Review Rating: Must-Listen! [4.5 / 5]
Renowned worship artist Michael W. Smith has served Christ through worship music across twenty-five award-winning, encouraging, and inspiring albums. His latest, the live recorded Surrounded, is a great addition to the discography - a moment of worship beautifully produced and captured. The runtime brings listeners through original tracks and beloved classics as Michael leads these anthems of praise and worship. Drawing themes of God's goodness, despite any trouble, Surrounded creates an atmosphere of adoration and encouragement.
The album opens with a song fit to introduce the setting. With a slow yet satisfying fade, "Your House" opens with clapping, keyboard, and drums - soft yet excited sounds to prepare for a worship experience. The lyrics immediately begin with praise and adoration. Singing of God's love, Michael expresses a desire to come "into (His) house with thanksgiving and praise." The track is as simple as it is inviting, opening listeners to the upcoming songs and beckoning them to join in worshipping the Savior.
Shortly following is "King Of My Heart." Piano notes, guitar chords, and live voices develop the melody throughout the song - in fact, the live chorus of worshippers carry the track throughout the entire runtime. Michael leads the moment with lyrics that express praise and a desire for God's presence, celebrating His goodness and declaring a love for the "King of my heart." Towards the end, the verses turn to an expression of His faithfulness - "You're never going to let me down."
The tone shifts as the album continues, turning to themes of God's power in battles. "Surrounded" plays with themes of surrender in a counterintuitive way - when the world is set against us, "it may look like I'm surrounded, but I'm surrounded by You." The track builds until the bridge, rising with drums, keyboard, and guitar. Finally, when the song reaches its peak, the track descends into a quiet and reflective moment - a chance to think about the battles that the Savior has fought and won.
Towards the closing of the collection is "Great Are You Lord," a thoughtful and majestic piece. Drums and piano dominate the melody, creating a massive sound that is filled with the voices of countless worshippers. The chorus is the centerpiece of the track, a simple yet powerful expression of adoration: "It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out Your praise." The album ends with a reprise of an earlier celebration - "Light To You" - drawing together themes of life and redemption into a final note of worship.
Surrounded captures the essence of a live worship album - a recording to share a moment filled with adoration of Christ. Few things are as powerful as joining a chorus of thousands for that moment of worship, yet Surrounded gives listeners a chance to partake nonetheless. Michael W. Smith leads each track well, drowning themes of trouble and hardship with comforting and strengthening themes that focus on God's power and goodness. Surrounded's strength lies in emphasizing that link, making the collection well worth listening.