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For a Time Such as This | Posted August-24-2022
What You Need to Know

I’ve long enjoyed the hook-filled, worshipful and emotive songs by Rend Collective, going back to their 2010 debut with “Movements,” and continuing with “Second Chance,” “Build Your Kingdom Here,” “My Lighthouse,” “You Will Never Run,” “Rescuer,” and “Your Name is Power” from their first six studio albums. In speaking with the band for previous behind the song devotionals, they’ve been sharing their hearts and Kingdom building through their music. The worship band from Northern Ireland, Rend Collective, announces the release of their new album, Whosoever. "This record is about the wide, generous embrace of God," shares Rend Collective. "Wide enough for prodigal sons stumbling home, wide enough for cynical older brothers: wide enough to wrap around any label we might apply to ourselves or others. The bold, soaring claim of John 3:16 is that God so loved THE WORLD so that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish.

 

What it Sounds Like

This album once again demonstrates multi-talented musicianship with creative, insightful lyrics and ear-grabbing melodies.  The vibe of the album is one of the highlights with the signature musicality and harmony-filled vocals layered throughout every track. The album features a soothing and worshipful alt-rock style resembling the latest offerings by NEEDTOBREATHE, for KING & COUNTRY, and MercyMe. This entire project has a worshipful and comforting vibe. I’m really engaged by the sincere and powerful vocals and the prayerful lyrics throughout the album.

 

Spiritual Highlights

The album features the emotionally powerful track, “As For Me” which is one of the highlights. The message is found in Scripture in Joshua 24:15 and is very convicting: “As for me and my house/We will serve the Lord forever/As for me and my blood/We will hold the line together/Though they fall on every side/We will never compromise/As for me and my house, we'll serve the Lord.” “Let it Roll” is easily one of my top songs by Rend Collective with the upbeat hook and infectious melody. I can’t get enough of the vibe and biblical message of the song, especially the Amos 5:24 inspired lyrics, “Let it roll, roll, roll like a river/Let it roll, roll, roll on forever/Let it roll, roll like a stone from the mouth of the grave.” Another biblical sentiment is the Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 inspired lyrics found in “Plans,” which will have you singing along, “You got plans for me/You got plans for me/Greater than my wildest dreams/Stronger than the enemy/You got plans for me/You got plans for me/Even in my worst defeat/Will You give me faith to see/You got plans for me.” The John 3:16 focused “Whosoever” is a highlight, both lyrically and musically. The tone of the song matches the excitement of the message, “God so loved the world, He never left you out of it!”

 

Best Song on the Record

“Whosoever” speaks to me in my most emotional moments of needing to hear the truth of the Gospel which can also be heard in “Boast in The Cross,” which stirs me emotionally. “Plans” is the type of song I find myself singing throughout the day. Personally, my favorite song is “Let it Roll.” I have adopted the anthem as my daily prayer: “Let hymns with a mission rise up against oppression/Like protest is our praise, it's the sound of breakin' chains/We'll sing now with passion, the soundtrack to action.” The song is the perfect call to action for Christians, for a time such as this.

 


For Fans Of

NEEDTOBREATHE, Switchfoot, MercyMe, for KING & COUNTRY, Tenth Avenue North

 

Final Word

Whosoever is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith, yet another "best" album from Rend Collective. 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 Rend Collective 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. This is sure to be one of my top albums of the year.

 




 



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Soul-loving songs | Posted June-16-2022
What You Need to Know

Curb Records artist Dan Bremnes adventures Into the Wild with his new album, arriving June 17, 2022. His full-length album is a follow-up to the upbeat, Wherever I Go which featured the hit title track, “Going Together,” and “Up Again.” The well-traveled singer delivers a collection that invites listeners to leave fear behind and allow God to guide. Dan’s music has energy and infectious enthusiasm. His songs also have celebratory messages of faith. Admittedly, I can't help but worship along loudly in spirit and in truth.



What it Sounds Like

The combination of his stellar vocals, up-tempo melody and Jason Mraz-like musical inflection really brings home the solid gospel messages. His music really hits home with the message: God's grace washes us clean and no matter how we feel about ourselves, beauty still remains. I must say Dan’s recent singles “Hold Me Tight,” “No One Loves Me Like You Do,” “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” and “Lover of My Soul” from his new release has really caught my ear.



Spiritual Highlights

Each song includes tender and powerful vocals and takes listeners on an emotional and spiritual journey with every lyric sung about our faith in Jesus. Every song is completely anointed, Spirit-led and emotionally captivating. "Into the Wild" reminds me that we need to have the type of faith that Jesus describes in the Bible: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Dan expresses with transparency his walk with the Lord and how he relies on God during his battles with self-doubt and anxiety.



I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. “You don't have to worry/You don't have to hide/I know you're weary, weary from the fight/You don't have to fear now/I'm here by your side/And I'm gonna wait here/Wait with you tonight,” reflects the everyday faith we are called to have in “Hold You Tightas the song is sung from God’s perspective over us as in Zephaniah 3:17. All the glory and the pain/Everything put in its place/A beauty still remains/And it's who I am today” are the sincere prayerful lyrics of the heartfelt and soul-stirring, “Wouldn’t Change a Thing.”



“Lover of My Soul” is a powerful ballad and I love the emotion and biblical truth that Dan brings to the song. The song features Dan’s soothing vocals as he prayerfully sings,
“No one else would dare to love this heart/If they saw what's inside/You know my thoughts, all my secrets/But still/You offer me life.”



Best Song on the Record

There are several standout songs on the album. Many of the songs are arranged in a very sing-able and catchy style, such as "Run Away with Me" which is filled with great statements of faith. The ballad “Lover of My Soul” is an especially beautiful song. The faith anthem is the cry of my heart and expresses one of the themes of the album, “Even if I run and try to hide/You hold me close/You're the lover of my soul.” "No One Loves Me Like You Do" includes a comforting message that there's always hope. Breathe it in like oxygen. God's hope will turn whatever you are going through into something different for His glory. A song that I can’t get out of my head is "Hold Me Tight" so I’ll highlight that song as the must-download track, but you’ll want the whole album. These songs will have you singing along in one listen.



For Fans Of

Switchfoot, MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North, Unspoken



Final Word

With a probing spiritual curiosity and imaginative, self-examining lyrics, this album solidifies Dan Bremnes’ place among the finest song crafters of his day. His poignant songwriting is coupled with musical excellence as each song urges me to better see God. 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.

 

Into the Wild is loaded with great rock beats, catchy melodies, and solid lyrics reflecting dependence on God. Don't miss out on this incredible album, one of the best of the year for sure. Dan’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 Dan Bremnes album.


 



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Poignant Songs of Adoration | Posted May-28-2022
What You Need to Know

Following up her standout worship anthems with Hillsong UNITED, “Oceans,” “Whole Heart (Hold Me Now)” and “Another in the Fire,” churches and believers around the world celebrate the release of worship leader TAYA’s solo album, TAYA. Don't miss out on this incredible album by one of my favorite worship leaders, which features the standout songs, “For All My Life,” “All Eyes on You,” and “Getaway.”



I’m blessed by TAYA’s anthems, including her staples “Oceans” and “Touch the Sky.” Churches sing her songs at worship services worldwide and put the Word of God into the minds, mouths, and hearts of Christians everywhere.

 

What it Sounds Like

TAYA is best described as an intimate personal worship experience with an ethereal tone. If you enjoy The Field by artist Kristene DiMarco, State of the Union by artist Amanda Cook, and Canyon by artist Ellie Holcomb, this album is an excellent addition to your music collection. TAYA’s engaging music and thought-provoking lyrics are something to truly savor, and her soothing vocals will remind you of artists, including Kristene DiMarco, Brooke Ligertwood, and Amanda Cook, both in vocal tone and subject matter.

 

Spiritual Highlights

A sincere desire for God's presence and to see His kingdom on earth is found in every song. Her music proclaims her dependence on God throughout this incredible worship experience. Music that stirs my heart, mind, and soul to bow before Jesus, our Savior. I'm moved by the spiritual and peaceful tone of the songs.



Listen to Taya's album in track order. You'll go on the journey with Taya from the opener In This Place” imploring, “Surely, You are in this place.” The lyrics of “Getaway” soothes the soul, “Take a real rest/Walk along with Me/In the pastures of My presence/You can be yourself/And you can.”



If you’ve always enjoyed Taya’s corporate worship anthems, you’re in for a treat with “For All My Life.” This stirring new worship song sets me in the proper mindset to praise God for loving me so much that He gave His life away for all that was lost. This song is a great way to express joy, thankfulness, and dedication to Him. Many of us struggle with the idea that our past and present mistakes are unforgivable, yet the Bible tells us that isn't true. Read the translation in The Message of Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus tells us: "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." What an amazing comfort to know that when we struggle with pain, pride, and unloving natures, we can lay it at the feet of Jesus. I love the lyrics, “Some days are long/some work is tough,” and by leaning on His understanding, the lyrics attest, “Whatever I lack/You make it up.” 

 

“All Eyes on You” is especially comforting in this time of anxiety as we all have faced this pandemic together. The song’s tone brings my heart peace, and I love meditating on the lyrics. These songs give insight into Taya’s walk as a fellow believer.



Best Song

I generally rank my favorite songs based on how they move me emotionally. On this album, that’s every song. I can’t listen to “Getaway” without welling up. Taya’s tender, emotive and powerful vocals take listeners on an emotional journey that gives me goosebumps every time I hear the song, filled with truth.



I can’t get enough of “For All My Life.” I lift my eyes and heart to heaven every time I hear the song. You’ll want to join Taya in expressing total surrender to God’s plan in the moving chorus—“I won’t lean on/My own/Understanding/I will let go/Follow/Empty-handed/You say Your yoke is easy/You say Your burden’s light/So I’ll let You/Lead me/For all my life.” You can sincerely sing these prayerful lyrics, and cling to the truth of these powerful songs. Every song will have you hanging on each word that Taya sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus on Jesus.



For Fans Of

Kristene DiMarcoSteffany Gretzinger, Ellie Holcomb, JJ Heller



Final Word

TAYA is an anointed singer-songwriter who has a profound way of bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender voice, and inspirational truths. If you're looking for the words to express your feelings to God in times of hurting and pain, these songs are a wonderful companion. They're memorable, personal, and worshipful.



These moving and reverent recordings of adoration are prayers and personal confessions of submission to God. They're anointed, spirit-led, and emotionally captivating. TAYA’s tender and gorgeous vocals keep me hanging on every word she sings. She invites listeners into her life by sharing what's in 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.


 



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Kingdom-focused songs | Posted January-13-2022
What You Need to Know

This long awaited eleventh studio album Dominion by Skillet has captivated my spirit. Over the past several years, I've had the opportunity to speak with Skillet’s John Cooper about several songs from their prior albums, including "Awake and Alive," "One Day Too Late" and "Lucy," "American Noise," "Good to Be Alive," “Stars,” “Lions,” “The Resistance,” “Legendary,” “Anchor,” “Save Me,” “Terrify the Dark,” and “Surviving the Game,” and with each discussion we've built on how John’s biblical life verses Romans 8:38-39 have shaped his songwriting. “Surviving the Game” sets the tone for the album. We're all united in our struggles and spiritual warfare, and in our desire for truth and relationship. These songs are prayers for God to teach us to realize that this life isn't forever. Help us to realize what we're living for. What am I wasting my time on? What am I doing with my life? We also need to think about what we are doing for His Kingdom. That's our dominion, and the theme of this album. That’s one of the threads that weaves its way through all twelve of these Kingdom-focused songs.

 

What it Sounds Like

Over the years, it's been a treat for me to watch their meteoric ascent into one of rock's biggest bands in the world and the incredible success of their last five albums, ComatoseAwakeRise, Unleashed and Victorious. Each album has reached another level of popularity. Arguably the bar has been set so high there is a possibility that some people may have unreachable expectations of how much higher Skillet can “Rise,” and I’m pleased to say that after repeated listens through all twelve tracks in order, I’m all in on these songs and the ear worms including "Surviving the Game," "Valley of Death," "Beyond Incredible," "Refuge" and the energetic track, "Forever or the End," keep me coming back for more with an excitement that builds with each listen.

 

Spiritual Highlights

The project opens with "Surviving the Game" which has a celebratory vibe, and it builds to an exciting refrain that stirs my soul to cry out loudly “I am more than a conqueror." I'm really engaged by John Cooper’s emotional vocals and the sincere, enthusiastic and thought-provoking lyrics throughout the album. When I first heard "Surviving the Game," I was immediately hooked by the message, connected to the theme found in Romans 8:37: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” That is how we can show the world what we are for instead of what we are against. Be followers of Jesus and make your life count.



"Refuge" features introspective lyrics and a beautiful refrain with John displaying emotive vocals. It is yet another reflective track in the vein of "Stars" and "Anchor" and includes another catchy musical vibe and the vertical message. As followers of Jesus, we can live out the words: “I can face my darkest night/'cause I trust You with my life/I'm not afraid/For You are my refuge/When it's heavy on my chest/You're the place I catch my breath/You are the only One I hold onto.” These are some of the strongest lyrics I've heard by this talented band, all in extremely catchy songs. John’s and Jen’s emotive vocals and the exciting musical bed takes me on an emotional journey that causes me to excitedly worship along with the stirring lyrics every time I hear the song.


 

Best Song on the Record

All of these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest worshipful lyrics. "Valley of Death" features introspective lyrics and a beautiful refrain with John displaying emotive vocals. It is yet another reflective track in the vein of "Lucy" and includes another catchy musical vibe and the poignant message based on Psalm 23. Longtime Skillet fans will be most excited by the standout tracks, "Surviving the Game," "Standing in the Storm," "Dominion," "Beyond Incredible," "Refuge," and the energetic track, "Forever or the End."

 

For Fans Of

Seventh Day Slumber, Thousand Foot Krutch, RED

 

Final Word

Skillet is back with Dominion, one of my top rock albums of the year from both the Christian and mainstream music markets. The album includes standout recordings like the sing at the top of your lungs anthems “Surviving the Game,” "Standing in the Storm,” “Dominion,” and “Beyond Incredible,” along with the reflective vibe of “Valley of Death” and “Refuge.” From my first listen, I wanted to tell others about this great new album. If you’ve always liked Skillet, you'll love this new album. Dominion is one of the catchiest, most energetic, and emotionally engaging rock albums I've heard this year. This is my favorite overall Skillet record and I have been a “panhead” from the self-titled debut. Right as I got to “Forever or the End” in listening to the album in track order, I realized this is the Skillet album I’ve been waiting for and Dominion is the album that is needed “for such a time as this.”

 



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Redemptive and Moving | Posted November-11-2021
What You Need to Know

I was a new believer, and I became completely hooked when I first heard Sara Groves sing "The Word." Sara's albums have received well-deserved acclaim for her premier songwriting ability. Twenty years ago, Sara's major label debut album Conversations led to her nomination for Best New Artist. She has followed up each album with her next "best" albums with All Right Here and The Other Side of Something

 

With Add to the BeautyTell Me What You Know and Fireflies & Songs, Groves focused on a theme and wrote poetic commentary with songs about social justice and the impoverished. Invisible Empires was my top album of 2011. Floodplain was one of my top albums of 2015. What Makes it Through is Sara Groves' 14th album and first collection of original songs since Floodplain. The album’s themes are a reflection on events of the last several years and speak to the hard work of what it means to arrive at something like truth and reconciliation.


 

What it Sounds Like

Stirring opener “Soul of Things” sets the tone for this exceptional album, which is not be missed. Sara has once again captivated me as it features her unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." What Makes it Through showcases not only Sara's gifts as a songwriter, but her shimmering, emotion-laden voice. In the style of my favorite singer-songwriters, I can’t get enough of Sara’s thought-provoking songs. Several of Sara’s songs over the years are accessible pop and worship songs that are deep in meaning and content and this album is no exception. So many people can relate to the messages of these songs.

 

Spiritual Highlights

Sara has consistently impressed me with her mature faith. You'll be blessed by these powerful songs that are rooted in scriptural truth. “Soul of Things” is inspired by John 4:29 (The Voice): “I met a stranger who knew everything about me.” The messages of reconciliation and forgiveness are found throughout the album including “Rendezvous” which opens with the lyrics, “Forgiveness is a tour of duty.” The song’s theme is based on several biblical truths, including 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV): "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” The song includes the album title in the lyrics, “I forgot, then remembered, it’s so strange what makes it through, it’s so heavy what we carry on our way to rendezvous.” Whatever struggle or depression you are facing, you can know that God is with you, always.



“Reach Inside’s” lyrics take me on an emotional journey that causes me to self-reflect on the stirring message every time I hear the song. These anthems are the cry of my heart with the much-needed call to action messages looking at the injustice and lack of emotional response to the tragedies we see around us. “Reach Inside” will raise your heart and voice as you self-reflect on the words: “Gather round your cross of execution, pass the peace and pass the bread. What do you remember when you take the cup, what do you forget?” The theme of loving one another and being known is bookended with “Loving a Person,” which has the reminder, “Loving a person just the way they are, it's not small thing, loving a person right where they are, it's the whole thing.”


 

Best Song on the Record

This album is filled with several of my new favorite songs by Sara Groves. I generally rank my favorite songs based on how they move me emotionally. On this album, that’s every song. “Soul of Things” stirs my heart and increases my convictions to grow closer to God and evaluate my relationships during my mindfulness and personal devotional time like Sara’s songs “Miracle” and “It’s Me.” The lyrics of this song completely wreck me: “Somewhere in the vast waters of my mind a memory resurfaced and I’m looking in your eyes, you are trying to tell me a better way to see into the soul of things.” I can’t listen to “Reach Inside” or “Nothing” without welling up, and you’ll get emotionally swept up in “Nothing.” The song is an instant classic, with the clever and thoughtful lyrics, “I like to believe you’ve been catching all the words in a net, and one day you'll let loose with a speech we won’t forget, all the words will go flying.”



For Fans Of

Christa Wells, Ellie Holcomb, JJ Heller, Melanie Penn



Final Word 

I listen to literally everything released in Christian music, and What Makes it Through is a profound listening experience. This album dramatically affects me personally and spiritually and is my top "gourmet" album of the year. Sara Groves is an incredibly anointed singer-songwriter in the style of Ellie Holcomb, Christa Wells and JJ Heller. It is the ultimate privilege for me to experience her gift of music making with all my senses "in Spirit and in truth." Sara has always had a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually and expressing the prayerful yearnings of my heart.

 

The songs are all captivating, and if you like Sara's emotional songs "Miracle," "This Cup" and "It's Me," then you absolutely must have this album. She is a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter with a tender voice that is memorable and dynamic, yet intimate. These songs all have lyrics that poignantly capture life's complex and vital messages. 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, What Makes it Through is for you. This is one of my top albums of the year in any genre.


 



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One of the best of the year | Posted November-04-2021
What You Need to Know

Following up their standout worship album Awake, which featured hits, "King of Kings" and Awake My Soul,” churches and believers around the world celebrate the release of Hillsong Worship's These Same Skies.



I have consistently been blessed by each album from this popular worship band with their staples "Cornerstone,” “Stronger," "God is Able," "O Praise the Name," "What a Beautiful Name," and "Who You Say I Am." Each song is sung at church worship services worldwide and puts the Word of God into the minds, mouths, and hearts of Christians everywhere.



These Same Skies is about proclaiming our dependence on God and crying out in awe and wonder of His presence. Every moment completely focuses me as a listener on joining in praise, worship, and adoration of our beautiful King Jesus.


 

What it Sounds Like

If you enjoy Hillsong Worship’s corporate worship anthems, you’re in for a treat with this album. It has a great balance of male and female-led vocals, as well as songs suitable for personal reflection and in-church worship. Many songs, such as the gorgeous "Never Walk Alone," are arranged in a very singable and catchy style.



The aforementioned song is filled with great statements of faith, celebrating our freedom in Christ: "Every hour/Every minute/You have always been there/You are faithful/And You always will be/In every triumph/Every failure/You are loyal to me/You are faithful/And You always will be."



You’ll be raising your hands and heart in worship with the stirring opener, “That’s the Power,” which invites listeners to sing: “That's the power of Your name/Just a mention makes a way/Giants fall and strongholds break/And there is healing/That's the power that I claim/It's the same that rolled the grave/There's no power like the Mighty name of Jesus.”




Spiritual Highlights

“Hope of the Ages” features lead vocals from singer-songwriters Reuben Morgan and Cody Carnes in a declaration of God’s unrelenting love and grace for all humanity. The song showcases the group's ability to provide emotional messages rooted in biblical truth. It reminds us of our standing before God. We know what love is because God is love.



He showed us His love when Jesus laid down His life for us, and He gave us His whole heart. Make the lyrics of this song your prayer, "Though Christ was dead, now surely He's risen/Yeah, He's coming back again/And Christ will reign in triumph forever/Yeah, all praise belongs to Him/Yeah, all praise belongs to Jesus."



As a father of three daughters, and a chosen son of my heavenly Father, I can't listen to the gorgeous song, “Never Walk Alone” without being moved. The picture of God's unconditional love is profoundly captured in the chorus: "I have never walked alone/I’ve never been abandoned/You are my inheritance/You are my strength and shield/And I have confidence/You go before me/You’re my deliverer/I know I never walk alone.”


 

Best Song

There are several album standouts: “That’s the Power,” “Hope of the Ages,” as well as the instant classic “Surrounds Me.” “Freedom” stirs my heart into an immediate state of worship and takes it up a notch with its passionate bridge: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is/There I will be, where the Spirit of the Lord is/I am free/Where the presence of the Lord is/There I will be/Where the presence of the Lord is/I am free.” “Resurrender” is catchy and biblical. A song that I can’t get out of my head is “Never Walk Alone,” so I’ll highlight that song as the must-download track, but you’ll want the whole album.



For Fans Of

Bethel MusicJeremy RiddleElevation WorshipJesus Culture



Final Word

These Same Skies is loaded with several stirring new worship songs that really set me in the proper mindset to praise God for loving me so much that He gave His life away for all that was lost. I really enjoy the exciting musical vibe of this album, and the melodies are catchy, and the lyrics are prayerful.



The album is loaded with stellar vocals, catchy melodies, and solid lyrics reflecting unashamed faith in Jesus. These are very passionate worship songs sung with vocal sincerity and reverence with biblically-inspired lyrics. There are several instantly singable and worshipful arrangements that you'll want to add to your Sunday morning set-list including “That’s the Power,” “Freedom,” “Hope of the Ages,” “Resurrender,” and “Never Walk Alone.” Don’t miss out on this incredible worship album, one of the best of the year.

 

I eagerly await each new Hillsong Worship release, and These Same Skies is a truly stellar offering of worship. If you want to experience a fresh, biblically-inspired and Jesus-focused worship album, look no further. The album is a wonderful reminder that there is immeasurably more to our God that we can think or imagine, and this album captures that sentiment. This album is a must-have addition to your worship collection, creating moments of deep connection with Jesus.


 



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Worship Forever His Name | Posted September-09-2021
What You Need to Know

Known for his live worship albums, Worship, Worship Again, A New Hallelujah, and Surrounded, in tribute to the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 (the date Worship released), Michael W. Smith has delivered Worship Forever, an intimate and stirring recording that will make you feel like you’re in the room. This collection brings Smitty back to the heart of what he does best-- leading people in worship.

 


What it Sounds Like

If you’ve always enjoyed Smitty’s corporate worship anthems, you’re in for a treat with this album. The exciting Tomlin-penned opener "Forever" sets the tone with the spoken word Bible verse intro, the upbeat orchestral musical arrangement, and the crowd reactions (that is, clapping and singing along).



There's an energetic and urgent tone in every song, starting with the stirring lyrics “Forever God is faithful/Forever God is strong/Forever God is with us, Forever." The call to worship flows seamlessly from song to song, as I find myself frequently singing these catchy and familiar choruses throughout the day.



The songs all have catchy and singable melodies, so you’ll want to crank the volume. Not to mention you'll want to sing along with Smitty and the choir, which can be heard throughout each song. I found reconnecting with these songs an enjoyable experience.




Spiritual Highlights

Each song includes tender and powerful vocals and takes listeners on an emotional and spiritual journey with every lyric sung about our faith in Jesus. Every song is completely anointed, spirit-led, and emotionally captivating. A sincere desire to experience the presence of God can be heard in every song.



Recent popular songs “Surrounded” and “Waymaker” are reminders that our worship of God should not be based on our circumstances and instead is based on who God is. Commit your life to Jesus and offer Him your heart and your life as you sing along with these great songs. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album.


 

Best Song on the Record

There are several standout songs on the album. Many of the songs are arranged in a very singable and catchy style. My personal favorites are “Above All,” and “Agnes Dei” featuring Amy Grant. People can certainly relate to the "This is how I fight my battles" imagery of the song “Surrounded (Fight My Battles).”



The lyrics in the chorus, "It may look like I'm surrounded but I'm surrounded by You" have been resonating with me since I first heard this compelling song (it makes me realize that Jesus commands us to trust God completely no matter the circumstances or personal distractions or concerns).



"Surrounded (Fight My Battles)" was written based on scriptures that any follower of Jesus can sing and say yes and amen to every word. The song represents life and includes some great challenges to step out in faith and trust in God--even when you want to give up or can't see where you're going.



We aren't the source of the power to overcome our challenges. God is our greater power source that brings true power. In our weakness, God's strength is perfect. Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? The beauty and majesty of our King Jesus is reverently captured throughout the album with anthem after anthem.


 

For Fans Of

Hillsong Worship, Bethel MusicJeremy RiddleElevation WorshipJesus Culture



Final Word

This is a completely worshipful album, in the passionate style that Michael W. Smith has become known for. This is a must-own collection for worship leaders looking for congregational friendly arrangements of recent and classic standout worship songs ranging from songs by artists Upperroom and Leeland to popular songs by iconic artists Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Paul Baloche, and Smitty’s original classic, “Agnes Dei.”



These are very passionate worship songs sung with vocal sincerity and reverence with biblically-based lyrics. Musically, this album is very soothing, and the songs are all edifying, challenging, and filled with very biblical lyrics. Backed by an orchestra and choir on every song, Smitty’s personal and vulnerable vocals have never sounded better.


 



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Captivates My Spirit | Posted July-29-2021
What You Need to Know

South Carolina's Grammy-nominated band NEEDTOBREATHE hooked me 15 years ago with their major-label debut Daylight, which featured the single "Shine On." My takeaway review comments were "Great album. Even better group." Since then, the band has managed to improve their craft with each album, garner an opening slot for Taylor Swift, play on late-night television, and collaborate with Gavin DeGraw on one of their biggest hits to date, "Brother," from my Top Album of 2014Rivers in the WastelandThat album earned a Grammy nomination for "Multiplied" and features the standout song "Difference Maker."

In their album H A R D L O V E—my Top Album of 2016—the band subtly includes the reference to the dance of life in a few contexts, taking us on the journey of life lessons learned in "HARD LOVE." 

 

During quarantine, NEEDTOBREATHE created—composed and recorded—their eighth studio album, Into the Mystery, which includes standouts "I Wanna Remember," featuring country superstar Carrie Underwood, and the successful title track. This is the second studio full-length album the band has released in less than a year. In 2020, the band released Out of Body, which includes hit songs "Who Am I" and "Survival."


 

What it Sounds Like

What I take immense joy in discovering with each new NEEDTOBREATHE release is the incredible songwriting and musical excellence with nuggets of lyrical connection weaving their way throughout the tracks. This surprisingly quick follow-up new studio album captivates my spirit. The album includes standout recordings like the sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs anthems "Carry Me," feat. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, "Sunshine," "I Am Yours," and "I Wanna Remember," featuring Carrie Underwood, along with the reflective vibe of "What I’m Here For," "Into the Mystery," "Innocence" and "Chances." I have long been hooked by their enthusiastic songs, layered with a southern rock musical vibe. I've felt the band has improved with each new album. I can’t get enough of the emotional vocals and the sincere, enthusiastic, and thought-provoking lyrics throughout the album, which has echoes of Out of Body both in content and musical vibe as the band has undergone a transformation to a trio-Bear Rinehart [vocals, guitar], Seth Bolt [bass, vocals], and Josh Lovelace [keys, vocals].

 

Spiritual Highlights

We're fearfully, wonderfully and perfectly made, which is expressed in the standout “I Am Yours”: “’Cause I am yours/And you will always be mine/It seems like madness I’m invited to the table by your side/Cause I am yours/And you will always be mine/I'm a man whose one ambition is to dance with my divine.” An artistic answer to their previous song "Who Am I," "I Am Yours" is a soaring work about God’s undying love for us. It's clear that the themes of relying on God's grace and mercy and seeking and speaking truth flows throughout this excellent album, highlighted by several of my new favorite songs, "What I’m Here For," "Into the Mystery," "Sunshine," "Carry Me," "Innocence" and "Chances." You'll be hooked right from the opening notes of "What I’m Here For," which really sets the tone for this album. As Christians, we can all relate to the vulnerable and sincere crying out: "I feel like we could find it/If we knocked on heaven's door/I'd say God, I'm only human/You'd say that's what I'm here for!”

 

Best Song on the Record

"I Am Yours" is a daily prayer, asking God to come and change our hearts and our lives. Our thoughts are constantly under attack by the enemy. We're aware of many situations involving people taking their own lives after dealing with depression. If you're struggling with depression, especially with this past year of social distancing due to COVID-19, please know with certainty the truth in the song’s life-giving words. Allow the Holy Spirit to cast the light of life into your body. I am really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, inspirational lyrics throughout the album. There are several standout songs I can’t wait to hear in concert including "Into the Mystery," "Carry Me," "I Am Yours" and "Sunshine." If you've always enjoyed NEEDTOBREATHE’s soulful anthems, you're in for a treat with this album. It has a great balance of upbeat rockers and reflective songs. Many of these songs express my emo feelings, and yet remind me that I wasn't made for this world. These songs will have you singing along in one listen. "Into the Mystery" connects deeply with the lyrics, “We are sons and daughters/We are flesh and dust/We are pulled from the wreckage/We are not alone/We are lovers broken/We are vicarious dreams/We are tumbling/In space out of control/Into the mystery.”



For Fans Of

Switchfoot, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Third Day, Unspoken



Final Word

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 "Happiness," "Hang On" and "Who Am I." If you like those songs, you'll love this new album. Into the Mystery is one of the catchiest, most energetic, and emotionally engaging albums I've heard this year and it is sure to be one of my top albums of the year.

 



 

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Worship Album of the Year | Posted June-24-2021
What You Need to Know

Leading corporate worship nationwide, Phil Wickham is known for hits such as “At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh),” “This is Amazing Grace,”Your Love Awakens Me,” “Song in My Soul,” and “Living Hope.” His 2018 release Living Hope was my top worship album of 2018. He describes the truths he is learning with a powerful and poignant voice through enthusiastic and passionate cries of worship. After a three-year wait, Wickham returns with Hymn of Heaven. The album was preceded by the impactful singles, “Battle Belongs,” “House of the Lord” and “It’s Always Been You.”



What it Sounds Like

I've long been a fan of Brit-rock bands like U2, Keane, Snow Patrol and others who make emotional alternative rock music, but don't always have edifying messages. The first time I heard Phil Wickham's song "Grace" from his self-titled major label debut, I was hooked by his enthusiastic and reverent songs, layered with a Brit-rock musical vibe. I've felt that he's improved with each new album and Hymn of Heaven takes me to another realm of holiness and thirsting for God's presence. Phil Wickham has breathed several new worship anthems into the Church, like "You're Beautiful," "Cannons," "Because of Your Love," “This is Amazing Grace,” “Stand in Awe,” “Great Things” and “Living Hope.” We sing all of those songs at my church on a regular basis and you’ll want to add “Battle Belongs,” “House of the Lord,” “Hymn of Heaven,” “It’s Always Been You,” “Where I’m Standing Now” and “God of Revival” to your worship set-lists immediately.

 

Spiritual Highlights

“Battle Belongs” is exactly the type of catchy corporate worship song I’ve come to love from Phil Wickham. What I love about this powerful standout anthem is its convicting declaration: “So when I fight/I'll fight on my knees/With my hands lifted high/Oh God, the battle belongs to You." The song’s energy and excitement are infectious. It makes me lift my hands up to God and sing before Him, like King David—passionately unashamed. You’ll also instantly sing along with "Hymn of Heaven,” “It’s Always Been You," “Where I’m Standing Now” featuring Brandon Lake, "His Name is Jesus," and “God of Revival.” Each song includes tender and powerful vocals and takes listeners on an emotional and spiritual journey with every lyric sung about our faith in Jesus. Every song is completely anointed, Spirit-led and emotionally captivating. A sincere desire to experience the presence of God can be heard in every song, with expressions including “Who stood with me in the fire/It was You, it was always You/Who pulled me out of the water/It was You, it was always You/And who carried me/On their shoulders/It was You, I know it’s You" in the standout instant classic, “It’s Always Been You.”

 

Best Song on the Record

“House of the Lod” gives me a lot of joy, and my heartbeat is to please the Lord. I love songs that allow me to have fun and praise God at the same time, and this song certainly does that. I really enjoy how my love of fun, uplifting music and biblical truth is perfectly married in this song. The song is also a great reminder that our circumstances don't define our joy. Our position in Christ and His unending faithfulness is worthy of all our gratitude and adoration. A sincere desire to experience the presence of God can be heard in this instant classic song. I'm really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. There are several standout songs. If you've always enjoyed Wickham’s corporate worship anthems, you're in for a treat with this album. It has a great balance upbeat and reflective songs and it is chock-full of songs for the Church and songs for personal reflection and worship.



For Fans Of

Bethel Music, Jeremy Riddle, Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture



Final Word

This album provides listeners with songs that proclaim acceptance of God’s love in any circumstance. Hymn of Heaven provides words of appreciation and adoration of God. Phil’s enthusiastic and reverent style of writing and singing praise and worship 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 top worship album of the year. It is a completely worshipful album, in the style of Phil's previous offerings of enthusiastic praise and worship. Every single song could be added to your Sunday morning worship set.

 

 

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Moving and Prayerful | Posted June-23-2021
What You Need to Know

I first heard Ellie Holcomb sing with her husband's band Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors when they opened for rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. Ellie is the daughter of legendary Christian music producer, Brown Bannister.  So far, Ellie has quite a storied career as a solo artist. First, she dropped two EPs, Magnolia and With You Now. Then, she released her debut full-length album As Sure As the Sun, which features the hit songs “The Broken Beautiful” and title track “As Sure As the Sun,” That album earned Ellie the GMA Dove Award for Best New Artist.   Afterward, Ellie released Red Sea Road, a thirteen song album featuring standouts "Find You Here" and “He Will.” That release was one of my Top 10 Albums of 2017. Now, four years later, Ellie is back with her latest release, Canyon.

 

What it Sounds Like

The opening track, “I Don’t Want to Miss It” is an engaging song with Ellie's passionate vocals setting the tone for this exceptional effort. The song is an unashamed declaration of faith based on Zephaniah 3:17 which reminds us that God is singing over us. Ellie hooked me with the lyrics: “No, I don't want to miss it/No, I don't want to miss a thing/I don't want to miss the melody/That You've been singing over me.” Canyon’s songs “I Don’t Want to Miss It,” “Color,” and the title track showcase Ellie's passionate vocals, thus setting the tone for an exceptional album. “Canyon” is a wonderful prayer-song capturing Ellie’s heart for God, allowing us to eavesdrop on her deep thoughts and musings about God. She sings the song with the reminder, “There’s a river running through/My deepest pain/There’s a river running through/Every dream that never came true/Made me a canyon but there’s/A river running through,” which is in essence the thesis statement for this compelling album.

 


Spiritual Highlights

Ellie is an anointed songwriter. She has a profound way of bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender singing, and inspirational truths. Ellie has consistently impressed me with her mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. God promises us in His Word that His mercies are new every morning. Whatever situation you are facing you can know that God is with you, always. That truth is tenderly portrayed in “Color.” Ellie praises the loving and sacrificial attributes of our Savior as she achingly sings, “Am I worthy of the chances that I'm surrounded with/The shame that I am drowning in/The salt in my woundedness/Am I worthy of the pain that I buried in the dust/Of a God who I'm scared to trust/Tell me am I worthy of it.” The album is loaded with that type of profound lyrical truth as Ellie tenderly sings about her source of hope, Jesus. Throughout the song she achingly sings “this world is made of color” which is a worshipful response to her Savior reflecting the blessed hope of someone who understands the Good News of grace.

 

Best Song on the Record

I generally rank my favorite songs based on how they move me emotionally. On this album, that's “Constellations” which I can't listen to without welling up. Ellie’s emotive and powerful vocals take listeners on an emotional journey that gives me goose bumps every time I hear the song and I lift my eyes and heart to Heaven every time I hear the song, filled with truth. Your heart will be moved to sing along with Ellie, “Out here in the dark/Underneath a canopy of stars/Constellations falling from Your heart/They tell me that I'm not alone/I know that I'm never alone/'Cause You find me and bring me back home.” I also can’t get enough of “Sweet Ever After,” which features Bear Rinehart from NEEDTOBREATHE and “Mine” which features Ellie’s husband Drew. You can sincerely sing these prayerful lyrics, and cling to the truth of these powerful songs. Every song will have you hanging on each word that Ellie tenderly sings. Her vocals will soothe your soul, and the vertical lyrics will direct your attention and focus on Jesus.

 

For Fans Of

Leanna CrawfordFrancesca Battistelli, Lauren Daigle, Riley Clemmons, Plumb

 

Final Word

This is a Spirit-filled and emotional listening experience filled with profound lyrical truth. All the songs are catchy, worshipful, and biblically inspired. The artist expresses her prayers to God, allowing listeners to eavesdrop on her worshipful offerings and captivating ballads, one of Ellie's strengths. The album tells the story of redemption as each song gives a glimpse of how Ellie offers her Psalm-like prayers to God. Ellie is an anointed songwriter and she has a profound way of bringing me closer to God with her poignant words, tender singing, and inspirational truths. I get welled up singing along with several of the emotion-laden songs. Don't hesitate to pick up this great return from one of CCM's top female artists. These songs are all stand-out tracks filled with overwhelming biblical truth and are companions in my personal prayer and worship time. Ellie has captivating and catchy songs filled with inspirational lyrics. Ellie brings sincerity and relatable themes that get deeper with each listen. Canyon is sure to be one of the top albums of the year. This is truly a moving and prayerful album.

 



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