Hughes Love shine copyStandard lyrics get carried on a wave of fine production for another guaranteed big seller.

Label:     Kingsway
Time:     12 Tracks /64 minutes

Very few worship leaders have managed to be as consistently strong as Hughes, both as a tunesmith and in the quality of his performances. Here he continues to set the bar high, adding his most creative production values yet, thanks to Martin Smith.

It probably goes without saying for a worship album that lyrically, there is nothing new or original here. When faced with the wonder of the incarnation and power of the empty cross in “Saviour’s Song,” Hughes’ response is to “Raise your hands and shout his name." The rejoinder to shout recurs in “At Your Name” (a reaction which is quite incongruous in the alternate version, which features tender, dreamy soundscapes and plucked cellos).

(For those who want stats, of the dozen songs here, five mention ‘hands,’ five mention ‘name,’ seven mention ‘heart’ and only four don’t involve singing, shouting or crying out!)

However, towards the end we get a block of tracks that also talk of obedience, sacrifice and standing firm. There is the more substantial response, “Keep the faith, not backing down.” Here, Hughes is confident without being triumphalistic.

As often with Tim Hughes, there are singable, catchy, shapely melodies falling over each other, track after track. You have to join in the chorus on “God is Coming,” for example, and opener “Counting on your Name” is about as anthemic as anything he has done.

Smith and Hughes have assembled a fine cast that includes Rend Collective (brass parts and men’s chorus), The Listening’s Josiah Sherman (synths, programming) and Mark Prentice, whose bass brings out as much emotion in the songs as any instrument. David Grant, Marc James and Martin Smith each take some lead vocals.

Smith brings to the table all the production experience he accumulated with Delirious? The quiet break in the mid-section of “God is Coming” emphasises the personal side of the song, while by contrast, the rousing gospel choir and handclaps that finish “All Glory” give it a climax that the whole track has been building up to. If “Saviour’s Song” sat alongside tracks like “Majesty,” punters might raise their hands, but they wouldn't raise an eyebrow.

This will doubtless appeal strongly to the fan-base he already has and again lift him higher (apologies, couldn’t resist) than his peers.


Derek Walker