Hillsong Young and Free, “This is Living” (EP)

Hillsong Young and Free, the creative worship ministry of Australian megachurch Hillsong, has released This is Living, a five-track EP follow-up to its debut release, We Are Young and Free, which yielded the Billboard Hot Christian Top 20 songs Wake and Alive.

Coming off a massive project like We Are Young and Free–I say massive because prior to the chart success of Alive and Wake, and even more so the ridiculous Atlantic crossover success of sister group United’s Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), which topped the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart for a mind-blowing 45 weeks, Hillsong had pretty much been a worldwide Christian music phenomenon for whom US success had been a pipe dream. With Young and Free, Hillsong has a clear chance to do something different, and reach out to a decidedly different audience who wouldn’t otherwise listen to traditional praise and worship as we know it.

The This is Living EP opens with the carrier single of the same title. Already a Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart, this hot EDM-fueled praise anthem is given additional street cred by the presence and gospel leanings of Contemporary Christian rapper du jour Lecrae. (Admittedly, Lecrae is a regular feature on most high-profile Contemporary Christian artists’ albums, so it’s not exactly like it was a coup to get him, but still, it does give Christian AC an extra reason to play this Australian praise and worship outfit.)

This is Living is a great track for the younger Christian set because it takes unabashedly faith-based lyrics–All is new in the Savior I am found; this is living now! is its primary hook before each instrumental chorus–and deftly and cleverly eases them into a club beat that wouldn’t be out of place at raves across the Atlantic. (Do they even still call them raves? Ah, the perils of being an out-of-touch 38-year-old.)

It is a testament to the quality and songwriting skill of the band, however, that they can take a high-energy track like This is Living, and create an acoustic version that not only matches, but in many respects, exceeds the quality of the original. Track four is the acoustic version of This is Living, and it is gorgeous. A spare guitar, two voices weaving harmonies in between each other… this is as good as it gets, and allows the message of This is Living to reach out to another audience that otherwise would not listen to the original song and hear the message.

After This is Living come two other original tracks, Energy, another EDM track that reminds me a bit of the sound behind remixers like Neon Feather or Capital Kings, and Pursue, which is essentially a worship ballad given a younger spin. As for the fifth and final track, well, Sinking Deep was one of my favorite tracks on We Are Young and Free, and I’ve missed having a studio version on the CD to play on Saved Radio. This now gives me additional ammunition for Y&F fans who wanted a shorter version for Sinking Deep.

At Php295 (with free stickers, I hear!), it certainly is priced competitively, and the music to which the gospel message, ultimately, is what makes us buy product like This is Living. It’s a great option for youth services and in between services to create a young and vibrant sound. The barebones of it is that This is Living is a transition piece, an essentially three-song (the other two are an acoustic version of one track, and a studio version of a pre-released track) teaser while we wait for the next full-length product from Hillsong Y&F. We certainly hope they won’t keep us waiting.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Hillsong Young & Free’s This is Living for review purposes. No other compensation was given; all opinions are my own. Anchor is available at all House of Praise outlets for only Php295.

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