Contemporary worship artist, Chris Tomlin has released his 17th album, Always. In an interview with E! News, Chris reveals the inspiration for this record: times of worship at home with his family during the pandemic lockdowns, and particularly teaching them the song, "O Lord You're Beautiful" by the late singer/songwriter Keith Green. He wants Always to bring people back to a pure place of connection with God in worship, in the same way, those times of worship at home reminded him of his early days in worship.
"YAHWEH (No One)" opens the album with energy and has an air of '80s influence. It's a more contemporary worship-leaning take of the Gospel version released on Elevation Worship and Maverick City Music's Old Church Basement album. I personally prefer the Gospel version. But I love that the different styles represent diverse expressions of worship in the Church and give local church worship leaders options on how best to incorporate this song into their own communities.
"Always" has a strong bridge, perfect for corporate worship. "O Lord You're Beautiful" is a beautiful, simple piano ballad. "Father of Lights" and "History" lean more toward Country Pop. Songs like "Strongholds," "Great Forgiver," and "I See You" round out the project with joyful and energetic praise.
The consistency of God's character is a theme throughout the album. Whether singing about His faithfulness, His forgiveness, or His holiness, God is front and center on this release. In a time when many songs in the worship genre lean towards singing about God to one another or songs of faith and prayer for our personal lives, it's refreshing to have an album with so many songs directed toward God and simply exalting Him for who He is. There are still songs that are prayerful or declare God's promises over our lives, as there should be; those songs are needed in the Church, too. But Always gives a good balance of each theme.
"I See You" wins the best song for me. It stands out the most on the record because of its style and, in my opinion, is the most fun song on the album. This lighthearted midtempo is clearly Pop influenced but still has that corporate worship feel that we know and love from Chris Tomlin. It's also interesting to hear Chris and Brandon Lake's unique styles come together on this song about the different ways we see God at work in our lives.
What I love about Chris Tomlin is that he's consistent. When you listen to a Chris Tomlin album, you know what you're going to get: songs that are accessible for anyone to play and sing along with pure worship, and the truth of who God is. True to Chris' mission in ministry, Always will point your heart to God in adoration.