Christopher and Jennifer Christopher and Jennifer Hopper have been creating music and touring for over a decade, leading worship in North America, Latin America and Europe. They are beloved at festivals for their congregational...
Children of God
Phil Phil Wickham has been a household name in the worship genre for years-- and for good reason. The California-raised singer/songwriter has released eight albums since 2003, with each album receiving well-earned...
Worship Meets Theological History | Posted August-30-2016
With first single "I Surrender" already released, Poets & Saints is set to release this September as All Sons & Daughters' fourth album. Leslie Jordan and David Leonard are at it again with this speculative worship album, which began as a Bible study and transformed into a theological and historical musical journey worth every second of the album's running time. After following the lives of multiple theologians, writers and saints in Europe, the pair came back with their pastor and the album was born, along with an accompanying video series and book.
The album opens with the ambient "Heaven Meets Earth," which tells of Creation in hushed but still voluminous worship. It's so very easy to get lost in the beauty of the first song that it almost seems like an immediate transition into "I Surrender," the second track, which was inspired by the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Most songs following "Heaven Meets Earth" pay homage to different poets and saints of history. "Path of Sorrow" connects us to the mindset of William Cowper, while "My Roving Heart" points us to John Newton. "You Are Love and Love Alone," with its contagious musicality and simple lyrics, is a tribute to Saint Therese, adapted from a hymn written by Frederic William Farrar.
"I Wait" is inspired by George McDonald, the impactful pastor and author who inspired later authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. "Rest In You" takes its inspiration from the intensity and authenticity of St. Augustine and his Confessions, repeating well-loved quotes in a stripped-down performance. The album closes out with "You Hold It All Together" and "Creation Sings," which take the route we know All Sons & Daughters best for: folksy, harmony-happy worship.
The Bottom Line:Poets & Saints, All Sons & Daughters' fourth studio album, is not only a history lesson combined with worship, but it also experiments with combining several musical elements: jazz, folk, bluegrass, country and contemporary worship. Jordan and Leonard have crafted a beautiful album well worth listening to again-- and again and again!
Congregational Rock-And-Worship | Posted August-22-2016
Christopher and Jennifer Hopper have been creating music and touring for over a decade, leading worship in North America, Latin America and Europe. They are beloved at festivals for their congregational worship style. This month, the Hoppers are back with their first album in six years, Awaken.
As world-trekking performers, parents, producers and bloggers, the Hoppers are still highly meticulous in their songwriting, carefully crafting each song for theological soundness and sincerity. As they wrote each track on Awaken, they "tested the waters" by playing every new song in worship at their church. The end result of the care they bestowed is a well-developed album with strongly theological lyrics and a rock-and-roll feel reminiscent of classic rock.
Each song on Awaken flows into the following one seamlessly, making it fantastic to worship along to or great as background listening material. The track which easily stands out the most is the Hoppers' personal favorite, "Let The Church Arise," which also got its own music video.
The Bottom Line: The Hoppers have wonderfully compensated for their six-year break with their new album Awaken, out now. Although not really set apart from other recent worship releases, their meticulous songwriting style results in flawless, easy-to-follow, congregational worship songs enjoyable for every generation.
Contemporary Worship Mastery | Posted April-14-2016
Phil Wickham has been a household name in the worship genre for years-- and for good reason. The California-raised singer/songwriter has released eight albums since 2003, with each album receiving well-earned acclaim and offering additions to church worship sets. His ninth album, Children of God, releases on April 22, and it is certain to be as deeply beloved as previous projects.
Over the years, Wickham has crafted a consistent, intelligently-developed musical style, which has made his radio singles mainstays in corporate worship. Children of God maintains this style, and it works perfectly. It delivers music that is both current in style and lyrically authentic.
The album opens with "Doxology//Amen," Wickham's own version of the classic hymn with a few updates. With the perfect blend of guitar and synthesizers, the song takes on a beautifully modern aura. This particular worshipful atmosphere is continued throughout the album, particularly in songs such as "My All In All," "Starmaker (High Above The Earth)," "Stand In Awe" and "As It Is In Heaven."
There are also several songs full of upbeat enthusiasm: "Better Than Life," "Your Love Awakens Me" and the title track, "Children of God," to name a few. The tenth song on the album, "Body Mind & Soul," carries a slightly more powerful tone, with driving guitars and pounding percussion to set the mood.
Perhaps one of the most unique features about Phil Wickham's albums is his beautifully ethereal voice. His voice is complemented by artist Madison Cunningham in "The Secret Place," and it shines beautifully in the exit track "Spirit Of God." The album ends on a gorgeous, masterfully worshipful note-- much like the way it began, and much as it was throughout.
The Bottom Line: Much like Phil Wickham's previous albums, Children of God is a force to be reckoned with. With sincerity and modernity merging into a beautiful display of love for God, you'll find yourself coming back for a second listen... and probably a thousand more.
Powerfully Honest Worship Debut | Posted March-14-2016
After spending a difficult season separately touring on their own musical paths, newlywed worship duo Austin and Lindsey Adamec (formerly a part of 1 Girl Nation) recently realized their dream of combining their path into one journey. Out of this realization was birthed a strong, honest, self-titled worship EP, which comes out March 25.
The EP is full of promise and delivers well. It opens with "Walk On Waves," a song born out of the struggle the Adamecs faced as separately touring newlyweds. The song takes inspiration from the story of Peter walking on waves, and the alternative pop-worship sound of the track supports the music well.
"Walk On Waves" is followed by "It Is Finished," a beautiful uplifting song of praise to Jesus for the work done on the Cross. Later in the album, a similar declaration of authority is found in "Infinite Grace," while "Lost In You" is a simple, beautiful worship song.
The strongest track on the EP comes at the midpoint. "Maker Of Miracles" is a compelling prayer of faith with a powerful backstory-- it comes from Lindsey's aunt and father both being diagnosed with cancer. After praying over her father and trusting in one of the core foundational verses for the song (Psalm 77:14), the tumor originally discovered was found to be no longer be present. The project closes with the enthusiastic, joyful "Oh Liberty," a bonus track.
The Bottom Line: Amidst all of the fantastic worship music being released in 2016, Austin and Lindsey Adamec's self-titled EP deserves a listen-- or ten. We're looking forward to worshiping with these two even more in the future.
Worship For The Next Generation | Posted February-18-2016 Hillsong Young & Free, one of the most recent creations of the powerful worship ministry that has grown from Hillsong Church in Australia, is a group with a specific goal in mind: coming together to make worship music for youth and young adults. From the release of their debut project We Are Young & Free, this goal has been honored. Their sophomore release, Youth Revival, does not disappoint in meeting and exceeding expectations for that same mission.
Youth Revival delivers sincere worship packaged into a modern sound, geared towards the next generation of young believers. With bright, energetic loops and dance-worthy beats opening the album with songs such as "Where You Are," "Real Love" and even the slower "Only Wanna Sing," the album takes off with a running start. The midsection of Youth Revival journeys down a different path, heading into more deliberate worship-- even merging the sound from earlier in the album with more of the trademark Hillsong sound in "Never Alone" and "When The Fight Calls," although the latter concludes with an effective rallying cry meant to stir up the worshipers.
The back half of the album toes the line between the mix of styles from the first two sections. "Falling Into You" and radio hit "This Is Living" cross into ecstatic rejoicing over the freedom of life with Christ, while "In Your Eyes" and "Passion" decelerate back into ardent worship while maintaining the pop sound consistent with the beginning of the album. The album closes with the radio version of the opening track "Where You Are."
The Bottom Line: Hillsong Young & Free's Youth Revival packages worship into modern, youth-friendly music, matching the popular style of today's music in its own unique way.
A Promising Beginning | Posted February-08-2016
For Louisiana siblings Kellie and Kristen Fuselier, a God-given passion for worship has been the driving force in life as they have led worship together for over ten years. Though both twins successfully graduated college in their own unique fields, the call God laid on their hearts led them back to their first love, inspiring the release of their debut EP We Receive in January.
Kristen's intricate instrumental work beautifully complements Kellie's rich, powerful vocals. Each song is brimming with scripture, put together in such a way that it would be difficult to not reflect on the truths being spoken and rejoice. The slightly quicker opening song on the album, "Kingdom Reign," is an excellent way to kick things off, and sets the tone for the remainder of the album. The sincerity and passion in songs such as "Ever Faithful" and "Only Jesus" are deeply stirring.
The consistency of the project's tempo and key suits the duo's goal to present scripture in such a way that it's both informing and invokes worship, as well as exhibiting Kellie's power as a vocalist. Songs like "You Are" and "We Receive" provide sound theology and honest pleas for God's glory to be known in a refreshing light. The final song on the album, "Draw Near," showcases Kristen's elegant piano work underneath powerful words of praise, closing out the album on a strong note.
The Bottom Line: Sincerity, theology and elegance are the best words to describe Kellie and Kristen's debut EP. It is a wonderfully promising start to their career, and we look forward to seeing their horizons expand.
Promising Worship Roots | Posted January-29-2016
For Kentucky native John Tibbs, the simple sound of southern heartland rock roots seems to be the most natural way to preach the gospel. It works for him, too-- the 25-year-old's three independent extended plays, released between 2010 and 2013, were incredibly well-received, landing him a tour with Audrey Assad, as well as opening slots for Tenth Avenue North and Gungor on different occasions. It was the natural next step that he'd sign with Fair Trade Services in 2015 to release his first studio album, Dead Man Walking, on February 5th.
The first half of Dead Man Walking is about as stripped-down musically as it gets for Christian music these days without going full on acoustic, which suits the album incredibly well and remains true to John's musical style. The album is introduced with four quick, optimistic tracks: "Silver In Stone," "Abraham," "Burn" and "Anchor," maintaining a strong heartland sound combined with biblically-inspired praise. The title track "Dead Man Walking" (which features Ellie Holcomb) feels like a modernized take on swinging southern-gospel music, making it incredibly unique to the album.
The second half of the album takes on a life of its own. While it attempts to stays in line with the style of the first five songs, the last five tracks are reminiscent of a standard worship night (a little more pop, some quick and some slow) with a southern twist. John makes this his own with powerful and well-written lyrics in songs such as "Everything I Need:" "I will tell the mountain to be cast into the sea / I will see You in the ocean's roar and know Your perfect peace / As I cry out from the desert, living waters rise in me / No, I will not fear / You are everything I need."
The Bottom Line:
With profound lyrics and a unique musical style, John Tibbs' first studio album is worth a listen-- and a second listen-- and many more. This is a promising debut, and it will definitely not be the last we hear from him!
Congregational Worship At Its Best | Posted January-15-2016
Isaiah 26:8 reads, "Yes Lord, walking in the way of Your truth we wait eagerly for You, for Your name and renown are the desire of our souls." This verse has been the theme of Passion Conferences for years, and the verse fits beautifully into who they are as a group. The collective that is Passion has been revered by the Christian music world for years, and with good reason. The brainchild of ardent public speaker and pastor Louie Giglio, Passion has been releasing a live worship recording annually almost every year since the Passion Conference's conception in 1997. Each album is enthusiastically received and well-loved by believers worldwide. Their latest album, Salvation's Tide Is Rising, was digitally released on New Year's Day, and its songs are sure to quickly become radio and worship staples.
Salvation's Tide Is Rising features a number of sixstepsrecords artists such as Crowder, Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill. It also covers a number of musical styles throughout the album, culminating in the very powerful and intricately communal worship experience that is so unique to the Passion Conferences. Tracks such as "Salvation's Tide" (featuring Kristian Stanfill) and "My Victory" (featuring Crowder) open with a glossy, upbeat and alternative sound, perfect to capture attention and prepare fiery hearts for worship. "Surrender," much later in the worship set, maintains the alternative beats at a slower tempo as it focuses on surrendering oneself wholly to God. Other songs, such as "God And God Alone" (featuring Chris Tomlin) and "Remember" (featuring Brett Younker), deliver a very familiar sound with powerful calls to praise, invoking passionate congregational worship in their own way.
Although the entire album is spectacular, one song in particular which stands out within the set is "All We Sinners," featuring Crowder's vocals. The song feels like a mashup of a contemplative original hymn and a folk song, reminiscent of the legacy Crowder himself left behind in his worship-leading days at University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas-- a style the church's worship team still honors to this day. The song's refrain, simple but authoritative, says "Saved, we are saved / The gates of heaven wide open / Saved, we are saved / The keys to the grave have been stolen," a strong reminder that in our sin and death, we were rescued at the perfect moment by a perfect Savior.
The Bottom Line:
Passion Conference is highly esteemed in the Christian world, and with albums like new Salvation's Tide Is Rising, it shouldn't be any other way.
Flawless Live Worship | Posted December-03-2015
Iconic Georgia-based group Casting Crowns has been a household name in the Christian music world since 2003, with good reason. The group has released successful album after successful album, and Mark Hall's knack for tackling real-world thoughts and emotions (as well as his own personal battles) through song is astounding and noteworthy. Although the band has released two live albums from various tours, the one thing they've yet to do is a live fully worship-focused album. Recently, they finally waded into those waters with A Live Worship Experience, and the result was worth it.
A Live Worship Experience, like everything Casting Crowns puts out, provides a little something for everyone. There are emotionally hard-hitting songs such as "Just Be Held," "The Well" and "You Are The Only One," which provide reminders that God is the only One who holds our entire lives in His hands--a truth that is immensely comforting. There are also moments of energetic worship, such as "No Not One," which has the traditional high-energy tempo of contemporary worship while expressing the uniquely great love of Christ.
The band also featured three covers on their worship album: "Good Good Father," "Great Are You Lord" and their own version of David Crowder Band's "Here's My Heart." These three songs are fantastic for the worship set, played in typical Casting Crowns style-- simple, musically organized, but powerful nonetheless, making these covers a great addition.
The band ends the set with two of their newest hits, "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" and "Thrive," as well as with a monologue from Mark Hall talking about the first song. These two songs are great live, with "Thrive" being an interesting journey into the folk-pop style which graces the radio these days-- something that another song on the album, "Called Me Higher," also explores.
Casting Crowns has delivered yet another spectacular album-- this time, it's live worship, and it's definitely worth hearing.
Positive Pop Debut | Posted November-16-2015
A record deal with Word Entertainment. A radio single, "You Are Loved," released July 10. Winter Jam Tour west coast in 2015 with east coast upcoming in 2016. Needless to say, it's been a busy year for Stars Go Dim. The Tulsa-based group, who has been active and touring on and off since 2007, also released its major debut album Stars Go Dim on October 30. According to the band, "Here's what Stars Go Dim is in 2015 and moving into the future: a four-man collective forging like-minded modern pop, infused with both deep meaning and well-honed fun, merging layers of guitars, keys, loops and percussion to convey timeless messages."
Self-titled debut Stars Go Dim reinforces this statement of identity quite well. It is fun, energetic pop-- yet it is also powerfully put together in such a way to bring hope to the listener. There are songs which convey positive encouragement of the listener's identity and strength in Christ, like "Stars" and radio single "You Are Loved," to name a few.
There are also songs with a slower, more worshipful aura to the lyrics, such as "All I Have" and "Morning Star." "Where You Are" and "Alive In You" add more upbeat loops to create fun yet meaningful worship songs. The album continues with its positive messages in songs such as "Here," which is a proclamation of faith that Jesus is close to those who are desperate for His love.
The opening track of the album is lead singer Chris Cleveland's remake of the historic Doxology. "Doxology" was created for Cleveland's church and was never actually intended to be on the album. It's a good thing it made it however, as it is a stunning opener which sets the tone of the album perfectly.
The members of Stars Go Dim are no strangers to the Christian music world, and it shows. Their debut album is a polished, spiritual, yet fun pop album. Combinations such as this can be difficult to maintain, but it is executed beautifully by the group. Be sure to pick up a copy of Stars Go Dim, and check out the band on a Winter Jam date near you!