Review Rating: Must Listen! [4.6 / 5]
This Friday, Nashville-based worship leader Chris McClarney is set to release BREAKTHROUGH, his awaited second solo album with label Capitol CMG. This album is a follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 debut Everything And Nothing Less, recorded in partnership with Jesus Culture at their Sacramento Conference. McClarney is also well-known for worship tune “Your Love Never Fails,” which went on to be a wildly popular hit and a No. 1 song on the Billboard Christian chart.
McClarney is no stranger to Christ, growing up the son of a youth pastor and becoming a follower when he was young. Currently working full-time for ministries across Nashville, TN, he got his start leading worship at just 14 years old. This background and experience as a worship leader is evident through the style and attitude he created in BREAKTHROUGH, functioning as a framework for the album. The 10-track album features McClarney’s smooth but strong voice, masterfully leading you in worship and easily inviting you along on the journey.
The album kicks off with its previously released single, “Hallelujah For The Cross,” starting with simple repeating tones using synthesizer and guitar. This intro takes a backseat to allow McClarney to enter with the verse, later joined by female harmonized vocals, providing nice contrast throughout this song of praise and thanksgiving to God. This tune has a great balance of times when accompaniment is in the forefront driving along the song, offset by portions when accompaniment falls away for vocals to take center stage, and finally features moments where both come together perfectly blended.
McClarney uses BREAKTHROUGH to offer open invitations to join him in exalting God. In “Crazy Love,” the song marvels at the greatness of His love, painting examples of situations in our lives that God’s love can overcome, such as addiction and disease. Similarly in “At The Mention,” the lyrics proclaim there is nothing stronger than the mere mention of God’s name. The listener hears slow, purposeful accompaniment that pulses on the beat, driving the song forward. This driving force falls away for the chorus, as harmonized voices lift up praise.
BREAKTHROUGH features beautiful, inviting melodies as heard in “Over And Over.” The song begins with a sweet duet between moving piano and McClarney’s honest vocals. Guitar and percussion join the cast with the coming verses, building structure and depth. In “I’m Listening,” the listener gets to hear a collaboration with up and coming CCM artist, Hollyn. Pleasing cords on the piano kick off this duet, as both vocalists take turns on verses, come together in harmony for the chorus, and build to a powerful outcry of humble praise. The track bearing the album’s name, “Breakthrough,” begins with a sweet, soft introduction with piano chords and synthesized support. McClarney enters with sure vocals, often with female harmonization. This track is sure to be a hit, easily painting a picture of a congregation singing together with hands lifted up to God.
With BREAKTHROUGH, listeners are sure to be satisfied and fulfilled. The songs contained on this album easily invite an attitude of worship and create a musical sanctuary for praising God. The tracks, while each slightly different, complement each other well and form a cohesive worship experience. The melodies are beautiful and easy, and the vocals are true, genuine and perfectly on-pitch. For moments when you want to bring the worship of a church’s congregation into your home, be sure to get yourself a copy of Chris McClarney’s BREAKTHROUGH, out this Friday, or visit his website to learn more.