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THE YEAR THAT WAS
Top 20 Worship Albums of 2014
Lead contributor Kevin Davis shares his favorites from an incredibly strong year in worship music.
 


This past year has featured some incredible new albums and songs by Christian artists. I have had the privilege to worship along with more than 50 new worship albums this year, and this has been one of the best years in recent memory to "sing to the Lord a new song" (Psalm 96:1) with amazing offerings by all of these artists.

As a believer, one of my daily devotionals is to spend time worshiping my Lord and Savior Jesus by singing Him worship songs in adoration of His majesty and love. These are my top 20 new worship albums of 2014 that all lead me into the Throne Room (you can view my entire list here.)

1. All Sons & Daughters by All Sons & Daughters

More than just a collection of great songs, this album is a deep, meaningful worship experience unlike any other I've heard this year. If you feel like many worship albums sound the same and you want to experience a fresh, deep, introspective and completely worshipful album, look no further than this album.

The standout songs are "You Will Remain," "Tonight," "God with Us," "Christ Be All around Me," "The Victory" "King of Glory," "Almighty God" and "Great Are You Lord," which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite worship songs. This is a very emotional album, loaded with hook-filled vertical expressions with catchy melodies wrapped around introspective, worshipful and emotional lyrics. My favorite albums grow deeper with each listen. All Sons & Daughters is my worship album of the year.

2. Love Will Have Its Day by Laura Hackett Park

Every song will have you hanging on each word that Laura tenderly sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention to our King, Jesus. This is a completely worshipful album. There are several personal songs that melt my heart, including "The Love Inside," "Beautiful Heart," "He Shall Reign," "I Feel His Love," "Brilliant Light" and "Cover Me." Laura has blessed listeners by writing such piercing, relevant and moving songs.

If you are looking for an entire album of songs like Invisible Empires by Sara Groves, look no further than Laura Hackett Park. She writes and sings songs with amazing passion and with unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior, with reminders to "lift up your head" to the Lord of Lords. The eternal Love of Jesus is beautifully expressed in these compelling songs that seep into your heart, soul and mind. This album soothes, moves and challenges listeners. Love Will Have its Day is a profound listening experience.
 

3. The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger

This is an excellent set of songs focused on the central themes of asking God to inhabit our inner being and truly allow the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, along with relying solely on the love of Jesus to truly mold our hearts and make us more like Him. I really love how expressive these songs are. Steffany loves a lot, and that is evident throughout this stellar "gourmet" offering. These are all stand-out tracks filled with overwhelming biblical truth, and they are companions in my personal prayer and worship time.

Steffany sings songs with an amazing passion, with unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior that is very inspiring and emotionally compelling. All of these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest, worshipful lyrics. This is truly a moving and prayerful worship experience.

4. You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music

Although the songs were written at different times, the theme of relying on God's strength to make us brave weaves through all of the songs and spontaneous worship moments that all believers need to hear, women and men alike. This album is best described as a worship experience with an ethereal tone similar to Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture.

These anointed women have consistently impressed me with mature faith and sincere desires to serve Jesus. Being a Christian father of three young daughters, these songs all reflect the yearning for Jesus to make us brave that I pray for my daughters to feel in their hearts as well. Every song completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship and adoration of our beautiful King Jesus, with reminders that the "waves and wind still know His Name." Don't miss "You Make Me Brave," "It is Well," "Forever," "Anchor," "Shepherd," "We Dance" and "Come to Me." These stellar songs are excellent reminders to cling to our Anchor Jesus.
 

5. The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective

I was completely captivated by this band the first time I heard "Movements," and then they took it up a notch with "Second Chance" and "Build Your Kingdom Here." I didn't think they could reach another level, but somehow they have surpassed their previous excellence and delivered an absolutely flawless work of art as a worthy offering of praise and devotion to our amazing God. Every single song celebrates God's resurrection power in us, urging followers of Jesus to "boldly approach the Throne." As beautifully stated in "Boldly I Approach," "This is the art of celebration, knowing we're free from condemnation, praise the One who made an end to all my sin."

The musical and lyrical excitement of the band's engaging live performance is perfectly captured in these recordings. The album celebrates the truth of Ephesians 2:19-21 (NKJV): "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." The Art of Celebration is the most engaging and exciting worship album I've ever heard, a bold, artful celebration.

6. Majestic by Kari Jobe

These excellent songs are all prayers, adoration and declarations about our Great God. There are only a few other live recordings of songs I can even try to compare to this spine-tingling experience. "God I Look to You" by Jenn Johnson and "Closer" by Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger are the closest comparisons. If you like those Bethel Music artists, then you are in for a treat with this stellar worship offering.

All of these songs invite you to express your own desire for God's presence. I love how expressive these songs get, such as in the emotive bridge "we sing Hallelujah, the Lamb has overcome!" from guaranteed hit song "Forever." Majestic is about proclaiming the majesty of God and crying out for His presence throughout this incredible worship experience which stirs my heart, mind and soul to bow before Jesus, our Majestic King. He alone is worthy. Kari's powerful and gorgeous vocals keep me hanging on every word she sings. The songs completely focus me as a listener on joining her in praise, worship and adoration. You will experience and encounter Jesus in these captivating songs.
 

7. Unstoppable Love by Jesus Culture

These excellent live recordings on Unstoppable Love are all prayers and declarations of the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus. These are great songs to pray along with and express allegiance to Him, with longings to know Jesus and be in His presence. I really love how expressive these songs are. They allow listeners to reflect on profound words like "No sin, no shame, no past, no pain can separate me from Your love, No height, no depth, no fear, no death, can separate me from Your love" from the standout title track.

I'm impressed by the consistent quality and fresh worshipful songs that come from Jesus Culture. This album is no exception, and it is arguably their finest and most Scriptural collection of songs for the Church, as demonstrated in particular "Sing Out," "Light of the World," "No Other like You," "Unstoppable Love," "In Awe of You" and "Your Name is Glorious," which is already one of my all-time favorite worship songs. Unstoppable Love is about proclaiming the majesty of God and crying out for His Presence throughout this incredible worship experience. The truly unstoppable love of Jesus is beautifully expressed in these compelling songs.

8. No Other Name by Hillsong Worship

If you want to experience a fresh, biblically-inspired and Kingdom-focused worship album, look no further than No Other Name. I'm impressed by the consistent quality and fresh worshipful songs from Hillsong Worship. I've been singing "Mighty to Save," "Stronger," "Cornerstone," "Stand in Awe" and many other Hillsong standards at my church, and I recommend several new worship anthems from this album. If you are looking for new songs to sing as a community, this album is chock-full of congregational songs, especially "I Believe (The Creed)," "No Other Name," "Depths," "Calvary," "All Things New," "My Story," "Our Father," and the standout "Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)."

I eagerly await each new Hillsong release, and No Other Name is truly stellar. Once again they have released their newest "best" album. I'm drawn to the stirring emotional vocals and deep, prayerful and biblical lyrics throughout the album. This is a great album of new songs for the Church, filled with a sincere desire to sing about the Name above all names, Jesus.
 

9. Becoming Who We Are by Kings Kaleidoscope

This incredible album has quickly become one of my top worship albums of the past year, fitting in nicely with ambient alternative rock-tinged worship like Citizens by Citizens & Saints and The Water & the Blood by Dustin Kensrue. If you like those bands and albums, then don't hesitate to check out Kings Kaleidoscope. The musical vibe is at times reflective, ambient and exciting, always matching the tone of the worshipful lyrics, with alternative rock sensibilities displaying the musical talents of the ten band members.

Kings Kaleidoscope reminds me of The Oh Hellos, Imagine Dragons, Citizens, and Kings of Leon mashed up together. I'm drawn to the stirring emotional vocals, hook-filled music and deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. This is a great album of new songs about "becoming who you are," filled with a sincere desire to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

10. Join the Triumph by Citizens & Saints

I really enjoy the exciting musical vibe of Join the Triumph, and the melodies and lyrics are all catchy and biblical. It is loaded with great rock beats, catchy melodies and solid lyrics reflecting unashamed faith in Jesus. Everything we do and everything we have needs to come from the place of who we are in Jesus. There's safety and security in the knowledge of our Savior and Redeemer. This album proclaims that Truth in every single song, especially the lead single "You Brought Me Back to Life" and "The Mighty Hand of God."

The album has such a contemporary sound, and the message is inspirational for followers of Jesus, regardless of your musical preference. The energy and excitement of this album is infectious. You won't be able to help but want to dance and sing along with these exciting new songs of praise. This album challenges me to think about how I'm living out my faith. I'm both challenged and entertained by this album, and I love hearing Scripture proclaimed in fresh and exciting ways. This is a call to join the triumph, the triumph of the work of Christ. 
 

And rounding out the Top 20 are ten more albums worthy of consideration:
11. Sing Your Praises by Onething Live
12. How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle
13. Banner by Desperation Band
14. Home by Cadence
15. Before There Was by Bellarive
16. Death, Be Not Proud by Audrey Assad
17. Carry Us Now by Rush Of Fools
18. Passion: Take It All by Passion
19. Running to Follow by Fellowship Creative
20. Seek You First by Jordan & Kristin Rippy

Other great worship songs from this year include offerings from Centric Worship's Corey Voss ("Nothing but the Blood"), Riley Erin ("Overwhelm Me-Lost in You"), Jonathan Lee ("Greater is He"), Selah ("You Amaze Us"), Phillips, Craig & Dean ("Jesus, Only Jesus"), Dustin Smith ("Extravagant Love"), Paul Baloche ("He is Risen"), Worship Central ("Worth it All"), Covenant Worship ("Can't Stop Singing"), Planetshakers ("Endless Praise"), Michael W. Smith and Kathryn Scott ("Sovereign Over Us") and Leeland ("Christ Be All Around Me").

 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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