LABEL: HILLSONG WORSHIP
RELEASE DATE: JULY 3, 2012
When it comes to Hillsong Live, it doesn’t take much to know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get simple, straight-forward lyrics and standard fare musical arrangements crafted for corporate worship settings. So, here’s Cornerstone.
“Endless Night” kicks things off and while it is a bit scaled back for a Hillsong opener, it follows the “get them out of their seats” formula that is part of the Hillsong ethos. But, it does manage to set the tone for an album that ends up being a bit more low-key than their previous outings.
Title track “Cornerstone” will likely be considered more awesome than it actually is by virtue of the fact it was the title track. Given the return of hymns to the modern church, this was an admirable attempt to create a more updated version of “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand,” borrowing the stanzas but adopting a new refrain and chorus. However, the inspiration for the new song far outweighs the new song itself. That being said, it will still move people to a near ecstatic worshipful state and that’s kind of the point.
“I Surrender” is a solid piece that features light melodies accompanied by equally light, yet taut harmonies. However, these radiant melodies and harmonies build with the instruments towards a prayerful crescendo that is destined to have congregations across the globe worshipping Jesus with outstretched arms towards the heavens.
“All My Hope” is a worshipful number that points to Jesus as our only hope in this world and the next. It’s not a terribly complicated song musically, but Hillsong tends to excel when there’s a female lead on the vocals.
“Grace Abounds” is the song the worship drummer(?) will love during the song’s refrain as he/she will get to lead things towards a fun yet predictable crescendo. This song will likely make the rounds in a number of churches, but it we’ve all been here before. We’ve been her before with Hillsong for that matter.
There’s a lot to like on this album and a lot to dislike and people will likely disagree on what constitutes those things. I’ve already talked with a few people who received early copies and their favorites and their not-so-favorites couldn’t be more opposite. So, that being said, Cornerstone has something for everyone to like and something for everyone to hate. And yes, if you were wondering, you are allowed to hate a worship song (without hating the object of worship).
Essentially, every album is the same with Hillsong LIVE. I hope for something different and groundbreaking every single time. But, maybe its time to admit that you can only do so much with [corporate] worship music. There really is no middle ground between the technical proficiency of a Gungor and the simple four-chord progression of a Chris Tomlin. Hillsong Live has their “Hillsong brand sound,” but they’re more akin to Tomlin than Gungor. Their latest project Cornerstone is no different. It’s different than their own previous outings in some ways, but it is still decidedly “Hillsong.
All around, Cornerstone is a much lighter, much more contemplative project from Hillsong Live. Over the years, we’ve grown accustomed to their albums being more grandiloquent and effervescent. I can’t be sure, but it feels as if Hillsong Church must have been in a more pensive and prayerful season in the life of their faith community when these songs were written. If so, these songs beautifully reflect that reality. Despite this fact, something is missing from the project. Maybe it’ll take time to grow on me. Right now, I simply feel it doesn’t reach the heights of their past releases and they’re kind of stuck between doing what they’ve always done and becoming what they’ve always been destined to be.