Chris Tomlin & Friends
(Sparrow Records/Capitol CMG)
Chris Tomlin learned how to play guitar by strumming along with Willie Nelson records, so this album featuring collaborations with many contemporary country stars is a more natural artistic move than some might have initially assumed. Others may be more concerned that Florida Georgia Line (a pioneering bro-country duo, mainly known for partying songs) is probably not on most church-goer’s playlists. Listener fears will likely be alleviated once they actually hear these Tomlin songs with friends, however, because Tomlin has brought these colleagues closer to the church, more so than he himself venturing too far outside his worship music comfort zone.
The album includes plenty of strong songs, but none better than “Who You Are To Me,” Tomlin’s joint effort with Lady A. That trio’s Hillary Scott has already released family gospel music with the Scott family, so Christian music is already solidly in her blood. This song has all the earmarks of a Tomlin worship hit. Lyrically, the track makes a strong statement of Christian faith. Elsewhere, “God Who Listens,” Tomlin’ s duet with Thomas Rhett, is also wonderfully memorable. It reminds us that, although God is great and powerful, He’s also a God that is always available to lend an ear to our prayers. There are plenty of Florida Georgia Line haters, even among country music fans, but that pair appears three times on the album, and shines brightly in each instance. “Sing,” which also includes Russell Dickerson’s singing, celebrates the melody God places in our hearts, “Thank You Lord” is a simple praise song and “Forever Home” is a soulful song about heaven.
Chris Tomlin sounds like he really enjoyed making Christian music with his (mainly mainstream) friends. These friends also helped the worship music veteran make one of his best albums to date. These are good friends, indeed.