A Captivating Collection | Posted October-29-2020 What You Need To Know
Caitie Hurst has been releasing music since her debut EP in 2018, when her songs took the Christian pop scene by storm. Before that, she led worship and worked in youth ministry for years. So when the time came to release her own music, she knew what she wanted to accomplish. In her words, "I want to create music that has cool beats, but that ultimately it's the word of God within the songs making the impact."
Caitie released a Christmas single two years ago as well as a remix of one of her most popular songs "How Could I Be Silent." During the past several months, she has been releasing singles leading up to her new EP, At All Times.
What It Sounds Like
Caitie's singing is truly beautiful and it is the distinctive highlight of the EP's sound. She has an amazing vocal range that stretches high and low as it follows the melody. It gives the EP a noteworthy feel that really connects with the listener. In the instrumental sense, the synth, piano, and light drums are the perfect backdrop to these songs. However, recent fans of Caitie's might be surprised at the more contemporary direction of this collection of songs versus the pop-heavy direction that launched her career a short time back. She plays in both genres well.
This album is built on the foundation of God's truth and love. It focuses on how our Heavenly Father is always here to save us no matter what we do. He loves us and brings us peace when we need it most. He truly is our Savior and His vastness can sometimes be hard to wrap our minds around. These lyrics from "Limitless" perfectly capture the awe and majesty of our God: "Your love is limitless, limitless/ I'm never going to see the end/and there's no stopping it, stopping it/ It surrounds me everywhere I am."
Best Song On The Record
It was really hard to choose my favorite song on this EP because all five of them blew me away! In the end, though, I would have to say that "Recover" is the best one. Caitie poured her heart into it (and all of the other songs as well), and I can feel her passion reverberating in each beat. Her faithfulness and love of God shine throughout every part of this song. I identify with her struggle of letting go of the past, but I also connect with her surrender. God takes away all of the "should have, could have, and would have." He makes us new and this song is a great reminder of His never-ceasing love.
This EP has catchy beats and powerful messages that are definitive to Christian music. However, it also has a little something extra thrown in. It is that "Caitie Hurst style" that makes this EP unique. I definitely recommend giving it a listen and adding it to your playlists.
You can find it on iTunes and Spotify when it releases on October 30th.
The Christmas Cheer | Posted October-29-2020 What You Need to Know
Unspoken has been around for a while now, but that doesn't mean their music has lost its flair. In fact, their fan base seems to grow with each album, and for good reason. Their music draws listeners in with upbeat tunes and provides a great message about our light in the darkness: God. The band is currently made up of Chad Mattson, Jon Lowry, and Ariel Munoz, although the members have changed throughout the years. Many hits have come from this group including "Reason," "Start a Fire," and "You've Always Been." They are a mix of several genres, mostly residing in the Christian pop scene, but appealing to all types of listeners. As we move toward the holiday season, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look at their most recent Christmas EP, Good News.
What it Sounds Like
This EP has truly captured everything that defines Christmas music. It has the chorusing voices of beautiful church choirs. It includes traditional lyrics and joyful instruments to accompany them. When the album begins, it sounds like any other Christmas album. However, they quickly transition it into an original work with a dance-worthy feel that is unique to this band alone.
As stated by the name, this focuses on the good news of Christmas and how God has answered our prayers. This year has truly thrown a weight on all our shoulders and it may be a struggle to look up to our Creator. This EP is timely and reminds us of what we should be celebrating this Christmas season. Instead of looking down in despair, look up in love. There is good news and much rejoicing to be done! Luke 2:10 is more relevant than ever today. "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'"
The best song on this EP is "Christmas Everyday." I loved its cheerful sound and it left me smiling from ear to ear. The band clearly loaded this song up with happiness and it is contagious! Not only does it have a catchy rhythm, but it also contains an important message that we need to focus on. "All year we should remember/Remember how blessed we are."
Although it is tempting to want to completely skip the rest of 2020 and go straight to 2021, God doesn't want us to do that. He wants us to enjoy what we have in front of us right now instead of worrying about the experiences yet to come. There is no better way to do that than celebrating the good news of God. This is the perfect EP to accompany tree-decorating and cocoa-drinking as we enter into the holidays!
Peace in the Storm | Posted October-07-2020 What You Need To Know
Austin and Lindsey Adamec are community names in the Jacksonville, Florida area. For three years, they have opened up their home for monthly worship gatherings. This has provided a source of hope and a deeper connection with God to those who attend. It was not always this way, though. For several years, they lived in Nashville in pursuit of individual careers. However, they felt a push from God to return to Florida where they became worship pastors at Christ's Church in Jacksonville.
The duo faced obstacles when they expanded their ministry to include maximum security prison campuses and public pavilions. There was resistance from religious protestors. But, to Austin and Lindsey, it was just a confirmation from God. He taught them that He can and will work anywhere. It was that confirmation that spurred the idea to begin monthly home worship gatherings.
Their website says that these worship meetings have become a "life source for many people across the greater Jacksonville area" and they have grown "beyond expectation." Austin and Lindsey Adamec have spread their passion outside the church walls and should be an inspiration to all of us who aspire to live by the statement: "the church is more than just Sunday."
What it Sounds Like
The tracks have a beautiful layering of drums and guitar that work together to enhance the "acoustic session" feel. Interspersed between the beating and strumming is the sound of a tambourine, which provides a perfect instrumental background. It transports the listener to a gathering of church worship and truly gives the album a feel of community. The voices of Austin and Lindsey turn over each other, harmonizing together to create magnificent duets.
Their vocals transition seamlessly between high and low notes while still remaining connected to the melody. There is a classic church feel embedded inside this album, conveyed by the applause, chorusing voices, and soft prayers heard in the background. This live audience gives it an energetic feel of connection and it makes for some songs your foot can't resist tapping to. The dynamics of this album are perfectly crafted; the songs flow like a river from soft to loud, energetic to reflective, and everything in between.
This album is deeply rooted in spiritual truth and has a foundation on the Word of God. The heartfelt emotions that accompany true surrender pour out of this album as Austin and Lindsey sing about giving it all up to the Lord. The lyrics acknowledge that He is our rock; His presence is here among us and we are here solely for Him.
In "Can't Deny It," Austin sings, "You made this prisoner an heir to glory." The final sentence before the bridge really resonates with me. God is here for us and sometimes it takes a little nudge to remember that. For me, this album was the nudge that brought me back to the simple concept of His peace in the storm. It was a pull out of the crazy world for a moment and a turn back to God.
After this album, there is no doubt that every listener will leave with new hope. That new hope and awe of God's love could not be better stated than in the chorus of "Can't Deny It:" I can't deny it/This love that's coming after me.
Each song affected me deeply. So, it was difficult to pick one out above the rest. After some thought, I would say that "As For Me and My House" feels like a grand finale. Lindsey starts the song with a soft, sweet melody that took my breath away on her high notes. It later expands into a joyful collection of voices singing a promise over their lives. They take the Joshua 24:15 verse and give it a song: "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." The emotion perfectly escalates in this song like the stairway to heaven, and it ends with a final declaration of faith as the album closes.
This album is an exemplary standout project in this year of uncharted territory and is a respite from the overwhelming business of day-to-day life. Austin and Lindsey truly took praise and surrender to the next level. Their overflowing passion is contagious; this album provides a worship experience that is different from all the rest in the best way possible.
I have looked around me in 2020 and I've seen fights. I've seen sickness and I've seen violence. I have seen so many awful things that sometimes recovery feels impossible. But, in this album, I see hope. The disagreements rage around me, but they are silenced in the presence of the Lord. This album is a gift of peace and light in a time of division and hate; it provides me with optimism as I look forward to a new day.
Simply Stunning | Posted July-15-2020 What You Need to Know
Dan Bremnes entered the music scene professionally 10 years ago, but he has actually been playing music since he was three years old. He originally wanted to be a drummer, until he branched out in his teen years to guitar playing and songwriting. He found that he enjoyed all of it. At first, he was skeptical of the idea of playing Christian music for a living. However, God came through with some heavenly confirmation and it was set. Now, he has released four albums, a documentary, and completed Winter Jam, Christian music's largest annual tour. He has also toured with bands like Jars of Clay and MercyMe.
What it Sounds Like
When I saw that Dan's latest, Wherever I Go (Acoustic Sessions) were acoustic sessions, I thought I had the sound immediately figured out. Acoustic simply means a guitar and singing, right? It wasn't until I took 10 minutes to sit down and just focus on what was coming through my headphones that I found out I have a lot to learn. I realized that this record holds so much more than a voice and a guitar. It's a beautiful melody of a keyboard, light drums, a soulful voice, and, of course, the guitar chords. As for the guitar itself, I loved how the chords carried the songs, but individual notes accentuated the most important lyrics.
Through these 10 songs, Dan hits on a lot of biblical points and messages. The one that stood out the most was in the song "The Way (Acoustic)." Dan reminds us that we don't always get what we want, but we have God and that's enough. We're blessed to get the opportunity to bask in the presence of a God who loves us so much. “How You Love Me (Acoustic)” builds on a common awe factor of Christianity. How does God love us so much when we're so broken? He keeps coming back and for that reason we praise Him. My favorite lyrical message is in "The Way (Acoustic)" when Dan says, “You never let me go even when it hurts.” Amen.
Best Song on the Record
I always admit a little bias to songs with heavy keys and drums because I play both instruments. Therefore, I immediately fell in love with “Wherever I Go (Acoustic).” It has a beautiful piano introduction and gentle cymbals throughout the song. I heard the previous, more poppy, version of the song. It's different, yet perfect in its own way. "Wherever I Go (Acoustic)" has an amazing message of hope. It reminds us that God is always with us--no matter where we go. The song serves as a reminder of His love that I personally needed, so I appreciated the thoughtful lyrics.
Wherever I Go (Acoustic Sessions) contains many questions and answers, all of them relatable. Dan has been providing hope and joy through his music for 10 years and this album is no different. Dan said previously that even though we claim our dreams, they are actually God's: "He made You. You are a dream. You're a walking dream." I love that reminder. His whole heart went into this project; these acoustic sessions are so much more than just simply "a guitar and singing." They are a demonstration of his passion and faith and the only simple thing about it is that I "simply" loved it.
A Message Of Praise: | Posted June-23-2020 What You Need to Know:
Mack Brock has been a part of the worship world for more than fifteen years. His many talents include producing, singing, and songwriting; all of which he has contributed to Elevation Worship for over a decade. If his name doesn't ring a bell, what about these songs? "O Come To The Altar," "Here As In Heaven," "Resurrecting," "Do It Again." At some point or another, we have all probably heard these praises on the radio or joined in their choruses at church. Brock was a major part of the writing process for all four. Recently, however, he has decided to branch out further into the music world by beginning a solo career. He released his first single, "Greater Things," followed up by an album, both in 2018. He has continued strong with several singles and live songs last year and two singles that led up to his recent release, This is Your Promise EP.
What It Sounds Like:
This EP relies heavily on keys and drums to carry the songs through the verses. Similar to Elevation Worship, the EP balances a modern electronic sound with a traditional worship feel. Compared to the studio versions on this album, the singles leading up to this EP were all live, which sets the album apart from his work during the past year. Regardless of this difference, the songs keep their roots in conventional praise and worship and will make you want to lift your hands up and praise God from the very first song.
Upon release, Mack Brock made a few comments on social media pertaining to the EP. "I hope these songs meet you right where you're at," Matt shares, "and that they speak to you in this season. His promises are certain, his word is true." Brock's hope for this album has definitely been fulfilled as can be seen through the lyrics. He encourages the listener that God is still in control and we have nothing to fear; He is vast and we are small. Several spiritual references can be found within the lyrics such as Psalm 121 and Psalm 146:10, both of which emphasize the title of the second song, "You Reign."
Best Song on the Record:
The best song on the record is "I Lift My Eyes." In the beginning, an upbeat drum sound gives you a feeling of dance-inducing joy. The keys are able to slow it down perfectly for the bridge, a time of reflection, before it picks up again to finish strong. The lyrics portray a message of hope and love, providing the listener with what feels like a bear hug of comfort. All of this coming through my headphones at the same time, provided me with a worship experience I will not soon forget.
Mack Brock said he wanted to write this EP as a reminder that the Lord still has power and authority and is right here with us. That truth resonates deeply in these four songs and is worth a listen for those suffering and thriving alike. After listening to this EP, no matter who you are, no matter your life situation, you will be singing praises to our great Lord.