Having followed Hillsong’s music for a number of years (“One Way” being our youth group’s definitive anthem of 2004) and leading my own church in worship with Hillsong songs, I always anticipate the annual release of their new material.
Hillsong Live’s key strength has always been their ability to achieve an effective synergy between the talent of their songwriters and the skill of their musicians. However, they have been a bit hit-and-miss in maintaining this balance over the years. Cornerstone is a good example of that.
There are a few gems — the quirky keyboard riff of “Endless Light” is joyful and catchy. The meditative “Hope of the World” is also a particular favourite of mine as is the title track “Cornerstone” (Reuben Morgan’s original take on the hymn “My Hope Is Built”). Brooke Ligertwood’s “Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise)” is, by far, the most beautifully written track on Cornerstone.
However, for the most part, the distinctive riffs, stellar musical arrangement and especially the inspired song writing that made songs like 2011’s “God is Able”, and 2006’s “Mighty to Save” contemporary anthems of faith do not come to the fore very strongly in Cornerstone, and are sorely missed.
The result of this is an album that had nothing particularly wrong with it, but also feels a little manufactured in its lyrical and musical composition. Consequently this release was somewhat underwhelming for me. Some songs did grow on me the more I listened to them and do make the album worthwhile.
To call Cornerstone mediocre would do injustice to this album and the amazing musical talents of the Hillsong Live band, but neither is it particularly memorable.
The Cornerstone DVD live worship recording contributes to bringing the “Hillsong worship” atmosphere back home, but is more for Hillsong diehards who missed out on, or really want to remember Hillsong 2012 and/or musicians interested in playing and performance technique, rather than for general leisure viewing.