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The Work Vol. 1 by Elias The Work Vol. 1 by Elias
What You Need To Know:
When The...
Brand New Day by 7eventh Time Down Brand New Day by 7eventh Time Down
What You Need To Know:
The voice and pen behind fan favorites such as "Just Say Jesus" and "God
Just Give Me Jesus EP by Unspoken Just Give Me Jesus EP by Unspoken
What You Need To Know:
With a soulful pop sound that no one else has quite crafted, Unspoken...

Showing 1-10 of 181 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews
Profound, Personal Worship | Posted February-11-2019
What You Need To Know:

When The City Harmonic came to an end in 2016, fans mourned the loss of what had been an impactful voice in the CCM/worship community. Much to their excitement though, founding member and frontman Elias Dummer is ready to carry on the spirit of worship with a voice and vibe all his own. Now stepping boldly into his solo debut, Elias releases The Work Vol. 1



What it Sounds Like:

An album that is primarily worship-focused in content, the sound can't be contained to one specific category. Some songs are acoustic-driven and laid-back ("Enough," "Heartbeat") while others are energetic and engaging ("What Are We Waiting For?"). Elias's unique voice carries each song in a way that automatically captures the listener's attention and keeps them hanging on every word. 



Spiritual Highlights:

Elias describes The Work Vol. 1 as his "wrestling with prayers [he's] needed to sing for a long time." With that in mind while listening through the album, it becomes all the more moving as Elias fills these songs with profound lyrical content while still keeping the overall tone worshipful in nature. Substance and reverence seem to be a hard balance to find these days, especially in the worship genre, but Elias tackles it here with brilliance. 



Best Song on the Album:

"Enough" kicks off the album with deep theological truths from the opening lines: "I am not what I make / I am what You make me to be." Backed by its simple yet bold acoustic sound, the powerful lyrics that declare Jesus' sufficiency get their chance to shine as Elias' raspy vocal brings the song to life. 

 

For Fans Of:

The City Harmonic, Iron Bell Music, Pat Barrett 

 

Final Word:

The Work Vol. 1 is absolutely a worship album, but not the kind of worship we've grown to expect from that label. These songs intentionally shy away from being big and congregational–-instead, they are profound and personal, wrestling with questions of faith and offering resolve in gentle moments of reverence. Elias Dummer has crafted a one-of-a-kind debut album with The Work Vol. 1, and it will no doubt leave listeners ready to hear what creativity flows next from the now-solo artist.  

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Anthems Of Redemption | Posted February-06-2019
What You Need To Know:

The voice and pen behind fan favorites such as "Just Say Jesus" and "God Is On The Move," anthemic declarations of faith wrapped in bold pop/rock vibes have become the signature for BEC group 7eventh Time Down. Now heading towards their fourth studio release, Brand New Day, the band offers an evolution of the sound we've come to love from them, paired with lyrics of freedom, mercy, and redemption.



What it Sounds Like:

Brand New Day hangs in the realm of the defining 7eventh Time Down's pop/rock sound, often wandering more into the electronic/pop side of things. That being said, 7eventh Time Down brilliantly avoids making an album that sounds the same track after track, creatively adding elements and mixing things up enough to leave us feeling like we've heard a nice spectrum of sounds. From heartfelt ballads to empowering declarations, Brand New Day offers a sound that will suit every listener. 



Spiritual Highlights:

No matter the sound of the track, one thing is constant from the beginning of this album to the end–the way it lifts up the name and message of Jesus. Themes span from the relentless grace of Jesus ("The 99") to His faithfulness ("Trust," "Can You"), then jump over to proclamations of our own faith ("I Have Decided," "Let Me Tell You") and the importance of living our lives well ("Make It Count," "Brand New Day"). 



Best Song on the Album:

Captivating my attention from its opening moments with frontman Mikey Howard's soulful vocal, "The 99" is a true highlight. Melodically, this track stands tall with a powerful beat and catchy chorus. With a message that speaks of redemption and grace, the song uplifts listeners while also being an enjoyable listen on the sonic front. 

 

For Fans Of:

Sanctus Real, The Afters, Hawk Nelson

 

Final Word:

Brand New Day is another success from the 7eventh Time Down crew. From sound to content, this release offers something fresh while still keeping some of the elements that are trademark to 7eventh Time Down's music over the past few records. Anthems that speak a message of redemption with every line, fans are sure to be encouraged by Brand New Day

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Making Their Mark | Posted November-17-2018
What You Need To Know:

With a soulful pop sound that no one else has quite crafted, Unspoken has long been one of the most underrated bands in Christian music. From the very beginning of their career, these guys have been making art that rivals the quality of artists who have been in the industry for decades, keeping fans excitedly looking forward to each new release. The follow up to their 2016 homerun sophomore album Follow Through, Unspoken now offers their Just Give Me Jesus EP. 



What it Sounds Like:

An often energetic mix of soul, pop and folk influences blend to create the signature Unspoken sound--and it honestly gets better with each release. Sonically, this EP stays in the same field as their previous work, but there's still a growth in the quality and production that continues to evolve their carefully-crafted sound. Lead singer Chad Mattson's vocals are as smooth and intriguing as ever, drawing listeners into each lyric and always leaving us wanting to hear more. 



Spiritual Highlights:

While not a worship album entirely, all of these five tracks have some sort of worship element thrown in. With topics ranging from the greatness of God's grace in our mistakes and human brokenness to His sovereignty in our lives and our eternal need for Him, this EP is overflowing with more of the brilliant songwriting depth that has also become standard from the Unspoken crew. 



Best Song on the Album:

There's not a single track on this EP that doesn't deserve a listen, but from the first time I heard "You've Always Been," I deemed it the album highlight. The song mixes pop elements with a worshipful spirit and anthemic lines that declare the faithfulness of Christ to create a powerful moment. As if that wasn't already enough, the key change at the end seals the deal with an extra dose of creativity and talent.

 

For Fans Of:

Tenth Avenue North, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets 

 

Final Word:

For a band that started out so strong, one might wonder just how much more they can raise the bar. However, the Just Give Me Jesus EP is yet another win for a band who keeps proving that they genuinely get better every time we hear them. From production and vocals to melodies and songwriting, this EP shines as Unspoken continues to make their mark as one of the best bands CCM has seen in quite a while.





But the Just Give Me Jesus EP on Apple Music or stream it on Spotify.

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Pop and Worship Collide | Posted October-18-2018
What You Need To Know:

It's been a whirlwind of a career for pop artist and worship leader Sarah Reeves. What started as a major label debut almost a decade ago soon turned to a few years of riding the waves as an independent artist with her popular YouTube covers, all leading up to her return to a major label in 2016. Now with a new sound that continues to mature with every song, Sarah offers her full-length album Easy Never Needed You



What it Sounds Like:

The first era of Sarah Reeves music showed us the strength of her pop sensibilities, while the "covers" era showed more of her heart for worship. The beautiful thing about her current record is that it combines the best of both of those sides of Sarah's talents, blending pop melodies ("Something About You," "Right Where You Want Me," "Details") with worshipful prayers ("Just Want You," "Fall Afresh," "Faithful") for a project that carries a matured sound all her own. 

 

Spiritual Highlights:

Whether the moment is high-energy or reverent praise, the lyrical content on this album is all vertical and pointing back to Christ. With messages of the faithfulness of Christ and His sovereignty to lead us where He wants us, the whole record is a breath of fresh air that encourages listeners on a spiritual level.



Best Song on the Album:

There are many noteworthy tracks on Easy Never Needed You, but one that stands out in every area of production is "Right Where You Want Me." With an uplifting and positive message of confidence, Sarah's unique vocal carries this song with grace as the vibrant beat invites fans into a fun listen. 

 

For Fans Of:

Francesca Battistelli, Hollyn, Meredith Andrews 

 

Final Word:

Easy Never Needed You is a home-run of an album. As Sarah Reeves makes a bold return to the forefront of Christian music, this project makes it clear that she's raising the bar for her fellow artists and songwriters. A high-quality collection of songs that bring out the best of her abilities in both the pop and worship worlds, this is Sarah Reeves at the top of her game.  



Buy it on Apple Music or stream it on Spotify.

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Worship for the Fight | Posted September-30-2018
What You Need To Know:

While Fighting For Us may technically be a debut album, Michael Farren is far from a new artist. The former Pocket Full of Rocks frontman has been impacting the music community for well over a decade now as a worship leader, award-winning producer and songwriter, but has recently stepped into a new role as a solo artist with Integrity Music. Farren now offers up his first project on his own, Fighting For Us-- an album that encourages listeners with hope and faith ingrained into every worshipful lyric. 



What it Sounds Like:

As you would expect from one of the most heartfelt and authentic worship leaders around, this album is one that creates an atmosphere of praise from it's first to final notes. A project that holds both personal anthems and congregational declarations, Fighting For Us is victorious, spirit-shaking worship. From the uptempo vibes of "Prisoners" and "Goodness and Mercy" to the beautifully profound lyricism in ballads "Loved & Known" and "Always Have Jesus," you can hear Michael's passion for worship in every carefully-crafted melody.  



Spiritual Highlights:

Themes on Fighting For Us range from identity ("Loved & Known," "I Belong To Jesus") to the faithfulness of God in times of trial ("Fighting For Us," "Always Have Jesus") and powerful songs of praise ("Praise The King," "Oh Praise"), but one thing that stays constant in every track is the focus on glorifying God. Each lyric is rooted in Biblical truths, weaving encouragement into every line and pointing listeners to hope in Christ. 



Best Song on the Album:

There truly isn't a less-than-remarkable track on the entire album, but if we're picking favorites, the obvious choice has to be the title track. A bold anthem that speaks of the fierce love and protection Christ provides for His children, "Fighting For Us" is a song to be played on repeat for anyone walking through a season of struggle: "You won't hold back when it comes to Your children / You fiercely defend us 'til we stand delivered / You're fighting for us / always fighting for us."

 

For Fans Of:

Alisa Turner, Corey Voss, Iron Bell Music, Here Be Lions

 

Final Word:

For someone as well-seasoned in writing impactful songs for the Church as Michael Farren is, it should come as no surprise that Fighting For Us is one of the best worship records of 2018. Every element, from the brilliant songwriting to the high-quality sound and everything in between, combines to make this a flawless solo debut for an artist we already can't wait to hear more from. These songs will resonate with you no matter where you are in your journey. However, especially if you find yourself in a season of difficulty, they will be a soundtrack of worship in the midst of your fight, serving as an emphatic reminder that the Father is always fighting with you and for you.





Buy it on Apple Music or stream it on Spotify.

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A Major Win | Posted September-21-2018
What You Need To Know:

Diagnosed with terminal cancer and given 5 years to live 17 years ago, Tim Timmons has a story that will stop anyone in their tracks and testify to the overwhelming faithfulness of God. The singer/songwriter has a gift for infusing deep Scriptural truths into fun pop melodies, and whether the task at hand is a worship set or a children's album, Timmons tackles it with meaning and authenticity. His first bit of new music since 2015's Awake Our Souls (save a children's record last year), Tim is back with a brand new single featuring longtime Christian music icon Amy Grant



What it Sounds Like:

A song that could easily hold its own in either a CCM radio setting or a congregational worship service, "I Belong" offers an acoustic-tinted pop vibe that suits Timmons' soulful voice well. Though Tim carries the song flawlessly on his own, the added bonus of Amy Grant's sweet vocal on the bridge takes the song up another notch.  



Spiritual Highlights:

The message of this song is one we could all use a frequent reminder of: we belong to Christ, and we are safe with Him. Written as an anthem in response to walking his community through a "really dark season dealing with loss, depression, shame and anxiety," this song speaks to the truth that we have a Living Hope in Christ, and He is always near to us: "I see Hope coming on the horizon / there's no need for hiding 'cause I belong.



For Fans Of:

Matt Hammitt, Jason Gray, Aaron Shust

 

Final Word:

Truly one of the most underrated artists in this genre, Timmons continues to craft songs that sonically raise the bar for other artists and lyrically uplift anyone who listens. Every aspect of this single, from production and melody to vocals and songwriting, is approached in ways that make me excited to hear what comes next from Timmons. Hopefully an indicator of more new music on the way, "I Belong" is a major win in Tim's catalog.  



Buy it on itunes or listen on Spotify.

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High Quality Empowerment Anthems | Posted September-20-2018
What You Need To Know:

Ever since their debut in early 2014, Centricity Music group Carrollton has marked themselves as an act to keep an eye on. Their pop/rock/worship blended sound felt more like a seasoned effort than that of a newcomer, setting them apart in a way that continues to make them one of the most underrated artists out there. Following up last year's full-length debut record, the band offers a new four-track EP, Made For This.  



What it Sounds Like:

A band that has long balanced the lines between acoustic pop tones and a more grungy rock vibe, this EP sees Carrollton stay predominately in the high-energy rocker realm. From the opening moments of the empowering "This Is My Time" to the final notes of guitar-heavy "Hey Kids," this is an EP you'll have a hard time listening to while sitting still. 



Spiritual Highlights:

Themes of God-given confidence run through this EP, especially on tracks "Untouchable" and "Made For This" (perhaps you caught that one on a Jeep commercial earlier this summer). Another confidence-driven track, "This Is My Time" speaks to walking in God's plan for your life and silencing the doubters as you continue on in faith. 



Best Song on the Record:

There isn't a sour note in any of the four tracks on this EP, but "Untouchable" is the one I keep coming back to on repeat. The infectious melody paired with power-packed lyrics and gritty lead vocals combine to create a final product well worth your listen. 



For Fans Of:

Micah Tyler, Finding Favour, Rhett Walker Band

 

Final Word:

Carrollton has done it again, somehow producing music of a quality far greater than what most would expect from a band in only their fifth year. Short but sweet, Made For This furthers the winning streak for Carrollton as they continue to step into the fullness of their sound and make an undeniable footprint in Christian music.



Buy it on itunes or liste on Spotify.

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Better Than Ever | Posted September-16-2018
What You Need To Know:

Chris Cleveland, better known as Stars Go Dim, first made a mark on the CCM world in 2015 with the No. 1 radio single "You Are Loved." After an opening stint on mega tour WinterJam in 2016, the group continued their rise as a new fan favorite, mixing pop melodies with uplifting messages listeners quickly gravitated towards. Now offering their sophomore release the Better EP, Stars Go Dim is back and better than ever. 



What it Sounds Like:

All puns aside, Stars Go Dim shines when it comes to crafting quality pop music. There are a few laid-back moments on the EP ("I Believe," "You Know Me Better"), but the majority of the record thrives in a high-energy space. A group of songs that are driven by strong percussion and catchy hooks, these will be stuck in your head for a long time to come.



Spiritual Highlights:

The entire EP is boldly faith-focused, with each song showcasing lyrics that inspire through topics such as identity, bringing Heaven to earth, and fixing our sights on God in times of trouble. Whether they're declaring that "there is only one Jesus" or speaking the truth of "if God is for us, who can be against us," scripture-based songwriting is at the forefront of this EP, bringing every track to a place of praise and encouragement. 



Best Song on the Record:

There honestly isn't a bad song here, but radio-friendly "Heaven On Earth" is hard to beat when it comes to picking a favorite. With a powerful underlying message and a groove that is sure to keep you moving every time you hear it, this is Stars Go Dim at their best. 



For Fans Of:

David Dunn, Austin French, Riley Clemmons, Dan Bremnes

 

Final Word:

From beginning to end, it's easy to hear that the dreaded "sophomore slump" is nowhere to be found on this EP. Stars Go Dim has produced a stellar group of songs with Better, offering up a record that ensures their future is nothing but bright. 



Buy it on itunes or listen on Spotify.

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A Dynamic Duo | Posted September-11-2018
What You Need To Know:

The artistry of Jason Gray needs no introduction--if you've been around Christian music for long, you're no stranger to the radio hits and countless songs of encouragement the singer/songwriter has offered up for over a decade now. Likely one of the best songwriters this genre has seen, Jason pairs his deep lyrics with calming melodies that have long made him a fan favorite. Now pairing up with his son, budding producer and skilled musician Kipper Gray, Jason offers his newest collection of anthems: The Kipper Gray Sessions



What it Sounds Like:

While Jason has had his fair share of high-energy tunes, the majority of his catalog tends to sway towards more mellow tracks. With this EP, though, Jason's gift of tackling fun pop melodies with ease gets a chance to shine in a way it never has before. Thanks to the already-exceptional production and talent of Kipper, these songs show a much more pop side of Jason's craft than we often get to hear.  



Spiritual Highlights:

The themes on this EP range from the importance of community ("Mountain") and loving yourself as you are ("Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful"), to the beauty of life ("Love Life") and the patience in growing as a person ("Becoming"). But, in each of those topics, there are lyrics that point to Christ. Once more to the credit of Jason's stellar songwriting skills, these songs wrestle with general life topics while still tying in powerful bits of faith. 



Best Song on the Record:

The sole ballad on this record, "Becoming," stands out to me as the best song here. While each track carries something special, this one is stripped back enough to really focus on the meaningful lyrics without losing that great underlying production. Wrapping up the EP with a powerful message, the bridge offers the lines that clinch this as the highlight track-- "It's progress, not perfection / Not a rival, it's direction / it's the living and the learning / not the finish line, but the journey.



For Fans Of:

David Dunn, Andrew Peterson, Tenth Avenue North, Jonny Diaz

 

Final Word:

Simply put: Jason and Kipper are a dynamic duo on this project. A father and son working together is a sweet concept in itself, but the end result here is truly something to pay attention to. The combination of Jason's long-matured songwriting and Kipper's groovy production chops go hand in hand, making for a Jason Gray EP we won't soon stop listening to.

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Heartfelt and Fun | Posted August-07-2018
What You Need To Know:

Tennessee native and worship leader-turned-pop songstress Caitie Hurst is the newest member of the Centricity Music family, bursting on the scene with debut single "How Could I Be Silent" this year. The chart-climbing song was followed by heartfelt ballad "Answers," showing yet another side of the new artist and leaving fans excited to hear more with her upcoming How Could I Be Silent EP



What it Sounds Like:

One of several incredibly strong pop records we've heard so far this year, the How Could I Be Silent EP will have you moving along with all the infectious beats and bubbly tunes. A well-balanced effort between pop gems ("Nothing To Hide," "Lights," "How Could I Be Silent") and lower energy pieces that dig deeper ("Answers," "Wanderer," "Signs"), Caitie proves that she knows how to tackle both dance jams and worshipful moments extremely well with her silky vocal. 

 

Spiritual Highlights:

Faith is a strong subject throughout the entire EP, showing up in multiple ways that both challenge and encourage listeners to trust Jesus deeper than ever before. The topic of grace is addressed in vibrant "Nothing To Hide," as well as the hard question of "where is God when it hurts?" that is brought to the forefront on "Answers." 



Best Song on the Record:

With its fun pop vibes and supporting message of freedom in Christ, "Nothing To Hide" is one of the best CCM songs I've heard this year. A track that could easily stay on repeat for quite a while, this one is a must-hear. 



For Fans Of:

The Young Escape, Blanca, Sarah Reeves, Hannah Kerr



Final Word:

Repeatedly on this EP, Caitie Hurst balances heartfelt messages with pop melodies, making it a stellar place to start for the new artist. With a debut project crafted this well from beginning to end, I'm excited to see what comes next.  

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Showing 1-10 of 181 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews

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