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Passion: God of This City
Label: Sixstepsrecords/Sparrow Records/EMI CMG
Time: 14 tracks/74.05 mins.
When it comes to writing and performing contemporary music that churches all over the world can use for corporate worship, there aren’t many people who are doing a better job than Chris Tomlin, Matt Redmond, and the David Crowder Band. Their songs typify the modern praise and worship movement, with melodies that are easy to sing and remember, and lyrics that are simple, declarative, and passionate. It is unsurprising that their songs are standouts on this live album which was recorded at Passion ’07 in Atlanta, and Passion Regional: USA Gatherings in Boston and Chicago. The project captures the energy of these live worship sessions, as it is experienced by thousands of college students and led by some of today’s top worship leaders.
Charlie Hall, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, and Fee join Tomlin, Redmond and Crowder on this album, and while each artist leaves his or her unique impression, there is certainly a consistency of style and theme that can be traced through all of the songs. Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion Conferences and sixstepsrecords, said that “Passion: God of This City is more than just another collection of ‘Passion songs,’” citing the release’s breadth of artists and new music (six songs that are not included on any other Passion or sixstepsrecords recordings). However, there is little in this collection that is surprising or dramatically different from previous Passion recordings. These artists have a very specific purpose and tried-and-true methods for achieving their purpose, which they do very well. Brad O’Donnell, vice president of A&R for EMI CMG said that the project benefited from a unique “energy that comes from being in smaller venues and the ability to choose between multiple performances of songs from different cities. We were able to look for the moments that something truly unexpected happened.” There is, nevertheless, very little that is really unexpected on this album. Perhaps for those moments “you just had to be there”.
While God of This City contains little that is truly ground breaking, it is packed with songs that could easily be incorporated into many churches’ worship repertoires. One of the album’s standouts is the title track, “God of This City,” which was written by Belfast, Ireland group Bluetree as a prayer on behalf of Padia, Thailand, but gives voice to universal longing and hope on behalf of all the world’s cities, big or small. Charlie Hall contributed two of the more unusual tracks in “You Are God” and “Walk the World,” which are melodically more complex and are therefore perhaps not as suited for corporate worship as some of the album’s other songs. Also notable is the live recording of Chris Tomlin’s number-one radio hit “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”. Several different soloists sing the verses, creating a simple and appealing texture that contrasts with the power of thousands of voices joining in on the chorus.
Passion’s goal is to unite Christian young people, encouraging and energizing them to pray for and work towards the renewal of their generation, not only at their own colleges and universities, but worldwide. The songs included on this project reflect this desire, some of which focus on individual salvation and experiences of grace, but some which also point believers outward, reminding them of their responsibility to shine Christ’s light to the world. Together they are an excellent example of the power and potential of contemporary, corporate worship.