Prime Cuts: Where the Glory Is, Narrow Road, Every Hour
Overall Grade: 3.5/5
Josh Baldwin's big burly voice is what sets him apart from many other worship leaders. His fearlessness to bring his music to outer boundaries of Americana makes him the Luke Combs of worship music. With each progressive solo album, he has been establishing himself a portfolio of songs churches can utilized. "Where the Glory Is," the follow-up to 2020's highly successful "Evidence," continue to serve the church with more new songs. Musically, this new album is a continuation of the previous effort, without deviating much from what fans have grown to love about Baldwin.
The southern bluesy "Narrow Road" is a song to take note. Instead of exalting the Christian life as fluffy and comfy-focused, "Narrow Road" speaks of how our lives are often filled with perils that require our daily dependence on Jesus. Expressing that dependence in the context of a soft-rock ballad is the Hillsong UNITED-esque "Every Hour." Easily the best cut on the record is the title cut "Where the Glory Is," a heartfelt power ballad that give exposition to where the glory of God that once filled the temple dwells today. Baldwin's earnest delivery and his sincere-sounding nuances are particularly pulverizing.
However, the album does have its share of weaknesses. First, there is a lazy reliance on over-familiar scriptural passages. How many songs are there on the Lord's prayer? Do we need another one in the form of "Our Father"? Given that 2 Cor 3:17 ("Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom") is a favorite memory verse for many, do we need another song ("There is Freedom") on it? Second, there are some songs that clearly lack a hook and they are included as mere album fillers (e.g., "Still Standing" and "Resurrection Day").
Finally, recycling is always a problem in worship music. "Fresh Fire Fresh Wind" is actually quite a good song with a 90s-country vibe, but the subject matter has had a previous life before (think Hillsong Worship's "Fresh Wind"). Speaking of Hillsong, didn't they have a song that shares the same title as Baldwin's "I See the Light." The idea of burning for Jesus is nothing new and Baldwin can't be bothered to add anything novel to "Keep Me Burning."
Baldwin does have the talent to make a mark in CCM. He has the voice; and he sings as if his life depends on every note. But like many singer-songwriters, he is let down by the songs. Ditch the high-profile co-writers and find ones that are just starting and have a life of faith and sufferings to back their songs.