I’ve been a Hillsong United fan pretty much since the beginning. Their faith-based, positive lyrics, masterful musicianship and ridiculously catchy hooks have been a staple through good times and bad.
I must admit, though, I always haven’t felt like listening to them, unable to relate to their sense of reckless abandon in the face of the realities of daily life. It sometimes felt a bit much – how can one really be that full of praise ALL the time?
Their new album People is refreshing in that it seems more honest than their previous work. There’s room for doubt, for questioning. That seems to stem from band lead Joel Houston, as explained in RELEVANT:
Houston had questions about his future, his band and even his faith. Where does the person a generation has turned to for worship go when he’s no longer feeling inspired? Who does a leader ask when he has questions about faith? Houston needed help.
That’s what led him to that rundown farmhouse in the Scottish countryside.
He’d taken the invitation of a friend to go to Scotland, get away from things and spend some time talking through his struggles. Arriving at the farmhouse was a moment of revelation.
“I saw something inspiring for the first time given the season that I was in, in that moment,” he says. “I felt like I got a picture of my life.”
On the outside, the house was rundown, worn by weather and time. It was a shell of what it had once been. But if you looked hard enough, you could see that with a little work and care, it could be restored.
It could, for all Houston knew, be even more stunning than the place it’d been before.
“Sometimes, if you’re going to create something beautiful, you’ve got to get through the process of reconstruction,” Houston says. “And that involves deconstruction and all the rest of it.”
All of the above plays out in a beautiful new song that I posted above called “Highlands.” It makes me think of when Lauren and I lived in Scotland, everything we’ve been through since, and the fact we know everything is going to be OK in the end.
I can’t stop listening to this song, and I hope it’s an encouragement to others as well.