By Sean Wendell MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard has recorded a follow-up to his 2005 solo albumHymned, called Hymned Again, which released nationally on August 19. Hymned Again follows after Hymnedmusically as well, as it features hymns from the 1800's performed in various musical styles. After recording the first set of hymns, Bart saw the impact it had on his children. “Our six-year-old son, Sam, would fall asleep listening to it and then be singing ‘In The Sweet By and By’ at breakfast the next morning,” says Bart. “There were more songs that my wife and I wanted him and Gracie and Charlie to know. Now they’re singing along to these new takes … we’re so happy about how that affirms the decision to do this again.”
Hymned Again covers a wide range of musical style such as Dixieland, New Orleans jazz and Texas guitar blues. The performances on the album are great as Bart had a great group of studio musicians working with him on this album. Despite this, there were some really unusual production choices. The one that sticks out the most is the theremin solo on “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” It doesn’t make any sense in a song done in the style of early New Orleans Jazz. Overall the range of music styles on this album didn’t work for me. It was kind of like being at work listening to the canned music go from 60’s pop to 90’s alternative to 80’s metal. Any of the songs by themselves are great, but as an album it is strange.
Without a doubt, Bart’s voice is the highlight of this album. It is one of the few things in the album that is consistent from song to song. He delivers all of these hymns in an expressive and heartfelt manner.
Some high points on Hymned Again include:
“Jesus Cares for Me” is the only original hymn on the record, was written by Bart Millard and Thad Cockrell, and features a duet with country music superstar Vince Gill. A very beautiful moment on the CD.
“Grace That Is Greater” features Millard’s voice and ukulele. It is very much in the style of Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
If you liked Hymned, you should like Hymned Again. These albums really could be a double-CD set given their similarity. People with very eclectic music tastes would also enjoy this album.