Title: Heal Our Land
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 4/10/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Good To Me
- Do It Again
- Heal Our Land
- Strength Of My Life
- Hold On To Me
- Hallelujah To The Lord
- You Have It All
- It’s You
- No One Like You
- Running To You
It is often hard to compete with Hillsong and their hit songs ‘Mighty to Save’, ‘Hosanna’, ‘Search My Heart’ and ‘Greatness of our God’. Planetshakers have been based out of Melbourne, Australia; and have been involved in the worship music scene since the early 2000s, releasing albums like ‘Rain Down’, ‘Never Stop’, ‘Nothing is Impossible’ and ‘Saviour of the World’. Releasing their latest project, ‘Heal our Land’ on April 10th via Integrity Music; Planetshakers have released an album that has some bright moments where you just want to worship God in full force. Holistically, this album is a reasonable offering from a band that has been plagued with controversy over the last five years.
Their first single ‘Do It Again’, does everything right musically. Starting off with powerful guitars and drums, the song builds up to an anthemic feel as Joth Hunt sings out ‘…You can do all things. Heal every sickness free every captive…’ With such passion and energy, Joth gives a fresh and new sound to the band that’s trying to rebuild from such a public controversy still in everybody’s minds. As I scan the press release for this album, Henry Seeley is no longer a composer, which is a great shame, as I remember some of the favourite songs from the band, including ‘I Believe’, ‘Could I Ever’, ‘Rain Down’, ‘All of My Days’ and ‘Nothing is Impossible’; were written by him. Nevertheless, the band soldiers on, and ‘Do It Again’ is a simple song of asking the Lord to do the things He promised to upon the generation of today. Though the lyrics are cliché, the music hides the somewhat lack of lyrical depth in this song.
As I listen through to the rest of the album, I am amazed by the musical ability of the band. From the electronic overload in both ‘Good to Me’ and ‘It’s You’, the driving guitars to the rock anthem ‘Supernatural’, as well as the guitar and drum fest in ‘Power’; there is everything there for the musical lover of many genres. Rock anthems, ballads, electronic dance melodies; these musical moments could make great instrumental tracks. However, to make a good album great, lyrics do need to matter. Not that Planetshakers write bad lyrics, but rather the lyrics seen on this album are simple, with repetition and massive production on a music scale seeming to be the way to produce almost every pop-rock song on Heal Our Land. With half the songs either 6 minutes or longer, and the other half power anthems 4 minutes or less, the album seems to be a bit disjointed. Most of the songs are similar in lyrical themes, praising God for what He has done in our lives, proclaiming ‘…I’m forgiven, I have been set free…’ (Hallelujah to the Lord).
Despite the sincerity of the band, and their intentions for this album, I can’t help but wonder. Even though there are some songs that are enjoyable with first listen, if I were to think about parting with my $15 or $20 to purchase this album or not, I don’t think that I would. Truth be told, Planetshakers seem to be lacking in some creativity and lyrical richness throughout this album, even if it wasn’t their intention. From lyrics like ‘…Come on come on let this song of praise rise. Come on come on lift a shout of freedom…’ (It’s You); ‘…Let Your power come on me today. Let it flow in my life…’ (Power); to ‘…We’re going up moving out of the natural…We’re going up to the supernatural…’ (Supernatural), and ‘…You are so good to me. With everything I am I’ll give You praise…’ (Good To Me); this is an album full of simple lyrics and lots of repetition; and I was expecting more ‘wow’ moments from a band that have been in the music industry since 1997.
On the flipside, I’m sure these songs will connect with many different people, ministering to their lives and speaking amazing truths that are definitely applicable to their own Christian life, but it seems like when these collection of songs are placed against other worship albums this year (Passion, Kari Jobe, Christy Nockels, Desperation Band); Planetshakers are somewhat lagging behind. Looking at worship songs that are familiar and popular this year; ‘…Jesus come and break my fear, wake my heart and take my tears, and find Your glory even here when the hurt and the healer collide…’ (MercyMe); ‘…This place is trying to break my belief, but my faith is bigger than all I can see and what I need is redemption, what I need is for You for to put me back on my feet…’ (David Crowder), as well as ‘…How high. How wide. No matter where I am. Healing is in Your hands. How deep. How strong. Now by Your grace I stand. Healing is in Your hands…’ (Christy Nockels); I am certainly convinced that the worship industry as a whole have stepped up their creative writing ability, especially when what is on the line is whether someone purchases the record or not. Planetshakers shouldn’t receive any special treatment because they are affiliated with Australia, Hillsong nor because they had their share of the spotlight a few years back. Bands and artists need to be more creative than ever in this competitive musical market.
Overall: I know that this review shouldn’t be an attack. I’m certain that Planetshakers have written with all they have on this record. But, and similar to Hillsong, there are only one or two tracks that stand out in this album (ironically, it is the longest song, ‘Heal the Land’, that is my favourite, together with ballad ‘You Have it All’). Someone around the world will love these tracks to death, and say that they are their favourites. But I don’t think I am one of them. Sometimes albums just connect with you, and this one just didn’t for me. Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical and wanting more from a band that has produced some of my favourites ‘Majesty’, ‘Rain Down’, ‘I Believe’ and ‘It’s All About Jesus’. Hopefully with repeat listens to this album, my opinion of them can change with time. But for now, Heal the Land is for diehard fans of Hillsong, Jesus Culture, or any other live worship band.
RIYL: Hillsong, Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Kim Walker-Smith
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3