Israel  New Breed - Jesus At The Center cover.jpegIf you prefer Israel & New Breed to Houghton's solo work, this is for you – New Breed does it agin, live...

Jesus at the Center
Israel & New Breed
Integrity Music
17 tracks / Disc 1 – 66 minutes Disc 2 – 72 minutes

A bumper-crop of live "Praise and Worship" music – Israel Houghton style – awaits you in Jesus at The Center, the new double-disc live recording by Israel & New Breed. Fans of New Breed will delight in every moment of the dynamic and energetic performance, although others might find much of it to be generic. Generic and energetic – perhaps a formula a bit too easy for the talented Houghton, whose last two solo projects were powerful and showed a creative edge that was both surprising and refreshing. Time to issue the disclaimer: I'm not one that feels there needs to be a division between "Praise and Worship" music and a Christian artist's main body of work, and have never been a fan of making such music its own genre. That being said, the music is tight and well-played, the vocals are fine (although there are many moments of that pre-packaged sounding unison back-up singing) and it sounds like a good time was had by all.

The inclusion of Gungor's "You Have Me," provides a nice break from the more over-the-top performances, introducing a more vulnerable moment to the album – this is not to say that there aren't other quiet moments on the album, but this song provides a fresh 'new' voice at the right time. The surprising cover of Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" is also a treat -  and a reminder of just how beautiful that song is.

Surprisingly (for such a lengthy project) there are three studio tracks added as a bonus at the end of the set.

For those that have been waiting for Houghton to get back to New Breed, this might be the album of the year. For those who were happy to see Houghton stretch his creative wings on his recent solo work, this album might just make you scratch your heads. On the other hand – if you want a 'hot' live Praise and Worship project in your collection, there's certainly plenty of that on this double-disc set.

-Bert Saraco


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