Israel & New Breed

A Deeper Level: Live

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Israel & New Breed's A Deeper Level: Live was recorded at the three-day Deeper Level worship conference held in Houghton's home base of Houston, TX. The record is the outfit's second time out with gospel giant Integrity Music, and the difference is significant. There are only shadows of the gutsy, brilliant arrangements and staggering instrumental/vocal performances that gospel music fans fell in love with on New Breed's previous recordings. Houghton trades in his aggressive, complex band sound for a guitar-driven CCM washout. There are windows of the stylistic diversity heard on previous projects, like the reggaeton-driven "With Long Life" and the Afro-pop track "Identity." Although the overall musicianship is of a very high level, the stylistic bent of the album is mainstream CCM. Where in the past Houghton partnered with African music legend Jonathan Butler, A Deeper Level features guests like Chris Tomlin and Darlene Zschech. Preceded by a 40-day fast, the concert recordings are strung together with spoken prayers and petitions. These moments are characterized by off-color political comments, offset by lyrical assaults on everything from abortion to divorce to homosexuality throughout. The tone of the record is unapologetically angry conservatism. New Breed's apparent catering to right-wing white audiences does nothing short of poison what was once a fresh, deep well.

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