Prime Cuts: O Lord You're Beautiful (with Steffany Gretzinger), Holy Always, The Answer
Overall Grade: 5/5
Chris Tomlin has returned to what's he done best: writing and singing powerful worship anthems for the church. After a detour into a country-pop duet album which finds him falling into too many crevices, "Always" is a return to form. If you like Tomlin for his powerhouse singalongs such as "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)," "Our God," and "Good Good Father," you'll love what he has to offer here. Though there are some notable guests who get to sing with Tomlin (Elevation Worship, Brandon Lake, and Steffany Gretzinger), they do not steal the show. This is a bona fide Tomlin record through and through.
Already making its way into many church repertoires is "Holy Always." A listen to it and you'll immediately understand why. Solely focused on God in his glorious splendor surrounded with a soul-stirring chorus, this reminds us of the type of worship mentioned in Revelation 4 and 5. Steffany Gretzinger, who has recently released a stellar record of older praise choruses, gets to sing with Tomlin Keith Green's "O Lord You're Beautiful." With a new chorus augmented, the song gets a gorgeous 21st Century makeover.
Co-written by Tomlin, Billy Montana and Benjamin Glover, "Always" relies less on the big and heavy sounds. Rather, with the gentle support of softer percussion and acoustic guitar, "Always" has a delightful country vibe. Not to be missed is the hymn-like "I Believe in Jesus." Calling to mind the song "Is He Worthy?" where the question-and-answer format is used to great effect, "The Answer" follows suit. Who is gonna love me all my life/Who is gonna never leave my side/Who is gonna be the heartbeat of everything I do/The answer is always You/Always You.
If you are a fan of Tomlin's ballads, then don't miss the album's final two songs. Tomlin bares his soul on the prayerful "All in All." Despite the tedious sounding bridge, the piano-led "Precious Love" is a fitting closer for the record. Bringing us back to the death and the resurrection of Jesus, "Precious Love" captures the heartbeat of the entire album. It is Jesus; him crucified and resurrected. In pointing us to this end, this album doesn't fail.