As the composer of celebrated modern worship anthems like "Our God," "How Great Is Our God," "Jesus, Messiah," "I Lift My Hands," and "Holy Is the Lord," Chris Tomlin has enough Dove and Grammy awards to simply rest on his laurels, press execute, and produce endless collections of paint-by-numbers praise jams that will eventually work their way into ministry halftime shows the world over. Burning Lights, his eighth non-Passion event studio album, which features collaborations with Lecrae, Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, and Phil Wickham, stays true to the worship leader's penchant for crafting immaculately rendered slabs of inspirational modern rock that crib from Brit-pop, AOR rock, and folk, but they hardly sound phoned in. Lyrically, CCM is hardly a demanding genre, as it relies on familiar phrases and themes that are endlessly recycled and refurbished, but Tomlin has a way of delivering hyperbole without the glazed-over patina of some of his peers, due in large part to his rich, even-keeled voice and temperate delivery. His knack for conjuring up instantly engaging melodies has elicited another solid set of praise-based earworms with highlights coming from the rousing opener "Awake My Soul," which features a soulful hip-hop/sermon midsection courtesy of the aforementioned Lecrae; the string- and choir-laden closer "Shepherd Boy"; a stirring, arena-ready update on the traditional hymn "Crown Him with Many Crowns"("Crown Him [Majesty]"); and the album's official first single, "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)," which found its way onto CCM radio and into churches months before Burning Lights' official release.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger