If you’re a Christian who likes rock music you can jump up and down to, “Holding Nothing Back” by Tim Hughes is the album for you. Tim Hughes first shot to super-stardom about 5 years ago with “Here I Am to Worship”. If you’re anything like me, just reading the title of that song is enough to make you groan… but – thankfully! – he’s come a long way since then. Gone are the effeminate, wishy-washy, “Jesus-is-my-boyfriend” style songs; bring on the impressively produced pop-rock anthems.
If you’re a “glass-half-empty” kinda person, the album opener “Happy Day” might rub you up the wrong way to start with. But give it some time – it really is a great song. Jesus’ resurrection – “the greatest day in history!” – is worthy of many a joyful song like this one. Another song like it is “Holding Nothing Back” – which, by now, is hopefully a familiar tune to you. Mind you – we did change this one a bit, so that there’d be no room for misunderstanding.
There are some great mellow moments too. “Living for your Glory” is fantastic, reminiscent of the hymn “Take My Life”. (In fact, many of his songs will remind you of hymns – which is not a bad thing!) The highlight of the album is the duet he does with the Kiwi Brooke Fraser, “Clinging to the Cross” (this one’s on our Featured Items Page). It tells the tale of a weak, numb believer, who can’t do anything but cling to the cross of Christ, rejoicing in the fact that Jesus will never let go; Jesus will never fail: “Simply to the Cross I cling, letting go of all earthly things, I’m clinging to the cross.” This song alone makes buying the album worth it.
Beware though – there are some parts that are unfaithful. One of the best songs on the album is also the worst: “God of Justice”. It’s a moving song – musically and lyrically. We need songs about God’s justice, and His call for us to care for the poor and the broken. But the song is destroyed in the bridge, when he repeatedly sings: “Fill us up, and send us out Lord” – making the frustratingly common error of asking God for more of the Spirit – as if God withholds part of the Spirit until we sing something like this again and again. It’s not true! God’s given us all of the Spirit already (Rom. 8:14-15). Avoid songs like this like the plague.
Overall, the depth of lyrics on this album isn’t what you’d call ‘profound’, and it’s sometimes overly-repetitive. But it’s mostly faithful, and there are some excellent songs that will help to fill your mind with God’s word. Its refreshingly Christ-centred. I’m struck by the quality of the production – guitarists will love it! Parents – buy this one for your teenagers – and talk to them about the songs. Young adults – put this one in your car stereo, but do try not to speed; put it on your iPod, and go for a run. Everyone – sing along, and praise God with a new song. You can sample it for free here.