First, let me preface this with a rebuttal to another reviewer: my husband and I agreed long before Kutless announced the release of "Strong Tower" that they needed to do a worship album. Songs on previous CDs, such as "Run," "Again," "Tonight," "Grace and Love," "Sea of Faces," and "Passion" indicate a strong bent in favor of worship by Kutless. So "Strong Tower" is a natural.
Overall, the album is smooth, energizing, inspiring, and most definitely Kutless. Of course, as with any other musical journey, there are peaks and valleys. Kutless opens with the tranquil "We Fall Down," then kicks it up a notch with "Finding Who We Are." "Take Me In" has bluesy undertones and is simultaneously contemplative and rocking.
"Ready for You" is soulful, which is to be expected from the ever-poetic penman and frontman Jon Micah Sumrall. "Draw Me Close" once again lifts the energy to a worship peak (this is the cue to belt it in the car during a frustrating commute). "All Who Are Thirsty" provides meditative longing. "Better Is One Day" is one of my favorites on the album, lending to some breathtaking (especially if you're making a joyful noise along with ;) moments.
At this point, Kutless allows you to catch your breath with their original "All of the Words" from "Sea of Faces." But don't count on it lasting--"Strong Tower," another Kutless creation and the title track, is goosebump-worthy and deserves cranked volume. They follow this high with "Jesus Lord of Heaven." "I Lift My Eyes Up" demonstrates strong evidence of Kutless-izing, and is worth the effort. "Word of God Speak" is weighty, and the final track, "Arms of Love" is pure and sublime, and a perfect ending note...to start the whole thing over.
All great artists, whether music, literary, visual, or otherwise, acknowledge the great debt of those who have pioneered the way before them. Whether or not this played into the cover, I can't say. However, as a U2 fan, I found a happy nod from Kutless in the Achtung Baby-esque cover of "Strong Tower." It works beautifully on its own merit, but contrasting things like a picture of "U2" rings with the band's wedding rings is great fun. In the same way, Kutless builds on the existing worship scene, taking the best of it and making it better.
This album is perfect for Kutless fans, but is also a perfect introduction to Kutless. Enjoy!
--The Medieval Chick