By Melissa Riddle for GospelMusicChannel.com
Chris Tomlin is one of those guys who defies logic. After all, here's an average guy with an average voice writing common songs with simple melodies and simpler words. And yet, as Time magazine pointed out, this average Joe is "the most often sung artist anywhere," with four songs in the top 25 list of songs sung in churches nationwide and around the world (Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc.), including "How Great Is Our God," the fastest rising modern hymn in CCLI chart history. For this and other reasons, Tomlin is, without question, one of the most influential artists in Christian music today.
Tomlin's fifth studio release (his sixth release overall), Hello Love adds further fuel to the fire, with the single "Jesus Messiah" already the biggest, most added single in the history of Christian radio. If that were the only song of note on this 12-song collection, we might be tempted to say 'enough already,' but the truth is, its Chris Tomlin's simple gift, his common approach to worship - and God's undeniable pleasure in receiving praise from his creation - that propels this ordinary guy's work into another, higher category.
"With each new record, I continue to strive to create songs that will help people voice their worship to God," Tomlin writes in his liner notes. "I hold this as a great responsibility when I begin to think about what the overall recording will look like. Worship is a massive word with a very broad scope, but in the end, it is very simple. It is love! It's our response in love to our great God who loved us first. As well, it's our love for others. Hopefully these songs will renew in some way or stir up again your love for God and His people."
Produced by Ed Cash (Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant and previous Tomlin efforts Gold-certified See The Morning and Platinum-certified Arriving), Hello Love is as well-rounded as a modern worship album gets. Opening with "Sing, Sing, Sing," a familiar-sounding but totally engaging anthem of praise, Hello Love delivers a fine balance of slowly building, full-on pop/rock anthems with stirring, worshipful ballads. "You Lifted Me Out," already a live-concert crowd-sing-along favorite, and "Love," a stirring "We Are The World"-like anthem carried by the beautiful voices of the Watoto Children's Choir of Uganda add an unmistakable fervor. Of the ballads, "Jesus, Messiah" will doubtless become another CCLI favorite in the years ahead, but of even more distinction in this genre is Tomlin's "I Will Rise," a song of worship for the broken-hearted. It's not often we hear a song of worshipful lament, and it takes a writer of substance to compose one that rings true in the end. This one rings true and full of hope. As does the whole collection.
In the end, the logic defied here harkens back to the illogical truth that God chooses to use, chooses to flourish, in the seemingly ordinary...in those simple clay pots that never run out of oil, in those boys who offer up their fish and bread to feed the world. God's power is often displayed in simplicity.
Who knows what else God has up His sleeve for Chris Tomlin? But his songs are going to be around long after we're gone, so I'm going to keep watching to see.
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