Album Review: ‘Love Ran Red’

Chris Tomlin has essentially become a legend in his own lifetime. He’s a sensation in Christian circles, releasing radio hits such as “God’s Great Dance Floor” and the popular worship songs “I Will Rise,” “Our God,” and “I Will Follow.”

And with the Oct. 27 release of his newest album, “Love Ran Red,” Tomlin’s songs are sure to further infiltrate Spotify music libraries, merchandise tables and Christian churches’ worship repertoires.

“Love Ran Red” kicks off with “Greater,” a worship song that sounds similar to those in his last album, “Burning Lights,” which released in 2012. But there’s something about the song that still makes it fresh. It’s the type of song that you’ll sing with arms held high despite the number of times you’ve heard the song.

The heavy chord-laden intro underscored by barely-audible quick beats morphs into emotionally moving lyrics. Though the lyrics are new, the chorus seems reminiscent of Mercy Me’s “Greater” and Tomlin’s “Our God.” But after the first listen, you may find yourself singing along because it’s just that easy to pick up the tune.

And beware. After listening once or twice to “Love Ran Red,” your ears may be ringing truth. Tomlin’s album is chock-full of it, both acquired from his experiences and from scripture.

Several of the album’s tracks include great harmony through the chords played, despite Tomlin being the only vocalist in the songs. And his lyrics are filled with imagery — particularly of one’s reaction to God in all his glory — thus making the potential for great worship songs.

“Almighty” is a prime example of this. The instrumental crescendos add much to the power of the song. As God is praised again and again, the music swells, creating just a glimpse of the heavenly choruses that will someday be a reality. Yet the song does not overpower its audience. Rather, it instills a sense of reverence for the Almighty One and leaves its audience still before God.

The album also includes the upbeat radio single “Waterfall,” comparing God’s love to a waterfall that’s sufficient to cover one in entirety, and the uplifting, yet truth-filled, radio single “Jesus Loves Me.” This second single drives home the fact that God’s love for us is evidence of the fact that he’s for us, not against us or aloof from our lives.

The title track, “At The Cross (Love Ran Red),” is convicting to say the least: “At the cross I surrender my life…I owe all to you / I owe all to you Jesus.”

“The Roar,” which comes halfway through the album, includes a chorus reflective of Cedarville alumni’s favorite, Robin Mark’s “You’re the Lion of Judah.” And “The Table” has a good ‘ole gospel feel to it, encouraging its listeners to sway back and forth with the rhythm of the music, snap along — maybe clap if you’re really feeling the Spirit move — and dwell on the attributes of God. However, the song’s ending comes a bit too soon.

In fact, the whole album comes to an end too quickly. A play through the album lasts only about 50 minutes, ending much too soon for music this great. But the final two tracks, “I Will Boast” and “Jesus, This Is You,” are a great summation to the album, transitioning the audience nicely into praising God once the music fades, and all that’s left is silence in which God still dwells.

Despite your method of listening to this album — Spotify (it’s free!), iTunes, Amazon or the actual CD—and despite your degree of familiarity with Chris Tomlin, it’ll be hard to miss the heart of these 12 tracks: love. God loves. We’re undeserving of his love. This love is unobtainable by human strength. And God is incomparably almighty.

Whether it’s with convicting tracks, a new tune to “heard-it-before” lyrics or catchy instrumental twists, Tomlin wins again with “Love Ran Red.”

Anna Dembowski is a junior journalism major and managing editor/arts & entertainment editor for Cedars. She likes nearly anything that is the color purple and enjoys spelling the word “agathokakological.”

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