Album Review :
Worship Central - Let It Be Known
By Jonathan Andre in Reviews | Comments closed
Artist: Worship Central
Title: Let It Be Known
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 3/12/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Ready For You (Luke Hellebronth)
- God Most High (Ben Cantelon)
- Let It Be Known (Tim Hughes)
- The Cross Stands (Tim Hughes)
- Dry Bones (Nikki Fletcher)
- Kingdom Coming (Tim Hughes)
- Guardian (Ben Cantelon)
- Draw Me Close (Nikki Fletcher)
- The Constant (Al Gordon)
- Hallelujah (Ben Cantelon)
- Our Generation (Luke Hellebronth and Myles Dhillon)
- Set Me Free (Myles Dhillon)
- The Same Power (Ben Cantelon)
Now releasing their third live album, the worship ministry in London, England featuring singer-songwriters Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon, Nikki Fletcher, Al Gordon, Luke Hellebronth and Myles Dhillon, Worship Central is now one of my anticipated live worship albums of the year, together with annual offerings from Passion, Bethel and Jesus Culture. With the addition of newcomer worship movement Elevation Worship and the wide and different facets of live worship are covered from the spontaneous to the structured, the passionate to the poignant and the declaratory to the deep moments of worship in all its forms. With Tim Hughes one of my favourite worship leaders of all time (along with Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin of Passion), we are met with some of the most enthusiastic and passionate worship moments of the year so far. With anthems like ‘Guardian’ and ‘God Most High’ and ballads like ‘The Cross Stands’ and ‘Draw Me Close’, Worship Central’s infectious enthusiasm is dramatically felt my anyone who listen. Definitely a must-purchase if you enjoy British music from artists like Vicky Beeching, Tim Hughes and Matt Redman; heartfelt moments of surrender and joyous songs full of dancing and celebration collide in a great way to create an album destined to rival Passion 2013 as the best live worship album of the year so far!
‘Let it Be Known’ is the first single from the album, and while it is possibly the most catchiest song in terms of musicality, the lyrics seem to be a little simplistic compared to other songs given to listeners by Worship Central. Led by one of my favourite worship leaders of all time, Tim Hughes (normally whoever leads the song is the person who wrote it), the ingenious music full of electronics and ‘woah’ crowd participative moments doesn’t detract from the fact that the song is something that Planetshakers would do- big musical sounds yet lyrics that could’ve been heard from any other album before. Not to discount Tim’s certain passion and genuine heart for worship throughout this track and many others on the album, yet when you declare a chorus like ‘…let it be known that our God saves, our God reigns, we lift Him up, up, up…’, be prepared to face critical arguments and analysis- something perceived as simplistic will discourage people from listening, no matter how grounded the song is theologically. While the song shows us a moment of surrender and lifting up the name of Christ, the message can still be found in other heartfelt songs like ‘Waiting Here for You’ (Christy Nockels), ‘Crown Him (Majesty)’ (Chris Tomlin) and ‘All Glory’ (Nikki Fletcher). Not to say that Tim’s heart isn’t true, but after watching a video that shows us how to write a generic worship song in 10 minutes, this fun tongue-in-cheek video does have some truth in it- and sadly many worship leaders do follow a formula, taking safe steps in writing their songs and gaining popularity when we know that they could possibly write better than that. Songs like ‘Happy Day’, ‘Giver of Life’, ‘Everything’, ‘Whole World in His Hands’ and ‘Here I Am to Worship’ are great songs from Tim, yet sadly, ‘Let it Be Known’, while conveying some great truths that we all need to hear, still doesn’t capture the poignancy shown in Tim’s previous work. Despite the energetic crowd, the song doesn’t offer much more than that, and is a poor representation of an otherwise great album- let us just hope that listeners will continue and move past the song to other great ones on Let It Be Known.
Despite such a poor introduction to Worship Central’s new album, the rest of the songs gladly don’t follow in the shoes of the title track, with the rest of the 12 songs shining and showing us the quality of the songs that Worship Central can do in their 2013 album. Other than ‘Let It Be Known’, Tim Hughes sings ‘The Cross Stands’ and ‘Kingdom Coming’, with either of them making better first singles than the title track. ‘Kingdom Coming’ starts off with a riveting electronic musical introduction with plenty of loops and percussion undertones as we are presented with a declaratory stance from Tim, showing his heart as he sings out that ‘…Your kingdom’s coming, salvation day, a time of breakthrough is on it’s way…’ Full of enthusiasm and the music production at top quality, we are met with a song sung as a longing of the day when Christ comes again, yet presented in a way that’s not shown to be a mellow melody that these offerings can sometimes become, with Tim poignantly showing us a worship song declaring of Christ’s glory and magnificence, yet also a song unveiling a journey for each one of us spiritually til Jesus comes again. ‘The Cross Stands’ is one of my favourite songs on the album as Tim offers us hope and solace in the cross of Jesus through great keyboards and string arrangements. A song to sing to during Easter time, Tim poignantly lets listeners know that ‘…beyond this lifetime, beyond this darkness there’s light…the cross stands above it all, burning bright in this life…’ The cross and the resurrected Christ are living proof of the love showered over us, with the anthem of praise and freedom one that will be one of my favourite songs from Tim since his heartfelt ‘God is Coming’ released on his 2011 album Love Shines Through. With such captivating strings and a powerhouse vocal from Tim that emphasises our need to understand the importance of Christ through His sacrifice, both ‘Kingdom Coming’ and ‘The Cross Stands’ show us the better qualities of Tim’s writing ability rather than the somewhat cheesy ‘Let It Be Known’. Well done Tim for these redeeming songs that elevate this album out of the perceived dismalness one could see if they only listened to the title track.
Apart from Tim, Ben Cantelon, Al Gordon, Myles Dhillon and Nikki Fletcher offer us some great songs in tandem with Tim as Worship Central continues to assert its place in today’s global worship music industry. With ‘Guardian’ one of my favourite tracks on Ben Cantelon’s Everything in Colour, the live version of this riveting album highlight is just as enjoyable, fun, energetic and powerful as we immerse ourselves into the light acoustics and electric guitar as Ben declares that ‘…You go before me, You’re there beside me and if I wander, love will find me…my guardian…’ Alluding to the parables Jesus told about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, we are reminded that Christ goes with us always, and that if we ever feel like we’re steering off course for whatever reason, we can use this anthem as a declaratory stance as we remember Christ being with us always. ‘God Most High’ starts off with a riveting guitar solo as Ben offers us solace and hopeful comfort in this anthem of praise, and while the song could sound like something Hillsong may write (in fact, Hillsong could even cover the song and many listeners may still think it was from Hillsong), the message of lifting God up, the great melody to the song that draws us in is enough to say ‘God Most High’ is one of my favourite songs by Ben lately. Alongside ‘Guardian’ and ‘Worth It All’, ‘God Most High’ has a potential single quality to the song. Declaring that God is the most high is just the beginning of our endless praise to Him, with this song certainly acting as a catalyst to our praise and adoration. Both ‘Dry Bones’ and ‘Draw Me Close’ were written by Australian Nikki Fletcher (who now lives in the U.K. after moving some years ago), showcasing vulnerability in all its facets as Nikki lets God invade to raise up the dry bones within us, as well as wanting God to draw close to us as we delve deeper into His presence and glory. With both of these songs heavily piano-based, it is the poignancy of Nikki’s writing coupled with the enthusiastic and emotional demeanour that Nikki portrays through her songs that leads me to assert Nikki’s place in the future of British worship in months and years to come.
‘Hallelujah’ is another song by Ben, and while it only repeats a few stanzas, as Ben and the congregation lift their voices to assert that ‘…it’s You we glorify, it’s You we’re lifting high, Your name be glorified…’, we are met with an anthem that’s destined to invade into many churches and become an anthem for a generation in months and years to come. With the addition of tracks from Al Gordon (‘The Constant’) and Myles Dhillon (‘Set Me Free’) also on Let It Be Known, showing listeners through intensely pounding percussion instruments that God’s nature is constant even during the moments of our hurt and calamity (‘The Constant’), as well as offering up a quiet prayer to God, asking Him to come invade the darkest places of us (‘Set Me Free’), it is Ben Cantelon that finishes off the album with ‘The Same Power’. A song that starts off with the quietness of Ben’s vocal and a few percussion instruments and then moving into a great crescendo of voices declaring that the same power that rose Christ from the dead lives within us, the song is certain to move us as we understand that Christ’s love and power are active in our lives as we live out our days with the prompting and comfort from Christ to live for Him. The bridge is especially heartfelt, as Ben declares that the grave cannot contain the love that Christ as abundantly given for each of us. A great end to an album with only one downside (the title track), Ben’s efforts ought to be commended, showcasing some of the best songs on the album and some of my favourite Ben Cantelon songs in general. Well done Worship Central for ending the album on a high note.
Overall: Worship Central’s latest album has so many great points yet with the promotional video of ‘Let It Be Known’ supposedly promoting the album and being the ‘face’ of the new record coming out next week, many listeners could boycott the album, based solely on the cheesy first single. Saddening to know that many listeners may not listen to the album based on one listening to a song that shouldn’t even be the first radio single on the album in the first place, Worship Central’s remainder of the tracks do more than enough to lift the album out of embarrassment that it was initially in after myself only hearing ‘Let It Be Known’. Nevertheless, this album showcases some of the best worship music in Britain, and while Tim’s latest hit single does nothing than show us how sometimes catchiness and a beat can supersede a song supposed to be written with great creativity and ingenuity, Worship Central have given us an album that could hopefully delve us more into worship than we have ever had before. With some of my favourite songs by Worship Central on this album (‘Draw Me Close’, ‘The Same Power’, ‘God Most High’ and ‘Guardian’), let us just hope that ‘Let It Be Known’ is not the lead single on Tim Hughes’ new album. With such great potential and ability, Tim’s song seemingly lets the album down on an otherwise well-rounded and powerful offering of 13 worship songs that speak of God’s involvement in the very intricacies of our lives. Well done guys for a compelling album, albeit for the underwhelming ‘Let It Be Known’.
RIYL: Passion, Bethel, Tim Hughes, Vicky Beeching
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3