Starmaker (High Above the Earth)
Label: Fair Trade/Columbia
Phil Wickham is no stranger to epic-sounding worship, but on Children of God he outdoes himself, constructing swelling walls of sound by piling Edge-style guitars atop flickering synthesizers and urgent backing harmonies. Most importantly, he infuses these walls with his intense sense of faith. “Better Than Life” is a pulsating meditation on love and sacrifice that’s downright cosmic in its expansiveness. Equally ecstatic is “Your Love Awakens Me,” on which he chronicles the many ways God delivered him safely from a throat operation that nearly ended his career in 2014. One of the collection’s most idiosyncratic cuts has to be “Wide Awake.” On the high-energy anthem, Wickham tweaks his approach with the incorporation of a pounding EDM beat that ratchets up the album’s passion -- if such a thing is even possible.