Israel Houghton - Love God, Love People: The London Sessions

Israel Houghton
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Israel Houghton knows that the source of his inspiration comes from the Lord. Houghton, one of modern gospel's innovators, knows music and music history. That much should be obvious from the way he incorporates modern sounds and classic gospel along with world music to craft a sound that is distinctly identifiable and relentlessly original. That's why nobody should be surprised by the venue Houghton selected to record his latest studio album, Love God, Love People: The London Sessions.

Houghton recorded Love God, Love People: The London Sessions at Abbey Road, the now legendary studios where the Beatles recorded in the 1960s. Regardless of genre, producing an album in the same place where The Beatles made all of their great albums will make an artist step up his game. Houghton was up to the challenge.

Israel Houghton knows that the source of his inspiration comes from the Lord. Houghton, one of modern gospel's innovators, knows music and music history. That much should be obvious from the way he incorporates modern sounds and classic gospel along with world music to craft a sound that is distinctly identifiable and relentlessly original. That's why nobody should be surprised by the venue Houghton selected to record his latest studio album, Love God, Love People: The London Sessions.

Houghton recorded Love God, Love People: The London Sessions at Abbey Road, the now legendary studios where the Beatles recorded in the 1960s. Regardless of genre, producing an album in the same place where The Beatles made all of their great albums will make an artist step up his game. Houghton was up to the challenge.

Listeners get what they expect from a Houghton album - which is to say they get the unexpected. Other than giving his fans energetic songs that put his love for Christ and for humanity front and center, Houghton always manages avoid falling into a rut.

Israel Houghton achieved major popularity last decade by releasing three live albums that also featured his choir New Breed. He could have probably continued releasing those live gospel albums that featured songs that have become part of the praise and worship team canon over the last six years. However, Houghton dropped the excellent solo studio album The Power of One in 2009. In my 2009 review of The Power of One, I noted that going into the studio gave Houghton the freedom to write lyrically songs that addressed topics such as the Christian's obligation to the poor and the sick. He combined that lyricism with his talent for finding catchy hooks that ensure that his songs remain accessible and easy to remember verses that are tailor made for congregational hymns and praise and worship songs.

Both qualities are apparent on the very good album Love God, Love People. "You Hold My World" stands out as an example of the classic Houghton praise and worship anthem. The album takes its title from the Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:36-40 where, Jesus implores his followers to love God with all their heart and soul and to love their neighbors as themselves. These two commandments are connected, and Houghton understands this. The songs "Love Rev" and "Others" express Houghton's desire to make sure that his listeners understand it as well. On the funk/rock infused "Love Rev" Houghton asks people to put their lives into proper perspective. The song notes that many of the comforts we in the United States believe that we can't live without stand as impossible dreams for many other people. "People dream of simple things like worry free water/While some of us complain and fuss about things like Internet connections."  On the gospel ballad "Others" Houghton takes a wide view lens view of the world and its problems and it prompts him to live out the second part of the Great Commandment in his life.

Love God, Love People perfectly sums up Israel Houghton's music and his ministry. He clearly views his music as a means to minister to people, and inspire them to love God and love God's people. Of course, it helps that message go down a lot easier when an artist makes music that people want to hear. And Israel Houghton has always had that part down. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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