Israel Houghton - The Power of One (2009)

Israel Houghton
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Sometime toward the end of the year, Chris is going to ask the reviewers to choose their five favorite CD's for the year 2009. Now, I don't know what I'm going to hear from this point on, but I feel pretty confident that I won't hear five albums that are better than Israel Houghton's The Power of One.

As the front man of the praise ensemble New Breed, Houghton created songs that have become part of the repertoire for praise and worship teams nationwide - and probably world wide. The group's music fuses elements of world music, hip hop, rock and funk. His last two live albums, 2005's Alive in Africa and 2007's A Deeper Level, stand out as a pair a recordings that pull off the feat of capturing the energy and passion of seeing a show live.

 

Sometime toward the end of the year, Chris is going to ask the reviewers to choose their five favorite CD's for the year 2009. Now, I don't know what I'm going to hear from this point on, but I feel pretty confident that I won't hear five albums that are better than Israel Houghton's The Power of One.

As the front man of the praise ensemble New Breed, Houghton created songs that have become part of the repertoire for praise and worship teams nationwide - and probably world wide. The group's music fuses elements of world music, hip hop, rock and funk. His last two live albums, 2005's Alive in Africa and 2007's A Deeper Level, stand out as a pair a recordings that pull off the feat of capturing the energy and passion of seeing a show live.

Israel Houghton goes into the studio for his latest disc, this time working as a solo artist. Houghton thrives both from the freedom of working in the studio and from been released from the constraints of being a part of an ensemble. This makes his music more daring even as it makes his the lyrics of his songs more focused.

Houghton is able to channel the hip-hop duo Outkast on "Just Wanna Say," a song that will likely remind listeners of "Hey Ya." And Israel shows that he is equally able to do a faithful rendering of world music forms such as reggae on "Surely Goodness."

Houghton has always been known for employing catchy hooks and choruses in his songs. That's one reason why praise teams repeatedly return to his classics such as "I Am Not Forgotten" and "Moving Forward." In fact, Houghton includes a wonderful acoustic version of "Moving Forward" on The Power of One. However, this is the record where Houghton's lyrical side blossomed to full flower. Songs such as "Every Prayer" (featuring Mary, Mary), "Sing Redemption's Song," "Better To Believe" and the title track sport powerful lyrics that manage to be introspective without losing their emotional edge.

The Power of One is an album that has the potential to have great crossover appeal. A song like "You Found Me," could get airplay on many R&B stations, while "Redemption's Song" could easily find its way onto Contemporary Christian or college rock stations. That kind of musical diversity is worthy of recommendation unto itself. Released from the constraints of the ensemble and the stage, Houghton goes far afield on his latest recording. While some of his long time fans might not be able to go with him, plenty of new fans will jump on the Israel Houghton bandwagon. Highly Recommended.

Howard Dukes
 

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