Michael W. Smith
Awaken: The Surrounded Experience
(Rocketown Records/Fuel Music)
Christian music pioneer Michael W. Smith has done just about everything in his career, from carving a path to mainstream success, to writing orchestral scores, to leading thousands into the presence of God with his worship records. It’s this latter bent that has colored the past several years of the legendary artist’s catalog, and Smith continues in that vein on his latest release, Awaken: The Surrounded Experience. Recorded live at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, the album is buoyed by guest spots from CeCe Winans, Vanessa Campagna, Calvin Nowell, and more.
The setlist reads like a list of Sunday morning favorites, featuring popular songs like energetic opener “Set A Fire” and “Reckless Love” alongside tunes like “Do It Again” and “Revelation Song.” Fans of Smith’s prior worship outings will enjoy his nods to those projects with “Let It Rain,” “Healing Rain,” and “Agnus Dei” but it’s on his newer material that things really find their mark.
“Waymaker,” featuring Vanessa Campagna and Madelyn Berry, finds Smith stepping away from the mic and letting the ladies do the heavy lifting. It pays off as they deliver a soaring anthem of praise that is accented later by Smith’s offering of his new favorite, “Surrounded (Fight My Battles),” whose bold energy and encouraging words are echoed by those of “Miracles,” with guest vocalist Mark Gutierrez.
Like a powerful Sunday morning gathering, Michael W. Smith delivers yet another passionate cry of praise and worship on Awaken: The Surrounded Experience.