Album Review :
Paul Baloche - The Same Love

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Artist: Paul Baloche
Title: The Same Love
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 4/3/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. The Same Love
  2. We Are Saved
  3. King Of Heaven
  4. All Because Of The Cross
  5. Your Blood Ran Down
  6. My Hope
  7. Oh Our Lord
  8. Christ The Lord
  9. Reign In Me
  10. Just Say
  11. Loved By You
  12. Look Upon The Lord
  13. Shout For Joy

Paul Baloche has been in the music industry for over 20 years, writing many worship songs that are sung by many households and churches from around the world; with songs like ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart’, ‘Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)’, ‘Above All’, ‘Offering’ and more recently ‘Glorious’ and ‘Just to Be With You’. The Same Love shows a maturity in Paul’s writing, as he combines simple melodies and honest lyrics with ingenious instrumental arrangements. This is also one of his first full studio albums he has done in many years; and together with co-writes and guest vocals ranging from Kathryn Scott and Kari Jobe to Jason Ingram; I was eager to listen to this album, and was immediately impressed. Produced by guitarist Ben Gowell and Michael Rossback; The Same Love is my favourite Paul Baloche album as a whole, and rates in the same category of many worship albums this year, among Kari Jobe’s Where I Find You; Desperation Band’s Center of it All and Christy Nockels’ Into the Glorious.

As I read through Paul’s inspiration for his first radio single ‘The Same Love’, I am amazed at the honesty and transparency of his words; as he shares that ‘…God is not this impersonal force…from creation to the crucifixion, God has been calling us – by name…giving us a challenge…asking, “Are you ready to give up your way of doing things? Come as you are, pick up your cross daily and I will transform your life”…’ God’s love never changes and as the lyrics point out, ‘…the same God that spread the heavens wide, the same God that was crucified is calling us all by name…’ What a fantastic reminder that the God who was; is the God who is and the God that will be! With a clever mix of acoustic and electric guitar, strings and a soft drum beat; I am sure that this song will become a church favourite in years to come.

‘All Because of the Cross’ is a rendition of the famous hymn, ‘Nothing But the Blood’. As Paul sings out ‘…what can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus…’ I am reminded that the Lord shed His blood for Us, died for the punishment that we should’ve received. We are free because of the resurrected Christ, and for that we can come to the Lord and praise Him. With soft guitars giving an anthemic feeling every time I listen, I was impressed at how Paul could write his own chorus and place it in the hymn, without disturbing the musical aspect or the song’s direction. The bridge’s tag of ‘Oh the Blood of Jesus’ is a fine addition, stating that it is the blood of Jesus that ‘…there’s a cleansing flow for all who come…’ Well done Paul with a hymn rendition that will be forever treasured personally; definitely a must for a radio single!

All through the album, I could glimpse into Paul’s heart for worship, and with a duos on songs, it was a treat to see how the collaborations worked. Both ‘King of Heaven’ and ‘Oh Our Lord’ feature All Sons and Daughters (Dave Leonard and Leslie Jordan); a folk worship group from Tennessee. With the banjo present in ‘King of Heaven’, this is a prayer to God to let His will be done in our lives, as we are a vessel of God’s love to the world. Paul and Leslie’s strong vocals sing out ‘…King of heaven rise up, who can stand against us? You are strong to save in your mighty name, King of heaven come…’ and I’m caught up in pure worship. Who can’t love it when country and worship intertwine? ‘Oh Our Lord’ is also a collaboration with All Sons and Daughters. A groovy banjo track that speaks about how we long for the presence of the Lord, Paul’s vocals rise as he worships with all his heart, proclaiming that ‘…oh our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the Earth…’ Both these tracks highlight an album full of lyrical impartations of hope and courage as Paul encourages the listener to immerse themselves fully in the love of Christ.

‘Look Upon the Lord’ is a quiet duet with Kari Jobe, with rising guitars and percussion in the chorus as both voices complement each other, singing the chorus ‘…You are good and your mercy will endure…forever we are yours…’ A simple song of declaration, this is a highlight as Kari sings ‘…holy, with one voice, heaven and earth are singing…’ The simple bridge turns into a worship moment, where nothing else matters expect worship to our God. ‘Reign in Me’ is a duet with Jason Ingram, and though a primary songwriter, he can sing quite well. A typical radio-style musical arrangement, ‘Reign in Me’ is also as simple as the music, but it is Jason’s singing in the second verse that highlights the song. As Jason surrender’s to the Lord, ‘…Your will be done… With all of my heart I resign, my life to you…’ I am encouraged by this. For if God isn’t in whatever we’re doing; then everything is in vain, that ‘…unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain …’ (Psalm 127:1) ‘My Hope’ is another duet, this time with Kathryn Scott, writer of ‘Hungry (Falling on my Knees)’. With the piano and guitar melodies, Paul asserts that ‘…my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…’ The duet is carefully sung and both voices harmonize each other throughout; giving a calming sense as we listen and worship the God who is our ‘…rock when storms are raging all around…’ Finally, ‘We are Saved’ is a Hillsong inspired Ben Fielding song that gives an eerie introduction with powerful drums, electronic guitars and keyboards. As the song continues; we are introduced to a Hillsong-esque chorus as we reflect on Christ, standing ‘…amazed at the work of the cross, we are saved…’ Another potential single, this song is always a joy to listen to.

The Same Love’s central theme always has been the cross and the empty tomb. ‘Christ the Lord’ is another hymn redone, creating a corporate worship setting with dynamic guitars and keyboard. This song is the gospel presented, with ‘…love’s redeeming work is done, raise your voice, the King has overcome…’ A great song to have on the album! Finally, two songs are co-written with Lincoln Brewster, and also on his previous ‘Real Life’ album. ‘Loved by You’ is a simple and honest track about being loved by the God of the universe. What an exciting fact! Last on the album is the joyous song ironically titled ‘Shout for Joy’. Almost certain to become a church favourite, the energetic and vibrant guitars build onto a solid message that ‘…He’s alive and here with us…[so] shout for joy for the Son of God is the saving one…’ What a fantastic way to end an album full of promises, assurances and worship moments of total surrender.

Overall: The main theme of The Same Love, according to a recent interview with christianmusiczine.com; was to ‘…have an expectation as you wake up in the morning that God is speaking to your heart… if you go to Psalm 95 it talks about “Today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” … there is a living God who is speaking and sending messages and wanting to speak to us, not only during the day, but  even in the night through dreams…’ This album depicts this and more. These 13 songs are a journey of faith and hope, truth and worship; and as we listen to these offerings, we can just soak in the truth of the cross and the resurrection. Fans of Michael W Smith’s worship albums and Brenton Brown will enjoy this album. Well done Paul for this worship experience!

RIYL: Michael W. Smith, Brenton Brown, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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