hughes pocketful of faithNo one's expecting any surprises from Hughes and he gives a solid, if predictable, set of songs that focus on faith and obedience.



Label: Integrity Music

Time:12 tracks / 54 mins.

Hughes’ change of career from Worship Central front man to church-planting urban vicar has clearly inspired an album that often feels like a journal.

With his comfort zone shrunk by the change, the twin themes of faith and obedience that weave throughout the songs are both personal and pertinent – although another songwriter might have delved deeper into what it feels like in the grey areas, to help worshippers identify more closely with the songs, rather than assume that our response is always total commitment.

Using a template that has worked since Holding Nothing Back, soft-rock anthems (“Only the Brave” and the soaring “Set Apart”) mix with piano ballads (“Hallelujah,” the slow-builder “Hope and Glory” and the lovely “Arms,” which displays co-writer Martin Smith’s influence).

While faith is the context, Hughes’ lyrics are generic enough to be tweaked for various situations – and, as usual, he grafts lines stolen from a famous hymn onto something new.

Nathan Nockels’ production is incrementally more up-to-date than earlier work; there is a dance track buried deep at the end of two tracks, and one (“The Way”) gets some up-front drums and a more chart-friendly sound (although, set against several ballads, it doesn’t sound entirely authentic).

With several very singable tracks, half of these songs might easily find their way into our churches during the year.

Hughes is realistic about life’s difficulties from the opening line, “When darkness deepens, the path unsure,” and uncompromising in the responses of faith, “I’m giving it all” and “Your power broke through in every battle.”

There are plenty of songs of total commitment here. But am I the only one who finds it so hard to honestly sing, “I’m giving it all"? How many of us ever do, and is it fair to write that line so often in our worship songs?

Derek Walker

Derek Walker

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