This past Tuesday, Jesus Culture released their 6th album. Awakening is a double album recorded live at the Jesus Culture Awakening conference in Chicago last august. This double album has 16 songs with an average song length of 6 minutes. It clocks in at 1 hour and 43 minutes.
I think Awakening is the perfect title for this, because the overarching theme of this album is awakening out hearts to the kingdom of God once again. Because of the length of the album and the sheer number of songs on it, I will highlight each disc and share moments that really ministered to me. This live album doesn’t cut anything out. Each song has a lengthy run simply because they wanted to capture the fullness of the song in its live atmosphere which adds something special to the music.
The album opens with Awaken Me which really opens the album well with strong driving rhythms and a very upbeat feel to it. Led by Chris Quilala, this is a song that aptly gives you the power and passion of a youth conference, which is what Jesus Culture is. I love the soaring refrain “Come… Like You promised. Come… Fall upon us.” which lingers and then builds and really becomes more of a cry than a lyric.
Awaken me is followed by Father of Lights led out by Kim Walker-Smith. This song relies heavily on Kim’s strong vocals and a leading drum rhythm. The simple chorus of this song has an almost anthemic feel to it that I believe will catch on like last years One Thing Remains. “Love has a voice, and Love has a name… Jesus, Jesus. Your Love is a light filling my eyes… Jesus, Jesus” It just catches you and even if you forget every other line in this song, you will remember this chorus.
As has been the case throughout Jesus Culture’s history, this album has several cover songs. One such cover truly shines as a standout song on the whole album. Break Every Chain is lead out by Kristine DiMarco. It is a cover of The United Pursuit Band, one of two on this album. You might not know United Pursuit by name, but you might recognize them for their song Come Away which was the title track off of Last years Jesus Culture album. Perhaps this is not the right time to plug United Pursuit, but I am doing it anyway. Check them out.
Break Every Chain is a powerful piano epic. It begins with a simply lyrical premise; “There is Power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.” Simple lyrics, but a powerful message. Kristine DiMarco really shines on this song. This is the kind of song that just needed exposure to break out and become a worship classic. I have been leading this song since I first heard United Pursuit perform it, and I imagine churches all across the world will begin to use it now that it has been done so wonderfully on Awakening. It is not a complex song, it doesn’t have flashy hooks or complex riffs. It is a simple song with a simple message that just cuts straight to the heart. Even though this is not a new song, this rendition keeps the song strong and stands out on the album as a true high point.
Other songs worth mentioning from the first disc include a Synth driven rendition of Suzy Yarei’s Dance which you may remember was also recorded on the original Jesus Culture album Everything. Also Jesus Culture adds a brilliant rendition of the classic hymn Nothing But The Blood. Bethel worship newcomer Katie Torwalt shines with her song Glorious.
The Second disc of this album begins strong with Bryan Torwalt leading his song He Is Faithful. I love this song because it reminds you who Jesus is. It speaks of the character, nature, and passion of God, but reminds you to worship all of who he is. It’s a very singable song that will build up the congregation and energize as well.
Another United Pursuit cover slips in and once again proves to be a highlight of the album. Fill Me Up is another passionate song. Kim Walker-Smith knocks it out of the park on this one. The premise of this song is very simple and boils down to exactly what the title asks. “Fill me up, God. Fill Me Up, God. Fill Me Up, God. Fill Me Up.” The chorus couldn’t be any simpler than this, but the passionate cry for God to fill us makes a powerful moment, and it is almost as though you can feel him drawing closer as you ask him to come and fill you. This is another song that I think will catch on and really become the Anthem of the Church.
The final song I want to highlight is the final song on the album; The Anthem by Jake Hamilton. This song was included on this album because it really stirs you. It’s a less of man speaking to God and more of God’s response to man. It really fits to close this album. With Two full discs of worship to God, this serves as a response and an encouragement from God to say, “Wake up child; it’s your time to shine. You were born for such a time as this.” Then it shifts in the bridge to a cry from the people of God to come and shake our nation. This is a very guitar driven song that will most likely not appeal to a more traditional worship setting, but has the sound you would expect for a stadium feel. The song closes with the refrain, “I Am royalty. I have destiny. I have been set free. I’m gonna shake History.” In my opinion this is a great way to close out Awakening.
Other songs of note on the second disc include a new version of the song Burning Ones. As well as a cover of We Are Hungry, and the Time Hughes song Holding Nothing Back. You may remember that all three of these songs have been on previous Jesus Culture albums, which is why I didn’t give a full detailed description. But each of them has new life and shows the growth of Jesus Culture as a band if you compare the previous version of each song to the Awakening versions.
I probably don’t have to sell you on this album, because most likely if you are a Jesus Culture fan you will buy it if you haven’t already. But, if you aren’t a fan of them yet, I would definitely recommend this as a great worship album.
Mat Reames is a worship leader at Eagle Rock Church in Lawrence, Kansas and blogs at www.matreames.com.