THIS IS LIVING EP
Written by: Jamin Cousins– DJ, Producer & Creative Director- River Valley Church
The new EP from Hillsong Young and Free features 3 all new songs, an acoustic version of the title track and a slightly different version of “Sinking Deep” from their full-length. “This is Living” is the first and title track and is an EDM anthem that you will instantly want to play on repeat. By itself, it’s interesting, catchy and fun. When Lecrae starts rapping, the energy goes through the roof, and it’s pretty much game over. This is followed by “Energy”, an upbeat indie-pop tune sung by Melodie Wagner. Then, “Pursue” hits you, a slow/medium song with all the vocal editing of Churches and Imogen Heap. This is followed by the aforementioned acoustic version of “This is Living” and a somewhat broken down version of “Sinking Deep”.
All in all, the songs chosen make for a great and interesting EP. After the massive success of their debut album, I thought an EP instead of a full-length was an interesting choice. Especially considering all the writing and creative firepower overflowing from Hillsong. You know it’s not for a lack of material.
The collab with Lecrae is a great choice and it offers something refreshing: a LEGIT integration of Hip Hop into a worship genre. This is something we haven’t seen much of in mainstream CCM, but is LONG overdue. There have been efforts, but none have been as good as this, that’s for sure. The Christian Post quotes Y&F regarding the collab: “For us it was a dream come true to collaborate with Lecrae who we not only love and respect as an artist, but as someone who is a strong voice for freedom to this generation. If anyone’s message echoes the message of ‘This Is Living,’ it’s Lecrae”. The song stands up sonically to anything else in the EDM market today, but still manages to stay fresh and creative in a genre that has become incredibly saturated in the past year.
“Energy” slightly more “live” feeling that the two songs it’s sandwiched between. For me, it serves to prevent an easy categorizing of their sound in general. It’s still highly electronic, but the acoustic drum sounds set it apart from “This is Living” and “Pursue”.
“Pursue” instantly reminded me of the Hillsong United remix album. I’m curious if any of the same programmers or producers worked on it. The lyrics and melodies of this one could easily be found on a Hillsong Worship album surrounded by different instrumentation. But I wouldn’t want it there, I’d want it right here where it is…surrounded by all the great sounds, textures and programming of Y&F.
The acoustic version of “This is Living” is beautiful duet and showcases the diversity of these artists. It’s reminiscent of The Civil Wars at their best. The version of “Sinking Deep” is an interesting choice. It’s stripped down, filtered down and never gets big. While I would have expected some kind of epic Y&F remix, it feels right juxtaposed with the first 3 songs.
Y&F has definitely pushed the boundaries of what has been considered “worship” music. Most of their “payoff” moments musically are instrumental breaks. Their melodies and lyrics push the limits of “congregational”. And most churches can’t even begin to pull off a sound like Y&F in their weekends. It seems the other Hillsong brands have been the forerunners, stayed true to a more “congregational” style and purchased Y&F the ability to operate within very few boundaries creatively. But, as a DJ and Creative Director in a local church, here’s hoping that more churches are able to pull off this stuff in their services. We owe it to our calling to be able to speak the cultural language of the people God’s called us to reach. *end mini-sermon*
What fascinates me about Hillsong is that behind all the massive success, creativity, and fame there is a refreshing humility and authenticity. It’s as if they couldn’t care less about what their songs do or where they go. They’re just being faithful to who they are and having a blast doing it…many of them seem downright oblivious to the success! I recently got an opportunity to spend some time with Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC. He stressed over and over again that there’s no hidden formula or machine behind all their success. They just keep it simple and do the best they can to love Jesus and people. I would argue that there IS a hidden formula and it is simply (yet profoundly) their humility and authenticity. God blesses that stuff and I believe that’s what we’re seeing with the Hillsong movement…and that’s something we can all learn from.
I give this Album EP 4.5/5 stars
This Is Living Track Listing:
1. This Is Living (feat. Lecrae)
4. This Is Living (Acoustic)
5. Sinking Deep
Published on Rawkzilla by: David Hitchcock- Rawkzilla & T.H.E GROUP