ChristopherThiessen_NRT's Music and Book Reviews
Return To ChristopherThiessen_NRT's Profile
    Join The NRTeam
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest Music and Book Reviews
Everything and Nothing Less by Chris Everything and Nothing Less by Chris
Five years have transpired since Chris McClarney's last release,
100 by Elim Sound 100 by Elim Sound
Elim Pentecostal Church, a UK-based denomination, is turning century-old in 2015. With this milestone in mind, 10 worship leaders from across the UK have collaborated together to record a collective worship...
Hope: The EP by Drake Hope: The EP by Drake
Funky, soulful, and smooth: these are the first words that come to mind when I hear Drake Kennedy. 

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Kennedy is getting his music heard even from his independent...

Showing 1-10 of 15 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews
A Beautiful Composition | Posted June-03-2015
Five years have transpired since Chris McClarney's last release, Defender. In that time, McClarney has teamed up with Jesus Culture, and his worship anthem "Your Love Never Fails" has been adopted and sung across the country. Now finally, after five years, McClarney is sharing nine new worshipful and powerful songs, recorded live in San Francisco. 



The title, Everything And Nothing Less, immediately excited me. As a worship leader myself, I have found it very easy to find hundreds of songs that speak about God's love for me, or the things God does for me-- songs that are about how God fulfills my needs. I don't think there is a problem with these songs. They are necessary, and it is great to give praise for God's love and His fulfilling of our needs. My issue comes when these songs are so prevalent, while songs focused on our surrender to God's might and greatness and holiness are not as prevalent. What the title at once shared with me was that this album is focused on God. It's focused on how great He is, an appropriate album of deep worship of our Creator.

 

I experimented with this review by approaching my initial listen of it differently. The first time through, I only focused on the themes of McClarney's songs. I deferred any thoughts on derivative musical style or overused lyrics till later listens, and focused on the message first. And what I found was beautiful.

 

The themes of this worship night flow together so beautifully to paint a magnificent picture of our lives in worship of our God. It starts off with invitation into worship, focusing on God's glory and worthiness of our praise. From here, McClarney leads the congregation into faith in God and his mighty works in our lives, which then deepens into total surrender of our lives. Then "Beauty For Ashes" is a song of thanksgiving for God's renewing power, which comes when we surrender ourselves to Him.



After giving thanks, Kim Walker-Smith joins McClarney in a powerful time of longing for more and more of Christ in our lives on "On Earth As It Is In Heaven." This longing and following hard after Christ is matched in the hauntingly captivating "Running After You (Deep Calls)," featuring a very strong yet effortless vocal over a unique chord structure reminiscent of Radiohead or Muse.

 

As McClarney encourages a spirit of longing, he invites more to come to Christ in "Thirsty:" "If you're thirsty the Spirit and the Bride say come, there's mercy, it doesn't matter what you've done, oh come." In the final minutes, McClarney sends out the worshipers of God with a brief cover of Hillsong's "Came To My Rescue" alongside ad-libbed prayers of continuing in the presence of God, which remind us that worship never stops, but that we pray without ceasing.

 

Closing Thoughts: 

There is definitely a time to push for being wholly original in our worship. There is a place for having innovative lyrics to stir us up and bring us closer to God. But in the midst of that, there is also a time to sit and call out to God, to surrender everything we have to Him, to worship Him with everything we have and nothing less, and to long for more of Him than ever before. This album perfectly portrays that time. McClarney writes and performs these songs of praise and adoration so naturally that it will inspire many to join in and surrender all to the One who is worthy.



Song to Download Now: 

"On Earth As It Is In Heaven" (Get it on iTunes here.)



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
An Upbeat and Uplifting Debut | Posted April-30-2015
Funky, soulful, and smooth: these are the first words that come to mind when I hear Drake Kennedy. 



Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Kennedy is getting his music heard even from his independent platform. More than a handful of radio stations have already picked up his songs and are spinning them for their listening audiences, and it's not hard to see why. Kennedy has a commercial sound, radio-worthy production (even without the help of a major label) and uplifting lyrics that will catch the attention of many.

 

Kennedy's EP release is titled Hope, and the artist does not stray far from that theme on all five tracks. From the opening "Beautiful From the Inside Out" (lyrically reminiscent of early Tenth Avenue North) to the closing "Give Me Your Hand," these songs present lyrics of godly encouragement and love to those who need a reminder that God is our comforter who helps us through our struggles.

 

"Only You" epitomizes the infectious feel-good soul that oozes from this EP. Kennedy sings the familiar "just be you" message as he encourages listeners not to give in to what society and others tell them they need to be. The groove and tight harmonies remind me of early Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz, which is definitely a compliment.

 

Closing Thoughts: 

Drake Kennedy's Hope EP is upbeat and fresh. Good independent Christian pop is a fairly rare thing, but this EP definitely has its highlights. Kennedy's smooth voice and occasional awesome use of falsetto (see "Right By Me") are amplified by grooves that will get you moving your feet from the get-go.



Kennedy is just starting to make his way into the industry and definitely has some room to grow. The lyrical themes, for example, are predictable and perhaps overdone. However, he is off to a good start, and this CD is worth the listen.



Song to Download Now: 

"Only You" (Get it on iTunes here.)



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
A Centennial Celebration | Posted April-30-2015
Elim Pentecostal Church, a UK-based denomination, is turning century-old in 2015. With this milestone in mind, 10 worship leaders from across the UK have collaborated together to record a collective worship project, 100. The resulting project is a diverse mixture of newly penned songs and reimagined hymns.

 

The collaboration among these worship leaders is something to be commended to be sure. It is great to hear such a large group of believers passionate for worship coming together to lead listeners in worship of our God.

 

Several hymns are given beautiful treatments on this album. "Have Thine Own Way" features Fiona Crow in a powerful moment of surrender aided by an ambient arrangement as she sings, "You're the potter, I'm the clay, have thine own way." On the other end of the spectrum, "Power in the Blood" is given a Brit-folk makeover as many of the leaders come together to create an upbeat foot-stomper. "Breathe On Me" as well is a highlight with its thick clap tracks and tight production as Suzanne Hanna sings of God's penetrating and renewing power.

 

"No Longer I" (co-written with Matt Redman) is a definite highlight among the new tunes. Ian Yates leads this powerful song reminiscent of Passion's "My Heart Is Yours" in that it quotes a hymn and breathes new life into it. The song starts with an acoustic rendition of elements from "At The Cross" before it crescendoes into a bridge that declares: "It is no longer I, it is Christ who lives in me."

 

Closing Thoughts:

Elim Sound's 100 is a faithful shout of praise for the blessings God has poured out on the Elim church over the last century. There are many great tracks on this album that will encourage and equip the Church and the listeners. With that being said, listeners can't help but feel wanting when it comes to musical innovation. Most of the album is comparable to Hillsong or other church groups and many of the lyrical themes are familiar and have been previously visited by more than a few songwriters. However, 100 is a good listen and will lead listeners into a time of meditation and worship of our God.



Song to Download Now:

"No Longer I" feat. Ian Yates (Get it on iTunes here.)

 

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Out Of The Wasteland | Posted April-17-2015
As a Nashville native, I had the opportunity to go to the show at which Needtobreathe recorded Live From the Woods, but I chose not to go. After getting about 20 seconds into this album, I realized how poor of a decision that was.

 

Needtobreathe has a certain element of true musicianship and rock and roll spirit that (though their studio albums are great) can often get limited by the boundaries of a studio setting. With the live amphitheater setting of their newest effort, Needtobreathe is allowed to shine in their most rambunctious, energetic and emotional effort thus far.

 

First of all, the track list on this album is fantastic. It features almost all of Rivers in the Wasteland (minus "Rise Again" and "Where the Money Is") as well as eight fan favorites from the past three albums. From the kickoff "State I'm In" to the closing encore "Devil's Been Talkin'," Needtobreathe's infectious energy from the stage is matched by the enthusiasm from the crowd. The production team for this album did a great job of joining those two factors together to make the listener feel as though they are experiencing the show.

 

Part of that experience is getting to hear Bear talk about some of the background of the songs, sharing personal stories about the band. Particularly before "Brother" and "Wasteland," we get to hear the stories of how Needtobreathe has gone through some rough spots recently and how those times have been overcome. The vulnerability and openness of Bear's talks is sincere and inspiring to listeners. From the stories told and the songs that came out of them, it is clear that the band is in a much stronger place now.



In fact the band seems to be more alive than ever before after coming off those rough times, and it shows in their 7+ minute jam sessions on songs like "Oh, Carolina" (a song that I thought was a little sleepy on the studio album, but is truly transformed here), "Wanted Man" (which leads into an unexpected outro of Modest Mouse's "Float On") and, most importantly, "Washed By the Water."

 

"Washed By the Water" was a good song before. However, this recording is honestly Grammy-worthy. The old south spiritual-inspired vocal performance paired with gritty southern blues guitars and a whole lot of soul make this song a masterpiece and easily my favorite recording of the year.

 

The whole record isn't Needtobreathe's rowdy southern side. They nail the intimate and worshipful moments too. "Difference Maker," a song Bear describes as a "song about not getting ahead of yourself," has a fuller, more powerful sound and message this time around. From there they very smoothly transitioned into hit single "Multiplied," which is a standout worshipful moment on the album with the lyrics "may this offering stretch across the sky, and these hallelujahs be multiplied."

 

Closing Thoughts: 

Basically, my conclusion after listening to this album on repeat is: whatever great things Needtobreathe has done in the past in the studio, they can and have done better live. Live From the Woods captures that perfectly.

 

Needtobreathe has proven time and again that they are a force in the music industry. They have proven that they have come out of the "wasteland" they talk about having encountered. Never has this been so apparent as it is after this release. Their ability to take what they do in the studio and produce it on the stage in a richer, more emotional and more musically outstanding way blows me away. I can honestly say that this is my favorite work of theirs thus far and that every single song on the album is improved from its original. If the reason for this album was to persuade listeners to go see a show, I'm sold ten times over.  

 

Song to Download Now: 

"Washed By The Water" (Get it on iTunes here.)

 

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
A Solid Effort From a Songwriting Veteran | Posted March-30-2015
Jared Anderson has definitely been one of worship music’s top writers over the last few years ( with credits including "Great I Am" and "The King Is Coming"). With Where I Am Right Now, he brings us his first release with Centricity Music, who seems to have had a consistent winning streak as of late. This offering brings listeners a short 5-song look at Anderson’s diverse ability to write God-glorifying songs that will definitely have listeners wanting a full length album.

 

Production wizard Seth Mosley oversaw Where I Am Right Now, bringing his hit-creating abilities to songs like the title track, which Anderson describes as "a direct response to the popular condition called FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out." This song was definitely created for radio play, to the point of being a little bit too cliché. However, the strong message of knowing that God has called us to follow Him and not worry about the promises the world offers shines through.  

 

Listeners will recognize the worshipful "Almighty," co-written with Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash, which made an appearance on Tomlin’s latest album Love Ran Red. "Overboard" is an anthem of joyous praise, resembling a mix of Newsboys circa 2006 and Walk the Moon. It declares that we will go out in faith and follow God with everything in us.

 

"Forgiven" is a mid-tempo song about the forgiveness of God in His grace. This middle track I found to be rather formulaic and safe while trying to relay what is really a great message. On the other side of the spectrum is the closing song "Sweet Salvation." Anderson went out with my favorite song of the EP, which is performed… wait for it… completely a cappella. The song builds perfectly with harmonies, snaps, percussion and all-around smooth doo-wop style as it refreshes my soul with every listen.

 

Closing Thoughts: 

Jared Anderson is definitely a solid worship music writer, and I enjoy worshiping along with his music. This EP is a little odd to me as it has points of innovation and then points of maintaining status quo. As a whole though, it is an enjoyable project and its songs, particularly the closer, will be on repeat for me throughout the year.

 

Song to Download Now: 

"Sweet Salvation"

 

Comments (1)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
New and Nostalgic | Posted February-18-2015
April 22, 2005, I was ten years old and on my way to my very first concert. It was the only time I would see the Furler-fronted Newsboys. But before they took the stage, a new artist came on the stage and blew me away with his rhythmic guitar playing and his smooth rap-singing combination. That artist was a young Mat Kearney, who was about to blow up and be heard on pop stations across the country.



February 2015. I am now nearly twenty years old, and I still love the catchy hooks, melodic flows, and upbeat lyrics produced by Mat Kearney. Writing this album review makes me nostalgic. It has me thinking about the artists and songs that have carried me through the last ten years and created the soundtrack of my life. And it's fitting that I feel nostalgic about this, because Just Kids is Kearney's sentimental look-back at the places he has called home on his journey through life.



Kearney commented that Just Kids "is written almost as a love letter" to the stage of life spent in his home state of Oregon. The letter begins with a shout-out to his hometown of Eugene on an emboldening anthem to keep on keeping on through the tough times ("Heartbreak Dreamers," which has a sweet spoken word outro by poet Anis Mojgani).



"Shasta" delivers an intimate look into the innocence of simpler days and the pain of venturing into the uncertainties of life: "We got miles left to go to a place that I don't know, they told me the ground was gold but I can't see it / One last time through the woods and my old neighborhood / it tastes so bittersweet I can't believe it."



The lyrics are not the only things that ooze nostalgia on Just Kids; much of the sound is a fresh take on throwback elements as well. These elements come out strong on the lead single "Heartbeat," complete with synth samples straight out of early Madonna, drum fills that sound eerily like Phil Collins and the funky groove of a Michael Jackson hit.



Another highlight of this album is the fantastic production. Mat Kearney finds this place in his sound between feel-good pop and hipster indie rock that appeals to many different music lovers. Soaring vocals are a main theme, making appearances on songs like "Let It Rain" and "One Heart" (my personal favorite).  



In contrast to this is the stripped down and vulnerable "The Conversation (feat. Young Summer)" which came out of a real conversation Kearney had with his wife: "If our love is a hurricane of broken phones and broken doors, / Baby you know I can stand the rain, let it lift us off the floor."



Closing Thoughts:

Mat Kearney delivers nostalgia perfection on Just Kids. His lyrics are intimate, his emotions are infectious and his feel-good pop will make you dance. Just Kids reminds us of the good times we have come from, helps us through the heartbreaks we have had and encourages us to push on through the unknowns. I think Mat has created something special with this album, and I am glad to be able to add it my personal musical journey.



Song To Download Now:

"One Heart" (Get it on iTunes here.)

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Soulful Start to 2015 | Posted February-07-2015
Let me start off by saying, I would not consider myself an active listener of modern R&B & Gospel music. It's very rare that I go and seek out new soulful Gospel music on my own, and so it is with fresh ears that I sat down to listen to Crystal Aikin's All I Need.

 

It's been just over seven years now since Aikin won BET's singing competition, Sunday Best, and six years since her last full release. Needless to say it's been a long wait for fans. Well I can tell you, after I heard Aikin's voice for the first time, I can be counted among those fans.

 

All I Need is a worshipful experience that glorifies God in a powerful way. The R&B expressions on this album are filled with enough soul to make the lowest of spirits filled with joy and adoration.

 

The lead single "So Amazing" and the unique smooth jazz voicings on "So Good" are pure songs of praise and thanksgiving. The former is highlighted by a vocal performance that will give you chills. Aikin seems to hit this place where her voice is so commanding and in control of the song, and yet is completely submitted to God, allowing Him to work through the song. I definitely felt God working and speaking through this collection of songs, whether it was the funky "I Won't Let You Go" or the prayerful "Mighty To Save." The lyrics are strong and focused directly on the Lord.

 

Another highlight of the album is Aikin's smooth rendition of the hymn "When We All Get To Heaven." Starting off simply with her voice and fingerstyle acoustic guitar, the song crescendos into a gospel choir climax that stirs up everything in me to worship my creator.

 

Closing Thoughts:

As an outsider to the Soul/Gospel genre, I truly enjoyed this album and have listened to it multiple times. The lyrics are strong, but stronger yet is Crystal Aikin's vocal power and control and her ability to lead listeners into the musical worship of our God. There were a few points of production issues in spots of the album (i.e. a bit of unnecessary overuse of auto-tune tools), but they really didn't distract from the soulful worship that Crystal Aikin will help lead many listeners into.

 

Song To Download Now:

"Mighty To Save" (Get it on iTunes here.)

 

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
A Musical Christmas Party | Posted December-01-2014
Very rarely do I anticipate a Christmas album. Although dozens of artists come out with Christmas music every year, I would much rather stick with my Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Michael Buble, *NSYNC (wait, what?), etc. than try to weed through all the new attempts at the classics. However, occasionally new Christmas albums come along that catch my attention (such as past releases Relient K's Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer or Downhere's How Many Kings). And when Rend Collective started hinting on Twitter that they were releasing a surprise Christmas album I got very excited.



Ever since I experienced my first Rend Collective concert at the beginning of this year, I have been incredibly thankful for their presence in the Christian music industry. They are one of the few bands that have been able to push the boundaries of CCM and Christian radio with their unique brand of folk praise. Their energy is infectious, and their love for God is obvious through their naturally worshipful songs.



The first thing I noticed about Campfire Christmas Vol. 1 was that it was less stripped down than its Campfire predecessor and felt more like their last album The Art of Celebration. But while I missed the crackling of the campfire in the background (with the exception of the opening "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"), I absolutely loved the diverse instrumentation. In addition to their normal folky guitars, mandolins and banjos, Rend Collective pulled out gorgeous string quartets, bells, accordions, Irish tin whistles and Uilleann pipes.



As for the songs, Rend Collective has a good selection of flawlessly arranged Christmas hymns for the bulk of the album. The anthemic, trumpet-blaring "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and the train-inspired (listen and you'll understand) "Joy To The World" call for the celebration that Rend Collective fans are so familiar with.



Their more worshipful side comes out on the stripped down yet no less than absolutely beautiful "O Come All Ye Faithful," "O Holy Night" and "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." These songs particularly emphasize Chris Llewellyn's emotion-filled voice, which he always uses to perfection.



While I loved their take on the Christmas classics, what caught my attention the most was their covers of the less well-known songs. Rend Collective didn't really do any originals on this album, with one kind-of exception (more on that later), but three of the songs I had never heard of before, which only adds to their quirkiness.



This quirkiness showed itself best on the not-well-known hymn "Ding Dong Merrily On High" and "Merry Christmas Everyone." The former I had never heard of before, but it's the one song on this album that consistently gets stuck in my head. The crowd vocals singing "ding dong" and "glooooooooria" bring a smile to my face every single time. "Merry Christmas Everyone" is actually a Christmas song by Shakin' Stevens that went to number one in the UK in 1985. It may be an unusual choice, but once again Rend Collective succeeds here in making everyone smile and celebrate that it's Christmas party time!



Another odd song pick is "Shining Light," which was an alternative rock song by fellow Northern Irish group Ash. From what I can tell, this is the first time the song has been recorded in a Christmas setting. That being said, Rend Collective successfully turned an upbeat pop rock song into one of the more worshipful moments of the album. Although the original's style is completely different from Rend Collective's, the lyrics lend themselves well to the moment: "A constellation once seen over Royal David's city, An epiphany you burn so pretty, yeah you are a shining light."



Finally, closing out the album is my favorite song of the album, "For All That You Have Done." I think it's pretty typical (to the point of being cliché) to end a Christmas album with the classic "Auld Lang Syne." Rend Collective, however, decided to take the beautiful melody from the classic and turn it into a song of praise to our God: "For all that you have done for us, for every battle won, we'll raise a song to bless Your heart, for all that you have done."



What makes this song special is its use of their native country's Uilleann pipes and tin whistles, which transport me back to my trip to Ireland nine years ago when I experienced some of the most captivating natural portraits our God has painted on this earth. For me, this song is a picturesque moment of worship ending the album perfectly.



Closing Thoughts:

Rend Collective has been pushing the limits of CCM for a couple years, and Campfire Christmas only continues their journey. The mixture of well-known and not-so-well-known songs on this album is perfect listening for the holiday season. Their quirky knack for joyful celebration, as well as their awe of the glory of God, remind us of the important things during this Christmas season. So pick this album up and party, worship and praise God along with Rend Collective!



Song To Download Now:

"For All That You Have Done" (Get it on iTunes here.)



 

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Eye'm Lovin' It | Posted October-30-2014
When it comes to Christian pop music, there are not many names (if any) more iconic than TobyMac. Over the past 25 years or so, TobyMac has been the face of CCM, constantly pushing its limits both with DC Talk and his solo work. He has shown no signs of stopping either, with the 2012 release Eye On It peaking at number one on the Billboard 200 (only the third Christian album ever to do so). This record-setting album spawned huge CCM hits like "Me Without You," "Steal My Show" and "Speak Life." Some might say that if you have such mega-hits as these, you shouldn't mess with them at all. They would be sorely mistaken. Enter Toby's newest release: Eye'm All Mixed Up.



Let me first relay a few of my thoughts on Eye On It to set this up. I thought it was okay. It was a fun album full of good messages, and thus it was a solid release from Toby. I just didn't find the tracks particularly inspiring musically. So when I first turned on Eye'm All Mixed Up, my first thought was "these are the tracks that the first album should have been!" It's incredibly fresh, incredibly energetic, and a great return for Mr. TobyMac.



Starting off the album is a killer remix of "Eye On It" by none other than Soul Glow Activatur of Family Force 5 fame. This quirky mix is not as rambunctious as the original track, and Soul Glow seems to have received some influence from will.i.am's mix of the mainstream pop hit "Scream & Shout." The title track received another makeover on the Kaveman Remix. This one is a chill house-y remix of the song that happens to be one of my favorites from the album.



Neon Feather, who has previously done remixes for such acts as Switchfoot, Capital Kings and Mandisa, makes his mark with a remix of "Forgiveness" which truly intensifies the emotional impact of the song. Big name DJ Telemitry also adds his flavor to three songs: "Speak Life," "Mac Daddy" and "Me Without You." These tracks just ooze professionalism in production, and are some of the most infectious tracks on the album (the dubstep drop on "Mac Daddy" is especially sick).



Speaking of "Me Without You" and dubstep drops, Capital Kings made a contribution to this song in a huge way. This is by far my favorite track on the album, and the thick stack of synths is absolutely earth-shattering. The duo's remix of "Lose Myself" is another crowd-friendly highlight featuring chant vocals and anthemic beats.



Soul Glow Acivatur makes a return on the album with a wild trap remix of "Unstoppable (feat. Blanca)." The veteran's presence on the album is definitely welcome, and listeners will get rowdy to his beats.



For me the weakest tracks of the album are the Jack Shocklee remix of "Steal My Show" and the Thunderbird remix of "Thankful For You." The former, reimagined as a synth fronted dance track, feels distracted from its originally simple arrangement and worshipful lyrics. And while I do like the remix of "Thankful for You," I really missed the funky gospel fun of the original track on this one.



Closing Thoughts:

It's been two years since the release of Eye On It, and even though no new songs are being presented to TobyMac fans, I think they will be satisfied with the tracks on Eye'm All Mixed Up. The only downer of this release is that, of the eleven tracks on the album, four of them (including my personal favorite) were already released on the Deluxe Edition a couple years ago. But even so, TobyMac fans will love the new energy breathed into these songs by an elite group of producers. This album should be an essential for every dance party across the nation.



Song To Download Now:

"Forgiveness (feat. Lecrae) (Neon Feather Remix)" (Get it on iTunes here.)

 

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Listen. Dance. Repeat. | Posted October-09-2014
I'm going to start this review off with something I've noticed in Christian music. As the musical subculture continues to change, as music always does, the artists seem to be bringing us music that is more celebratory and party-friendly than ever before. I hear it Rend Collective's The Art of Celebration. I hear it in Crowder's new brand of "folktronica." And I am hearing it in the recent surge of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) in the Christian market. It appears that God is perhaps trying to send a message through His musicians that life is to be enjoyed and celebrated fully in Him. This is a message that I see continued in EDM artist Matthew Parker's newest release, Shadowlands.

 

Music fans may have previously heard of Matthew Parker from his remix work with Lecrae, Capital Kings, and Andy Mineo. Now the producer/artist is releasing his first major album with Dream Records' EDM imprint, Dröm Records, and it is an excellent experience. Parker brings us a unique brand of EDM that blends elements of progressive house, dubstep, trap, and even reggaestep. Shadowlands is an album that will give upcoming Christian EDM artists hope for the genre and will inspire ALL who hear it to dance.

 

"We Go" kicks off the album with infectious party rock reminiscent of Family Force 5 (perhaps even giving a nod to the band's ex-singer Soul Glow Activatur). This song is a bass-heavy, earth-rattling pep talk reminding us that it's our mission to "go to the ends of the earth."

 

The energy is kept high with dubstep heavy cuts like "Immortal," which calls our attention to the fact that we are eternal beings and that "every moment counts, every human matters." The wobble bass is killer again on "Light of Dawn," which features a fierce rap verse from Cash Hollistah.



Speaking of rap, "MouseTrap" is highlighted by a verse from Chicago rapper Skrip who slams the devil's luring traps with the mercy of God. Another favorite track of mine is the reggaestep "All Around De World" featuring Jamaica-native St. Matthew. St. Matthew and Parker call for us to come together and remember, "The people of the Lord are one."

 

The themes of darkness turning to light and death giving way to life are very apparent on this album and are well-matched by the positively dance-y house beats. Songs like "Shadowlands" which says, "Savior, save us, break this darkness, take the storm clouds from the sky," and "Life Again" which claims "We were meant to see the day when death gives way to life" match the sonic interest with lyrical depth.

 

Along with these standout tracks, really every song on this album offers something different and interesting. Uplifting and hopeful lyrics are beautifully met by synth riffs that make you want to do nothing but rejoice all night long.

 

Closing Thoughts:

I'll admit that I'm not an avid EDM listener. I'll listen to the occasional Skrillex, Deadmau5, or Zedd song, but only casually. However, digging into this album gave me more of a love for the genre than I expected. This effort from Matthew Parker is truly pushing the boundaries of Christian music in a good way. The production is slick, the danceability (I may have made that up) is at max level, and the lyrics are well thought-out. If you are looking for fresh listening material, look no further than Shadowlands.

 

Song to Download Now:

"Life Again" (Get it on iTunes here.)

Comments (1)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Showing 1-10 of 15 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews

Christian Music, Facebook Christian Music, Twitter Christian Music, YouTube Christian Music, Instagram

ADVERTISEMENTS

Christian Music

©2019 NewReleaseToday
A Division Of NRT Media Inc.

Secure
CHRISTIAN MUSIC

Discover
New This Week
Coming Soon
Free Downloads
Playlists
Reviews

NEWS

New Music
Movies / Media
Books
Events
Tours
General

VIDEOS

Music Videos
Exclusives
#NRTLive Hangouts

EXCLUSIVES

Articles
Devotionals
Interviews
Concert Reviews
Contests
We Love Awards

NRT RADIO NETWORK

One
Worship
Worship Lab
Remix
Rewind
Urban
Positive
Christmas
MORE INFO

RSS
Privacy Policy
Terms of Use
Advertising
Staff
New Music Email
Contact

CONNECT

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest