Hillsong Young and Free “This is Living” EP Review

hillsong young and free

Prime Cuts:  Pursue, This is Living, Energy

As oxymoronic as it may sound, Jesus certainly sounds good on the dance floor.  While Hillsong Worship and Hillsong UNITED thrive on a decidedly more anthemic pop-rock stadium filling sound, Hillsong Young and Free (Y&F) exist more for those who wish to take Jesus into electronic dance music (EDM).  With swirling beats and disco dazzling daze, Y&F has given worship music an updated sound that makes it stand toe to toe with the music of Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars out there.  Way back in the 90s, Darlene Zschech, the worship pastor of  Hillsong church then, had a vision of bringing worship music to the next generation.  Thus, Reuben Morgan and Marty Sampson were set aside as founding members of Hillsong UNITED.  With more and more members of UNITED getting pass their youthful prime, Y&F has been pioneered to lead younger folks to Jesus with music that tickles their ears and gets them jiving for the Gospel.

2013 saw the release of Y&F's debut album "We are Young and Free."  A record that saw two #1 Christian hits "Alive" and "Wake."  The former has become an anthem for countless church youth groups across the nation.  The single's lyric video has a strong online presence with more than 5.6 million views. The album "We Are Young & Free" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian chart as well as on the Praise and Worship chart.  In addition, it debuted in the Top 25 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and No. 6 on the Overall Digital Albums chart. The debut album also received four GMA Dove Award nominations including New Artist of the Year.  Their debut album has sold close to 125k units making them one of the top-selling new worship artists. During the holiday season, they released their first Christmas single "Noel" as it was added to stations across the country.

"This is Living" features three new songs ("This is Living," "Energy" and "Pursue"), an acoustic version of "This is Living," and the reprisal of "Sinking Deep" (a track from their debut album).  Adding colors to a song that speaks of splendid joy of living with Jesus, "This is Living" is brushed with vignettes of bouncy 80s-sounding electronic dance beat, pulsating synth grooves and a spacey reverb sounding delivery.  And when the song reaches its bridge, it breaks into a rap section that features Christian hip hop artist Lecrae that is deliciously good.  "Energy" follows without dropping a beat.  What is most glowing about this youthful church team is that they are never shy in exalting the name of Jesus.  Never guised in the generic "he," "Energy" is bold not only in its pulsating beats, but it uplifts the name of Jesus without any circumspect.

Just as "Glorious Tempest" was the worship hub of "We Are Young and Free," here it is "Pursue."  Despite its use of exiguous electronic beats, it's a gorgeous worship piece. Reminding us of Francis Thompson's poem "The Hound of Heaven,"  "Pursue" speaks of God's unrelenting grace and his ever searching grasp upon our lives. While we eagerly Y&F to release their sophomore album, "This is Living," though containing only three new songs, ought to cushion our wait with some wonderful worship moments. 



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