Early 2013 Music Preview
NRT's Logan Leasure gives a sneak peek of the most anticipated albums of early 2013.

So you've put away the Christmas tunes for the next 11 months. We all know how miserable that can feel. It's that depressing, seemingly long stretch of the year right now that no one really enjoys. Fortunately, the first quarter of 2013 brings a whole slew of great new releases. Here are the hottest records to look forward to this early spring season:

January 22
Love and Death - Between Here and Lost (Tooth & Nail Records)
Brian "Head" Welch, the now well-known former member of mainstream metal band Korn, introduces us to his new project early this spring, Love and Death. The industry and fans alike ate up his highly successful 2006 solo album, Save Me From Myself, and given the long span of time between projects, its likely to be déjà vu this time around as well.

Meredith Andrews - Worth It All (Word Records)
Word's powerful award-winning vocalist, Meredith Andrews, presents her third studio album, Worth It All. The album's lead single, "Not For A Moment (After All)" has already claimed the No. 1 spot on inspirational charts. Andrews was accurately described as one of Billboard Magazine's "Faces to Watch" for her debut album. For me, she brings sincerity and relatable themes that get deeper with each listen. Through the album, Andrews seeks to remind people of meaning and value, and what is of greatest "worth" to them. As Andrews recently noted, "Only Jesus is worthy of it all. My life, my heart, my every breath, my authentic love, my worship. He is everything. He is Worth It All."

January 29
Colton Dixon - A Messenger (Sparrow Records)
Still running fresh off his stint on last year's season of American Idol, Colton Dixon made quite an entrance into the Christian music season in 2012, feeding from the success of singles "You Are" and "Never Gone," both of which proved to be extremely promising. We've seen how immense his talent is (check out his cover of Lifehouse's "Everything" if you haven't already), so here's to hoping it translates into good things on his first full-length debut. The singer-songwriter market is a bit crowded right now, but the right dose of uniqueness can always help make room for someone else. We'll see if Mr. Dixon meets that challenge.

Fiction Family - Fiction Family Reunion (Rock Ridge Music)
They're back! Switchfoot's Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins are about to re-introduce the folk/pop charm that everyone fell in love with from their first release a few years ago. A project that's been in the making since 2010, Fiction Family Reunion seems guaranteed to have the musical and lyrical ingenuity that fans of the project have known and loved. Look for them on their To Write Love On Her Arms-sponsored tour early this spring.

February 5
Daniel Bashta - The Invisible (Integrity Music)
The highly anticipated sophomore album from critically acclaimed songwriter/worship artist/missionary Daniel Bashta, The Invisible, releases Feb. 5 from Integrity Music. The album follows Bashta's 2011 debut, The Sounds of Daniel Bashta, which sparked the worship anthem "God's Not Dead (Like A Lion)" (which also was recorded by Newsboys, David Crowder*Band and others). His songs are musically layered with Bashta's explosive, raw vocal interpretation, which are suited for corporate worship and are a full-tilt revelation of God's presence.

RED - Release the Panic (Essential Records)
Following the tremendous Christian and mainstream success of their 2011 release, Until We Have Faces, RED brings us something new to look forward to with Release the Panic. This past November gave us the release of the album's first single, "Perfect Life," an anthem speaking out against living a life of insincerity. As a band that has never been ashamed to keep their faith at the forefront of their music, it's more than exciting to see what's in store for us on this record. Rock fans rejoice.

Sanctus Real - Run (Sparrow Records)
It's been a few years since their GRAMMY-nominated 2010 release, Pieces of a Real Heart, captivated us, but finally it's time to hear some new Sanctus Real material. Currently running strong off of Run's lead single, "Promises", it seems like we can expect encouragement to be found in every corner of this standout act's latest release. Here's hoping for another stellar record.

February 12
Jeremy Camp - Reckless (BEC Recordings)
Aside from a few re-releases and a Christmas album, the past few years have been pretty quiet for Jeremy Camp. That being said, his music has still remained a staple on Christian airwaves, given that his songs are some of the most recognizable and relatable in the entire industry. Reckless seems likely to fill the dosage of new Jeremy Camp tracks that his fans and the industry as a whole has been looking for. If the title-track single is an indication of what's to come, Mr. Camp's continued success is only inevitable.

February 26
Hillsong United - Zion (Sparrow Records/Hillsong)
Admit it: you sing Hillsong worship songs all day, every day. We Christian music lovers all do it, because this highly influential band has worked their way into churches and radio stations everywhere, and we're not complaining. It's been two years since their last release, and pretty soon we're sure to be singing along to this new collection of hits.

Plumb - Need You Now (Curb Records)
Plumb's work is always some of the most unique in the industry. That being said, a new release from her is always something to look forward to. What's more, Need You Now features a collaboration with Jars of Clays' Dan Haseltine, which is sure to be something special. The passion and emotion that Plumb always drives into her music has definitely ensured that this release is a big player on our radar.

Salvador - Make Some Noise (InPop Records)
Five years after seemingly falling off the map (besides a greatest hits record), contemporary pop/worship group Salvador is looking to make another splash on the Christian music scene with Make Some Noise. Lead single "God Of Forever" is reminiscent of their previous sound, and the return of this feel-good, Latin-flavored worship music is definitely a welcome arrival.

The Letter Black - Rebuild (Tooth & Nail Records)
After spending much of 2012 touring, writing, and recording, The Letter Black is finally ready to drop a new release. First single "Sick Charade" has already garnered some serious traction, not to mention they'll be out on the road yet again this spring with Thousand Foot Krutch. With the whole year ahead of them, 2013 looks to be a good one for The Letter Black.

March 12
Audio Adrenaline - Kings & Queens (Fair Trade Services)
Arguably the most anticipated release in Christian music for 2013, the return of Audio Adrenaline is almost upon us. Featuring dcTalk's Kevin Max as their new frontman, this highly influential band is looking to make their mark on a new generation of listeners. Title-track single "Kings and Queens" is powerful and just fantastic in general. Our expectations are high for this record, and our fingers are crossed that AA can pull through. Keep your eyes out for this one, folks.

JJ Heller - Loved (Independent)
I'm one of JJ's newer fans and both Painted Red and When I'm With You have been in heavy rotation for me since they released. Naturally, I was also interested in hearing her back catalog which blew me away once I heard how "Love Me" was re-recorded as "What Love Really Means." This new album will surely display JJ's signature introspective singer-songwriter style that paved the way for her current success, which is well-deserved. Lead single "Who You Are" is yet another standout song ushering in a newer more ambient musical style.

Jason Crabb - Love is Stronger (Spring House)
The reigning Male Vocalist and Artist of the Year from 2012's Dove Awards is keeping up his presence with this all-new LP. The industry has taken a strong liking to Crabb's powerful and soulful voice, and Love Is Stronger looks to capitalize on his whirlwind of success. Featuring a much-anticipated collaboration with Kari Jobe, we're ready for March 12 to get here so we can hear what Mr. Crabb has to offer us this time around.

Passion Band - Title TBA (Sparrow Records)
A bright spot in a dark world, the Passion movement is something we look forward to year after year after year. With last year's White Flag being one of their best and most successful releases to date, the ante is upped even higher for this year. Tomlin, Stanfill, Nockels, Redman, and more; every year, the big names abound with big worship tracks that we sing in our cars--and churches--all year long. This year should be no different.

Seventh Day Slumber - Love and Worship (BEC Recordings)
As a band that has built up their names in the rock genre, this record might already have won the award for most intriguing album of 2013, and we haven't even heard it yet. Covering worship hits like Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons" and Passion's "White Flag," it looks like we're in for a real treat with this one.

March 26
Shawn McDonald - The Analog Sessions (Sparrow Records)
By far one of the most genuine and loved singer-songwriters in the industry, it's great to see Shawn McDonald's name in the mix again. The Analog Sessions promises to re-engineer some of our favorites from him, including "Take My Hand" and "Closer." With the addition of two new songs, McDonald has proven he sure knows how to build some true anticipation.

April 2
Hawk Nelson - Made (Fair Trade Services)
This decade-old band still has it, that's for sure. Back for their sixth full-length studio release, the guys of Hawk Nelson have figured out a formula that repeatedly works. From their new record, Made, first single "Words"--featuring none other than MercyMe's Bart Millard--examines and presses the need for us to see how our language can impact the world. The band says they hope to "be a lot more intentional about what we're saying" on this release, with "Words" already being a blatant example of that attempt. Aside from this release, the band also plays multiple Acquire the Fire conference dates this spring. Hawk Nelson seems poised to meet 2013 head-on, and if past success is any indication, it's sure to happen.

April 9
Josh Wilson - Carry Me (Sparrow Records)
He's toured with the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman and Matthew West, and now the meteoric rise of singer/songwriter Josh Wilson is about to continue. Lead single "Carry Me" is already making its mark on the radio, and Carry Me seems ready to do the same to the industry.

What other releases are you looking forward to this spring? It's a busy season ahead, so comment below and let us know!

Logan Leasure loves the music and entertainment industry and always has something to say or write about it. He is currently a student at Belmont University in Nashville.

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