord" itself is excellent - I just had to play it again. Other favourites of mine were "Breathe On Me" and "My Heart Will Trust". Very listenable and very enjoyable. 10/10 Pam Robinson. (March 1999)
HILLSONG AUSTRALIA : Jesus, Christmas Worship Down Under. (Hillsong : HMACD146).
The great thing about Hillsong albums, for me, is the fact that they come up with some wonderful new praise and worship songs, and breath new life into older ones. The formula hardly ever changes and, usually, that means there's a great album in store for the listener. And, while that rings true with most on this release, there are some songs that have just been sung to death. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Away in A Manger" are just too bland and are rather irritating at times. However, there is a particularly nice version of "The First Noel" that is different enough from all previous recordings, to stand out from the crowd. The best songs, however, are those written by members of Hillsongs. Katia Bowley's "Saviour of the World" is the first of these, and what a good song it is, too. Then, there's Darlene Zschech and Russell Fragar's "Perfect Love", a song supposedly sung by Mary to the baby Jesus, and quite brilliant. Each Christmas, I wait for one new song to rise from the host of festive releases and with the closing "Glory to God", I think I've found this year's pick. Great drum sequences that give the song a real taste of the Australian outback, with simple lyrics and full of the love of God. 7/10. (November 2001)
HILLSONG AUSTRALIA : For All You've Done. (Authentic : HMACD177)
With a choir of some 500 people, and thousands in the congregation, this is Hillsongs' annual live recording. What an event it must have been, by the sound of things. Disc one starts with electrifying praise in the form of the title track, "One Way" and "Evermore". All three songs have great power, and boy do these Aussies know how to whip up a praise frenzy! "With All I Am" brings an element of quiet to proceedings for some beautiful worship and the 9 minute "Hallelujah" follows this closely. Disc 2 is more of a worship album and doesn't quite reach the heights of its' predecessor, but there's still some lovely moments. One disappointment is the abrupt starts to some of the tracks which sounds quite amateurish but you still can't take away the power of Aussie praise. 8/10. (November 2004)
HILLSONG CHAPEL : Yahweh. (Kingsway : HMACDDVD237)
This is a live CD of thirteen worship songs, also there is a DVD of the songs included. The DVD has fifteen tracks listed on it according to the list on the computer, however when you get to the main menu there are only the same thirteen tracks there as on the CD. The sleeve notes do mention something about there being chord charts included, but how you get to see these is anyone's guess. The album itself sounds pretty much like all the other Hillsong CD's, so if you like Hillsong then no doubt you will enjoy this collection. The CD opens with a fairly pedestrian rendering of "Hosanna" which sets the tone for the whole affair really. "Mighty To Save" appears towards the end if you still happen to be awake, but the whole album needs something to spark it into life somehow. The crowd seem to be in good voice though, and sing along as though they are having a good time, so perhaps you had to be there to really appreciate it. I found the DVD to be a bit better than the CD. Perhaps being able to see what's happening helps. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (May 2011)
HILLSONGS FELLOWSHIP : God is in the House. (Alliance : ALD089).
Oh how I cringed when I heard the opening songs of this album. The Happy Clappies are here in a reincarnation of, what sounds like, the late lamented 'Rock Gospel Show'. However, after a couple of listens I decided that it wasn't so bad after all. "I Give You My Heart" is a bouncy number about submitting to God, while "My Heart Sings Praises", does exactly that. The pace falls towards the end of the album, inlcuding the 7 minute epic "I Will Run to You" - an excellent song of pure worship. This album still rings of quirkiness but it's worth a listen. 6/10. (May 1997)
HILLSONG INSTRUMENTALS : Piano Reflections Volume 6&7.   (Hillsong)
As the title suggests, this 2CD package features instrumental versions of songs you know or, perhaps, don’t. I found the tunes to consist of nice, reflective music, to have alongside your meditations, or in the background as you get on with your daily life. Song titles include; King of Kings; So Will I 100 Billion X; What a Beautiful Name; From Who All blessings Flow (Doxology); as well as Holy Ground; Awake My soul; and I Surrender. They are all well played and recorded, with a gentle sounding piano.  It’s quite a slow moving album and although nothing stood out, all the songs are worth listening to. In a world where worship songs tend to have highs and lows, but generally noisy, this is an album for contemplation and brings you back to what matters - the time we spend in closeness to our God and Lord. 7/10.   Noel Donaldson. (January 2021)
Hillsong Kids Live Worship - Tell The World Hillsong HMACD209
Like many people, I am filled with a mild sense of dread when I see Kids Worship on a CD as on many occasions these consist of older people (like me) trying a little too hard to reach out to the younger generation. How wrong could I be in this case? Oh so very wrong! The vast Hillsong empire has produced a gem of a CD that blows those preconceptions straight out of the water, with one of their most well known sisters Darlene Zschech at the helm as an Executive Producer in conjunction with Julia A'Bell, the Children's Pastor, who has also co-written a number of tracks. The CD recorded at Kidsfest 2007 is live 'n' loud from the off complete with massively enthusiastic cheering from the congregation plus a bouncing title track "Tell The World". If you've not run out of energy by the end of this one, "My Number One" will continue the aural workout with a style not far removed from our very own TBC, until "My Redeemer Lives" brings us to slightly calmer waters. Some of the tracks have e.g. "Forever", "I'm Not Ashamed" & the title track itself have also made appearances on previous Hillsong releases which were not directed specifically at children. With the catchy choruses & uncomplicated lyrics packing a punch, they hit the mark with the kids as well as appealing to a wider audience, firing you up to get out there & do just as the title track asks! As you would expect, quality runs all the way through but worthy of particular mention is the kids choir that provides some excellent backing vocals. Works well keeping the kids entertained whilst getting the gospel message across - a great formula! This one will soon be worn out, by me if not the kids! 10/10 Simon Redfern (July 2008)
HILLSONG Live: A Beautiful Exchange. (Hillsong Music : HMACD236)
Originating in Sydney, Australia Hillsong has become a bit of an institution in the senses of church, the production of top notch worship leaders & music: 'A Beautiful Exchange' certainly does nothing but strengthen that reputation. It is the 19th of their "live" albums recorded at Sydney Entertainment Centre & I have no doubt that like many of their songs before, a number of these will worm their way on to many a worship leader's "set list"…and quite rightly so! I was quickly taken in by the opening "Our God Is Love", a very upbeat anthem with a wonderfully strong drum beat & catchy chorus that had me singing & praising along with the crowds in no time, despite me not feeling in a particularly receptive frame of mind at the time. Did I care I looked a fool at the traffic lights singing along in the car? Err…NOPE! "Open My Eyes" continues in a similar vein with a great atmosphere to the track. We start to wind things back a little with "Forever Reign" with a subtle Aboriginal style buzz in the intro but despite the pace relaxing, the passion continues to thrive through the words & music which to me is a rare commodity in the plethora of worship CDs on the market at the moment. With such a blazing start, I was ready to be disappointed with some of the following numbers which so often happens, but oh no…the good ones kept on coming! Possibly the strongest track on the album was track 5 "Like Incense / Sometimes" which really did bowl me over. Brooke Ligertwood's vocals were somewhat reminiscent of Sinead O'Connor at times (remember her?) & were like a prayer set to music with the assembled congregation raising their praises to God with spontaneity but at the same time in unison like a polished choir…very hard to do & even more difficult for this to translate successfully on to a CD but they've done it here. Just cannot stop singing along to the refrain "Oh God, you are my God & I will ever praise you" which is no bad thing. "Love Like Fire" is similar & is another one that could be a great anthemic number, especially for big events. I can honestly say, the best worship CD I have heard in a very long time - one that is not going to gather dust on the shelf. Not a duff song to be found which is quite amazing. I do like worship CDs but don't generally gush about all the contents but I really cannot find a negative thing to say about this from the excellent music & vocals to the powerful praises. If you buy 1 worship CD this year, this would be a cracking choice. 10/10 Simon Redfern (December 2010, Album of the Month)
HILLSONG LONDON : Jesus Is. (Authentic : HMACD197)
If you want a contemporary worship album that's full of purpose and passion for God, this is the one for you. It's in your face, high octane stuff that leaves a burning in your heart to know Jesus more. I'm not sure what these people at Hillsong London have, but please can you send some to my part of the UK? From the very first song, there's just a feeling of "togetherness" that springs out and wraps around you. Whereas, some live albums leave you a little distant from proceeding, this one really does reach out and grab you. Songs like "Lord of All", "Only One For Me" and "Follow the Son" are just full of praise and power. "Hosanna" is such a simple song, but the collective praise makes it stand out as something very special. "Above All" has a touch of Coldplay about it, in style, but everything else is just so original. The accompanying DVD is well worth a look too, as it gives you a little more insight of actually "being there". 9/10 (September 2006)
HILLSONG UNITED : United WE Stand. (Hillsong : HMACD193)
"United We Stand" is the latest offering from Hillsong United, the youth ministry of this Australian based church. It features 13 news song, and is an expression of the hearts of young people towards their saviour Jesus Christ. There's some cracking songs come out of this church in the past, and this collection is no exception. "The Time Has Come" is an excellent song of praise and is followed by the brilliant "Take It all" - complete with football chant chorus. "From God Above" is another uptempo song, sung in praise of Jesus and you really need a breather in the pace by now. Thankfully, that comes in the shape of "From the Inside Out", where the voices of those gathered really do join as one mighty voice. Mid album, there's a quieter time of worship before the speakers explode with the punk style "Revelution". The album closes with 4 slower songs of worship which help to bring the listener into a closeness with God. The bonus DVD promised on the Cd sleeve was missing from my package but it apparently features a history of Hillsongs and interviews with many who have been involved. Great album, great package. 9/10. (July 2006)
HILLSONG UNITED : Zion. (Hillsong : HMACD275)
This is Hillsong United’s third studio album, following the rather indifferent release of ‘Aftermath’ in 2011. This time, the sound and concept of the album has changed dramatically and that results in one glorious release. The opening ‘Relentless’ has a great electronic sound to it, and the song is really moving, as the lyrics describe God’s love as being ‘relentless’. ‘Up In Arms’ is mature pop, whilst ‘Oceans’ has a more intimate quality, where the female vocalist leads sensitively until the song explodes with the power of the Holy Spirit. I very much liked the atmospheric ‘Mercy Mercy’, complete with its, practically, monotone vocal. The album flourishes throughout, and ‘Love Is War’ is one of those songs that simply washes over you as you focus on God, completely. The title track is an instrumental, and I’d love to see a choreographed dance set to it. On it’s own, it’s truly powerful, but I feel that there’s even more that it could offer. If you think that you know what to expect from a Hillsong album, then think again. This is a huge step forward in praise and worship, which concludes in the epic (in a Coldplay sort of way) ‘King of Heaven’. A wonderful album. 10/10. (May 2014, Album of the Month)
HILLSONG UNITED : The White Album. (Hillsong : HMACD285)
I’ve got to admit that this album was a bit of a shock to the system, for me. It takes many previously released Hillsong United songs, and gives them a complete overhaul in the shape of remixes, created by engineers and musicians. Tracks are full of loops, sound clips, and various electronic sounds, and it all comes over like something of a scientific experiment. I wasn’t very impressed by either ‘With Everything’ or ‘Scandal of Grace’, as the tracks seemed to take out the very life of the original songs. On the contrary, ‘Like An Avalanche’ works well, and it’s new version was very passionate. ‘Aftermath’ is a relaxing sound, but the destruction of ‘Hosanna’ had me tearing my hair out in frustration. The only way I could describe the finished sound is “the death of a song”. I understand that remixes have been around for a number of years, yet I haven’t really warmed to them. On this occasion, I was curious to hear how these songs could have had new life breathed into them. Certainly, those responsible for these versions haven’t just added a few alternative drum beats. They have gone much further than that, and offer fourteen tracks that have had the full remix treatment. I think that this album is a brave release and it will be interesting to see how it’s received by the media and Hillsong fans alike. For me, I prefer the originals. 6/10. (May 2014)
HILLSONG UNITED : Zion - Acoustic Sessions. (Hillsong : HMACDDVD283)
This is a stripped down version of the Hillsong CD called Zion, which I must admit that I’ve never heard, so I can’t compare the two side by side. This CD starts off with a song called “Relentless” which is a fairly straightforward upbeat affair, to get things moving. This song was ok, but by the time I got three or four tracks into this CD it was getting a bit boring. Individually all of the songs on this album are ok, as an album it just seems to lack any kind of energy. When I was listening to it I kept waiting for something to spark it into life, but it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps Hillsong should have left the original album alone, and recorded some new songs rather than rehashing old material. Sorry, but this album really doesn’t work for me. 5/10 Andy Sayner. Editor’s note: The accompanying DVD to this package was not available for review. (May 2014)
HILLSONG UNITED : The 1 Heart Revolution - We're All in This Together. Hillsong/Kingsway HMADVD214
Filmed over a period of 2 years and lasting almost 2 hours, the main feature on this DVD is a fast moving 'social justice from a Christian perspective' documentary, focusing on the world tour of the worship band Hillsong United as they cover 6 continents, 42 nations and 93 cities. It captures well the frenetic pace of touring, the heavy demands on the band ("Where are we this morning? - I have no idea. Is it morning?!") - but the main thrust is to use the tour to highlight the contrast between the 'haves' and the far more numerous 'have-nots' of this world. The style of the whole presentation is very contemporary, with much use of black and white and grainy images, an ever-moving camera and extremely fast editing. Whilst these are used to good effect to reflect the intensity of the touring, I found it often too fast paced for an old stager like myself - at only 10 minutes in I wrote 'getting difficult to watch, feel a headache coming on'. I persevered however, and was glad I did. The messages here need to be heard and are powerfully portrayed - 'injustice is alive and well in our world, much of the media content that we see is lies, 'things' will never satisfy us. We are breeding a media-culture generation of people who are inwardly hurting, always looking for the next thing to satisfy them, largely ignorant of the suffering being endured by so many people in our world, and with no answer.' The presentation uses to good effect regular flashes across the screen of appropriate soundbites e.g. 'the deepest need of a person is to know who they are', 'if I find nothing in this world that completely fulfills my desires, the probable explanation is that I was made for another world' (C S Lewis) and 'injustice is solved by US being IN jUStice'. A clear evangelical message is presented towards the end - 'Jesus didn't die to give us religion, He died to show us love.' 'People get things wrong, God does all things right.' 'We don't attend church, we ARE the church.' Extras include music videos. One thing to watch out for is that the review copy was not region 2, so needed a multi region dvd player - Kingsway were confident that this was a one-off. 10/10 for the message therefore, but taking into account the frenetic editing and grainy images that really did seem to get in the way sometimes, 7/10. Dave Deeks (February 2011)
Hillsong, United - The Tour Collection. (Hillsong/Kingsway : HMAPK 1012)
Arguably the most influential worship movement of the last few years, Hillsong treads the fine line between performance and worship. This collection of four cds (three previous releases; Look to You, 2005; United We Stand, 2006; All of the Above, 2007; plus a bonus cd) only seeks to muddy the boundary further with the inclusion of a tour poster style insert which seems to somewhat jar with its worship focus. One thing is for sure, the detractors will just hate this all the more whilst the fans will continue to love it. Musically, well, you will probably recognise the Hillsong sound by now, a sort of U2/Delirious?/Noughties rock mix which is in some ways progressive but in others derivative. It's loud and brash and if that's how you like your worship then you will love this. However, unless you really want the bonus cd (which contains a picture gallery, videos and some sheet music) it's not worth buying this compilation if you already have the cds in your collection. The bonus disc isn't really worth the extra expense in my opinion, though you may find the chord sheets useful. This cd better serves those who are perhaps wondering what all the fuss is about and would like to dip their toes into the muddied waters of Hillsong worship for the first time. 7/10 Robin Thompson. (May 2011)
HILLSONG UNITED : Aftermath. (Hillsong : HMACD239)
This is Hillsong United’s second studio album, aimed at youth groups, but lacking that live feel of previous releases. Wheras those earlier recordings have been filled with excitement; most of this track listing is rather lack lustre. ‘Take Heart’ is a dirge of a song, with a teased out orchestration that left me completely cold. ‘Go’ rocks things up, while the female rock singer on ‘Like An Avalanche’ lends her vocals in a style that can only be described as a cross between Enya and Pink! There follows two very unimpressive songs, and a simply awful instrumental interlude. My thoughts weren’t improved by the wacky type spacing of the track lists. Try as I may, I found it impossible to work out where one title ended and the next began. Therefore, I can only call the next two songs, tracks 7 & 8, and found them to be tiring prog’ rock in style. ‘Light Will Shine’ and ‘Search My Heart’ ( I think these are the titles) redeemed what had been a disappointing album, with a lighter, more accessible feel, but things took an almighty nosedive again with an inept version of Chris Tomlins’ ‘Awakening’. I’m not sure if the band aren’t used to being in the recording studio, but certainly the live albums are much better than this. 5/10 (August 2011)
HILLSONG UNITED : People. (Hillsong)
Recorded live in Sydney, People is the latest 12 song album from Hillsong United. This popular collective tell how they have a mission to write songs that "awaken churches and individuals to the fact that we are redeemed and called into the story of God" This album certainly does that. Good melodies and soul building lyrics found in songs like As You Find Me and Clean take the listener on a journey of affirmation in the love of a Saviour! There's a good mix of up tempo and more worshipful songs which flow well together. A couple of songs that would work well in a local church worship set are Holy Ground and Here's To the One. It's not their best album but a pleasant listen nonetheless. 8/10 Angie Lendon. (June 2019)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : Open Heaven River Wild   (Hillsong Australia)
Oh Hillsong, why do you continue to frustrate me? Just when I think you will ignite the fires of worship in me, you douse them with a blast of mediocrity. Remember when Hillsong was new, fresh and vibrant? Do you remember the delights of such songs as “My Jesus, My Saviour” and “Mighty To Save”? Of course you do, and I’ll bet you still sing them. They remain on the core lists of many churches because they are good songs, inspired and timeless. This album though is unfortunately anything but. Not only does it sound like it is regurgitating what has gone before the songs themselves seem to be a repeat of one another – the same chord sequences, the same guitar sound, the same drums, the same vocals, the same sentiment, the same style, the same tempo. Normally I like to pick out some highlights and comment on them individually but I am struggling with this album to find anything of note. This is not a comment on the sincerity of those behind this but from a perspective of someone spending hard earned cash, it’s a big disappointment. I’d rather give my money to a grass roots artist. Sorry Hillsong, you must do better.    2/10   Robin Thompson. (December 2015)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : What a Beautiful Name. (Hillsong)
This is the song that (as I write) has been the #1 song on the Christian Airplay chart in the USA. Ben Fielding writes: "When we wrote this song, we imagined the power of declaring it at Easter – especially singing the bridge on Resurrection Sunday. At Easter we remember and declare that there is one Name that is above all others. Anything that can be given a name bows under the Name of Jesus. In that one Name is immeasurable beauty, wonder and power. This song brings the message of Easter back to the very foundation of our faith, not just in WHAT has been accomplished through the resurrection, but IN WHOM." The EP has 6 versions of the same song. The Gospel version sees the piano backing the singers, with the collective voices providing added enhancement. The Y&F Remix features electronic sounds and an ethereal female vocal. I liked this version very mnuch. We, then, move to an acoustic style, were simple orchestral pads provide the backdrop to the words, sung as a duet. The 4th take, sees keyboards and guitars in control, as the song really builds in power, but it’s the live recording that really blew me away. I was lucky enough to watch the video on You Tube, and it is simply magnificent. Hearing thousands sing the song so beautifully made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The closing Selah rendition, is quite nice, but not really my cup of tea. Saying that, this song is bound to become one of the great Easter songs of our time. 9/10. (May 2017, Single of the Month)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : King of Kings. (Hillsong)
Piano introduction is met with beautiful vocals by Brooke Ligertwood. Now, I’m sometimes rather critical of Hillsong for churning out song after song that sound very much alike. But, I firmly believe that this declaration of praise to the majesty of God will become an anthem for the church, right across the world. “In the darkness we were waiting without hope, without light; Till from Heaven you came running, there was mercy in your eyes.” As Brooke broke into the chorus, I felt a real presence of God as I began to sing along. Vocals multiply and the musical backing increases, cumulating into a rousing triumph. Once I played this song, I played it several times on repeat. Yes, it really is that good! 10/10. (August 2019, Album of the Month)
HILLSONG WORSHIP :  Take Heart (Again)   (Hillsong)
The press release reports that; All three worship expressions of Hillsong (Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United and Hillsong Young and Free) came together to prayerfully craft an offering of songs, critical confessions about God’s unrivalled Lordship, His surpassing peace, the stillness of his presence and the hope that none but Jesus can offer. The recording starts with ‘Hosanna,’ a very familiar piece with a piano/voice arrangement which is pleasant but appears to be cut off at the end!  The second song is, again, predominantly piano with a nice string accompaniment. ‘New Wine’ brings the sound of guitar in. It’s a blues based song with nice harmonies, but seems to go on and on. I found it rather repetitive. ‘Heart of God’ continues the slow pace. For me, the song is crying out for a beat. Or have I missed the point? The drums do appear but sound a bit muted or supressed. ‘Selah/All My Life’ is, for me, the best track yet. The harmonies are good and the looped guitar is nice and refreshing. Another good song is the title track. It builds well, before the guitar comes in. Once again, I thought that the lyrics were repeated too often, as the song closed. The keyboard sounds on “Broken Vessels/Life” create a lovey soundscape, as the tune also takes in a verse of ‘Amazing Grace.’ ‘Who Do You Say I Am’ is a song which is a favourite at the church that I attend, as is ‘Eagle’s Wings.’ The last track ‘Still – P E A C E’ (aka Oceans) is a favourite of mine. I like the hymn-like style, including the additional section, which I didn’t know. It was a great ending to the CD. Overall, I much preferred the second half to the first of this CD. With that in mind; 7/10.   Noel Donaldson. (January 2021)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : Fresh Wind. (Hillsong Music)
This is the first single from Hillsong Worship’s newest project. Written by Matt Crocker, Ben Fielding, Brooke Ligertwood and David Ware, it begins with a simple piano sound and female vocal (Ligertwood?). Typically, the song is one of those that builds, with more vocals, and full instrumentation. The lyrics are a cry for revival in the church. The chorus reads; “We need a fresh wind; The fragrance of heaven; Pour your Spirit out; Pour Your Spirit out.” The good thing about this song is that although it has all the familiar Hillsong traits, it does sound fresh and new. Well done guys. 8/10. (February 2021)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : At Easter EP. (Hillsongh Music)
The At Easter EP is a list of songs that are intended to take you through the journey of Easter. Hillsong Worship has taken a few of their songs that are very much lyrically Easter-focused, Calvary-focused, Resurrection-focused, and presented them afresh for Easter 2021! The track listing opens with “How Can You Refuse Him Now?” Apart from spacious, echoing, piano notes, there’s no other music. The vocal track is broken. That is, the voice is, I believe, meant to sound sad and sorrowful at Jesus’ death on the cross. For me, it just doesn’t work. The singer struggles to keep in tune, and I was glad to hear the end of the song. Thankfully, the acoustic led “Man of Sorrows” is much better. Lovely vocals, and a lovely song. The 3rd track is a Bible reading from Isiah 53:1-6. That’s followed “Angus Dei/King of Kings.” The opening worship leads into the main song which has made such an impression on me, personally, over the last year or so. I could listen to “King of Kings” over and over again – and I often do! At times it’s gentle, while at others, it has such power. Imagine my surprise, then, when the final song is a lightweight, acoustic version of the same track. I can’t say anything wrong about the quality of this rendition, apart from it being a watered down version of what had gone before. 7/10. (April 2021)
HILLSONG WORSHIP : These Same Skies – Live.   (Hillsong Worship)
Recorded in Orange County, California, the live album captures worship from well-known Hillsong Worship leaders Brooke Ligertwood, Reuben Morgan, Benjamin Hastings, Aodhan King, Chris Davenport, and their newest addition, Mi-kaisha Rose. The press release mentions that the songs on the album were ‘prompted by the Sermon on the Mount, thus emphasizing the magnitude of God’s faithfulness, goodness and intentionality in our lives.’ My heart sank as I listened to ‘That’s the Power,’ as it contained the boring formula of many previous Hillsong recordings. However, my mood was soon lifted by the sweet vocals of Mi-Kaisha Rose on ‘Surround Me.’  A really catchy song of worship, that had a fresh feel about it, too. There’s a similar feel to ‘Hope of the Ages.’ The voices on this track are the main thrust, as the (sometimes messy) production gets the instrument level just right. The lyrics of ‘Never Walk Alone’ could well have been inspired by Psalm 23 – and I know that I’m not the only one to have this thought. ‘Secret Place’ is another highlight of this album. I liked its tender delivery, which was an unexpected change. So, despite my initial reservations, I found myself pleasantly surprised by many of the songs. Well worth an 8/10. (January 2022)
HILLSONG YOUNG & FREE : III.   (Hillsong Music : 9320428329158)
This “arm” of the Hillsong Church offers up to the minute sounds for the youth of today. This is the third offering from the group and, due to my recent illness, I’ve only just got around to reviewing it. The style falls in to the electronic dance music category, although there are a number of quieter songs, too. The opening “Let Go” is fast and furious, and tells about being forgiven for sins and becoming alive in Jesus. I thought that “Just Jesus” became rather repetitive as the song went on, but things were to worsen. The lyrics to “First love” are fine, and focus on our Saviour, but the droning  music was very irritating.  Thankfully, things did improve and I soon found myself singing along to the chorus of “Jesus Loves me.” It was probably the one song that had a more middle of the road pop sound to it that pleased my ears. “Days Gone By” and “How Deep is The Love” also sounded good, and I soon replayed both songs. Pick of the bunch, for me, has to be “More of You.” This song is also delivered in a pop style, akin to the music of Ellie Goulding. I found the hi-energy sounds not to be to my liking, on the whole. Saying that, I thought that “Hindsight” was quite catchy.  As the name suggests, I’m sure that this music will suit those who fall into the bracket of being “Young & Free.” But, for an old chap like me, I can only rate the album as 6/10. (January 2019)
HILLSONG YOUNG & FREE : Lord Send Revival. (Hillsong)
This is one of those contemporary worship songs that builds in power, as it progresses. Saying that, it doesn’t just rely on multi-instruments to provide that power. That’s left to the collective vocals. Lyrics, such as: Open the heavens; Fling wide the gates; Flood every heart with mercy; Pour out Your presence; Inhabit our praise; As we cry holy holy. At nearly 7 minutes in length, I thought that things might get a little repetitive, but I was wrong. Aimed at the younger audience, I can see this crossing over into an older age group, easily. In fact, I think this is one of the best from Hillsong Young & Free that I’ve heard. 8/10. (April 2020)
HILLSONG YOUNG & FREE : All Of Our Best Friends. (Hillsong)
The latest offering from Hillsong brings 20 tracks, the majority recorded live but, then, some repeated from the studio. I guess it is as you would expect, very poppy and upbeat. A few tracks may reach your worship leaders inbox though, personally, none that I would rush out and learn. Overall, the album is well produced and arranged. I have picked out a few songs for comments,. “World Outside Your Window” starts the album and the live version begins with the obligatory “oh oh oh oh “ The studio version is better, for me. The words ‘Let His name be lifted high, singing oh, oh, oh’ rather grate on me. It doesn’t seem right, if all we can sing is oh oh oh oh after what precedes it. I quite liked Best friends – wanting to be told the truth. Of course, the album is youth orientated. It sounds fresh. And, wouldn’t it be great if that were true for all generations? We want to be told the truth, and be able to tell the truth about Jesus.”As I am” is the best song. It has a nice arrangement and nice harmonies. Lyrically good, I also like the wall of sound behind vocals and the organ at the start. Another pleasant song is “Uncomplicated.” ‘Jesus have your way in me;’ simple, uncomplicated lyrics and to the point. On a negative point, the song was a bit repetitive. Other songs include “Need your love” which is a faster song, in the dance/trance music style. “All my life” came over as the first song that may transfer to a church service, as opposed to a large concert/gatherings. Overall, it is Hillsong. and it does what it says on the tin. Fans will be pleased with the release. Personally, I’d like a little more variation in style. All the same……. 8/10 Noel Donaldson. (October 2020)
HILLSONG YOUTH : We Are Young and Free.
Here’s the thing. I don’t fall into the “youth” category anymore, and haven’t done for some time, so it’s usually impossible for me to “get” things that are aimed at young people. It also means I probably can’t tell you if young people will like something or not. This album has a distinct advantage though; it is produced by the young people it seeks to serve, so it should get close to the mark. Well, that’s the logic anyway. However, it also means I’m expecting something different – something a little more cutting edge. Perhaps new and innovative? So does this album deliver that? The first three tracks “Brighter”, “Alive” and “Wake” are moderately uptempo, with a distinctly familiar edge but with more of a dance groove than you’d normally get. The first two do sound like they could have been done by One Direction or the Wanted though and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. They’re not clones of those bands but the style and melodies just have undercurrents that hint at those groups. After that the album descends into an all too familiar mid-tempo to intimate ballad mush. It’s not that it’s bad it’s just that it doesn’t offer the fresh edge I had been anticipating and expecting. So to answer my question, no, it doesn’t really deliver. Sure it’s well produced, well performed and full of worship but I I’m left wondering where the musical legacy of the church is going? On this evidence, it’s a little stuck in a rut at the moment. 5/10. Robin Thompson. (May 2014)
HIS CALLING : Lost Now Found.   (Raven Faith Records)
Opening with a lead guitar that sounds just like “Whisky In The Jar” era Thin Lizzy (plus a few Horslips-style riffs in the background), this was never going to be an album I was going to dislike. The gruff lead vocal laid over the top led me to comparisons with Third Day and (to a lesser extent) Nickelback. The arrangements were a bit too progressive for the latter to stick, though. The band are very tight (as befits one with such a live track record), the songs well written and the production spot on. The female vocal sits very nicely in amongst all the blues-rock and sits somewhere between “Great Gig In the Sky”-style wailings and lines Janis Joplin would have been proud of (the two vocals work best on “Angel Take Me Higher”, really complementing each other). Production-wise the middle of the album serves up some pleasant surprises. I really liked “Walk The Walk” with the way so many of the sonic themes wound around each other and floated to the fore and out again and the spoken vocal on “He Knew Me” which worked really well (too many people try it and miss). It’s the straight-ahead grooves that really grabbed me though, such as “No Matter How Many Storms” and “Angel Take Me Higher” that slowly work their way into your head and stay there. From the song titles (of which the best title was “Kneel Fast And Pray”), you can guess that the lyrics are very faith-based with an evangelistic hue, which they manage without being overly preachy. Best track: “Angel Take Me Higher”.   8/10.   Paul Ganney. (June 2020)
HISTORY MAKERS : Get Up. (Authentic : 8204702)
I'm not sure why it's taken several months for this release to find it's way to my desk, but I first read about this album last June. It's emanated from the Australian Youth Conference of the same name, and this album starts off in loud tones. In fact, the first four tracks are so loud, I had to turn them down to try and hear the vocals properly. It's a guitar rock sound and the singer on 'Praise Him' seems to do nothing except yell the title at you. The title track follows in similar vein but is the strongest of the early numbers. Then, just as you're ready for another blast of your ear drums, things go quiet. The pace finally drops and out of your speakers comes praise and worship songs such as 'Away With You' and 'All I Need'. 'I Exalt Thee' is quite an epic piece of music as it plods along at medium pace. These three songs are, indeed, the purple patch of the album but from there after, it rather splutters to an end. Australia has a vibrant Christian youth culture, but I'm sure that there's better sounds than this. 4/10. (March 2009)
HOG. 'Booitz'. (ICY/ICC).
Lee Jackson and Justin Thomas are the Leeds based Hip-hop kings, with style and humour to keep their audience happy. Matching this EP against similar chart sounds, it compares favourably, even with the West Yorkshire accents. The title track opens things off in rap mood, with Justin supplying the vocals and Lee providing the mixing techniques that have made him such 'hot property' on the DJ circuit. All 5 songs proclaim the gospel in HOG's own inimitable style, of which the slower 'Catch My Drift' is my favourite. HOG are playing at many of this summer's festivals. Go and look in their house! 7/10. (July 1996)
HOLLAND DAVIS : Healing Word. (Calvary Chapel Music : 69002)
Acoustic worship doesn't come much more unimaginative than this. Honestly, it was a great joy for me not to have to listen to it again, it was that boring. Holland begins with an edgy sounding number called "Wait For You" which, I guess, isn't too bad. However, by the time he uses a well used worship cliché in "I Will Stand", the writing was on the wall. Just how many more songs can include the tired and drained line "I was lost, but now I'm found". Words are predictable in many of the songs and the tedious 8 minute (it seemed longer) "Healing Word" consisted mainly of the title being repeated over and over again. I suppose it was meant to be prayerful and meditative, but "painful"was the word that sprung to my mind. Based at the Calvary Chapel in California, Holland is a worship leader - I trust his ministry there is more useful than this. 2/10 (January 2004)
HOLLY STARR : Focus.   (Provident : 8 59708 39473 3)
21 year old Holly Starr says; “I want to be around, to be able to disciple kids that I really love in my life,” Starr shares. “But because of this calling, I’m not constant in people’s lives. Learning to balance all that has been a challenge for me, but it’s been a huge blessing to see how, when God calls us to something, He provides, and He gives time.” This is her third album and from the start, it’s pretty obvious that she has a heart for teenagers. All the songs on the album talk about the different aspects of a relationship with God and, while she doesn’t have all the answers, she gives a few pointers on the way. Like, on ‘Let Go’ Holly tells you that you have to leave your past behind, along with all your “baggage”, and find a new life in God. The songs are quite sugary pop at times, but I think that it’s this style that will appeal to young people. ‘Don’t Have Love’ is a bouncy number. The lyrics say that, you may think you have everything in a material world, it means nothing if you don’t have God’s love in your heart. Similarly, in your busy life, ‘Focus’ is all about making time each day to be with the Lord. Even for this old dog, there were still a few lyrics that I found encouraging but, for teenagers, Holly Starr is bound to appeal.   8/10. (February 2013)
HOLLYN : One Way Conversations. (Gotee :66944700568)
A former Dove Awards New Artist of the Year nominee, Hollyn, is from Ohio, and has been working on this debut album for the past year. Style-wise, most of the tracks fall into the popular urban and hip-hop genre, and I found it all quite tiring to listen to. “Can’t Live Without” opens proceedings, as Hollyn sings about not being able to contemplate living without God’s love in her life. Following that, there’s an almost Katie Perry cloned number called “Love With Your Life.” The music is quite catchy, but her vocals quality doesn’t quite make it. Mid-album, Steven Malcolm and Andy Mineo provide a rap to Hollyn’s sung chorus, but the whole thing just sounded rather odd to me. Indeed, I found it quite difficult to pull anything positive about this album as a whole. Reading the lyrics, there’s no doubt that this singer has a heart for God, but I’m not convinced that she’s delivering them in the right genre. If I had to pick out one good song, then maybe “Waiting For” would be the one. It’s a quieter number, and proves that all s not lost from a rather disappointing release. 4/10. (October 2017)
HOLY SOLDIER : Encore. (Spaceport/Word : SPRCD9701)
This collection of songs have previously topped the CCM radio charts in the US. Basically, it's a best of album, recorded - on the whole - live and brought back original lead singer Steven Patrick. 5 tracks come from their 1990 self titled album which was, arguably, their best. Unfortunately, 'See No Evil' lacks any real punch and 'When the Rain Comes Down' is quite soggy. 'Lies' brings a reprieve to the tedium, aligning stadium rock and heavy metal to one point of glory. "Have You Got A Ticket For the Last Train", asks track 8. Nice idea about judgement day, pity about the song. 'Eyes of Innocence' gets the acoustic treatment, and comes up quite well but I was pretty disappointed with this. 3/10. (November 1997)
Regular readers to the NFN blog cannot have missed out on the chance to hearing brand new songs of worship from the pen of Chief Enthusiast, Andy Baker. It’s a devotional journey and one that aims to share songs on a daily basis in a variety of styles, genres and languages from churches, writers and artists all around the world. “First Fruits” is a collection of those songs. The variety of styles is there for all to see, and it kicks off with the Matt Redman infused “Fill Up the Skies.” It’s a joyful sound and one that’s well delivered. I thought that “Back to Life” had rather a weak melody, but “Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength” is quite the opposite. A slow, song of worship, it focuses on the lyrics “Lord, you are worthy of my love.” A good, standalone song is “Ready.” I wasn’t too sure about it being right for corporate worship, but it has to be my favourite of the album. Andy’s vocals are sound, throughout, and fit the songs really well. “Home” and “Have Mercy” are two more good songs as the album comes to a close. It’s taken a lot of time, effort and faith to get Homegrown Worship to this place and I’m sure that there’s more to come. 7/10. (October 2018)
HOMEGROWN WORSHIP : Fit For a King.   (Resound Media).
Those of you who have been following the Homegrown Worship series online will have been treated to some excellent new songs, mainly written by Andy Baker. This second collection takes in 10 more, and contains a range of musical styles. “Psalm 16” has an excellent chorus, that races along, telling of a faithful God, full of blessings. The gentle title track is a simple worship number, while “Overflow” s one of those songs that you just want to sit back, close your eyes, and soak in God’s love. “Jehovah-Jireh took me back to the days of Steve Marriot’s Humble Pie. The song has a choppy sound, with some very nice keyboards included. “Spirit of God” and “Teach Us How to Pray” come over as being, almost, lullabies. Both tracks are very gentle on the ear, as well as bringing a closer sense of God to the proceedings. Finally, “No Other Place” goes all Matt Redman, and sings of being at God’s table. Despite numerous plays, I couldn’t shake the vision of Matt belting this out at some festival somewhere, leading the crowd in excited worship. The overall quality of these songs is very good and, hence, worth an 8/10. (January 2019)
This album was written, recorded, mastered and finished in 24 hours, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it quality wise. However, it is a very polished set of songs from start to finish, and if you didn’t know about the short amount of time spent in creating it, you would never suspect anything out of the ordinary. There are ten tracks on this album, with varying styles from quiet contemplative songs, to more upbeat praise songs. There is one song called “Citizens of Heaven” which is all about knowing who we are in God, and focusing on him in all situations. This song seemed particularly apt for the present climate. Especially with all the doom and gloom from the media, this song reminds us that no matter what happens God is in complete control. For me this song is the most poignant track, but all of them have lots to offer through their lyrical content. From my own experience, I am aware that when you are recording music, it’s always tempting to go back and tweak tiny “Imperfections“ that, to be honest, nobody else is going to hear. It’s easy to think that people will be listening to all the technicalities, when in fact they are listening to the music. It’s probably quite a brave thing to do, from an artists’ point of view, but in this case at least I think it has worked really well. The music sounds fresh and vibrant without being buried under mountains of effects. Perhaps more worship music should be recorded this way, as it removes the feeling of listening to a performance, and makes it more of an actual worship event. I would wholeheartedly recommend this album. You can stream it for free on Soundcloud from the link at the top of this review. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (May 2020)
THE HONEY THIEVES : Heart Shaped Hole EP (CD from: 8 The Avenue, Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland, EH23 4AG.
This is the forth self financed CD from this Scottish band, and is an excellent EP of four songs - well, five really as they've tagged a 'hidden' one on at the end. Difficult to define the style, as I thought I was in for some blues from the first track 'Blinded'. Great lyrics based on the road to Emmaus story, and Peter Semple's vocals are moody and atmospheric. He reminded me a little of David Gray. But with the addition of mandolin, and acoustic guitar based, the next three tracks were more of a soft rock, almost country rock style. 'A Pleasant Passing' was very memorable, and had a good hook, but I wasn't so sure about the falsetto vocals on 'Morning Sun'. However, why or why did they include 'God Bless America' as a hidden track?? Apparently it's an avant guard, experimental arrangement of a guitar-attack version they play live. I liked it a lot. Very poignant lyrics, especially in the light of September 11, and an ambient background to what can only be described as electronic reggae. I can see this on MTV and charting in the secular charts, given slightly better production. It's different, and things that are different catch the ear. I really hope this lot travel the hundred miles south to Tyneside - I'd love to catch them live.
8/10 Julie Lord. (March 2002)
HONOR & GLORY : Battle Belongs. (BEC Recordings)
Honor & Glory is a worship band comprised of Kevin Young, Josiah Prince, and Joey West, veteran musicians who are best known as members of the hard rock band Disciple. “Where the mission of Disciple is to reach the unreachable, the vision of Honor & Glory is to create a musical atmosphere where hearts, minds, souls, and voices center on the greatness and wonders of our amazing God through worship,” lead singer Kevin Young explains. This single comes from their forthcoming debut album, due for release soon. The sound is pure pop/rock, with a chugging guitar and pounding drums driving the song along. Young proves to have a distinct vocal that certainly suits this song. God being an almighty fortress; Nothing can stand against the power of our God. A well thought out lead guitar sound flashes in and out, as this song really impressed this reviewer. 10/10. (September 2021, Record of the Month)
HOPE OF THE NATIONS : A Cry For Mercy. (Hosanna! Music : 21382)
To praise and worship God is one of the most important things that we do on earth. This album has been produced to encourage just that, and contains songs old and new from a whole host of writers. It's a smashing start, as Eoghan Heaslip (very underrated in my opinion) belts out "Arise King of Kings" in typical uptempo style. Equally as stirring is Brian Doerksen's "Hope of the Nations" which captures the very essence of power praise. Another writer I've come to admire over the last few years is Paul Baloche, as his songs always seem to have that extra little something about them. Here, both "The Way" and "You Are the One" (the latter co-written with Lincoln Brewster) shine really bright. On the down side, I found Darrell Evans' closing "Lay My Life Down" rather OTT with full musical backing and would much prefer it done with quieter feeling. But, again, that's my opinion and that's why I'm here. 8/10. (October 2003)
HOPE RESOUNDS : 'Freedom Reign. (
Hope Resounds are a Christian praise and worship duo from Sydney, Australia, who "write and record original, acoustic-based songs that are faith-filled, anointed and full of life". According to their Facebook page, they "take on various musical endeavours including, but not limited to: song writing, recording and live performances" and through their music "aim to reach the wider community with a message of hope". With a couple of 2017 EPs behind them, here we have their first full length offering. Opener 'Emmanuel' is fronted by Craig's acoustic guitar and Rachel's vocal and sets the scene for what turns out to be a pleasant album. On first play something about the whole experience seemed to transport me back to mid '90s CCM but not in a bad way(!) - when names like the excellent Sarah Masen and Kim Hill were regulars on my CD player. The obvious difference however is that Rachel and Craig's work features simpler arrangements and production, with subtle use of synthesiser sounds (sometimes slightly distorted electric guitar?) - such things as prominent drum beats never making an appearance. A strength of this album is that it doesn't have a few standouts with the rest being 'filler' - if you like the first track, you may well appreciate the consistency of the whole album. Down sides? My preference would be more variety in terms of melody and arrangements, Rachel's vocals are clean and strong but sometimes struggle to exactly hit the note, and it's a shame that Craig's guitar tuning is slightly off in 'A perfect memory'. Overall however I found this album worth a listen, and if thoughtfully delivered acoustic CCM is your preference I'd recommend checking them out via the streaming platforms. 7/10. Dave Deeks (July 2020)
HOPES & DREAMS - A New Musical for a New Millenium. (Kingsway: KMCD2058)
Not having actually seen the musical itself, I've found it very hard to link one piece of music to the next. An ordinary album usually flows quite well but this is not the case with Hopes & Dreams. Paul Field is the driving force behind most of the writing and it's not a whole lot different to a project he wrote more than 10 years ago. There's a couple of short pieces to open things up befire we're led into a jazz/funk affair called "Step By Step". Then, it's MOR pop with a dash of gospel until we reach "Breaking Point". Here's a powerful song that is closely followed by the title track that has a wonderful choir in full voice - possibly the best cut. Sir Cliff's contribution on "The Lord's Prayer" is nothing special and the country tinged "Glorious Sight" sounds pretty dated. An overview of the story in the sleeve notes might have helped the listener but this one wasn't too impressed. 5/10 (April 1999)
Sue Crossman is the writer and lead vocalist on this single from new Somerset based band, Hopestream. She has been writing and leading worship for many years. Alongside her, she has former professional musician Ben Axford on guitars, Polly Axford-Checkley providing backing vocals, and Steve Richards who doubles up on drums and bass guitar for this recording. Polly says; “We are united because we just love Jesus and love to express this through music.” Well, with “I Sing” I think that they’re on to a winner. The jangly guitar sound is really good, and the song has an excellent rhythm. The words are simple but, nevertheless, lyrically strong. It’s all about singing and worshipping Jesus, and the chorus is quite infectious. Vocally, Sue and Polly are first class, and backed well by their co-band members. The reprise towards the end of the song is quite special and the overall sound is one of pure joy. With this release, Hopestream have set a high level for future recordings to match. I have no doubt that they will do just that. 9/10. (September 2018)
HOPESTREAM WORSHIP : Out of the Darkness. (
Somerset based Hopestream Worship (previously called Hopestream) were as busy as they could be during 2019’s Covid lockdowns, recording this album. The band members have been together a few years, and my own introduction to their music was the catchy single “I Sing.” Ben, Steve, Sue & Polly say; “Our album is so much more than the songs. Each of us has a story to tell of how Jesus has changed our lives, in fact given us new, real life! Although we express this in our songs, we want to point to Jesus with our testimonies and actions. Our prayer is that you will catch a glimpse of the power of Jesus for your life, as He has been in our lives.” The track listing begins with the joyous sound of “Come All Who Seek.” An invitation for all to find the love of Christ and His faithfulness, the song flows well. “I Sing” gets an outing on this album, and it was so good to hear it again. The gentle “Come Holy Spirit” needs little explanation to its theme, but the vocals here are exceptionally good. Production, overall, is very good throughout the album. The exception is “More of You,” were the drums, especially, sound rather thin. Thankfully, things are much better on the next song, “Running on Faith.” Instruments and vocalists sound, as one, with another of my favourite tracks. Based around the famous Bible words; I lift my eyes to the hills; my help comes from the Lord; it had me singing along, very quickly. There’s a very intimate and poignant number towards the end of the album, called “Day Will Soon Be Here.” It looks at someone’s pain, darkness, fear, and tears. The song’s response of comfort is “But if only could see yourself through Jesus’ eyes; You would know, you’re beautiful; He’s holding you; He loves you more than you could know.” This collection of very personal songs are bound to resonate with many. The title of the album is “Out of the Darkness,” and I can certainly testify to coming out of the darkness, many years ago, and rejoicing in new life. Why? Well, the closing song “Because of Jesus” says it all. It’s been a while since an independent worship group passed their album to NFN for review, and this one gave me quite a nice, warm feeling, inside. If you want a break from the constant mega church worship scene, give Hopestream Worship a listen. You won’t be disappointed. 9/10. (February 2021)
THE HOPPERS : Great Day. (Spring Hill)
The Hoppers have enjoyed tremendous success through three decades in the US. Although the have enjoyed many popular hit releases, their first Number One release came in 1990 with the song entitled "Here I Am", which stayed at the top of the charts for 4 months and was awarded song of the year. In fact, no Southern Gospel recording artist has enjoyed more Number One hits or more Top Five single releases than The Hoppers. So, with that build up behind me, I played the new release. Now, over the past couple of years, I've come to enjoy quite a few Southern gospel artists, such as Legacy 5, for instance, but I'm afraid The Hoppers didn't manage to catch my imagination. It's a very tired and old fashioned sort of album that had me, at one stage, thinking back to second rate seaside variety shows. "I Sing The Mighty power…" reminded me of Christmas, while "See How She Loves Him" is a cross between a negro spiritual song, and one of those awful half-spoken country numbers about someone dying. "We Are America" holds up the stars and stripes as America the Great, and is the most terrible trans-atlantic rubbish I've heard for some time. The only line the song doesn't actually say is "We're American and we're the best people in the world".. Saving the album from complete oblivion comes the ballad "Child of God", and the tastefully produced hymn "Come See Me". Otherwise, in the words of Jukebox Jury, I'd give it a miss. 3/10. (March 2004, also April 2004)
THE HOPPERS : North America Live! (Curb :4900192)
The Hoppers' musical legacy has so far lasted more than 50 years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. This current ensemble seems to be more popular than ever in their native U.S. but, as yet, they've made little headway here in the UK. I may be wrong, but I don't think that the group has toured here in the last few years but I'm sure that they'd get a warm reception. Their music is downright, easy listening, southern gospel and from the opening 'Holy Ghost Wind' you can tell that the audience warmly appreciate what's on offer. The harmonies and counter melodies on 'Jesus Saves' are top notch, while the song 'Pathway Built For Two' is well sung, too. There's a theme of love that runs through the album, and a few vocal introductions to songs help you feel part of the event. 'On My Journey Home' is a catchy number, but I thought the touching 'Mama Was Praying For Me' would bring a lump to most people's throat. It could be a song that sung wrongly, would have a lot of people reaching for the "skip" button on their CD player, but here, The Hoppers excel. A worthy release that warrants a listen or tow. 8/10 (September 2009)
HOSANNA GOLD : 50 Praise Worship Classics. (Kingsway : KWCD333)
One glance at the track listing of this three CD offering resulted in me only recognizing a handful of the titles. And, after listening to them all, I can only guess that all of them were popular in the 70'sand 80's. There are no credits listed for the artists featured, but I'm guessing that American gospel groups like the Maranatha Singers are responsible for the sugar coated attempt of making music for Jesus more popular to the masses. Thankfully, what it does, is show how musical styles and tastes have changed during the last twenty-five years - much to my relief! 'Ah Lord God' is only one of several tracks that give younger listeners just what praise and worship music was like before the likes of Delirious?, Matt Redman, and even Graham Kendrick. And, there's even some of that "happy clappy"feel about some of the songs too. 'I Will Call Upon The Lord' is one of the songs I am familiar with, but this version is so watered down, that it just doesn't sound like worship as we know it today. One track that did raise my spirits was 'Jesus, We Celebrate Your Victory'. Well known and loved, it seems to have stood the test of time and shines out on this tepid collection. Unlike rock n roll, that has stayed popular throughout the years, I can't see this album having much more than very limited appeal. 4/10. (October 2012)
HOSANNA MUSIC : Songs of Praise & Worship. (Hosanna/Word: 110002)
"AS you listen to these songs, you will find yourself drawing closer to God as He strengthens and encourages you with His Word". Well, that's what the sleeve notes say, and that's exactly what happens. Ten tracks of highly listenable p&w music in an array of styles. From the Caribbean feel of "Lord Be Magnified" we're led into a rock ballad called "Enter Into His Gates". There's a reggae style about "Trust in the Lord" and lovely harmonies to the light, "No Condemnation". All the songs are linked to scripture verses and display a happy and joyful feeling throughout. Serious musicians may find the songs nothing out of the ordinary, but their simplicity is the real strength here. "Wings Like Eagles" is a powerful ballad, and only "I Will Sing Praise" dips in quality. Pity there's less than 40 minutes. 8/10. (March 1998)
HOT GOSPEL : Many Rooms. (
Although this choir was only formed a few short years ago, they have already made quite a name for themselves by playing at numerous, prestigious events and venues around the UK. Based in East Yorkshire, under the guiding hand of Helen Garnett, they are the north-east’s answer to the London Community Gospel Choir. This debut release finds Hot Gospel in top form, and features 12v tracks, totalling more than 60 minutes of music. ‘You’ve Got the Love/Kumbaya’ opens the listing, and instantly there are some very strong vocals. ‘Faithful’ is a great song, where all the voices and instruments come together as one, in perfect harmony. The old Edwin Hawkins hit ‘Happy Day’ rather overstays it’s welcome, as it gets a little repetitive, but the choir’sversion of ‘Shackles’ is really powerful. Musical backingo n the album comes from Dave Bradfield (Drums), Dave Short (Bass Guitar), and Antoine Robinson (Piano, Hammond Organ, & Acoustic guitar), and they prove to be more than capable in this department. Other highlights include the excellent ‘Do You Know Jesus’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’, with James Taylor taking the soloist spot on the latter. Closing the album is ‘My Life, My Love, My All’, where Robinson’s intuitive piano playing caresses each word of the song. Live, Hot Gospel are infectious, and this album manages to capture that spirit very well. 9/10 (June 2011)
HOUSE OF HEROES : Cold Hard Want. (Gotee Records : 66944700414)
This album starts off with a short track featuring just vocals, courtesy of a harmonise I suspect. If not then they display excellent pitch and timing. After this though the album explodes into life with “Out Of My Way” which is a fast paced rock song, followed by “Dance” which is a similar kind of thing featuring some catchy riffs on the guitar. There are some slower songs too. “The Cop” is a nice change in tempo, featuring again some nice harmonies. The final track “I Am A Symbol” is an excellent song, which starts off quietly and gradually builds up into a full blown rock song which provides a suitable end to a really good album. It seems that this band have been around for quite a while without getting much attention from radio stations, which is a shame, as this band is as good as any who are around at the moment. If you like powerful rock songs with nice hook lines, and some good guitar playing you could do a lot worse than giving this CD a try. The only thing I didn’t like was the rear sleeve, the tracks seem to be randomly spread all over the place, and it wasn’t until I stuck it into itunes that I could tell for certain what the tracks were actually called. This is only a minor thing though, and doesn’t really detract from the music itself. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (August 2013)
HOUSE OF PEACE : Into the Great Unknown. (City of Peace Media)
This is the debut project from South Florida-based worship band House of Peace. Produced by multi-award winning Christian music producer Ed Cash and his brother, Scott Cash, the 11-song project celebrates the band's credo of diversity through unity by incorporating a broad range of contemporary musical styles paired with ancient, time-honoured theological themes. There’s a mixture of performance worship, and congregational worship songs here, and it all makes for an attention-grabbing mix. David Liscum is the lead singer, and he wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. The opening ‘Passover Lamb’ reminded me very much of The Script. There’s a piano sound at the fore as Liscum reminds us all of the great wonder, that Jesus came down to earth as a man. ‘King of the Universe’ literally swings along, while ‘New Life’ is one of those songs that I would find difficult to use in collective worship. That’s not saying that it’s not a good song, because it is! I half expected this album to be a Jesus Music clone, but it’s not. It stands up on its own merits, and acoustic led numbers like ‘’Let Us Be One’ and ‘Praise Your Name’ are excellent. I, especially, like the former, with its message for unity in the world. (Oh for people to take note.) “We will dance, we will sing, for our coming King”, are just a few of the lovely lyrics of ‘Glory to Your Name’ – possibly my favourite track on the album. Vocals and musical prowess are high throughout, and never better than on ‘He Will Reign’. Again, the piano leads the song in a melodic rhythm. The closing instrumental, ‘One Child’ is a fine piece of music, but it sounds rather odd in this setting, compared to the rest of the album. A slight moan, but nothing that should stop you listening to, what is, a good album. 8/10. (March 2015)
House of Worship : More Than Life. (Integrity : 24562)
Integrity have a habit of bringing lesser known US praise & worship albums to the notice of the UK, and this is just one. 11 all new songs, written and performed by emerging worship leaders from the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, with sounds that border on soft rock. Glenn Packiam's "We Lift You Up" springs no surprises lyrically, but it's a good song, with a good feeling about it. Ross Parsley asks for "More of You" in his life, as he praises the Lord in a nice production, while Matthew Fallentine's "Essence" is slightly lighter in feel. Although there's many different songs featured, there is still a feel of continuity about the finished product, thanks to the use of the same musicians throughout. Darren Morehouse's slower number "My Soul Cries Out" is a song of great strength, and I can see great potential with this one with congregations all over the world. One of the many good things about this album is that the music does travel well. By that, I mean that if I'd been played the songs only, and had no press release, it could have been Spring Harvest. 9/10. (May 2003)
Brian Hilson has over 40 years experience of a live sound engineer, and along with Elevation, he has put together this DVD training tool that will be a boon to any budding sound person. Saying that, after using my own PA's for 20 years, I still found some very useful tips within the package. Passing on his knowledge, Brian presents a series of lectures and demonstrations under the main headings of Fundamentals of Sound Systems in Worship, Driving the desk - an introduction to sound engineering, and Effective Sound Checks - to enhance the worship experience. Within these main titles, Brian explains the use and misuse of microphones, sound systems and feedback, mixer operation & equalisation, gain structure, setting up an initial monitor mix, and a whole host of other relevant subjects. A real lot of thought and effort has gone into this DVD and my only criticism would be that in Brian's vocal delivery. As a public speaker myself, I found it to lack variance and consequently had difficulty in keeping my attention for the length of each session. However, I would still recommend this tool over the many books I have read on the subject. 8/10 (July 2011)
HTB WORSHIP : What a Saviour.   (Bespoke Records)
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, this is the latest song from Holy Trinity Brompton’s Worship Team. Co-writer, Ann Hamilton says; “The song simply tells the story of Jesus’s victory over death and is a response to all He has done. Our hope is that this song unlocks a deeper cry of praise in our hearts, and points us to the One who is the answer to every longing felt by man – to Jesus Christ, the true King and Saviour of the world.” The gentle verses lead into a louder bridge, before launching into the big chorus. And, when I say “big,” it really does sound as if every instrument that could be found has been thrown in. The result is that the sound becomes rather mushy and, in my opinion, quite messy. In style, the performance is very much on a par with Bethel Music or Jesus Culture. Whether a studio recording would be better, I don’t know. But, for me, a song of great promise left me rather disappointed.   5/10. (February 2020)
THE HUDSON TAYLORS : The Lord Bless and Keep You. (Kingsway : KWCD3292)
Noel Richards, Brian Houston and Wayne Drain formed The Hudson Taylors a decade ago, with no fixed plans beyond a few gigs together and an opportunity to record in the USA. There, in Nashville, they turned up to simply ‘see what happened’. The result was Hurricane - their 2002 album, released by Kingsway. Now, some ten years on, the follow up is here. When you get three individuals like this, all taking their turn to write and sing, the result can be a little dis-jointed. But, that’s not the case here. There’s a foot tappin’, bright start with the title track, which is quickly followed by a rougher sound that reminded me of UK artist Scott Anthony Wainwright. ‘As For Me and My House’, I found that to be a really engaging song, while ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow’ followed suit. I must admit that I enjoyed Noel Richards’ vocals the most, and especially on ‘Draw Me To Your Sacred Place’. ‘Be Still My Soul’ is sung in a prayerful manner, while ‘Breath of Life’ enjoys the sound of similar worship. An entertaining album, from three anointed singer/songwriters. 8/10. (April 2012)
HUMBLE FEET : Humble Feet. (
'Humble Feet' is the debut creation of Michael Taylor, who describes himself as "serving Jesus in full-time ministry in a foreign nation, a nation that is almost completely desert". Here, Michael's nicely rounded bang-in-tune pop tenor takes us on an enjoyable journey through ten tracks of 'mini sermons'. Tuneful and musical, this is a beautifully worshipful singer-songwriter acoustic-guitar-led album. Think contemporary James Taylor rather than any hint of hip-hop Ed Sheeran(!), but with a clearly presented Christian message using appropriate metaphor - "your living water rushes through me like a flood" from 'Pearls' being a typical example. Supporting Michael's guitar with violin, piano, light and sparing percussion, deftly applied and beautifully blended female harmony vocals and occasional brass, production shared with Noah Neumann is superb and has much to teach more 'mainstream' offerings. To top it all, my hi-fi system shows that sound quality is superb. Quality overall is so high that it really is difficult to select standout tracks here, but after a couple of listens I find that the aforementioned 'Pearls', 'Wonders', the '(abruptly ending!) 'Life without' and 'In step' with its hummable chorus ("Lord, take my feet, they are yours, yours to lead") stay with me the longest. I very much hope and trust that Michael's "full-time ministry in a foreign nation" includes time to allow us to hear more from Humble Feet - on this evidence a God-blessed ministry in itself. Contemporary Christian Music has been the poorer without this album - it really is that good. 10/10 Dave Deeks (September 2019, Album of the Month)
HYLDAS : As the Rain Hides the Stars. (
Clare Hunt and Mike Clifford began to write and play music together a few years ago. They both liked the idea of putting old hymns with great words to folk tunes old and new. Many old hymns are combinations of poems or prayers set to folk tunes, bridging the sacred / secular divide. They continued this process and were inspired by words of poets and meditations used by a local Christian Ecumenical Community. Joined by good friend, Tim Thwaites, this Cd is the result. I must admit that it’s quite some time since I reviewed a folk album, and it made for a pleasant listen. ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ sounds delightful, complete with whistles and violins, to carry Clare’s warm vocal tones. ‘God My Redeemer’ sounds almost like a lullabye, while ‘Hear My Prayer’ comes over like a cross between blue grass and negro spiritual. Based on Psalm 130, ‘Out of Our Depths’ is a soul crying out for the Lord, and similarly ‘How Long, O Lord’ laments on waiting for God’s help in time of sorrow. On both songs, the violin sound comes to the fore and on the latter, it reminded me of 80’s band, Dark Horses’ song ‘The Denial’. All the instruments work well together, and the medley of ‘Sweet Bonnie Lass’ and ‘Rothbury Holiday’ instrumental is super. The words of Genesis 28 have been used on ‘Gate of Heaven’ and this sees some nice harmonies on show. It’s not an exciting album, by any means, but for those who like their music to have an acoustic sound, this fits the bill perfectly. 8/10. (March 2014)
THE HYMN MAKERS - Charles Wesley. (Kingsway : KMCD2817)
Now, the first thing that caught my eye with this release was the interesting, and thoughtful packaging. It's a 2CD collection of the hymns of Wesley, in a sleeve that looks like a hardback book. Also included is a 7 page booklet, as well as the words, giving a brief history of the man himself. There are 27 hymns featured, and I'm sure that you will know most of them. However, like I, you might be surprised that it was Wesley who wrote a particular favourite. All the hymns are song in choral form, with accappella numbers being mixed with church organ accompaniment. Favourites of mine include a rather refrained version of 'And Can It Be', 'O For A Thousand Tongues' and 'Ye Servants of God'. From those new to me, 'O Love Divine, How Sweet Thou Art' and 'Lord, We Believe to Us and Ours' stood out. All in all, well put together and a must for lovers of traditional hymns. 7/10. (Feburary 2008)
'The Hymn Makers – “Best Loved Hymns 2”. (Kingsway : KWCD3136)
It is three years ago that I favourably reviewed the Hymn Makers release devoted to the compositions of Ira D Sankey. In contrast, this CD covers a wide range of hymnwriters – as did the first 'Best loved hymns' from 2003, entitled 'How great Thou art'. The packaging is an uninspiring black affair, but full printed lyrics are provided. The Sankey release featured orchestral accompaniment. Here however, with the exception of brass on the last track 'Round the Lord in glory seated', the choir is either supported by a church organ, or is unaccompanied. The arrangements are traditional and again very well recorded with all words clearly heard – or I assume so, as two tracks are in (I think) Welsh, as is the first part of 'Here is love'! The Welsh tracks sound as though they were recorded in a different acoustic – but this serves only to add some variety to proceedings, rather than spoiling them. The tune to 'O Jesus I have promised' was unfamiliar to me, but beautifully done. 'We plough the fields and scatter' (as a small boy I remember asking dad why we plough the fields and then run away in all directions) is a twee melody that I simply don't like, and was the weakest track for me. As I concluded with the Ira D Sankey CD however, those who like traditional hymns traditionally done will find much to enjoy here. 8/10. Dave Deeks (January 2013)
HYMNS OF WORSHIP : How Great Thou Art. (Elevation : ELE2095D)
This release will please the fans of more traditional praise and worship, in the style of the annual Keswick Convention releases. There are no credits for the singers and musicians, but they sound like a fairly competent band. On the whole, it’s all very straight forward, with songs like the title track, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, and “How Deep the Father’s Love”. There’s a new tune to “The King of Love”, which I didn’t like, but I did enjoy “Here is Love”. This newer song felt really passionate, and the guitar solo sits well within the tune. I’m always pleased when “O For A Thousand Tongue” gets an outing, and I wasn’t disappointed by this version. I feel that the rousing chorus lifts the darkest of feelings, and I’m a real sucker for it. I had to smile at the smooth vocals on “At the Name of Jesus”, as they sound uncannily like Cliff Richard – although I’m pretty sure that it isn’t him. Other songs of note include “At the Name of Jesus” and “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”, and together with the other 16 tracks make up a worthy listen. 8/10. (November 2015)
HYMNS OF WORSHIP : In Christ Alone.   (Elevation : ELE2099D)
Here’s the latest in the Hymns of Worship Series, especially for lovers of “big top” celebrations. Unfortunately, there’s no credits for singers, musicians or events, but this is still a decent collection. Although there’s nothing new about the production of the album, I still found it an enjoyable listen. “In Christ Alone” and “Be Thou My Vision” open proceedings, with a fine female vocalist leading the way. “Amazing Grace” is the next highlight, sung in its original form, and lovely to hear. With just a piano accompaniment, there’s a gentle version of “Praise My soul the King of Heaven”, which really stands out. “The Lord’s My Shepherd” is sung in similar vein, although the congregation joins in, mid-song. There’s a nice selection of well known hymns here, such as “And Can It Be”, “All Creatures of Our God and King”, and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” They’re all well sung and, as I say, very enjoyable.   8/10. (February 2016) Forward to the next archive
Back to the archives index
Back to the current edition of NFN
Back to the ESL home page