Stix and Stones Unplugged
HillaryJane After landing the number three spot in the iTunes R&B genre with Stix and Stones, HillaryJane releases an acoustic EP with songs from previous projects. This seven-track EP combines her effortless...
Various Artists Before Amen: A Worship Collection is the musical companion to Max Lucado's book Before Amen:The Power of a Simple Prayer. He is featured on both the "Prelude" and...
Kim Kim Collingsworth (from the popular Southern Gospel group, The Collingworth Family) is released a new solo album entitled Majestic. This live event is packed with so many guests and different...
Anthems of a World Changer | Posted December-08-2014
After landing the number three spot in the iTunes R&B genre with Stix and Stones, HillaryJane releases an acoustic EP with songs from previous projects. This seven-track EP combines her effortless vocals with lyrics that deeply connect with every listener. Her singer/songwriter style will resonate strongly with listeners of Demi Lovato, Rachael Lampa and Tori Kelly.
The opening track, "Chimney," is a sassy, unapologetic claim about surrendering to the King. It’s easy to feel pumped-up while listening to this song, especially when she starts to rap. Through the lyrics, she calls out those who chastise her decision to follow Christ by proclaiming "You ain't got nothing / But cheap bets fast threats / Deep debts and regrets."
This EP makes it clear that HillaryJane has decided to follow Jesus and wants her life and love to reflect that. "Celebrity" asks "What are we gonna do with all this money / Not a thing." This song explains that there’s no point to all the material things if Jesus isn’t a part of the picture. While this song is one of the more bubbly tracks on the album, it carries some deep thought.
The heartfelt ballad, "We Fight," depicts an argument that seems to be about a decision to follow Jesus. "Oh the remarks / to enforce your addictions / And the hard part / you can't refuse the commission." The pure emotion reflected from her impressive vocals makes it impossible not to see her genuine desire to lead others to Christ.
Every song on this EP was relatable, but the song I was most impressed with was "Stix and Stones." The music allows it to be catchy enough that listeners will be humming the melodies all day, while the lyrics are encouraging and uplifting. My favorite lines are, "Sticks and stones may break our bones but words cannot define us / Lethal words make people hurt but they cannot define us." This song reflects a "love God, love people" attitude while stressing the importance of anchoring our identity in Christ.
She closes the EP with a cover of the chart topping "Oceans." With just an acoustic guitar, she is able to showcase the beauty of her vocals. She recreates the song in a beautiful way that always puts chills down my spine. Out of all the tracks, this exudes the most confidence in a wonderfully humble way.
Listening to this EP was like getting to know HillaryJane on a deeper level. I felt as if I was reading out of her journal and taking a glimpse of her heart. Her vocals were so extraordinary that I didn’t want to stop listening, while the lyrics hit so close to home that I felt like she understood me. Just by listening to Stix and Stones: Unplugged, I was inspired by her heart to stand firm in Christ under all circumstances. HillaryJane has so much to offer the world, and I couldn’t be more excited for future projects.
Lyrics For Prayer | Posted October-03-2014 Before Amen: A Worship Collection is the musical companion to Max Lucado's book Before Amen:The Power of a Simple Prayer. He is featured on both the "Prelude" and "Postlude," where he introduces and concludes the session of prayer. In this compilation album--designed to guide the listener through prayer--the songs are praises of all He is.
From the beginning, the mood is set with these classic hymn lyrics, sang by Kathryn Scott in her song, "What a Friend": "What a friend we have in Jesus / All our sins and griefs to bear / What a privilege to carry / Everything to God in prayer." Her subtle praise for our personal relationships with God couldn't be a better way to begin this compilation.
What more intimate way to address God than "Abba Father"? This song by Planetshakers praises the deep, abundant, all-encompassing love that God shows us. The lyrics, "Oh, the love of my Father is deeper than any love I know / Oh, the grace that he shows me / His love overwhelms me / This I know," are a beautiful reminder of the depth of God's love and grace. This theme continues with John Mark McMillian's rendition of his career-defining song, "How He Loves." He takes it one step further and praises God simply for how much He loves us: "I don't have time to maintain these regrets / when I think about the way / that He loves us."
No worship or prayer compilation album would be complete without a song from Kari Jobe. This album features "Healer," a praise of God's ability to redeem life's difficulties. Kari's heart is almost tangible when she proclaims, "You hold my every moment / You call my raging seas / You walk with me through fire / and heal all my disease / I trust in You."
And for those in a season of struggling, "All The Poor and Powerless" by All Sons & Daughters declares, "All the hearts who are content / and all who feel unworthy / and all who hurt with nothing left / will know that You are holy."
The themes of God's faithfulness and goodness are woven throughout the album. "Your Faithfulness" by Brian Doerksen glorifies God with the lyrics, "Certain as the rivers reach the sea / Certain as the sunrise in the east / I can rest in your faithfulness." Rend Collective lends a beautiful and increasingly popular version of "10,000 Reasons."
The most wonderful part of this compilation is that the lyrics can meet each listener where they're at in their own walk with God. Each song provides strength, clarity, and understanding into who God really is. It is truly a fantastic guide to learning how to pray simply and earnestly. In addition, the beautiful musical flow throughout the album makes it a perfect playlist for prayer.
A Night to Remember | Posted September-23-2014
Kim Collingsworth (from the popular Southern Gospel group, The Collingworth Family) is released a new solo album entitled Majestic. This live event is packed with so many guests and different styles of music that Kim jokes that "you should check your pulse" if you don't like it. There is truly something for everyone on this exciting, tear-jerking and inspiring album.
The album begins with several instrumental tracks, all of which were flawlessly done. I wish I had been there to see "Heaven's Extravaganza Medley" performed live because of the complex and diverse styles all included in one 9 minute masterpiece.
Throughout Majestic, Kim shares about the influence of her family and allows the audience members to get to know them on a deeper level. After introducing each member, they sing "As For Me and My House" as a family. It was so beautiful to hear each family member sing "Let nothing stand in your way / give Him the praise He deserves / As for me and my house / we will serve the Lord" with perfect harmony. Kim also revealed the heart-wrenching story of her nephew's blindness and features him on "Great is Thy Faithfulness/Think About His Love." I'm sure there was not a dry eye in the house after listening to the touching story of how God can take something so traumatic and make it beautiful.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear some of my favorite classic Disney songs on "Someday My Prince Will Come/Once Upon a Dream." This beautiful instrumental made me smile from ear-to-ear throughout the entire song. Just when I thought I couldn't smile any bigger, I heard "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," featuring Kim's nieces. Even Kim's extended family has musical abilities beyond their years!
After so many slow and soothing songs, "I'll Fly Away" instantly brings a new level of energy. The exceptional piano and choral combination makes it impossible not to feel a burst of excitement! I would have loved if this song was extended beyond its two minutes.
If there was one word to describe the closing song "Battle Hymn of the Republic," it would be intricate. It was so thrilling to hear the complex mix of choral, strings, horns, drums and piano form such a majestic piece. This was a perfect close to an exceptional night of music, laughs, tears, and most importantly, serving the Lord with their gifts.
Listening to Majestic was an experience in itself. The range of subjects, songs, instruments, and stories effortlessly came together in a way that invoked happiness and trust in the Lord's provisions.
Redefining Worship Music | Posted September-08-2014
Seeker & Servant debuts their first album Into your Love I Go with an impressive amount of vulnerability. Their goal of bringing a fresh approach to Christian music is met by their raw and honest lyrics mixed with a catchy sound. Avid listeners of Mumford & Sons and Rend Collective Experiment will be particularly pleased with their electric blend of acoustic folk rock.
The album starts on a high note with the energetic "How Deep the Father's Love for Us," an upbeat track praising God for setting us free. Musically, this is the strongest track on the album. Their blend of music and vocals creates a contagious excitement for worship.
Throughout the rest of the album, it's very obvious that band members Cameron, Chandler and Kody want to glorify God with their music. It's refreshing to listen to music with such authenticity and simplicity. "Our Souls Cry" exemplifies the major theme of praising God in the storm with the lyrics "He still shines / even when the dark is near." The more bubbly track "In Awe" also professes "through death and through life / We'll be lifting your name high."
"Let Me Not" is without a doubt my favorite song on this album. With just a few lines of lyrics, it is impossible not to feel the cries of their hearts to "let me not forget your love / it's all I have." This song jumps out among the others because of the vulnerability shown in the lyrics: "Why has my heart grown hard? / Soften it." The music on this ballad compliments the lyrics flawlessly and makes it a perfect song to listen to if you're struggling with doubt or insecurity.
The second major theme is simply praising God for who He is. The songs "Into Your Love I Go," "Our Greatest Joy" and "Coming Like a Fire" are tracks that you are most likely going to be singing for the rest of the day. These energetic tracks showcase the diverse musical ability of Seeker & Servant while being consistent with their straightforward lyrics.
What I most admire about Into Your Love I Go is how it's an intimate look into the hearts of the group. The lyrics present a new level of relatability to worship music that truly puts the focus on God. It's a great start for the newly formed band, and I see more potential to be tapped into for future projects.
More Praises Than Arrows | Posted August-22-2014
Inspired by the Lion of War book series, Praise & Arrows is an adrenaline-infused multi-style compilation. From Pillar's hardcore rock anthem "Lions Lead the Way" to the subtle cry of "Psalm 121" by All Sons & Daughters, listeners will be left energized and ready to take on a battle of their own.
"Day of War" perfectly captures the energy and purpose of the compilation. It's hard to sit still while listening to this intensely motivating Stellar Kart opener. The lyrics emphasize resilience and standing strong in the face of opposition, "The fear is deafening / but I can hear You whispering in my soul / Don't lose hope / I will not retreat / You are here with me." The combination of powerful lyrics and exceptional music has made "Day of War" one of my favorite songs.
The harmonies of All Sons & Daughters are flawless, and "Psalm 121" immediately caught my attention. The duo musically sets the mood perfectly for the biblical lyrics: "I lift my head up to the hills and that is where my help comes from / I don't have to be afraid / I'll never be afraid / I will find You and be still / and I know that you are here / I can hear you in the whispers / I will find you and be still. Lord you are watching over me and give me faith." This song is a beautiful, soothing overflow of praise for a God who will never give up on us.
"Prayer For a Warrior" takes on the imagery of war with spectacular lyrics. You can just about feel the desperation of a people during a war season when Kerrie Roberts croons "Oh Mighty God, Faithful God, Eternal God / Oh Holy One, Savior / Oh you care for us, shelter us, deliver us / Oh Holy One, Savior." The way Kerrie brings an element of vulnerability into the lyrics is astounding and empowering.
Fans of pop/rock music will be particularly pleased with Praise & Arrows. I loved how there was a mixture of faster, blood-pumping songs ("20:17") and comforting ballads ("The Covering"). It truly made listening to Praise & Arrows more exciting and interesting. The lyrical content is motivational, inspirational and balances perfectly with the message of praise. This compilation is perfect for trying to find peace in life's turbulence.
Song to Download:
"Strong Enough" by Hawk Nelson (Get it on iTunes here.)