Generation Hymns 3
(release date: March 18, 2022)
By Robert M. Marovich
On Generation Hymns 3, worship leader, singer, and songwriter Tommy Walker teams with the Bethesda Community Church Choir and several featured vocalists to bind the hymnbook in a new cover.
The Bethesda choir has a smiley Jesus People vibe. Indeed, the choir, Walker, the featured vocalists, and the robust rhythm section are uniformly upbeat, even on the album’s more sensitive selections like “He Leadeth Me” and “At the Cross.” For his part, Walker possesses a warm, friendly baritone voice that conjures Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr.
Although the hymns have a contemporary patina, their frames remain largely unchanged. For example, the refrain of “Standing on the Promises” maintains the lock-step rhythm of nineteenth-century revival singing. “Revive Us Again” opens with chunky chords on what sounds like an upright piano at a camp meeting. The assembly begins “At the Cross” with fidelity to the original, then shifts to a contemporary arrangement marked by clever chord changes and a Latin-flavored conclusion sung in Spanish.
The vocal features bring a multiculturalism to the mix. The husband-and-wife gospel team Jerard and Jovaun makes cameo appearances on “Standing on the Promises,” a surprisingly funky “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,” “At the Cross,” “Just As I Am,” and “Give Me Jesus.” Linda McCrary Fisher of the McCrary Sisters is also present on “Give Me Jesus,” “The Love of God,” and offers an especially emotional reading on “Just As I Am.” Eileen Walker, Tommy’s daughter, also makes several appearances, lending her country-flavored vocals on the acoustic guitar-accompanied “He Leadeth Me,” “Give Me Jesus,” “Just As I Am,” and “The Love of God” (not the Soul Stirrers / Voices of Tabernacle version).
The concluding track, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” is propelled by a march rhythm and a purring organ. The soloists get a chance to let loose a final time before the big finish.
There are many excellent new gospel songs, but there’s something about the hymns that refreshes the soul. Tommy Walker and his troupe prove it with this pleasant listen.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “At the Cross,” “Give Me Jesus,” “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”