For Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday of this week I’m going to be revisiting “classic” reviews I’ve written of a few truly excellent worship CDs. Todays is The Same Love by a wonderful pastor & worship leader, Paul Baloche. To be honest, the first few times I’d heard it, I wasn’t sure what to make of it – the flavor & feel of the CD was quite different from all of his earlier work. In hindsight, I now consider it one of my favorites from among his recordings. As best I can describe, it’s still Paul, but deeper – the melodies are richer & more complex, & the lyrics deeper. Though I don’t use many of these songs corporately, it’s one of my favorite listens for personal worship. Below is my original review
Artist: Paul Baloche
Release: The Same Love
Highlights: “the Same Love”, “We are Saved”, “Just Say”
Paul Baloche needs no introduction. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve sung his songs. I regularly use no less than 12 of Paul’s originals in corporate worship, which is significant given the number of new worship songs that flood the market daily – he is truly a masterfully gifted songwriter. What’s better, however, is the Jesus-centered heart of the man, which overflows in his lyrics & personally, for those who’ve been face-to-face with him.
That’s all to say – too be fair from the outset – I have liked Paul’s contribution to the singing church for some time. In fact, his last CD, GLORIOUS, is probably among my favorite worship CDs of all-time. You may think that means I’d be biased towards THE SAME LOVE – you would be wrong. I will explain why.
THE SAME LOVE is by no means GLORIOUS part 2 – or “part 2” to any of his prior releases – which definitely caught me off-guard at first because usually Paul’s songs sound like…well…Paul. They are consistently solid, & if you like one of his releases, chances are that you’ll like the others. Not comfortable to re-tread the same old (albeit very successful, highly impactful) ground, Paul really steps out on this one – experimenting with songwriting styles & structures often more in-line with Hillsong than his back catalogue.
In other words, if you’re a long-time fan, this one may take a few listens to adjust to, but if you’ve always wanted to give Paul’s music a chance, this would be a good place to step in.
The title track is more along the lines of what is to be expected from him: a “must sing” corporate anthem extolling the beauties of God’s great love. The lyrics are fresh & uncontrived, the melody is memorable, & the chorus hook is one you’ll find still running around your head late at night when you’re trying to sleep. It, and “We are Saved” – another personal favorite – are “classic Paul Baloche”, in the best sense of the words.
My other personal favorite, however, is almost lullaby-like in it’s subtlety. “Just Say”, a faith-filled confession of God’s ability to fix brokenness, heal sickness, & make right the wrong, reminds me more of an Innocence Mission song than anything Paul has written before. It seems to musically draw attention to open space, & quiet, as much as it does the melody itself. And the lyrics nearly move me to tears.
I was also taken by “Look upon the Lord”, though it took a few times to grow on me – a song that brings to mind Hillsong’s quieter fare, slowly buildings towards its powerful chorus.
Worship pastors who like to incorporate modern-hymnody into their services would also do well to note “All Because of the Cross”, an interesting re-write of the classic hymn “Nothing but the Blood”, and “My Hope”, a particularly catchy re-purposing of one of my old favorites, “The Solid Rock”.
Though, on a first listen, I didn’t immediately pin-point a whole collection of “must sing” songs like I did with his last, Paul is pushing forward in a few fresh, new directions here, and with repeated listening a number of excellent corporate songs rise to the surface. I’m looking forward to singing “The Same Love”, “We are Saved”, & “Just Say” in our churches soon, & anticipating many more fruitful years of Paul sharing his gift with God’s people.
Thank you for not being content to stand still, Paul.