Thursday, April 19, 2018
Michael Whitaker Smith was born on October 7th, 1957 in Kenova, West Virginia. His first four worship albums were: WORSHIP (2001), WORSHIP AGAIN (2002), A NEW HALLELUJAH (2008), AND SOVEREIGN (2014). Fast forward to 2018 and he's back with his fifth, a live project entitled SURROUNDED (Rocketown Records). It was produced by Kyle Lee, co-produced by Michael, and executive produced by Michael, Chaz Corzine, and Greg Ham. The album peaked at #2 on the Top Christian Albums chart. In the liner notes Michael writes: "I feel God moving through His church and He is calling us together. To be one voice and one heart. One bride, every nation, every tribe, and every tongue. Every social class, every denomination. Let's get together and rejoice in what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has yet to do".
1. This worship set starts off with the upbeat and celebratory 'Your House'. Here are some of the lyrics: "Oh we have this hope firm and secure/Now we enter in the life and the promise/He is good, His love endures/We come into Your house (3X)/With thanksgiving and praise".
2. Thad Cockrell, Kyle Lee, and Michael W. Smith wrote the ballad 'Light To You' which speaks of God as one's haven and runs over six minutes long: "My hope has found it's resting place/And I'll search no more/My hope has found it's resting place/And I'll search no more...My hope has found it's anchored safe/And You're all it holds/My hope has found it's anchored safe/And You're all it holds".
3. 'King of My Heart', a ballad that builds in intensity, begins with these beautiful words: "Let the King of my heart/Be the mountain where I run/The fountain I drink from/Oh, oh, He is my song/Let the King of my heart/Be the shadow where I hide/The ransom for my life/Oh, oh, He is my song/You are good, good, oh-ohh".
4. 'Reckless Love' comes from the Bethel Music camp and was penned by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson. This ballad that again builds, runs almost nine minutes long and testifies: "When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me/You have been so, so kind to me/When I felt no worth/You paid it all for me/You have been so, so kind to me/Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God/Oh, it chases me down, fights til I`m found, leaves the ninety-nine/I couldn't earn it/I don't deserve it/Still You give Yourself away/Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God".
5. 'Here I Bow' glorifies Christ: "There is a King who bore the scars of healing/There is a Son who came into grace and truth/How great the love that carries us to kindness/Wonderful, You're wonderful/So here, I bow, to lift You high/Jesus, be glorified/In all things, for all my life/I am Yours, forever Yours".
6. Chris Quilala, Joshua Silverberg, Dustin Smith, and Stuart Garrard wrote 'Miracles'. The chorus is certainly less than innovative: "I believe in You, I believe in You/You're the God of miracles/I believe in You, I believe in You/You're the God of miracles". Mark Gutierrez contributes some Spanish lead vocals later on in the song.
7. Unfortunately, 'Do It Again' isn't a Beach Boys cover. It's yet another ballad that builds, but better than some of the previous ones here. It's about having faith: "I know the night won't last/Your Word will come to pass/My heart will sing Your praise again/Jesus, You're still enough/Keep me within Your love/My heart will sing Your praise again/Your promise still stands/Great is Your faithfulness/Your faithfulness/I'm still in Your hands/This is my confidence/You've never failed me yet".
8. Elyssa Smith wrote the title track 'Surrounded (Fight My Battles)'. To be truthful, it's a very simplistic song that is quite repetitive but I don't mind it as it has an uplifting message: "This is how I fight my battles (4X)/It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You (4X)".
9. 'Build My Life' is a song of spiritual dedication: "I will build my life upon Your love/It is a firm foundation/I will put my trust in You alone and I will not be shaken".
10. Michael Farren and Smitty wrote 'Washed Away'. It's a nice modern worship song that testifies: "Spotless, spotless, whiter than the snow/Your blood, oh Your blood covers me, I'm whole/And all my sin was washed away, washed away/You took them all/There's not a trace/I stand here free with every stain/Forever washed away".
11. David Leonard, Jason Ingram, and Leslie Ingram wrote 'Great are You Lord', while Calvin Nowell contributes some lead vocals: "All the earth will shout Your praise/Our hearts will cry, these songs will sing/Great are You, Lord!/It's Your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise/We pour out our praise/It's your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise to You only". To be honest I've heard a better, more lively version of this song at the church beside my place.
12. This worship set concludes with 'Light to You (Reprise)'. It declares: "From the deepest of depths to the stars up above/There is no way I could escape Your steadfast love".
Dang it, there are a lot of lengthy ballads on this album, with only a couple tracks qualifying as more fast-paced! Because the songs are so long, you may not want to listen to this album over and over again, several times in a row at least! Truth be told the lyrics are not very deep or creative even though several songwriters were used. This album that clocks in at 70 minutes and 34 seconds speaks boldly about God's goodness, mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, and faithfulness. He pursues us and is a kind God. He is a God of miracles and has life-giving power! These songs here praise and worship God with an attitude of gratitude, and express dedication to Him. Nineteen, count them, nineteen backing vocalists are used on the project, while Paul Mabury, Otto Price, and Jim Daneker are among the musicians used. The bottom line is, if you are a modern worship fan, you're going to love this album for the most part. If you're not, you'll want to skip this one. I find this project is best listened to loud. I am surprisingly rating SURROUNDED 87%, but I don't think it's Michael's best worship album. For more info visit: www.michaelwsmith.com and check him out on facebook.