Chris Tomlin - Burning Lights
Last modified: 23 Nov 2012
There's always a sense of excitement when a worship leader of Chris Tomlin
's standing brings out a new album. Such is his influence that worship leaders and musicians throughout the world look to him as a source of new music to take to their local churches, bringing something new to their times of worship.
With the arrival of Chris' new album 'Burning Lights
', some of that expectant audience might get a little shock. The opening title track quickly sees some rap vocals float in and out of the mix, although aside from that it's mainly an instrumental intro track that quickly jumps into the first proper song, 'Awake My Soul
'. Again, this features the vocals of rapper Lecrae, with the feel of an evangelist breaking into the song mid-way to unleash a mini sermon on the listener. It's powerful and brings a fresh and relevant feel to this album, but those seeking new material for the more conventional style of worship can breathe easy, there's plenty of great worship songs ahead.
It's not hard to see why next track, 'Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)
', was picked as the first single. With its rousing chorus and simple guitar sound, it's easy to sing and most likely destined for congregational worship. "I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side."
With 'Lay Me Down
' the fast acoustic guitar opening has a folk feel, and interspersed is a steady beat and continuous guitar strum that jumps a notch or two as the brilliantly singable chorus declares "I lay me down I'm not my own, I belong to You alone. Lay me down, Lay me down."
Former Delirious lead singer Martin Smith penned the track 'God's Great Dance Floor
' for his first solo EP, and in a similar fashion this version opens with a very stripped back feel, just a simple synth sound accompanying Chris' voice. But then the party vibe kicks in, with club style drum beat and electro effects. "You'll never stop loving us, no matter how far we run. You'll never give up on us, let heaven shout, let the future begin."
At the bridge the style changes yet again, moving into a party anthem as the brass band breaks out. "I feel alive, I come alive, I am alive on God's Great Dance Floor"
. Such a stunning song, and great to see Chris pushing the boundaries here, not sticking to the bog-standard worship album style of song.
' is a song familiar to many through it's use by the Passion conferences, but now Chris records his own interpretation. The sense of atmosphere during the chorus is brilliant, achieving a live sound feel with big backing vocals.
Chris also makes use of some well known guest vocalists on the album, starting with Kari Jobe on an updated version of the classic old hymn Crown Him With Many Crowns. The opening verse is mainly backed by a piano before some subtle percussion and guitars join in. The original hymn contained just four verses, but here Tomlin adds his own chorus in the same way as he previously rejuvenated 'Amazing Grace
' with his 'My Chains Are Gone
"Majesty, Lord of all let every throne before Him fall. The King of Kings, oh come adore our God who reigns forevermore"
says Tomlin's new chorus. In verse two Kari's beautiful vocals gently echo the words, but it's the final verse that really sends shivers down your spine. Keeping true to the original lyrics, the power and strength that emits from both music and words is utterly incredible. "All hail, Redeemer, hail! For He has died for me; His praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity."
This is where Tomlin really excels, taking a familiar song and adding something new to it that just leaves you filled with emotion, enthralled in the sense of worship.
Next on the guest list is Christy Nockels, who sings the second verse of 'Jesus, Son of God
' with strength, whilst fellow worship leader Phil Wickham is featured on 'Thank You God For Saving Me
'. Beginning with a very simple acoustic guitar, there is a contrasting vocal style with Tomlin and the more gravely sounding Wickham sharing the singing in this prayerful song. Later the tempo builds with a pounding beat as the two singers earnestly thank God together.
' is a gorgeous reflective song that on any other album would be a standout track, but such is the quality of tracks on this release that it's hard to fit it even into the top five. Then there's 'Countless Wonders
' that musically is an absolute gem, with exquisite strings and a simple piano sharing the stage with guitars, keys and drums.
Closing track 'Shepherd Boy
' is another Martin Smith co-write and again opens with a piano backing and some gentle strings playing in the background. "I'm just singing, singing over you. Come and lay your troubles down, 'cos love is breaking through"
. Half way through the ballad-style makes way for a choir and soaring electric guitars, with the strings still adding that touch of class.
This album sets a new milestone on the worship song highway, breaking new ground with its mix of fresh relevant vibes and more established style of congregational worship. It's the ultimate modern worship album that will set the standard for what others will produce going forward, and that's why Chris Tomlin is rightly so influential.
Review by Dave Wood
Crown Him [Majesty]
God's Great Dance Floor
Lay Me Down