MarkRyan_NRT's Music and Book Reviews
Return To MarkRyan_NRT's Profile
    Join The NRTeam
ADVERTISEMENT
Latest Music and Book Reviews
Hollows by Lion & Bear Hollows by Lion & Bear
What You Need To Know
Brothers-in-law Andrew Enos and Michael Landingham, also...
Songs For The Simple Gathering: Vol. 1 EP by KingsPorch Songs For The Simple Gathering: Vol. 1 EP by KingsPorch
What You Need To Know 
KingsPorch,...
A Song of Ascent (Deluxe) by Emilie A Song of Ascent (Deluxe) by Emilie

What You Need To Know
Christian artist Emile...


Showing 1-10 of 126 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews
The Hollowest Times Are Filled With The Presence Of God | Posted July-26-2021
What You Need To Know

Brothers-in-law Andrew Enos and Michael Landingham, also known as Lion & Bear, bring us Hallows, their new full-length album. The songs explore the breadth and depth of God from His greatness to His steadfast love, especially in times of tragedy and loss.

    

What It Sounds Like

The first track "Stillness" is an anthemic declaration of God's ever-present love in our lives, that especially shows up in the times when we are willing to be still. The vocals and lyrics shine throughout the album. "Held By Your Love" is an acoustic worship ballad reminiscent of the band The Brilliance. At moments, the instrumentation and vocals are sweet, something you can rest in, the song ebbs and flows, with purposeful moments of rest. 



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights

"Held By Your Love" is written from a place of tragedy. It's an earnest prayer exalting the promises of God. The chorus repeats "How could I forget all Your promises/And all that You've done, I'm held by your love." It helps us to remember who God is even in our times of struggle and stress when it feels as though no one else cares.



Best Song

Each song on the album holds a place in the central theme of grief and God's promises and steadfast love within those times. "Lighthouse" sums up the perfect metaphor for these times. The chorus rings out "I've been shipwrecked and lost at sea/Nothing held me back from following/Your voice brought light in the dark/A haven shining from the shore/You're my lighthouse." I personally cannot think of a better metaphor for God and a reflection of Psalm 119:105.



For Fans Of

NEEDTOBREATHE, John Mark McMillan, The Brilliance, Kings Kaleidoscope

 

Final Word

As I listened through this album in preparing to write this review, I was spinning my legs, preparing for an endurance cycling event. The thought of stillness was furthest from my mind, but yet, I was struck that even in our times of hardest effort, we have to still our minds to let God speak to us. It's when He speaks to us in those hardest of times that we can press on with His promises firmly in our hearts. Christian music exists not only to uplift God, but to uplift the people who are listening to the music. Lion & Bear, from their combined life experience and losses suffered, have given us a soundtrack to remember God and to know that we are never alone in times of grief.


 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Worship For Such A Time As This | Posted May-05-2021
What You Need To Know 

KingsPorch, a worship collective based in Austin, Texas, recently released their first EP on BEC Recordings. Songs for the Simple Gatherings: Volume 1, the first in a series, is a collection of five deeply intimate, acoustic worship tracks that fit with the ethos of KingsPorch, that is an elder lead church that meets in smaller intimate groups in houses.

   

What It Sounds Like

The group of worshippers from KingsPorch delivers beautifully crafted worship songs that focus on the wonder and beauty of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The songs are all acoustic with a penchant for harmonies. They are songs that you immerse yourself in to sing along with.



Spiritual Highlights

"Saints & Angels" gives us a picture of the familiar scene from Revelation 4:5-10. The refrain of the song states, "All the earth will cry out holy/All of heaven cries out holy/Saints and angels cry out holy/Is the Lord our God." There is no other scene in the Bible that epitomizes the worship in heaven like this passage. And, to have a song that brings that to life is a glorious reminder.



Best Song

In the midst of a laid-back acoustic set, "Worthy Are You," drops it down another notch. The cello and violin ground the harmonies in vocals and, in a way, encourages the listener to stop, listen, and allow their heart and mind to focus on the beauty and worthiness of Jesus.



For Fans Of

Brian & Jenn Johnson, Shane & Shane, The McClures, Matt Maher

 

Final Word

Recently, in my home province of Alberta, Canada, the government announced stricter Covid regulations due to the province having the highest case rate per 100,000 in all of North America. Our churches have been limited to 15 people. This EP, Songs for the Simple Gatherings: Volume 1, comes at a much-needed time when people crave worship in larger gatherings. This EP will be able to minister to those who must isolate at home or have to scale back their gatherings to immediate family or perhaps just a small cohort of families. It can be difficult to translate large-scale worship to a more intimate setting. But, with this album, KingPorch has done it for us.


 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
The Presence on the Mountaintop | Posted April-27-2021

What You Need To Know

Christian artist Emile Weiss originally released the A Song Of Ascent as an EP in 2017. In this 2021 deluxe version, we get the six original tracks from the 2017 release–with some minor arrangement and feature changes. And, let's add remixes, unplugged, live, and reimagined studio versions for good measure.



What It Sounds Like

Emilie delivers breathy vocals along with an incredible vocal range, which layers over indie-folk instrumentation. The instrumentation throughout the album is string-based–guitar, piano, harp, orchestral strings, and so on. The arrangements are pleasant and pair well with the singer’s voice.



Spiritual Highlights

Although the entire album is focused solely on bringing glory to God and drawing closer to the Father, certain tracks carry heavier theological themes than others. A perfect example is on “Heaven’s King.” The opening verse says, “Heaven's King who lived to die/Made lame to walk and blind to see/And unto death He reconciled/The stony heart to God the King.” The main refrain says, “Hallelujah, King forever/Now I live for Him alone.” This is a beautiful song for Easter, a season that lives throughout the year for those of us who claim God as our Father.



Best Song

“A Song of Ascent” is such a beautiful song of worship. The simplicity of Emilie’s voice along with the organ, and the purposeful recording quality as though it was recorded in an intimate time of prayer and worship invites us not only into the artist’s heart through the unabashed vulnerability, but also on the journey with her as she ascends a very personal mountain to meet with her Father and receive freedom.



For Fans Of

Steffany Gretzinger, Sarah Reeves, kalley, Page CXVI



Final Word

There are times in our walk with Christ where we want the amped-up worship party which is so easily to come by. But then, at times, we want to sit at the feet of Jesus and just dwell in His presence and allow our spirits to be filled by His. Emilie delivers the latter on A Song of Ascent. Let the music and the lyrics fill your heart as you sit at the feet of your Savior and allow His Spirit to wash over you and His breath to fill your lungs.



Stream the album on Spotify or
Apple Music






Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Worship, Prophecy and Lamentation | Posted March-07-2021
What You Need To Know 

Pat Barrett's sophomore studio release, Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly, is a gift to the church of 17 new worship songs that focus on the person and promises of God. What Barrett delivers is a prophetic album that not only exalts Christ, but also strengthens, encourages, and comforts the listener.     

   

What It Sounds Like

Barrett stays true to the sound that we became familiar with on his self-titled debut and throughout his work as the former lead singer of worship band Housefires. It's a group of songs that feel just right as produced studio tracks and that would pare down to a simple acoustic set.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights

The album and title track carry the key phrase from Micah 6:8 (NIV): "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." "So Real" falls into this category. Barrett questions the things that society treasures and states clearly that what he is waiting for is something "So real, Just You." "By The Spirit" echoes the cry of Zechariah 4:6. "As For Me" features Christian music veteran Chris Tomlin and, as the title suggests, focuses on Joshua 24:15 and encourages us to give in fully to Christ and to see His will done in our homes.



Best Song On The Record

"Lightning," featuring musician Harolddd, falls perfectly in line with the prophetic message of this album. It addresses the current evils of today while, at the same time, encouraging listeners to pray and with a message of "one day all things will be the way it should be." It's a bold song to include on a worship album. But, it goes with the messages throughout, especially to act justly and love mercy. 



For Fans Of

Brian and Jenn JohnsonCody Carnes; Cory Asbury; Chris Tomlin



Final Word

Just as Micah 6:8 is a prophetic word, Barrett gives us a prophetic album that, as 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NIV) puts it, "speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort." Each song fits into at least one of the three categories of justice, mercy, and humility. This isn't merely a worship album for performance on Sundays or for listening to in your vehicle. This is an album of lamentation and heart cry to God.


 



Stream on Spotify or Apple Music.

Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Selah | Posted January-14-2021
What You Need To Know

As a follow up to Chris Renzema's sophomore project, Let The Ground Rest, Let The Ground Rest: B-Sides EP give us two new tracks plus three live versions from the original project including what this reviewer deemed the best songs on the full-length album–"Springtime" and "Let The Ground Rest." 

    

What It Sounds Like

Renzema gives us more folksy, Americana goodness with his crystal clear vocal stylings and fingerpicking acoustic guitar. The two instruments work in perfect balance with one another.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights

"Tear My House Down" talks of the process some of us go through when we give in to what God has called us to. When we are tired of building our own house and we cry out to God to remove what is unwelcome and rebuild us from scratch. This is an honest song and fits perfectly with a cry we have all had at some point. It reminded me of the only New Year's Resolution I ever kept...asking the Lord into my heart on New Year's Eve 1994.



Best Song On The Record

"Mercy" is a perfectly stripped-down track that invites "The rejects, the dropouts/Those used to being passed by/The addicts, the burned out/Who've lost their way so many times'' to find their peace in God. It is not a bold proclamation, just a heartfelt welcome paired with honest worship. This is the Gospel in balance.



For Fans Of

John Mark McMillan; Cody Carnes; Cory Asbury; Josh White

 

Final Word

The album brings comfort in difficult times. It is like sitting in front of a campfire with a group of friends and just opening your heart to friends and to God. Chris Renzema gives us a vulnerability on the new tracks, stripped down to just him and his guitar. The live versions of the tracks from the full-length version add to this with the honest and raw performance.



Stream the album on Spotify and Apple Music.


 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Relationship Highs and Lows | Posted October-24-2020
What You Need To Know

Sarah Reeves is a pop singer whose roots in Christian music go back more than a decade with her first album released in 2009. Her third, and latest project, Life Love & Madness, is a collection of 14 songs that focus on the joy and pain of relationships with others and ourselves.

    

What It Sounds Like

Life Love & Madness is a feel-good pop album. The electronic-driven production gives the listener varying soundscapes from the ethereal electronic feel of 2009: the guitar-led "Heart First," "Anxious" and "Easy to Love" to the deep bass moodiness of "Motions." Throughout the album, the production matches the overall mood of each song, which leads the listener to feel and connect more deeply with the lyrical content. 




Spiritual Highlights

"Anxious" talks about the struggles that many people face in our modern world of 'perfect lives,' as portrayed on social media. Struggles that we don't measure up to others. Reeves says in the second verse, "Devil's running around my mind/Why do I let myself believe the lies?/It's like I'm his playground, push me in the background, and I shut the world out." This inner turmoil is a spiritual struggle that we face today. The song concludes on the bridge where she says, "this is my confession/I'm coming out of hiding." This may not be a clear cry to God, but it is the first step of confessing our struggles, coming out from behind the mask of perfection we have put up in our own lives and asking someone for help.



Best Song

"Motions" changes the album's vibe from upbeat pop to something a little darker and with more emotion. The song makes you stop and listen. It grabs your attention from the start and makes you wonder if perhaps another album is playing. It feels like a complete shift in mood from the upbeat pop song "Drive." It is the first of two tracks where we hear the inner confession of the artist.



For Fans Of:

Hollyn, CASS, Ryan Stevenson

 

Final Word

Sarah gives us an honest and open look at relationships including all of their ups and downs. Tied into a healthy relationship is how each person feels about themselves at any given time and the album explores the madness we can all feel sometimes that impact those around us and impacts our ability to have healthy relationships.



Stream the album on Spotify or purchase on Apple Music.






Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Deep House for Deep 'Renewal' | Posted September-22-2020
What You Need To Know

DJ AJ Mora has been producing and performing house music for more than three decades. A prolific DJ, producer, and remixer, AJ is a legendary pioneer of electronic dance music (EDM). His most recent full-length album, Renewal, is a collection of house and techno-infused tracks that will have you dancing and vibing.

    

What It Sounds Like

Renewal, released on Deeplife Records, is a house album with 15 tracks, three of which are remixes of the modern worship classic, "Reckless Love" featuring AJ's sister Gabee on vocals. The production is clean and the basslines pulsate in typical house music fashion. With the beats per minute staying in a consistent 120 to 125 range, the music is continuous.




Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

The most spiritual song on the album would be the remixes of "Reckless Love." However, with the constant, meditative drums, the entire album can be a spiritual experience. With this in mind, the progressive house track, "Persevere," encourages us that even though in this life we may have many troubles we shall persevere. 



Best Song On The Record

Legendary producer Eddie Amador lends his talents to the album with a remix of "Renewal," which is only available when purchasing the entire album. His treatment increases the tempo from 124 to 126 BPM, which slightly changes the vibe from deep house to house giving it a slightly more uptempo vibe.



For Fans Of

Jesus Love Electro, King Arthur, Kevin Aleksander, Transform

 

Final Word

EDM in its purest form is rarely heard in Christian circles given its relationship to raves and the lifestyle that surrounds such events. EDM, however, influences the majority of pop music and is infused into many worship artists such as Elevation Youth and Hillsong Young & Free. House music, with its inherent repetitive bass and drumlines, allows for meditation and prayer without the interference of vocals. AJ Mora's Renewal is an opportunity for those new to the genre to expand their horizons and incorporate something new into their prayer routines.


 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Worship Reimagined | Posted September-22-2020
What You Need To Know

YouTube sensations, husband and wife team of Caleb + Kelsey Grimm have stormed onto the scene with three full-length worship albums in 2020. This adds to their eight previous albums the duo has released between 2017 and 2019. With more than 500,000 listeners and 130,000 followers on Spotify, Caleb + Kelsey have delivered another collection of worship medleys on Worship Vol. II.

    

What It Sounds Like

Caleb + Kelsey blend songs seamlessly with each one taking on either singular verses of the selected songs or alternating between verses on the song in question and then in beautiful harmony blending on the chorus and then a playful back and forth between songs. The album contains two versions of "Way Maker / Surrounded (Fight My Battles)." They treat the songs with respect and the combinations of songs work surprisingly well. 



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights

All of the songs on the album will be familiar from either your daily drive if you listen to Christian radio or even from your Sunday morning worship services. Caleb + Kelsey give us a full Sunday morning worship service on Worship Vol. II and you can enter into worship with them. 



Best Song On The Record

The standout track is the surprising blend of "Reckless Love / You Say." Caleb gives a subdued vocalization of Cory Asbury's "Reckless Love," while Kelsey belts out Lauren Daigle's "You Say." They come together on what would be the chorus of "Reckless Love."



For Fans Of

Bryan & Katie Torwalt, Brian & Jenn Johnson, Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

 

Final Word

Worship music is a mainstay of Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) now and in many cases is the new definition of CCM, replacing pop or rock. The songs on Worship Vol. II are familiar but reimagined in a way that allows them to stay fresh.


 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
In Your Deepest Hurt God Is There | Posted September-22-2020
What You Need To Know:

Brothers-in-law Andrew Enos and Michael Landingham, also known as Lion & Bear, bring us a fresh, four-track, self-titled EP. The songs explore the breadth and depth of God from His greatness to His steadfast love, especially in times of tragedy and loss.

    

What It Sounds Like:

The first track, "Greater Is He," is a rock worship track reminiscent of NEEDTOBREATHE. "Held By Your Love" is an acoustic worship ballad reminiscent of The Brilliance. At moments the instrumentation and vocals are sweet, something you can rest in, the song ebbs and flows, with purposeful moments of rest. "Lighthouse" gives us another flavor of Lion & Bear, where the vocals shine. 



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights:

"Held By Your Love" is written from a place of tragedy. It is an earnest prayer exalting the promises of God. The chorus repeats "How could I forget all Your promises/And all that You've done/I'm held by your love." It helps us to remember who God is even in our times of struggle and stress when it feels as though no one else cares.



Best Song On The Record:

Each song on the EP holds a place in the central theme of grief and God's promises and steadfast love within those times. "Lighthouse" sums up the perfect metaphor for these times. The chorus rings out "I've been shipwrecked and lost at sea/Nothing held me back from following/Your voice brought light in the dark/A haven shining from the shore/You're my lighthouse." I personally cannot think of a better metaphor for God and a reflection of Psalm 119:105.



For Fans Of:

NEEDTOBREATHEJohn Mark McMillanThe BrillianceKings Kaleidoscope

 

Final Word:

Christian music exists not only to uplift God but to uplift the people who are listening to music. Lion & Bear, from their combined life experience and losses suffered, have given us a soundtrack to remember God and to know that we are never alone in times of grief.

 



Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Take Us To Church | Posted July-30-2020
What You Need To Know


Jesus Culture has been providing the church with worship anthems for a new generation for 20 years. It used to be “youth group” worship. But in 20 years, those youth group members who first sang out new songs from a small church in Redding, California are now leaders of a movement and are the sound of generations. The latest release, Church Volume Two (Live) rounds out a double-length album with Church Volume One (Live) being released earlier this year. 



What It Sounds Like

With original members, Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala still writing music, the “sound” of Jesus Culture remains constant. The unmistakable guitar playing of Jeffrey Kunde is still prevalent throughout and the focus on worship and a true hunger and thirst for the Spirit of God to move on the earth continues to be the key focus.



Spiritual/Lyrical Highlights

As a worship album, the entire album is a spiritual highlight. On “Fearless,” the opening track featuring Kim Walker-Smith, we are welcomed into an atmosphere of worship where we as participants can know that in God we are made fearless. Katie Torwalt’s declaration on “Prophesy Your Promise” gives me chills each time. She declares “Fear can go to hell, shame can go there too, ‘cause I know whose I am, God I belong to you.” There is no more powerful declaration than to firmly proclaim that we belong to God and that His promises are ours.

   

Best Song On The Record

The song on repeat for this reviewer has been “Prophesy Your Promise.” For the sheer reason that this season has been one where God’s promises are the only left to trust in and it is good advice to get into the Word of God so that you can begin to prophesy and pray God’s promises over our lives. 






Final Word

As the members of Jesus Culture age and mature, so does their music. They faithfully carry the message of the Gospel and worship in spirit and in truth.



Stream the album on Spotify and Apple Music today!


 





Comments (0)  |  Add Comment   | Is This Review Helpful? Yes | No
Showing 1-10 of 126 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews

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

ADVERTISEMENTS

Christian Music

©2021 NewReleaseToday
A Division Of NRT Media Inc.

Secure
CHRISTIAN MUSIC

Discover New Artists
New This Week
Coming Soon
Playlists
NEW! Podcasts
Free Music
Album Reviews

NEWS

New Music
Movies / Media
Books
Events
Tours
General

VIDEOS

Music Videos
Exclusives

EXCLUSIVES

Articles
Devotionals
Interviews
Concert Reviews
We Love Awards

MORE INFO

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

RESOURCES

Music Studies
Artist Training

CONNECT

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube