Album Review :
North Point Inside:Out - No One Higher
- Can’t Stop Singing (Seth Condrey)
- Bless Your Name (Eddie Kirkland)
- God is With Us (Chris Cauley)
- My Next Breath (Eddie Kirkland)
- No One Higher (Seth Condrey)
- Furious (Seth Condrey, Heath Balltzfglier)
- Our Great God (Heath Balltzfglier)
- Always (Chris Cauley)
- Arms Open Wide (Seth Condrey)
- Forever Reign (Seth Condrey)
There have been many worship and conference movements that have gripped the hearts and souls of many young people from around the globe. From Hillsong to Planetshakers, Passion to Soul Survivor, Jesus Culture to Gateway Worship; North Point Music, the music division of North Point Ministries, are another movement with their heart to reach young people and to fuel their passions of Christ, and are set to release their latest live album, No One Higher; first under North Point: Inside Out, with the live CD created for the church’s student ministry. Featuring new songs as well as some well-loved covers like ‘Forever Reign’, ‘Furious’ and the Hawk Nelson-penned ‘My Next Breath’, these worship leaders in Eddie Kirkland, Heath Balltzfglier, Seth Condrey and Chris Cauley (who was on The Voice U.S. Season 2) have been able to capture the live setting as millions of worshippers align their hearts towards Christ’s and release their potential as they discover their gifts, talents and hopeful desires in light of what Christ has done for them. Based in Atlanta, Georgia under the pastorship of world renown speaker Andy Stanley, North Point Ministries’ latest musical offering is bound to rouse up the worshipping spirit in listeners and is a must purchase for fans of Hillsong, Passion or Jesus Culture!
At its core, No One Higher is a worship album filled with plenty of moments of surrender and reflection, as well as times of declarations, utter abandonment in worship as listeners are able to immerse themselves in these 10 melodies (No. 1 is the Intro), each with their own uniqueness musically as listeners are able to embrace familiarity with many songs heard in Sunday worship services before. One such melody is album closer, ‘Forever Reign’. Sung with a stirring passion amidst the electronics and reverb, this Hillsong/One Sonic Society cover is given a welcomed rendition by worship leader Seth Condrey. As I listen to the hopeful lyrical moments ‘…nothing compares to Your embrace, light of the world, forever reign…’; I am able to declare along with Seth, that God reigns above everything in my life, a truth that everyone should be aware of, that no matter what occurs in our lives, Christ still reigns on His throne. The Hawk Nelson written ‘My Next Breath’ is another standout, and is one of my favourite songs ever by the Canadian rockers. It is seldom that Hawk Nelson writes a worship song, in fact, this is probably the only outwardly expressive song about worship and adoration that they have written. Originally on Crazy Love, Eddie Kirkland has done a great job in giving the song justice with one of the best cover renditions of any song that I’ve listened to- almost to the point where you don’t even recognise (even if it is for a second) that Hawk Nelson wrote it! With a great guitar driven melody and a great background vocal, both equally able to bring listeners into this simple, yet profound worship song of surrender; ‘My Next Breath’ is one of my favourites from Hawk Nelson, and one of my favourites on North Point’s album No One Higher!
With covers from Casey Darnell, Jeremy Riddle, Hillsong and Kristian Stanfill; North Point have been able to balance this record with some familiar songs that people may have heard once or twice, coupled with brand-new anthems filled with raw intense worshipful passion as we are introduced to melodies destined to reach churches near and far to become global anthems both now and in years to come. Jeremy Riddle’s ‘Furious’ is given a well executed transformation in a live setting, with both Seth Condrey and Heath Balltzfglier (formerly of the band Fee) declaring that ‘…His love is deep, His love is wide, and it covers us, His love is fierce, His love is strong, it’s furious, His love is sweet, His love is wild and it’s waking hearts to life…’ With a great emphasis on guitars and percussion, this anthem is a cry of truth, towards God of who He is and what He does, wake up those who need revelation of His unending and ever-pursuing love. ‘Arms Open Wide’ is also a nice cover and one of the underrated Hillsong melodies over the recent years. With Seth once again performing such a vulnerable track about giving everything we have and everything we are for Christ to do His work, it is the lyrics ‘…my whole life is Yours, I give it all, surrender to Your name and forever I will pray “Have Your way”…’ that really hit me the most emotionally, understanding that once we are in Christ as a new creation, all we can do in response to His pursuit of His children is a simple offering of surrender, out of love and adoration for our Father, understanding that whatever we do cannot compare to the undeserving shower of grace and compassion that has been given to us.
NBC’s The Voice contestant Chris Cauley also lends his voice in this album, one of the melodies sung being the Kristian Stanfill penned song ‘Always’, about us finding rest in Christ in the midst of troubles as we understand that ‘…oh my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength always…His promise is true, my God will come through always…’. Chris (sounding like worship artist Chris McClarney) has been able to sing with a sense of rawness and honesty as he pours out his soul into the truthful words, amidst the strings and electric guitars, making me curious as to what other songs (other than the ones on No One Higher) he has sung, as well as his progress on the reality show! The last ‘cover’ on the album is by worship leader Casey Darnell, and though many listeners may not have heard ‘Our Great God’ many times (if at all!), this melody is one of my favourites on the album. A rousing anthem true of jumping off our seats to proclaim ‘…Your name we’re lifting higher, Your glory our desire, Your praise we’ll sing forever, our great God…’, this guitar driven emotion-stirring strength-giving ‘one of the most upbeat songs on the album’ has become one of my favourite songs from North Point Ministries, almost on par with ‘All Because of Jesus’ and ‘Lights of Manhattan (Let it Rise)’. Well done North Point for creating such powerful tracks of wonder and awe!
With a great balance between new songs and other artist’s songs, North Point have always led with authority and passion, confidence in Christ as worship is led with such enthusiasm that’s destined to captivate listeners around the world. Title track ‘No One Higher’ is a simple song of adoration, with Seth providing us lyrics of awe and wonder through this piano-driven melody, full of lyrical richness as we stand to proclaim that ‘…there is no one higher, no one greater, no one like our God…’ Initially on the last North Point record Awake as a repetitious tag, the full length song is a great reminder of God’s supremacy and our complete reliance on His goodness and faithfulness. ‘God is For Us’ is another Chris Cauley track focused on declaring God’s favour and kindness on His creation, that ‘…sin is powerless, our God is for us…’, but it is the second track ‘Can’t Stop Singing’ that is my favourite out of the originals. A fun and upbeat track of how we can’t stop singing the praises of our King, with a similar theme to Tim Hughes ‘Never Stop Singing’, this electronic keyboard infused melody with plenty of ‘woah’ vocals is bound to invoke a dancing spirit in every listener that engages with this heartfelt melody. Well done North Point for such ingenious originality filled with one purpose of glorifying Christ above all situations that we are in!
Overall: Filled with an intense worship focus, North Point’s new album has enough new and old melodies to peak interests in listeners as it stands tall amidst the other worship groups like Hillsong, Jesus Culture and Passion. With melodies that will capture the heart and soul of what it means to be a follower of Christ, this is an album that is certain to resonate with many students as listeners individually and corporately cry out to God our Father and Provider. Though not a well-known name, North Point’s album will certainly propel this music ministry to similar critical acclaim akin to Jesus Culture or the ever-reliable Hillsong or Passion band. With fan-favourites and anthems-in-the-making, No One Higher is one of my favourite albums of September 2012!
RIYL: Passion, Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Soul Survivor