A Crowning Achievement
Posted September 26, 2016
By DwayneLacy_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Fred Hammond has been in the industry for well over 30 years, and his fans (including myself) want him to go on forever. He had an electrifying live recording in May of this year, and after that said that he is going to put the mic "halfway down." Worship Journal Live is ready to drop now, and listeners should get ready for a ride of a lifetime. The album is laden with scripture, and it has just the right mixture of upbeat gems and powerful songs that are vertical but encouraging at the same time. Fred produces the album with help from Calvin Rodgers, Philip Feaster, Lawrence Jones and Lehman Gray.
"The Lord is Good" has a mean groove courtesy of Lawrence Jones' guitar work and Maurice Fitzgerald's bassline. The horns were added in the studio because they were not at the live recording, but they add the "sauce." The song is already infectious, but when they get to the vamp "Good to me / Good to me / Good to me / I know He's been good to me," the song goes up a few notches. You will not be able to let this one go, though I wish Fred would have included the reprises that he did at the recording. Either way, this song snaps!
The arrangement of "Take Care of You" was carefully crafted courtesy of Fred, Calvin Rodgers and Philip Feaster. Of course, you are going to nod your head and sing along when you hear the interworking of "Clap your hands this evening! / I said it's alright." The familiarity of that Earth, Wind and Fire classic will resonate along with the powerful singing of "God will, God will / God will take care of you! / Through every day / Along the way..."
There is criticism of Gospel and CCM lyrics being contrived and somewhat shallow. However, for many people Gospel and CCM songs are a part of the soundtrack of their lives or songs that just basically take them to the throne of God. "One Touch" and "Let Me Touch The Hem" will be "those songs" to many. "One Touch" tells the story of Jairus' daughter who died, and Jesus healed her after people were very doubtful. The moral of the story that Fred gets at is that one touch from God changes things. This song is powerful. "Let Me Touch the Hem" has the makeup of an old Gaither Southern Gospel classic mixed with traditional Gospel. The way the two songs blend together is wonderful as they flow just like the stories of Jairus' daughter and the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5.
"God Is My Refuge" takes the dramatic beginning and segues into a pop ballad similar to "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, minus the epic drum solo. This song soars as Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength / A very present help in the time of struggle" is the tag. Feel strengthened and empowered as you sing this line. Worship teams, the tag alone would work well on your song list.
Remember the In The House series on Integrity Music? Fred was one of the first artists to take praise and worship songs and give them a little different arrangement. He was doing this in the mid-90s when it was not popular. So it was wonderful to hear him end the album with "Worthy is The Lamb," "More Love, More Power" and "Call On the Name of the Lord."
The Bottom Line: Fred Hammond outdid himself! There will be several songs that will resonate with many. This is an album that old fans will appreciate and new fans will latch onto. Worship Journal Live is vintage Fred!
Songs to Download Now:
"One Touch" and "Let Me Touch the Hymn" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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