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Without anything new, Tomlin is still the top of the City
Posted December 19, 2008
By Nathan,

What did Chris Tomlin says about his New CD, Hello Love? ‘With each new record, I continue to strive to create songs that will help people voice their worship to God’. That’s nice, but it’s getting very old when each new record contains 90% of what was in your last effort. Tomlin, arguably the most prestigious worship artist in Christian music, has been flooding the air waves with hit after hit of his music and he will do so again with his latest album. Interesting though that not all his songs are his to begin with; the song that quickly pushed him to popularity was “indescribable”, by Laura Story, and another huge hit was “my chains are gone” which is, of course, to John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” with some added lyrics. “How great is our God” was a very solid hit for him but “how can we keep from singing” and “made to worship” were too generic, sounded too much alike lyrically and musically; plus they are repetitive. Now his latest hit, “Jesus Messiah”, is a song destined to top worship music charts and be a favorite in Churches, but in reality is just another repetitive basic worship song that offers no new insight into the Christian life or that spins any new prospective that would be the mark of a good songwriter.

In fact, Hello Love is essentially the same way. Tomlin’s vocals are strong in the upbeat “sing, sing, sing” but the song is as complex as the word ‘sing’ and it’s just as repetitive as the title (‘We will sing, sing, sing/And make music with the heavens/We will sing, sing, sing’). Despite the Switchfoot Esq. style of intro and more aggressive method of pop “you lifted me out” just an energetic tune which is so-so and manages to be a bright spot. Tomlin incorporates a choir on a few songs like “exalted”, and "Love (with Watoto Children’s Choir)" which does add a tiny bit of much needed diversity on an otherwise boring and simple album. Both “I will rise” and “All The Way My Savior Leads Me” start as ballads before picking up as the song goes on. The very emotional “God of this city” will probably be a future smash single but Tomlin puts more ‘Greater things have yet to come/Great things are still to be done’ than is even close to necessary. Anyone who says that Hello Love is a musical accomplishment or that originality shines is, I’m sad to say, is wrong.

Writing doesn’t seem to be an impressive feature on Hello Love either, as originality is very low, and actual themes are scarce. Aside from feel good lyrics in "Love (with Watoto Children’s Choir)" (‘Love is the answer/Love will find a way/When we love one another /It's a brighter day’) “Jesus Messiah” does make one of his best song writing moves (‘Who knew no sin/That we might become His righteousness/He humbled himself and carried The Cross’) which is pretty pathetic when you think about it. Avoiding clichés was never Tomlin’s strong spots in lines (‘you’re the Rock on which I stand’ and ‘Your love rescued me’) as well as themes “you lifted me out” and “God almighty”. “I will rise” is an odd collaboration of old hymns, new chorus and scripture; while the silver lining is a good job weaving them together the truth is more like the word incoherent.

The music and lyrics were so dull that during the first pass on the CD I skipped parts of his long songs to find something worth writing about. While Hello Love isn’t burdened by other writer’s song like previous albums have been in the past, nothing new is offered. Many have speculated that Chris Tomlin’s music is strictly for giving Churches new (such as it is) material, but that’s not entirely the case for I doubt the many people who put Hello Love onto Billboards top ten were specially aiming for their Church when they bought the CD. One thing I do know is that despite what critics say there is very little which indicates a fall for Tomlin on the singles charts and as one of the highest esteemed worship artists today.

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