Sound — 8
My opinion is that Taya Smith has definitely become the primary asset of the current Hillsong UNITED lineup ever since "Zion," even though her talent seemed to shine brighter on 2013's "Zion" release. But! Christian music isn't solely about talent. Actually it's really not. Though Hillsong UNITED are very talented indeed. It's not as upbeat and experimental as other contemporary Christian artists, but that's in part what makes Hillsong UNITED resonate very broadly.
The album sounds very well polished, and well produced. These songs are quieter and more personal, than what we're used to with Hillsong UNITED, but "Rule" stands out as a more energetic song than the rest, which is also some of the only time Matt Crocker gets on this record, aside from the lullaby-like "Street Called Mercy." Hillsong UNITED has been getting increasingly electronic, which might be too worldly for some Christians, but also makes the music more appealing to a younger audience.
I was sceptical of this album at first, but some of the songs ("Here Now (Madness)," "Rule," and "Closer Than You Know"), have really grown on me. The lead single "Touch the Sky" gets old quickly though.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are well written, with my favourite line being "faith makes a fool of what makes sense," which in and of itself shows the difference between faith and knowledge, because knowledge is always tangible and makes sense without much challenge, but faith demands that we open ourselves to a completely different way of thinking, and can seem paradoxical at first. The lyrics are very good at communicating what being a Christian feels like.
This is supposed to be worship music, but I would argue that these lyrics are too personal to fit in a church service. This is where the album disappoints. These songs are very personal, and are good for strengthening a personal relationship with Jesus, but they don't seem to me, like very good worship songs for church. This narrows the reach of this album significantly.
Overall Impression — 5
If you like the style of "Zion," and "The White Album," then this should fit your fancy, but if you're looking for songs to sing at service, this just may be too weak. The fact that these songs are so personal also puts it at question as a worship album. Personally I've been at a service where the lead single "Touch the Sky" was sung, and it just seemed out of place, and not of the right spirit for a service, but in my iPod these songs serve as a nice resonator to my Christian lifestyle.
With that being said, musically, it's a nice continuation of where Hillsong UNITED has been going for the past few years, and the themes it touches are all very relevant. It just needs a little more God, and a little less me.