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Heaven Sing! The Life Of Christ Quintology EP by Keith and Kristyn Heaven Sing! The Life Of Christ Quintology EP by Keith and Kristyn
Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing!...
Chris Tomlin & Friends by Chris Chris Tomlin & Friends by Chris
Chris Tomlin has been one of my favorite artists for several years. His thirteenth studio album is unlike anything he’s ever done before. It’s his attempt to break down the walls of the Christian...
Vintage by Shane & Shane Vintage by Shane & Shane
I was introduced to the duo Shane and Shane at the Getty’s Sing! worship conference in Nashville a few years ago, and have enjoyed their music ever since. This album of vintage worship songs,...

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5th EP From 2019 Sing! Conference | Posted August-03-2020
Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.

The new album was released in five separate EPs over a period of several months. The project followed the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and includes 29 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference” here.

The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.

The fifth and final EP to be released is on Heaven. Below are a few comments about each song:

Forever Jesus – This song was written by Matt Papa and Stuart Townend. Townend and Kristyn Getty handle the lead vocals. The triumphant song, one of my favorite new songs of 2020, features piano, drums, bass, strings, and the singing of the conference choir. 

Key lyric:           

So for all my days I will sing my praise

To the King, “forever Jesus”

Though the storms may rage He is strong to save

He’s the King forever Jesus    


There is a Higher Throne – This song was written by Keith Getty and Kristyn Getty. Kristyn Getty handles the lead vocals. The uplifting song features guitar, flute, drums, piano, and conference choir.

Key lyric:

Hear heaven’s voices sing;

Their thund’rous anthem rings

Through em’rald courts and sapphire skies.

Their praises rise.

All glory, wisdom, pow’r,

Strength, thanks, and honor are

To God our King, who reigns on high

Forevermore


The Lord is My Salvation – This song was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Nathan Nockels and Jonas Myrin. Kristyn Getty and Shane and Shane handle the vocals. This powerful hymn of praise features, guitar, drums, piano, flute, bass and conference choir.    

Key lyric:

Who is like the Lord our God?

Strong to save, faithful in love

My debt is paid and the vict’ry won

The Lord is my salvation


God the Uncreated One (King Forever More) – This song was written by Pete Jams and Aaron Keyes. Lead vocals are handled by Tommy Bailey, Director of Worship at the Village Chapel in Nashville. This joyful hymn features piano, violin, bass, drums, guitar, and conference choir.  

Key lyric:

What joy in everlasting life

All is love and faith is sight

Justice rolls and praises rise

At the name of Jesus Christ

King of Kings forever

King of Kings forever

King of Kings forevermore


Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor – This song was written by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. Lead vocals are handled by Boswell and Papa. The song features piano, bass, drums, violin, and the conference choir.  

Key lyric:

Christ the sure and steady anchor

As we face the wave of death

When these trials give way to glory

As we draw our final breath

We will cross that great horizon

Clouds behind and life secure

And the calm will be the better

For the storms that we endure


The King in All His Beauty – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. Lead vocals are handled by Papa. The song features piano, bass, drums, and conference choir.  

Key lyric:

Now see the Savior lifted up

The Lamb who reigns in splendor

The hope of every tribe and tongue

His kingdom is forever


Best songs:

All

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Worship Meets Country | Posted August-01-2020
Chris Tomlin has been one of my favorite artists for several years. His thirteenth studio album is unlike anything he’s ever done before. It’s his attempt to break down the walls of the Christian music genre and allowing the music to be accessible to a wider audience. I give him credit for trying something new and different, bridging country music with his worship music genre. It’s not an album in which guest artists merely join Tomlin, but it’s a true collaboration. Tomlin has talked of the album as being created entirely through friendships. On the downside, there is so much collaboration that on some songs Tomlin can barely be heard.   

Florida Georgia Line’s Corey Crowder produced 12 out of the 13 songs, with David Garcia producing one track and Ed Cash co-producing one. The album is also different in that Tomlin is known for writing songs for the church to sing, but most of these songs don’t fall into that category.

The album grew on me with each repeated listen. Below are a few comments about each song:

Thank You Lord (Intro) – This brief song features a gospel choir led by Shannon Sanders that was brought in for the song “Power”.

Thank You Lord – This song was written by Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard, Corey Crowder and David Garcia, and features Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett. Tomlin has said that to have a life of gratitude and thank God for all things – good and hard - that are around us is a major theme of the album. The verses have more of a country music feel, and the bridge is more worship music, featuring Tomlin. This is a feel-good, sing along song that features hand claps, backing vocals, guitar and drums.    

Key lyric:

Praise up, eyes closed

One thing I know

I just wanna thank You Lord, thank You Lord


Reaching For You – This song was written by Tomlin, Shay Mooney and Ed Cash, and features We The Kingdom. This song is probably closest to a traditional Tomlin worship song, featuring keys, synth, backing vocals, drums and guitar.

Key lyric:

And I don't have to wonder where

My hope is coming from

I lift my hands for who You are

And everything You've done


Who You Are To Me – This song was written by Tomlin, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood and features Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum). The song features keys, drums, guitar and backing vocals.  

Key lyric:

Some people think You're distant, just some words on a page

That You're nothing more than fables, handed down along the way

But I've seen You part the waters

When no one else could pull me from, the deep

That's who You are to me


God Who Listens – This song was written by Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley and David Garcia, and features Thomas Rhett. The song features guitar, bass, drums, and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

I'm not just hoping

I'm not just wishing

I know I'm praying

To a God who listens

I know He hears me

I know He's living

Yes, I am praying

To a God who listens


Power – This song was written by Tomlin, Pat Barrett and Ed Cash and features Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE.  This gospel flavored song, based on Psalms 20 and 121, is one that Tomlin has had for a while, and he teams up well with Rinehart and the gospel choir. This is another song that sounds like a traditional Tomlin worship song.   

Key lyric:

There is wonder working power

Holy Spirit power

Great redeeming power

Power in the name

Resurrection power

Bondage breaking power

Power in the name of Jesus


Be The Moon – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder and Tyler Hubbard, and features Brett Young and Cassadee Pope. Tomlin has said that this song represents the heart of the album. God calls us to be a light in the darkness, and that is what the moon does, reflects the light of the sun amidst night. The easy-going song features backing vocals, drums, guitar and a memorable chorus.

Key lyric:

I wanna be the moon

Up among the stars

Fly around the world

Lighting up the dark at night

I'm nothing without the Son's amazing grace

On everything I do

If You're shining on me

I'm shining right back for You

I wanna be the moon


Sing – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard and Cary Barlowe and features Russell Dickerson (who was formerly Tomlin’s guitar tech on the road for three years), and Florida Georgia Line. The easy-going song features guitar, hand claps, backing vocals, drums and a memorable chorus.  

Key lyric:

You make me wanna sing all about Your love

Make me wanna tell the whole world what You've done

How You've turned my life around, I was lost but now I'm found

You're the song stuck inside my head all day

Yeah, You make me wanna sing, sing

Sing all about You

Yeah, You make me wanna sing


Chase Me Down – This song was written by Racheal Lynn David, Josh Kerr and Hannah Ellis, and features RaeLynn on lead vocals as Tomlin sings harmony. The song about how God pursues us, features keys, synth, guitar, bass, and drums.   

Key lyric:

You chase me down when I don't deserve it

You show me love, You don't make me earn it

I make a mess and I just start running

Hoping that You won't know

Oh, when I'm lost and I'm low

In a place that I think You won't go

You chase me down

You chase me down


Gifts From God – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder and Tyler Hubbard and features Chris Lane. This was the first song written for the album. It’s about thanking God for those gifts that are the ones money can’t buy. The song features guitar, hand claps, drums, backing vocals, and a memorable chorus and a worshipful bridge.    

Key lyric:

The best things in life are straight from His hands

Like the raising kids on a piece of land

A little peace of mind when the day is done

Where you think that comes from? That's gifts from God


Forever Home – This song was written by Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, Ashley Gorley, Corey Crowder and features Florida Georgia Line. This song features guitar, organ, drums, backing vocals, and a memorable chorus.  

Key lyric:

When we get to our forever home

We'll see beauty like we've never known

Angels singing Hallelujah songs

Hard to imagine one day


Together – This song was written by Tomlin, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard, Russell Dickerson and Corey Crowder and features Russell Dickerson. Tomlin has said that the song is about through everything, through the ups and the downs, through the bends in the road, through the valleys and the highs and the lows, God holds us together. The song, which touches on Romans 8:28, features guitar, piano, percussion and a gospel choir.  

Key lyric:

Together, together

Your mighty hands are holding me

Together, together

You're the God that never leaves

When life gets hard, the only Jesus

We fall apart and You're putting the pieces

Together, together

Thank You, Lord, You hold all things together


Tin Roof – This song was written by Blessing Offor and Natalie Hemby and features Blessing Offor. On an album of superstars, Offor is an unknown blind singer, songwriter and musician from Nigeria, who now lives in Nashville. Offor says about the song “In Nigeria where I grew up, I would lay at night and those African rains would hit the roof. That rain on a tin roof reminds me of home and I think of heaven. That’s what heaven is, is home.” The song features Offor and Tomlin singing beautifully over piano and organ.  

Key lyric:

They tell me in the promise land

There are mansions to choose

Oh, but I pray Heaven is like rain on a tin roof


Best songs:

Thank You Lord

Who You Are to Me

God Who Listens

Power

Sing

Forever Home

Tin Roof

 

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Vintage Worship Songs | Posted July-12-2020
I was introduced to the duo Shane and Shane at the Getty’s Sing! worship conference in Nashville a few years ago, and have enjoyed their music ever since. This album of vintage worship songs, that you probably sang in your church in the 1990’s, was recorded live from home during the COVID-1 quarantine. It was produced and performed entirely by duo Shane Barnard and Shane Everett.

The duo gives these songs the treatment you would expect from them – acoustic (guitar, light percussion, keys), excellent harmonies, rather slow and extended versions.  

I was introduced to a few of these songs on Michael W. Smith’s best-selling 2001 album Worship. There are also two Rich Mullins’ classics included. 

Below are a few comments about each song on the album:

Awesome God – This song was written by Rich Mullins. The song features acoustic guitar, excellent vocal harmonies, and bass.

Key lyric:

Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from Heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love.   

I Could Sing of Your Love Forever – This song was written by Martin Smith. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, bass and vocal harmonies.  

Key lyric:

I'm happy to be in the truth

And I will daily lift my hands

For I will always sing of when

Your love came down


Draw Me Close – This song was written by Kelly Carpenter. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, keys, and vocal harmonies.

Key lyric:

You're all I want

You're all I've ever needed

You're all I want

Help me know You are near


Knowing You – This song was written by Graham Kendrick. The song, which builds slowly, features acoustic guitar, keys, bass, and vocal harmonies.     

Key lyric:

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You

There is no greater thing

You're my all, You're the best

You're my joy, my righteousness

And I love You, Lord


Ancient of Days – This song was written by Gary Sadler and Jamie Harvill.  The song is upbeat, and features some excellent acoustic guitar, bass, light percussion, and vocal harmonies.  

Key lyric:

Blessing and honor, glory and power

Be unto the Ancient of Days

From every nation, all of creation

Bow before the Ancient of Days


As the Deer – This song was written by Martin J. Nystrom. The song features keys, acoustic guitar, and vocal harmonies.

Key lyric:

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart’s desire

And I long to worship You


Sometimes by Step – This song was written by Rich Mullins and David Strasser. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and vocal harmonies.

Key lyric:

Oh God, You are my God

And I will ever praise You

Oh God, You are my God

And I will ever praise You

And I will seek You in the morning

And I will learn to walk in Your ways

And step by step You'll lead me

And I will follow You all of my days


In the Secret- This song was written by Andy Park. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and vocal harmonies.   

Key lyric:

I want to know You

I want to hear Your voice

I want to know You more

I want to touch You

I want to see Your face

I want to know You more


Lord I Lift Your Name on High – This song was written by Rick Founds. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, bass and vocal harmonies.

Key lyric:

You came from Heaven to earth

To show the way

From the earth to the cross

My debt to pay

From the cross to the grave

From the grave to the sky

Lord, I lift Your name on high


Breathe – This song was written by Marie Barnett. The song features acoustic guitar and some excellent vocal harmonies.  

Key lyric:

And I, I'm desperate for You

And I, I'm lost without You

Oh, I'm lost without You


Best songs

Awesome God

Knowing You

Sometimes by Step  

 

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4th EP from the Getty's Life of Christ Project | Posted June-29-2020
Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.

The new album is being released in five separate EPs over a period of several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include approximately 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.

The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.

The fourth EP to be released is on the Great Commission. Below are a few comments about each song:

Facing a Task Unfinished – The original words to this song were written by Frank Houghton, with music by Samuel Wesley. New words and music were written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash and Fionan De Barra. This missions hymn originally appeared on the Facing a Task Unfinished album. Lead vocals are handled by Kristyn Getty, backed the conference choir and the incredible Getty band. The drums really stood out on this song.  

Key lyric:

We go to all the world

With kingdom hope unfurled

No other name has power to save

But Jesus Christ The Lord


May the Peoples Praise You – This joyful song was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, David Zimmer, Stuart Townend and Ed Cash, and originally appeared on the Facing a Task Unfinished album. The song is a call to worship and mission. Lead vocals are handled by Kristyn Getty, backed by the conference choir and the Getty band.

Key lyric:

May the peoples praise You

Let the nations be glad

All Your blessing comes

That we may praise

May praise the Name of Jesus


Let the Nations Be Glad – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Aaron Boswell. The song features Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, and originally appeared on their album His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, my favorite album of 2019. The song features drums, guitar, bass and the conference choir.   

Key lyric:

Let the nations be glad

Let the people rejoice

For salvation belongs to our God

Let the whole earth be filled

With the praises of the Lord

For salvation belongs to our God

Let the nations be glad


For the Cause – This song was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend and originally appeared on the Facing a Task Unfinished album. The song is on the call to missions and the cause of the Kingdom around the world. Lead vocals are handled by Kristyn Getty, backed by the conference choir and the Getty band. The drums stand out on this song.

Key lyric:

Let it be my life’s refrain:

To live is Christ, to die is gain;

Deny myself, take up my cross

And follow the Son


O Church Arise – This song, a call to the church, was written by Keith Getty, Stuart Townend and Andrew Christopher, and originally appeared on the In Christ Alone album. Lead vocals are handled by Shane and Shane, backed by the conference choir and the Getty band.   

Key lyric:

And as the stone is rolled away,

And Christ emerges from the grave,

This victory march continues till the day

Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.


By Faith – This song, inspired by Hebrews 11, was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, and originally appeared on the Awaken the Dawn album. Lead vocals are handled by Kristyn Getty, backed by the conference choir and the Getty band.

Key lyric:

We will stand as children of the promise

We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward

Till the race is finished and the work is done

We’ll walk by faith and not by sight


Best songs

All

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Solo EP from Marty of Social Club Misfits | Posted June-24-2020
Marty takes a break from the Social Club Misfits for a solo outing. Marty For President 2 is the follow-up to his 2015 EP Marty for President. The seven song EP features a number of guest artists, song writers and producers, and will be enjoyed by fans of Social Club Misfits.  

Below are a few comments on each song:    

The One about the Misfit, Pt. 2 – This song was written by Dave James, DJ Pez and Marty. It was produced by Dave James and DJ Pez. The song starts with a slow pace, a talk-rap over synth, and then builds slightly with percussion and guitar. He states that during the Misfits best year he was depressed the whole time and that sometimes you’ve gotta go through hell on the way to heaven. The song includes a mild “adult language” word that I’m disappointed hearing on a faith-based project. Leave the language to the mainstream rappers.

The One Where I Talk to God – This song about needing to talk to God during difficult times, was written by Daniel Chrisman, Israel Hindman, Juice Bangers, Andy Mineo and Marty. It was produced by Marty and Juice Bangers. The song has an easygoing beat and features Andy Mineo and Tree Giants. The song is driven by percussion, synth and bass.

The One Where I Hate You - This song was written by Joshua Toala, Marty, Jung Youth, Ray Castro and Luis Calderon. It was produced by Luis Calderon and Ray Castro. The song, has an easygoing beat, and features drums, bass and keys. It’s about dating someone who is wrong for you. He’s so happy that she’s gone.

The One with the Presidential Freestyle - This song was written by Israel Steven Mercedes, Derek Minor and Marty. It was produced by Chino Dollaz and Derek Minor. The confident song has a hard driving beat driven by synth, percussion and bass. He’s trying to run the race of life without wrecking, while Satan is waiting for his downfall.

The One with the Emo TRL Sound – This song was written by Dave James, Hollyn and Marty. It was produced by Dave James and Marty. The song, which is very different from the others on the EP, features Hollyn. The song is driven by acoustic guitar and is about missing a loved on.   

Key lyric:

What does it really mean to be in love?

It's a choice you make every day even when you've had enough

The One with No Discounts – This song was written by DJ Pez, Israel Steven Mercedes, Gravez, Dmitry Lavender, GAWVI, Marty and Tommy Royale. It was produced by Dmitry Lavender and DJ Pez. The song, driven by percussion, synth and bass, features GAWVI and Tommy Royale. God’s everlasting grace is on him and he can’t waste any time.  

The Last One – This song was written by Luis Calderon, Ray Castro, Marty and Wande. It was produced by Marty, Luis Calderon and Ray Castro. The upbeat song, with a memorable chorus, features Wande and is driven by drums and guitar. He just wants to shine his light, play his part, sing his songs because the talent he has he received from God.

Key lyric:   

Your work is not in vain, it’s only preparation

It’s about the journey not the destination

Best songs

The One Where I Talk to God

The One with the Presidential Freestyle

The Last One

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Switchfoot Covers Project | Posted June-22-2020
This side project from Switchfoot was recorded during the COVID-19 quarantine period. The band covers six diverse songs, about which Jon Foreman has stated: “There is a commonality in melody, and rhythm, and lyric, and truth that speaks to me even from someone who might look different than myself. This is the beauty of music: it can take us around the world, even when we’re quarantined at home.”

I was not familiar with any of these songs, nor had I heard any music from the artists that are covered here. I approached each song on its lyrical merits and Switchfoot’s performance, which was up to their high standards. Here are a few brief comments about each of the songs:

Swim Good – This is a cover of a 2011 song by Frank Ocean. This dark song about a suicide was written by Waynne Nugent, Kevin Risto, Charlie Gambetta and Frank Ocean. It was produced by Tim Foreman and Jon Foreman. The song features bass, keys, guitar and is driven by some exceptional drums from Chad Butler. 

Key lyric:

I'm about to drive in the ocean

I'ma try to swim from something bigger than me

Kick off my shoes and swim good, and swim good

Take off this suit and swim good, and swim good, good


Harmony Hall – This is a cover of a 2019 song by Vampire Weekend. The song was written by Ezra Koenig. The song features acoustic and electric guitar, hand claps, backing vocals, and drums. The song, which has themes of power, resistance, and anti-Semitism, is musically more upbeat than the lyrics are.

Key lyric:

And the stone walls of Harmony Hall bear witness

Anybody with a worried mind would never forgive the sight

Of wicked snakes inside a place you thought was dignified

I don't wanna live like this, but I don't wanna die


Stupid Deep – This is a cover of a 2018 song by Jon Bellion. The song was written by Travis Mendes, Raul Cubina, Mark Williams, Jon Bellion and Christianne Jensen. It was produced by the Freeman Brothers. The song features guitar, backing vocals, drums and bass. The song speaks to the hole in our hearts, our attempts to fill it, and our continual failure to do so.

Key lyric:  

What if who I hoped to be was always me?

And the love I fought to feel was always free?

What if all the things I've done

Were just attempts at earning love? Yeah

'Cause the hole inside my heart is stupid deep, oh, stupid deep


Lucky Man – This is a cover of a 1997 song by the Verve. It was written by Richard Ashcroft. The song begins with acoustic guitar and then builds with drums, electric guitar, bass and backing vocals. The song, which was inspired by Ashcroft’s relationship with his wife, is one that U2’s Bono has said that he wished he would have written.

Key lyric:  

Happiness

More or less

It's just a change in me

Something in my liberty


Lights Up – This is a cover of a 2019 song by Harry Styles. It was written by Kid Harpoon, Tyler Johnson and Harry Styles. The song has a dance beat, featuring guitar, keys, backing vocals, and drums. The song, about freedom, self-reflection and self-discovery, is musically more upbeat than the lyrics are.  

Key lyric:   

Shine, step into the light

Shine, so bright sometimes

Shine, I'm not ever going back


Sick Boy – This is a cover of a 2018 song by the Chainsmokers. It was written by Tony Ann, Emily Warren, Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart. The song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, drums, guitar and bass. The dark song addresses what if feels like to be alive right now, the struggle of self-identity in a crazy world, and about dealing with anxiety.

Key lyric:  

Welcome to the narcissism

Where we're united under our indifference

My overall assessment is that Switchfoot continues to surprise, not rest on their laurels, be creative, and remain relevant. Jon Foreman’s expressive vocals lead this incredible high energy band. Unfortunately, the songs here didn’t move me like Switchfoot songs would. Although I enjoyed the performances, this is not a project that I will be going back to often.

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Much More Than Demos | Posted May-09-2020
This surprise EP is the result of TobyMac digging through old laptops and hard drives during this Covid-19 quarantine period, and realizing that he had some good songs there that had not been released. These were songs that had not been included on previous albums for one reason or another.

Don’t let the “Demos” in the album’s title scare you away. These are excellent songs, with the level of writing, performance and production you would expect from TobyMac.  

Below are a few comments about each song:

On Your Own – This song from 2017 was written and produced by Christopher Stevens and TobyMac. The song is about the fact that we will never be on own our own, as God will always be there with us. The song has a good beat, driven by keys, finger snaps, drums and backing vocals.  

Drivin’ Me – This song from 2016 was written by David Garcia, Mat Kearney, Robert Marvin and TobyMac. The song was produced by Garcia and TobyMac. The song is about God being in control of his life through every twist and turn that the world brings. The easy-going song, which begins with a Mat Kearney feel guitar, features keys, finger snaps, bass, percussion, backing vocals and a catchy chorus.     

The Real You – This 2018 song was written and produced by Christopher Stevens and TobyMac. The passionate song is about Toby’s relationship with his son Truett (who died October 23, 2019). He’d not been himself, the pain had him acting like someone else. The song features bass, drums and keys.  

Rich – This upbeat 2016 song was written by Bryan Fowler, Mr. Talkbox and TobyMac. It was produced by Fowler and TobyMac and features Mr. Talkbox. Rather than the riches of this world, he wants to be rich in love, loaded with friends and family. The easy-going beat features keys, finger snaps, bass, drums, horns, backing vocals and a memorable chorus.   

Home – This 2017 song was written and produced by Dave Lubben and TobyMac. This song is about Toby being lost without God’s love, so he’s coming home. The song has a good beat, driven by keys, finger snaps, bass and percussion.

Key lyric:

I don't know how You've been so patient

With this one-sided arrangement

Woulda washed my hands and called it history

But You pursue with such intention

It's beyond my comprehension

To see the love I took for granted come after me


Love of My Life – This 2014 song (the oldest on the EP), was written by Cary Barlowe, David Garcia, Jesse Frasure and TobyMac and produced by Garcia and TobyMac. This upbeat song is about his total dependence on God, though it is also one of those songs that could be a song to his wife instead. (“I-I-I remember the first time I met You (Met You), My heart raged, jumped out my Earth suit”). The driving beat is driven by guitar, bass, percussion and backing vocals.  

Fighting for Your Life - This 2017 song was written and produced by Bryan Fowler and TobyMac. This is a song to his wife. He will be the last man standing by her, fighting for her heart. The chorus features a memorable beat, driven by keys, percussion, horns and backing vocals.    

Best songs:

Drivin’ Me

Rich

Home

 

 

 

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Excellent Release from GAWVI | Posted April-29-2020

Heathen is the third studio album by Christian hip-hop artist GAWVI. The 17-song album was produced by GAWVI and inspired by the letters of the Apostle Paul. The concept of a heathen is prevalent throughout the album, a word that GAWVI states has gotten lost in translation from how it was used in the Bible. He applies that to us, as we let labels influence and shape our identity.   

GAWVI worked with a number of producers and co-writers on the album. There are also some special guests who make appearances. This is an excellent album, featuring some excellent beats.  

Below are a few brief comments about each song: 

Difficult – This song was written by WHATUPRG and features vocals from GAWVI’s daughter Giana. The song was produced by Jonathan Barahona and GAWVI. The vocals come over keys and synth. If we knew him and we would hate him and disown him. He’s just trying to be different for his wife and children. 

Jit – This song was written by Aklesso, Wxlf, Rhomar Jessy, Andy Mineo and GAWVI. The song was produced by BEAM and GAWVI, and features vocals from Mineo. This song has a great beat. It was wonderful hearing Andy Mineo on this track about GAWVI’s story of coming to faith in Broward County, Florida.   

Skull – This song was written by Wxlf, Jon Jon, Rhomar Jessy and GAWVI, and produced by Jonathan Barahona and GAWVI. The song has a driving, hard-hitting beat. This is his version of the Psalms. He brings in the concept of heathen at the end of the song.

Climate Change – This song was written by Aklesso, Wordsplayed and GAWVI, and produced by Kilawatts and GAWVI. The song features Aklesso and Wordsplayed. He doesn’t need lanes; he just needs God. He makes his music to the glory of God.  

Not Too Far - This song was written by Aklesso, Dalton Diehl and GAWVI, and produced by GAWVI. The song has an easy-going beat. No matter how far away one gets, when a heathen comes running home, God is going to love them (Romans 8: 38-39).  

Sin – This song was written by Daramola, Tray Haggerty, Ace Harris and GAWVI, and produced by Matt Cohen and GAWVI. The song features Daramola and Haggerty. The song features and easy-going beat, keys and backing vocals. He has sinned, and the devil wants him to think he won’t win, but through Christ’s victory on the cross, he has persevered.

Girl – This song was written by Aklesso and GAWVI and produced by GAWVI.

This is an upbeat, R&B flavored love song with a good bass beat. He loves it when he sees his girl praise the Lord that way.

So Alive – This mid-tempo song was written by Daramola, Konata Small, Ace Harris, Aklesso and GAWVI, and produced by Harris and GAWVI. The song features keys, percussion and bass. The song which at first appears to be a horizontal love song, is actually addressed to God.

All of Me – This short song was written by Aklesso, Rhomar Jessy and GAWVI and produced by GAWVI. The song features the vocal over keys. All that he asks is that God sees him as His own when he sins.

Who You Gon’ Be – This song was written by WHATUPRG, Rhomar Jessy, GAWVI, Israel Houghton and Trip Lee, and produced by Matt Cohen, BEAM and GAWVI. The song features Houghton, Lee and Cassandra Jolie. He asks “'Til you let go, 'til you let go, Who you gon' be inside?” 
Vanity – This song was written by Jonathan Barahona, Rhomar Jessy and GAWVI, and produced by Barahona and GAWVI and features Cassandra Jolie. The song has an excellent groove/beat with percussion and bass. His biggest fear is losing his wife. Many of his heroes have cheated. He references his words at the Dove Awards, saying he’s trying to find his way, dodging the flames. Criminal – This song was written by Daramola and GAWVI and produced by GAWVI. The song features Daramola, and keys, bass, percussion, backing vocals and an infectious beat. He doesn’t take it personal when people take shots at him. He’ll still show mercy to those who hurt him.Jesus You Are – This song was written by Aklesso, Konata Small and GAWVI and produced by GAWVI. The song, about his complete dependence on God, has an easy-going vibe. He doesn’t know where he would be without God, who saved him from himself.

I'm Fine – This song was written by Konata Small, WHATUPRG, Rhomar Jessy and GAWVI, and produced by Matt Cohen and GAWVI. He has been hurt by those in the church. People don’t really want to know how he is doing, so he’ll just say that he’s fine. Forgiveness is key to moving forward.  Feed Dah Gang – This song was written by Rhomar Jessy, BEAM, GAWVI and Wxlf and produced by Jon Jon and GAWVI. The song features Wxlf. The confident lyrics come over a driving beat. He knows the devil is scheming, but he has an army of heathens.Forty5 – This song was written by Wxlf, Rhomar Jessy, GAWVI, Parris Chariz and Tommy Royale, and produced by GAWVI. The song features Parris Chariz and Tommy Royale. The song has a driving beat, one PG-13 word and a number of basketball references. He’s been calling on Jesus for mercy.  

Sinners Chaos – This song was written by Wxlf and GAWVI, and produced by Matt Cohen and GAWVI. The song is driven by guitar. The chaos is all around us.  Key lyric:  

On and on I'm fightin' this war

I been on this journey, yeah

Pilgrim in his progress, yeah

No matter the past, He knows who you are

Best songs

Jit

Climate Change

Who You Gon Be

Vanity




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Excellent Debut from Grace Worship | Posted April-28-2020
Grace Worship is the worship ministry of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois, where Kevin King is the worship leader and Bryan Chapell has served as senior pastor since 2013. The songs feature theologically rich lyrics with soaring melodies. Chris Zobac produced this EP. This EP is one of my favorite releases of 2020 thus far. Here are a few brief comments about each song:  

Unlimited Grace – In 2016, Bryan Chapell wrote an excellent book Unlimited Grace: The Heart Chemistry That Frees from Sin and Fuels the Christian Life (see my review here). For this song, Chapell wrote verse lyrics that went along with the theme of the book, and King wrote the chorus and music. King sings the lead vocal. The song features piano, drums and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

Glory, glory hallelujah!

Jesus Christ has saved my soul;

Though I once stood as a sinner,

For me, blood was shed,

Yes his love has bled,

Now I stand in unlimited grace.   

Psalm of Thanksgiving – This song was written by Kevin King. It has a Crowder-like electronic/pop feel. The song is joyful and about thankfulness. The song features guitar, finger snaps, backing vocals and some nice drums.    

Key lyric:

Whom have I in heaven but You?

Nothing on earth can out shine You.

Bones may break and spirits crumble,

But God remains my strength and I am His forever.

Christ Be All (studio) – This song was written and sung by Kevin King. The song incorporates words from Andrew Murray’s classic book Humility. The song is meant to help worshippers express, along with the Apostle Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20), as they sing, "May Christ be all and I be nothing." King has said that with the song, he was seeking to have the worshiper understand through song that it is to our joy to 'become nothing' (Philippians 2:7) as Jesus did; to lose our lives so we can find them in Him.

A great song, both lyrically and musically, and one of my favorites of 2020.

Key lyric:

May Christ be all, and I be nothing,

His glory shines in vessels weak;

May Christ be all, and I be nothing,

This is my hope:

Not I, but Christ in me.

The Love of God – This hymn was written by Frederick Lehman in 1917. Bryan Chapell wrote a new verse for the song, the second verse. This new arrangement by Kevin King brings a somewhat somber feel to the song, with the female vocal over drums and excellent piano and strings.

Calvary’s Anthem – This song was written by Bryan Chapell and Kevin King, incorporating lyrics from Robert Lowry’s hymn “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” on the chorus. The song, sung by King, invites worshippers to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross of Calvary. This is a beautiful hymn for congregational singing. The song features piano, strings, drums, horns, and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

At the cross You opened fully,

Heaven’s heart poured out completely,

Angels singing, hell now fleeing,

Roars of saints shout, “Christ, our vic-t’ry!”

Christ Be All (live) – This is a nice live version of the title song.

Best Songs

Unlimited Grace

Psalm of Thanksgiving

Christ Be All

Calvary’s Anthem

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Excellent Modern Worship | Posted April-26-2020
The latest release from the Worship Initiative features a pleasing combination of excellent songs and performances. Shane and Shane handle lead vocals on four of the songs, with Davy Flowers and Robbie Seay each handling vocals on two songs. I really enjoyed this release. Here are a few brief comments on each song:

Behold the Lamb – This triumphant song was written by Kristian Stanfill, Melodie Malone and Phil Wickham. The lead vocal is performed by Shane and Shane, and the song features piano, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, bass and light drums. The song builds powerfully at the chorus.    

Key lyric:

Behold the Lamb

The story of redemption written on His hands

Jesus, You will reign forevermore

The victory is Yours

We sing Your praise

Endless hallelujahs to Your holy name

Jesus, You will reign forevermore

The victory is Yours

The Passion – This praise song was written by Brooke Lingertwood, Chris Davenport and Scott Ligertwood. The lead vocal is performed by Dinah Wright and the song features guitar, drums, bass, piano and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

Our chains are gone, our debt is paid

The cross has overthrown the grave

For Jesus' blood that sets us free

Means death to death and life for me


You Cannot Be Stopped – This joyful song was written by Chris Quilala, Hank Bentley and Phil Wickham. The lead vocal is performed by Davy Flowers, and the song features synth, keys, acoustic guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals. Jesus has triumphed over the grave and the battle is won.

Key lyric:   

Mover of mountains

Breaker of chains

Jesus has triumphed

Over the grave

Sing hallelujah

The battle is won

Nothing can stand

Against our God


His Heart Beats – This triumphant song was written by Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive. The lead vocal is performed by Shane and Shane and the song features acoustic guitar, bass, drums, keys and backing vocals. The song is about Jesus’s heart beginning to beat as he is resurrected. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  

Key lyric:

He took one breath

And put death to death

Where is your sting, O grave?

How grave is your defeat

I know, I know His heart beats


Jesus, Only Jesus – This song about the sufficiency of Christ was written by Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Nathan Nockels and Tony Wood. The lead vocal is performed by Bethany Barnard and the song features synth, piano, drum, and backing vocals, building powerfully.  

Key lyric:

Holy, King almighty Lord

Saints and angels all adore

I join with them and bow before

Jesus, only Jesus


Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – This new Easter hymn was written by Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Keith Getty. The lead vocal is performed by Shane and Shane and the song features acoustic guitar, piano, drums, backing vocals, violin, and is about Christ, our only hope.  

Key lyric:

O sing hallelujah!

Our hope springs eternal;

O sing hallelujah!

Now and ever we confess

Christ our hope in life and death.

My Victory – This triumphant song was written by Crowder, Darren Mulligan, Ed Cash and Hank Bentley. The lead vocal is performed by Robbie Seay and the song features drums, piano, bass, guitar, and backing vocals, building powerfully. The song is about the victory of Jesus on the cross.    

Key lyric:

Oh, Your love bled for me

Oh, Your blood in crimson streams

Oh, Your death is hell's defeat

A cross meant to kill is my victory


Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) – This triumphant song was written by Mark Hall and Michael Bleecker. The lead vocals are performed by Shane and Shane, and the song features acoustic guitar, piano, bass, drums, strings, and backing vocals, building powerfully at the chorus. One day Jesus is coming, and what a glorious day that will be.  

Key lyric:

Living, He loved me

Dying, He saved me

Buried, He carried my sins far away

Rising, He justified freely forever

One day He's coming

Oh glorious day, oh glorious day


Overcome – This triumphant song about Jesus overcoming the grave, was written by Chris Brown, Mack Brock and Steven Furtick. The lead vocal is performed by Davy Flowers and the song features, guitar, bass, drums, piano and backing vocals.    

Key lyric:

We will not be moved

When the earth gives way

For the risen One has overcome

And for every fear

There's an empty grave

For the risen One has overcome


Christ is Risen – This victorious song was written by Brian Johnson, Mack Brock and Phil Wickham. The lead vocal is performed by Robbie Seay and the song features acoustic guitar, bass, drums and piano and backing vocals, building powerfully toward the end of the song.

Key lyric:

Hallelujah, Christ is risen from the grave

Best songs

Behold the Lamb

Christ Our Hope in Life in Death

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)

Christ is Risen  

 

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