Exclusive review for new Michael W. Smith albums 'A Million Lights' and 'Surrounded'
From time to time I'll hear a new album and I'll love it and I'll occasionally put it on repeat. This is one of those moments where repeating the album over and over is not enough. And there's two that I'm covering in this review. I won't bore you with all the tracks. You'll have to get both albums and listen for yourself.
A Million Lights Album Review
The very first track, 'A Million Lights' is one of those songs that makes you want to look at life differently. While stargazing is a standard in this critically acclaimed song, the point in this song is to really keep looking past the stars. That's where we find our hope, our rest found only in God. The video is really a masterpiece as Michael is on board a space craft from what looks to be something from Star Trek or maybe Star Wars. But the lyrics capture the message in a unique way that only Michael can write them. Why shouldn't we look to the stars? Remember, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, all were astrologers and they praised God for the universe He created. It's not the stars that we worship, but it's God.
The next song on this album that I want to cover is 'Conversation'. This is a prayer to God. We have so many distractions that we deal with everyday. Financial troubles, death, relationship issues, social media woes and something we miss is that God is looking for us to say that we need help. All He's looking for is for us to have a conversation with Him. When we do that He comes down to us and it's at that point we can talk freely with God. This is definitely a unique pop-style song with ambient vocals streamed throughout the song. The lyrics are all centered on having that conversation we need to be having with God.
The third song on this album that I want to cover is 'Revolution'. Remember when Kirk Franklin released his 'Nu Nation Project' album back in 1998? The track 'Revolution' on this album reminds me of that. Okay, so kind of reminds me... Here's the chorus line:
I think what I get out of the overall song is this, so many groups of people that you and I both know have been marginalized and shunned and in essence have been turned away from the church. Michael is writing the code here for how we need to start standing against injustice and to create a bridge in our communities and to bring people back into God's love, those who have been looked down upon in society.
This song is one of many on this album that talk about injustice. I am encouraged by this album and I don't easily get encouraged like this. I really love this album already. All the different sounds and vocals and harmonies incorporated into a this pop album is truly breathtaking and surreal.
You can get this album when you visit michaelwsmith.com. Official release is February 16, 2018.
Surrounded Album Review
Right away, people will assume that I am going to talk about Michael's title track, 'Surrounded (Fight My Battles', but I won't. It's a great song. And that already has been covered by artists like Bethel and Misty Edwards and many churches across the nation. Already it's a church favorite and will be for the next couple of years. This review is not about the title track though. Let's get started.
When I started playing the album on my computer, immediately I was drawn to the first song. For the record, I don't always like listening to the first song. Normally, I'll skip to the second to last or the very last song to get some perspective on what the album is about. But this first song really drew me in immediately. It's called 'Your House'. Hands beginning to clap in the beginning as the song builds onto an upbeat tempo. If you're sitting down, most likely your foot does a little bouncing thing. Maybe you start nodding your head to the music a little bit. And the lyrics?
Come out of the dark and in from the cold
Already impressive on the first verse of this gathering song. But the chorus is what really draws me into the presence, and it makes me want to dance.
We come into Your house
And while the chorus seems boring, these lyrics are the same ones that we sing in many other songs dating back to the 1980's when Hosanna! Music was popping out albums. I grew up in the '90's and so I can recognize the same songs that I grew up with in this very song. It's a gathering song and we are gathering together to come into God's house and worship Him with all we are, with thanksgiving and praise.
'King of my Heart' is another track that simply states that God is good. How many times have we messed up? Countless times i'm sure. No one is perfect. But it is through grace that we come to know the goodness of His glory in our lives. God doesn't have to love us but He chooses to do so and our response to that is, "You are good." "You're never gonna let me down" is a line that is bridged in this gospel truth of a song. For me, it's a song that I can lift my hands to and just thank God for His grace and mercy. I can find hope in His goodness. There's just not much more to say on that. God is good!
The final song in this review, 'Build My Life', is actually written by Pat Barrett, Kirby Kaple, Matt Redman, Brett Younker and Karl Martin and originally appears on the 'Housefires III' album. Michael's version starts off with a slight upbeat tempo. I love the chorus in this song:
Holy there is no one like You
What are we willing to do to show the love of Christ to those around us? Will we accept the calling of God to go into our neighborhoods and help the needy in our backyards? Perhaps it's hopping on a plane overseas and going on a missions trip. Or maybe making a meal for someone whose relative just passed on. What about our gifts and talents? Will we let God use us in those areas? Whatever your answer is, our response should be, "God, use me in whatever way you want to." The bridge goes on to say this:
I will build my life, upon Your love
No matter what happens today or tomorrow, our desire should always be to build our life upon the love of Christ. As the old song goes, "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." Let this be the prayer and desire of our hearts.
'Surrounded' is by far the best worship album that Michael W. Smith has recorded since releasing 'A New Hallelujah' in 2009. No offense, 'Sovereign' just couldn't even come close to being one of my favorites.
To pre-order this album, visit michaelwsmith.com. Official release is February 23, 2018.
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