|#8 Album Of 2011 | Posted December 26, 2011
The first lines sung by Michael Tait, with a simple synth chord behind him, ushers in one of the best artist driven worship project in years from a band enjoying new birth in their long storied career. "The King Is Coming" wonderfully kicks off the album and is one of only five original songs on God's Not Dead. That fact alone should hold back an album from a year end list, but when Newsboys are able to breathe life into one of the most covered songs of the past few years, ("Revelation Song") it's time to take notice to what they are doing here. This is more than a collection of their favorite praise chorus, slapped together to form a new album.
In multiple interviews, both Tait and drummer Duncan Phillips said they had no interest in covering a song unless they could make it better. It's a statement every band will say, but few actually pull it off. Newsboys has managed to take popular worship songs like "Your Love Never Fails," and "Like A Lion" and re-imagine them into pop perfection. You know the songs, but you've never heard them like this.
One song you won't know, but soon will, is "I Am Second," welcoming back a familiar voice to pop music, Kevin Max (Kevin also sings on the title track, though not as prominently as here). The song, I predict, will be the biggest hit off this album, and hearing Kevin pulled out from his heady, indie hole he's been hiding in for years is so welcomed. Let's hope this is a step that returns Kevin to the spotlight, because his voice is still simply unmatched and it so accessible in the right setting. This is it.
Michael's voice is so good as well and it just shines all over this album. With Duncan driving the beat on drums, Jody providing the passion on guitars and Jeff behind the majority of the programming, the Newsboys are in full stride and have delivered yet another must-own album.
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|God's Not Dead! | Posted October 10, 2011
Defining the last twelve months as a “whirlwind year” for the Newsboys would seem like a cliché. Yet after the critical and commercial acclaim of their 2010 hit record, Born Again, a handful of successful headlining tours, three No. 1 radio singles and a Summer full of non-stop festival dates, how ELSE would you describe it?
Sure, “unheard of” might work nicely, but the men of the Newsboys have never been one to go by the book. This was made clear when band members Jeff Frankenstein, Jody Davis, and Duncan Phillips welcomed famed dc Talk member Michael Tait as their new lead singer back in 2009. The change not only exceeded fans’ high expectations, but breathed new life into one of Christian music's longest running and most beloved bands.
After all this, you'd think the last thing on their minds would be jumping into making another record... you'd think wrong.
As a matter of fact, God's Not Dead, the groups latest project, has been in the works for quite some time. It’s their first worship album since the back-to-back releases of the influential Adoration and Devotion back in 2003/2004.
The title resonates from centuries of philosophers who’ve tried to discredit the belief of an everlasting deity. Fredrick Nietzsche, a well known scholar from the 1800s was once quoted as saying that if there was a God, he was dead, and the entire practice of Christianity itself would soon die along with Him. I think we’d all agree when saying “he was wrong” is an immense understatement. With God still alive and well, the message of this album is to make a living God known to a dying world.
“God’s not dead,” says Michael Tait. “Let’s worship Him.”
Once again working with producer and singer/songwriter Seth Mosley for this project, the group has come together to create what is their finest worship record to date, and quite possibly, one of the best Newsboys albums ever.
God's Not Dead begins with one of multiple all-new original songs, “The King Is Coming”--an anthem about the return of Christ and our responsibility to ready the world for His coming. It’s a great song, and one I can see being adopted by the church the same way their previous hit, “He Reigns” was back in 2003.
The theme of the album is introduced next with a fantastic cover of Daniel Bashta's “God’s Not Dead (Like A Lion),” featuring a brilliant vocal cameo by musician and fellow dc Talk alumnus, Kevin Max. His vocals take a song that would have stood just fine on it's own and send it soaring to new heights.
An upbeat retelling of Jesus Culture's modern classic “Your Love Never Fails” takes the message of God's unfailing love for His people and sets it against the backdrop of an 80s-inspired pop melody. Unconventional to say the least, but there is an unarguable likability about it, and will surely go down as a fan favorite. “Here We Stand” evokes a Hillsong United sound while offering an honest prayer God, asking Him to move in us as we honor Him with our lives.
A powerful rendition of “Savior Of The World” is sure to leave you on your knees, while Hillsong‘s “Forever Reign,” laced with synth strings, packs a Spirit-led moment of praise to the Creator. “More Than Enough” takes this album to a new level lyrically, talking about Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, and how thought it all, He always has been and always will be all we’ll ever need.
A gritty and sweeping version of “Revelation Song,” made popular by Gateway Worship and Philips, Craig and Dean, packs a punch and is undoubtedly going to leave the listener fully engulfed in the presence of God. The polished “Pouring It Out” speaks of God‘s worthiness to be praised as He passionately pursues His creation, and leads nicely into the boys' rendition of “Mighty To Save,” also featured on their Born Again record. “All The Way” serves as firm declaration to the Lord that we will never stray off of His path, going with Him all the way till the very end.
The album finally comes to a close with the standout track “I Am Second,” which could very well be one of Newsboys best songs of their over two-decades-long career. Epic string arrangements plus another powerhouse vocal appearance from Kevin Max take this song and put it over the top. While it’s a masterpiece from a musical standpoint, the surrendered lyrics are what steal the show, making this a wholly abandoned way to end an outstanding record: “I am second to one, the Savior, no compromise, laying everything at the foot of the cross, my pride, my life, my all, I am second to one, and He’s second to none.”
Worship records aren’t an easy accomplishment for well-known Christian artists. More often, they’re looked down upon because they stylistically stray away from the artist’s typical style and sound. In this case however, not only have Newsboys succeeded in making a worship album that packs a punch, but on an artistic level, is some their best work to date. Ranging from pop to rock, ballads to full on dance tunes, this album serves as a passionate, creative, fun and personal record on many levels--both melodically and lyrically. There will be many times while listening that you find yourselves wrapped up into the presence of God and truly enjoying the moment more than the music. That in and of itself in a task worth commending.
Unique and inspiring, Newsboys God’s Not Dead is hands-down one of best worship albums of the year, and is overall one of Christian music’s top 10 albums of 2011. Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed, and those who are still discovering the group after all these years will be blown away by their relevant sound and meaningful worship. The transformation Newsboys has undergone in the last several years is evident, and it shows in the continued evolution of their music. It’s a delight to watch as they continue to grow, and if this is just a small taste of what we can expect from their next studio album, we’re in for a treat.
There is no doubt about it, if you’re going to walk away with one message from this album, it’s this: God is alive… and He is absolutely worthy to be praised.
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