Style: Pop/rock 2orship; compare to Phil Wickham, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith
Top Tracks: "Lovely," "I Will Follow," "Jesus, My Redeemer"
Is Chris Tomlin edging himself closer to the mainstream, secular music world? It's doubtful considering the clout that the 38-year-old singer/songwriter has earned over the course of his lengthy career. Nor would we suggest that Tomlin's songs of praise being performed in churches around the world isn't achievement enough. But as he's reached the absolute pinnacles of success within the CCM and contemporary worship worlds, where else can he go but toward the pop charts?
These may not be the right questions to ask of Tomlin's latest album, And If Our God Is For Us … And yet the project—a full, rich studio-driven approach that echoes the recent work of stadium-sized bands like U2 and Coldplay—wouldn't sound out of place if mixed in as part of an overstuffed NOW compilation.
Of course, what has always separated Tomlin's songs from that pack of pop music climbers is the faith-focused subject matter. On that front, he doesn't disappoint with some beautiful sentiments of praise that, like the best worship music, captures that rare combination of corporal and spiritual, the personal and the global.
Tomlin and his collaborators here (which includes such esteemed names as Hillsong's Reuben Morgan, Jason Ingram, and Matt Redman) do that by cutting straight to the point. He doesn't aim to draw people in by telling parables that they can put themselves into. He sings, head raised to the skies, giving the Creator his due, letting the music complete his sentiments.
The driving "No Chains on Me" and "Jesus the Redeemer" matches lyrics of breaking free from earthly restraints with wind-in-your-hair, rolling-down-the-highway bursts of energy. More intimate songs, like the album's most shining moment "Lovely" and the rhapsodic "Faithful," are pulled way back, letting warm piano chords and Tomlin's passionate voice wash over them gently.
With those themes in place, no one would mistake this for your everyday arena pop album. True, And If Our God, like Tomlin's 2009 Christmas album that at the time of this writing had re-entered the Billboard charts, will likely make a quick but sizeable dent in the Top 100 upon its release this week. But with its radio-ready sound, there is the potential, however slight, that this could capture the public consciousness and find Tomlin jockeying for position alongside such million-sellers as Taylor Swift and Cee-Lo Green.
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