The new album by the Michael Gungor Band titled All I Need Is Here is probably the best praise and worship album that I’ve heard in the last year or so. Michael Gungor shined bright a few years ago with his debut album Bigger Than My Imagination that featured the P&W favorite “Friend of God”. The debut album was produced by Israel Houghton and had his fingerprints all over the album- from the pristine studio sound to cowriting songs with Gungor. On All I Need is Here, Gungor’s sonic palette has evolved to a more brit-rock-ColdPlay sound that’s just *so ready* to get young worshippers pogo-ing to these songs in their respective churches across the nation. As I’ve said countless of times in the past about praise and worship music, it’s tough to be creative and fresh when you’re working within the boundaries of congregational music. the songs need to be accessible and easy to sing along to but then again, not too bland and by-the-numbers to where people simply lose interest. Gungor succeeds here in creating new music that is simple enough to present in front of a congregation but also interesting enough to also work as a stand-alone listening experience. songs like Heaven’s Song, Be Praised and Never Stop are driving arena-sized anthems that are ready-made to excite all those mega-church-goers to a frenzy. The highlight for me on this CD is the 1-2-3 punch of Ancient Skies/Prodigal/Grace for Me. the songs are heartfelt and the choruses are bigger-than-life. the contrast between the acoustic based Grace for Me and the more dynamic Ancient Skies/Prodigal bring the lyrics to the forefront like: Valleys come and tears are drying, there are things I don’t yet see but I’ll rejoice in spite of hardship, You’ll watch over me, You’re grace for me is all I need and all I need is here… the interesting thing to see here is that Gungor humbly places himself within the band format and keeps the guitar solos to a minimum. I was actually hoping to hear more of his skillful guitar playing on the album but Gungor obviously wants the lyrics and the songs to be the focus here. and that’s truly commendable.
..but if I had to nitpick I’d have to say that the sound mix is a bit disappointing. the album is a step down from the studio quality sound of his debut. The album has “pro-tools” written all over it which is a shame because the songs deserve more. the dynamics are squashed with heavy compression and there are tell-tale signs that the dreaded “auto-tune” was used on some of the vocals. I guess it has more to do with budget limitations than actual artistic choice but fortunately the great songwriting and performances shine through despite the muddy, brick-walled mix.
michael gungor band
1 Be Praised
2 Giving It All
3 Never Stop
4 Ancient Skies
5 Prodigal
6 Grace for Me
7 Fly
8 You Alone
9 Spotless
10 Heaven’s Song
11 Glory Is Here/Song for My Family

Listen to Heaven’s Song by the Michael Gungor Band: