Israel Houghton & New Breed have been bringing live Praise & Worship to the world for 10 years now. During that time we’ve seen so many strong albums, all of which have provided songs that are prominent in every kind of church, all around the world.
The tone is set with Israel and the varying members of New Breed singing parts of the song ‘Jesus At The Center’ followed by a reading from Colossians 1:15-20.
‘Jesus The Same’ kicks the album off on a high with full throttle energetic, congregational Praise. “Jesus the same, yesterday, today and forevermore… No other name that can save, deliver and restore, Jesus the same, yesterday and forevermore… There is no other name that is greater… Jesus.” There’s something about the chord progressions in this song that uplifts me and gets me in the mood for a Praise!
‘Rez Power’ is definitely one for the Planetshakers fans out there. The switch between half time and double time on the chorus and the guitar/brass driven feel had me leaping up and down in Praise.
As soon as I heard the introduction to ‘No Turning Back’ I knew it was going to be one of my favourite songs on the album… Solid grooves, deep, synth bass, blaring brass and the theme of not looking back to my past but moving onwards and upward to my future. ‘Te Amo’ got my inner Spaniard doing the Salsa (but only in the Spirit because I can’t dance’ lol) however my favourite parts of the song are T-Bone’s rap and the drums/percussion solo’s.
‘More Than Enough’ took me right back to ‘Alive In South Africa’. Knowing that God is “More Than Enough” is something I will never get tired of and the refrain “I’m Blessed, I’m blessed, blessed to be a blessing, I’m blessed, I’m blessed, living in the overflow,” hasn’t left my lips since I first heard it and knowing that the power that our words have in our lives make it all the more meaningful… Prophetic declarations over my life. The transition into ‘Overflow’ comes at the perfect time after making such powerful declarations, I ask God to “Overwhelm me, overwhelm me with Your love, mercy and grace. Overtake me, overtake my heart and mind, exceed my imagination…” In true Israel & New Breed fashion the song builds up and Bishop Pitts delivers an on time word while Israel sings that God is “More Than Enough” and I can literally feel an overflow of God’s presence.
‘I Call You Jesus’ is out and out Worship, definitely a new worship anthem that will become a favourite with Worship Leaders around the world. Listening to this, I can still feel an overflow from the build up of Worship before it… There’s something about singing about the characteristics of God that reminds me just of who He is in my life… “Healer, Meander, Master, Saviour, Lover, Giver, Name Above All Names, Ruler, Redeemer, Risen, Conqueror, Jesus… Name Above All Names.”
‘Church Medley’ takes us on a journey of worship that leads us to Jesus with the songs ‘Jesus Is The Sweetest Name I Know’ and ‘Oh How I Love Jesus’. It was great to hear the different members of New Breed take the leads for a powerful, electrifying Medley of Hymns that will never grow old.
‘Jesus At The Center’ is the song that is sweeping over the global church re-aligning lives, conforming minds and molding hearts to have Jesus firmly placed at the centre of our lives. It’s hard to sing this song half-heartedly because it truly is a request that comes “From my heart to the Heavens…”
‘Speechless’ is exactly how I felt during the time of worship on this album. Just thinking about God and His goodness to us as mankind left me unable to express my gratitude because a limited vocabulary can’t truly express a limitless God.
‘It’s Not Over’ reminded me that even when things look dark and dreams and visions don’t come to pass that “When God is in it, there is no limit.” As the song played out I felt my faith rising and my Spirit being encouraged to believe that ‘It’s Not Over’. This song is classic Israel & New Breed melodically and musically and had me rocking and singing “IT”S NOT OVER” from the bottom of my heart.
Lyrically, ‘Your Presence Is Heaven’ blew me away… This is pure, undiluted worship. When I heard it, I couldn’t help but throw my hands in the air and worship listening to the words… “Who is like you Lord in all the earth, matchless love and beauty, endless worth… For nothing in this world will satisfy, Jesus You’re the cup that won’t run dry…” Left wanting ‘More And More’ of God, the worship continued to overflow.
The three Medley’s continued in the Spirit of Worship with the anthem ‘Hosanna,’ a powerful rendition of ‘Moving Forward’ that literally propelled me ‘forward’ and ‘Where Else Can I Go’. ‘You Have Me’ and ‘You Hold My World’ (feat. Michael Gungor) reassured us that God is looking out for us and added a fresh colour and overall tone to the album, where ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ see’s Israel sing with his daughter Mariah and while it’s not my favourite song on the album, the relationship they have as father and daughter and the love they have for one another really helped bring home just how much we’re loved by God and causing me to imagine myself singing that song with God, which then led us into a rendition of ‘Name Of Love’.
The album also features studio versions of ‘It’s Not Over’ (feat. James Fortune and Jason Nelson) ‘Jesus A The Center,’ and ‘Your Presence Is Heaven’.
‘Jesus At The Center’ is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while. After ‘Alive From Another Level’ I didn’t think it would be possible for Israel & New Breed to produce an album that could come close to it… ‘Live From Another Level’ is a classic so it’s hard to use that to measure anything against but I can honestly say that I love ‘Jesus At The Center’ just as much, if not more than that album. After one listen it was clear to me that Jesus really is the centre of this album and not merely because of the track placement but an overall focus on worshiping Him… The songs are different, lyrically something has shifted and the words literally jump out to me when I hear them and compel me to be overwhelmed with the nature of God and His love for us…
Musically Israel & New Breed have captured something really special… Unlike a lot a live albums these days, this album actually feels live and at times I got consumed almost feeling like I was right there in the crowd. From Dance, styled songs to Rock styled songs to songs that would be right at home in a Pentecostal church to one’s that sound like they would be right at home in an Anglican church setting, ‘Jesus At The Center’ has it all. Grooving beats, deep bass tones and blazing brass parts but at the same time has the atmospheric, simplistic guitar driven anthem styled arrangements and everything in-between… Not forgetting the Latin spice on ‘Te Amo’.
Israel & New Breed have excelled themselves and exceeded my expectations bringing songs that will be just as effective in the church setting as they are in the personal devotion setting… This isn’t just another album, it’s an experience and an encounter and Jesus is definitely at the centre of it all.
Reviewed By Matt Brooks