Review Rating: 4.6/5.0
Selling over 18 million albums in the course of his career, Michael W. Smith continues to make beautiful Contemporary Christian Music that praises the Lord like no other. At the 2019 GRAMMYs, Smith’s album Surrounded was nominated for Best CCM record, marking his 11th nomination. This past summer, he hosted a “Night To Pray, Worship, and Be Awakened” a multi-racial, multi-denominational and multi-generational gathering of 14,000 people in Nashville. The sounds of that incredible gathering were captured on the new album AWAKEN: The Surrounded Experience. Accompanied by CeCe Winans on part of the experience, the album from Rocketown Records and The Fuel Music will be released on February 22nd.
The tracklist on this album will most likely look at least a little familiar. One of the tracks recorded at this live event was the very popular worship song, “Reckless Love.” Smith keeps the integrity of the song alive while also adding his own unique twist, making it his own. The vocals are rich and you can feel the meaning of the song throughout because of how much he believes the words he was singing. Along with this powerful cover, he also tackles the song “Great Are You Lord”, and it is quite breathtaking.
“Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” is a very popular song that Smith has released as a single before. Every song on this album is a live version and that aspect gives the whole thing a really new and captivating feel. The spontaneous words that Smith says while singing makes the whole experience more real. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you." Those words ring so true, especially for Christians in our society today.
Song number four on the album, “Waymaker”, has a beautifully melodic introduction followed by impressive vocals by Vanessa Campagna and Madelyn Berry. “Light in the darkness, my God, that is who you are”, those are just a few of the compelling lyrics that this song conveys. The instrumentation of the song is a good mix of starting out slow and building up to a high paced chorus and ending. Then the album slows down a little bit to cover yet another popular worship track, “Revelation Song.”
Altogether, this album has a nice balance of slow to fast songs with a unique twist on covers and incredible live versions of every single one. If you have been a fan of Michael W. Smith for a while, this album will have you feeling nostalgic with a touch of a contemporary feel. The record offers captivating versions of old and new songs. Pick up a copy of AWAKEN: The Surrounded Experience, in stores and online February 22nd!