This was a great year for some of my favorite names in Christian music to dig deep into God's Word for inspiration. This was overall another great year for Christian music, and for top artists in Christian music, this may have been one of the best years ever as the world has faced this pandemic and everyone is in desperate need for healing and hope in this trying time. God's Word doesn't return void, and these albums have blessed me the most this past year.
There have been several career albums released this year by both new and established artists. Veteran artists NEEDTOBREATHE, Jordan Feliz, Jason Gray, Melanie Penn, Jillian Edwards, The Classic Crime, We Are Messengers, Sidewalk Prophets, Natalie Grant, and Micah Tyler each released one of their best albums yet, and they round out my Top 10.
Don't miss out on any of these great albums. Feel free to share albums I might have missed and whether there are any surprises on this list.
1. NEEDTOBREATHE – Out of Body
NEEDTOBREATHE consistently makes songs that remind us to get to that place where we're in humble submission to God. Don't play it safe. Ask for God to be real in your life. You'll never see true beauty if you don't fully submit to God. This is one of my top albums of the year from both the Christian and mainstream music markets. They have long been my favorite band. I truly enjoy their entire catalog and especially their stand-out hit songs "Something Beautiful," "Happiness" and "Multiplied." If you like those songs, you'll love this new album. Out of Body is one of the catchiest, most energetic, and emotionally engaging albums I've heard this year and is my album of the year.
2. Jordan Feliz – Say It
This album is sure to connect with all listeners who like catchy songs filled with truth and yearning for God. I really enjoy the exciting musical vibe of this album, and the melodies and lyrics are all catchy and biblical. Say It is loaded with great rock beats, catchy melodies, and solid lyrics reflecting unashamed faith in Jesus. Don't miss out on this incredible album, one of the best of the year for sure. Jordan’s enthusiastic and reverent style of writing and singing songs has consistently been a draw for me. His prayerful sentiments are consistently filled with his personal adoration of God. I've felt that he's improved with each new album and this is my favorite Jordan Feliz album.
3. Jason Gray – Order, Disorder, Reorder
Jason invites you into his life in such an authentic and relatable way, you’ll feel like you are a lifelong friend after you hear this album. Once again, Jason has invited listeners into his story of faith. Each song features his unique brand of lyrical phrasing, embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." Jason is one of my favorite Christian music singer-songwriters. His songs are so emotional, vulnerable, and authentic. If you like singer-songwriters who wear their hearts on their sleeves and sing about the truth of what it means to walk with God and work out their salvation with fear and trembling, then don't miss out on one of Christian music's most treasured artists. Order, Disorder, Reorder is Jason Gray’s best album and one of my top albums of the year.
4. Melanie Penn – More Alive Vol. 1
I absolutely love Melanie’s intentionality and complete focus on God's provision in her life. She is a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter with a tender voice that is memorable and dynamic, yet intimate. These songs all have biblically-based lyrics that poignantly capture life's simple yet vital messages. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the prayerful lyrics found in these sacred songs that are redemptive and moving. Melanie’s vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus on Jesus. There are several personal songs that melt my heart. If you like female singers that make you think while you enjoy their catchy and empowering songs, More Alive Vol. 1 is for you. I have three daughters, and this is a solid upbeat pop album with positive biblical messages which is a great alternative to mainstream pop artists. This is one of my top albums of the year in any genre.
5. Jillian Edwards – Meadow
Jillian Edwards is an anointed singer-songwriter, and she has a profound way of examining the deeper feelings buried in my heart and bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender singing, and inspirational truths. If you are looking for the words to express your feelings to God in times of hurting and pain, these songs are a wonderful companion. All the songs are memorable, personal, and worshipful. These moving and reverent recordings are all prayers and personal confessions of submission to God and they are poignant songs of adoration. Every song is completely anointed, Spirit-led, and emotionally captivating. Jillian’s tender and gorgeous vocals keep me hanging on every word she sings. She invites listeners into her life by sharing what's on her heart. The standout songs each feature an engaging and emotive musical style while phrasing her prayer-filled songs in a creative and personal way, making it one of my top albums of the year.
6. The Classic Crime – Patterns in the Static
This band has had a major impact on my walk as a believer from the time of their release Vagabonds, which features the songs "A Perfect Voice," "Four Chords" and “Solar Powered Life.” The band's next several releases have been a constant companion on that journey as my faith has matured. The main message of many of their songs is not to judge your worth or success in life by the world’s standards, which is fame and wealth. “All you get is 650,000 hours if you’re lucky, then you’re dead” is a very challenging line in “Four Chords.” We don’t know the day or the hour of our passing or of Christ’s return. Considering the recent tragedies surrounding us all over the world, the band's newest release is another timely reminder of that theme and arguably the band's strongest release to date. The album is full of poignant songs, including “Miles and Miles,” “Highlights,” and “Cold Loud Dark” providing more guidance and comfort to believers trying to make sense of it all.
7. We Are Messengers – Power
This is one of the most meaningful albums I've ever heard. I can't get the catchy melodies of many of these songs out of my head, with the perfectly produced tracks and the song order brilliantly inviting listeners to join the band on their journey, especially the standout songs “Power,” “Maybe It’s Ok” and “Love.” It is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith, and the "best" overall album from We Are Messengers. The songs are poignant and powerful, and in recording the new tunes the band brings a more seasoned level of musicianship, intensity, and intentionality.
8. Sidewalk Prophets – The Things That Got Us Here
This is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith, and yet another "best" album from Sidewalk Prophets with the standout songs, “Smile,” “Chosen” and “Where Forgiveness Is.” Once again, the songs are poignant and powerful, and in recording the new tunes the band brings a more seasoned level of musicianship, intensity, and intentionality. This album challenges me to think about how I’m living out my faith. Every song released by Sidewalk Prophets completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship, and adoration. These are very passionate songs sung with vocal sincerity and reverence, with biblically-based lyrics. These songs will certainly connect with listeners and showcase the multi-talented band’s trademark balance of vocal tenderness and lyrical intensity, beautiful and stirring musical arrangements, and, above all, songs with a sense of hope and inspiration.
9. Natalie Grant – No Stranger
Every song will have you hanging on each word that Natalie tenderly sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus on Jesus. This is a completely worshipful album. There are several personal songs that melt my heart. Natalie has blessed listeners by writing and singing such piercing and moving songs. Natalie writes and sings songs with an amazing passion and with unashamed praise and gratitude to our Savior that is very inspiring and emotionally moving. This album soothes, moves, and challenges listeners. Don’t miss this profound worship experience. No Stranger is a worshipful offering with compelling music and lyrics and stellar singing. Give the album a few deep listens and you'll love it. I hang on every single word and the stirring vocals, prayerful lyrics and musical arrangements are breath-taking.
10. Micah Tyler – New Today
Every song on this stellar collection displays Micah’s heart behind what he does, leading people in worship. The new album demonstrates, once again, the passion and energy that have made Micah one of Christian music's most compelling new artists. True to form, New Today reflects real life and emotion, from longing and struggle to breakthrough and gratitude. It reflects Micah’s forthright songwriting and intimate and unmistakable vocals backed by powerful arrangements. The album derives its power from the fact that life and music intertwine so fully. Micah can really write a hooky and truth-filled chorus. And, “Amen” and “New Today” are catchy, relevant, and worshipful, like his previous hits.
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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