A New Hallelujah
A New Hallelujah finds Christian music stalwart Michael W. Smith returning to the worship music mode that revitalized his career seven years earlier. Recorded live at Houston’s Lakewood Church, Smitty enlists a passel of rock musicians and a pair of choirs to offer previously recorded tunes along with some fresh material. From the drum-driven bombast of the intro to “Prepare Ye the Way” to the roof-shaking urgency of the closing number “The River Is Rising,” Smith doesn’t neglect his role as showman while leading the energized crowd in praise and reflection. Big is the operative word for the sound of passionate chant-along numbers like “Shout Unto God,” “Mighty to Save,” and the title tune. Third World music elements add sparkle to “When I Think of You,” featuring the African Children’s Choir. “I Surrender All” benefits from Coalo Zamorano’s Spanish vocal, while Israel Houghton lends gospel authority to “Help Is On the Way.” In the midst of all the soaring voices and driving rhythms, Smith conveys a folksy, surprisingly humble presence, especially on the intimately reverent “Grace.” A New Hallelujah documents his gifts at fusing music and ministry into a soul-stirring whole.