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Confessio - Irish American Roots by Keith and Kristyn Confessio - Irish American Roots by Keith and Kristyn
The latest album by Keith & Kristyn Getty is a diary of hymns and songs that underscore the Gettys’ Irish American journey. In 2020, the Gettys spent ten months in Ireland, tracing their...
New Creation by Mac New Creation by Mac
I’ve long enjoyed Mac Powell’s music, mostly from his time as lead singer of four-time Grammy winners Third Day. I also enjoyed his 2019 album Back Again with Mac Powell and the Family...
Stand by Newsboys Stand by Newsboys
I really enjoyed Newsboys UNITED, featuring former band members Peter Furler and Phil Joel. With Stand, the Newsboys move on with members Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein, and...

Showing 1-10 of 133 |   View Next 10 Album and Book Reviews
Hymns of the Getty's Irish American Journey | Posted November-02-2021
The latest album by Keith & Kristyn Getty is a diary of hymns and songs that underscore the Gettys’ Irish American journey. In 2020, the Gettys spent ten months in Ireland, tracing their journey back to Northern Ireland and the Scots-Irish-American roots of their hymn writing. The album features guest artists such as Sandra McCracken, Alison Krauss, Dana Masters and Kirk Whalum, and a mix of new original songs, new arrangements of well-known hymns, and a remixed version of their most popular modern hymn “In Christ Alone”. It is beautifully produced by Ben Shive. The Gettys ended up recording enough songs for two albums, so they plan to follow up this album with another album Christ Our Hope In Life And Death, in the summer of 2022.

Below are a few comments about each song on Confessio: Irish American Roots:

Confessio – This song, inspired by the prayer of St. Patrick, was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Fionán de Barra and Matt Papa. The song features the incredible Getty band, including acoustic guitar, violin, bass, drums, and backing vocals.  

Key lyric:

We go homeward

Christ, be with us as we go

We go homeward

Christ, be with us on the road

This Is My Father’s World – This song was written by Maltbie D. Babcock. The arrangement is by Keith Getty, Fionán de Barra and Ben Shive. This beautiful arrangement features acoustic guitar, violin, bass, light percussion, strings, and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.


When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – This song was written by Isaac Watts (words) and Lowell Mason (music). This beautiful arrangement features horns, strings, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, and piano.

Key lyrics:

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride


Pass the Promise – This song, inspired by Hannah's song, was written by Kristyn Getty and Sandra McCracken and features Sandra McCracken on vocals. The song features drums, violin and a memorable chorus. My favorite song on the album.   

Key lyrics:

Pass the promise

To our sons and daughters

God most high, God our Father

We bear witness


Amazing Grace – This song was written by John Newton and was recorded in Keith Getty’s friend's fish and chips shack in Ireland. The beautiful arrangement features piano, Dana Masters on vocals and Kirk Whalum on saxophone.

Key lyrics:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.


Come Thou Almighty King – This song was written by Felice De Giardini. The arrangement was by Tommy Bailey, Sarah Gehri, Nathan Mickle and Tom Yarbrough and features the Getty Girls. The song features violin, backing vocals, Irish instruments, and some excellent acoustic guitar.    

Key lyrics:

To the great one in three

Eternal praises be

Hence – evermore!

Death where now is the sting

Crown Him the King of Kings

We to eternity

Love and adore!


And Are You Sleeping? – This song was written by Malcolm Guite and Kristyn Getty. The song features acoustic guitar, violin, and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:  

And she has risen from her bed

And held her arms out wide

And touched his wounded hands and heart

And gone to be his bride 


Waulking Song/All My Heart Rejoices (Song of Anna) – This song was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Sandra McCracken and features Sandra McCracken on vocals. The song about Anna (Luke 2), which includes reference to Psalm 34:18, features acoustic guitar, violin, and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:

And all my heart Rejoices, rejoices

As angels lift Their voices to proclaim

Praise be to God

Redemption resounds

Till all the earth

Rejoices, rejoices

It Is Well With Me Soul – This song was written by Horatio Spafford (words), Philip Bliss (music). The arrangement is by Keith Getty. This beautiful arrangement, which builds powerfully toward the end, and is featured in the film Sabina: Tortured for Christ, the Nazi Years, features violin, piano, strings, and choir.

Key lyrics:

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;

Even so, it is well with my soul 


How Can I Keep from Singing? – This song was written by Keith Getty and Fionán de Barra. This song features acoustic guitar, Irish instruments, piano and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:

No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge, clinging

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth

How can I keep from singing?


Be Thou My Vision – This Traditional Irish hymn was arranged by Keith Getty, Ben Shive and Fionán de Barra. This arrangement features Irish instruments, strings, piano, drums, and backing vocals.    

Key lyrics:  

High King of heaven, my victory won

May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall

Still be my vision, O ruler of all


Farewell to Ballymoney – This instrumental was written by Keith Getty, Ben Shive and Fionán de Barra. The song features the incredible Getty band If you have never seen them in concert, you are missing a treat.   

In Christ Alone – This song was written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend and features Alison Krauss. The song is a remixed version of a song that appeared on the 2012 album Hymns for the Christian Life. The song, which builds powerfully, features acoustic guitar, Irish instruments, and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:

And as He stands in victory,

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;

For I am His and He is mine—

Bought with the precious blood of Christ.


I enjoyed each of these songs. My favorites were:  

Confessio

Pass the Promise

Amazing Grace

It is Well With My Soul

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Farewell to Ballymoney

 

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Mac Powell's Solo Christian Music Debut | Posted October-17-2021
I’ve long enjoyed Mac Powell’s music, mostly from his time as lead singer of four-time Grammy winners Third Day. I also enjoyed his 2019 album Back Again with Mac Powell and the Family Reunion. In fact, my wife Tammy and I saw aPowell with his band the Family Reunion in November 2019, which was the last concert we saw before concerts were shut down due to the pandemic. 

Powell has also released two country music solo albums, but this is his first solo album of Christian music, and it’s a good one. He brings his distinctive baritone voice – one of the best in music - to these songs with a bit of a country/southern flavor. The album is produced by Jonathan Smith, Hank Bentley, Jeff Pardo, Seth Mosely, Colby Wedgeworth, and Ed Cash. Powell collaborated with some of Nashville’s top songwriters for the album. He co-wrote each song, collaborating with Jonathan Smith, Ethan Hulse, Seth Mosley, Jeff Pardo, Brenton Brown, Hank Bentley, Matt Maher, Benji Cowart, Casey Beathard and Tommy Iceland.

Below are a few comments about each song:

River of Life – This upbeat anthem features organ, hand claps, backing vocals, guitar, bass and drums. There is healing in the river of life.  

Key lyrics:

Brothers, sisters, come on down to that river

Guaranteed you'll never be the same

There's a fountain flowing from the heart of the Savior

Bring your sins and all your guilty stains

Let that river of life wash it all away


New Creation – This joyful song tells how God changed Powell (2 Corinthians 5:17). The song features backing vocals, hand claps, guitar, bass and drums.

Key lyrics:

You brought me blessings out of tragedy

You turned my old song into a symphony

And with your Spirit living inside of me

I’m a new creation

I’m a new creation

Love is the Reason – In this song, which Powell has said is his favorite on the album, Powell looks at three situations (his mom taking him to church, his brother fighting in the war, and Jesus dying for our sins), and says love was the reason for all three. The song features guitar, percussion, piano, organ, bass and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:   

Love is the reason, love is the reason

Oh, love is the reason that I go

Standing up for what I believe in

That's where my heart is leading

And love is the reason that I go


Be Praised – This song is about the name of the Lord being praised. The song features piano, bass, drums and backing vocals.  

Key lyrics:

From the rising of the sun

To going down of the same

Let the name of the Lord be praised

Both now and forever more

All of heaven and earth proclaim

The name of the Lord be praised

1991 – This joyful song is about Powell being saved in 1991 at the age of 18. The song features guitar, drums, organ, hand claps, bass, piano, backing vocals and keys.

Key lyric:

By April 21st, 1991 I was worn out

tired from all the miles that I had run

Saw an old church and walked right in

Same old truth but it felt new then

On April 21st, 1991

The Center of It All – This song features guitar, drums, organ, piano, and bass. The song is about how from the beginning to the ending of Scripture Jesus is the center of it all.

Key lyrics:

From the beginning to the ending, You're the center of it all

It's for You and it's from You, You and You alone

The Author of our story, let it all be for Your glory

From the beginning to the ending, You're the center of it all


Joy of the Lord – This upbeat song about the joy of the Lord, based on Psalm 118:14, features keys, guitar, drums, bass, and backing vocals.  

Key lyrics:

The joy of the Lord is my strength and my song

That sweet melody in my soul all day long

No matter what comes I’ll just keep going on

Cause’ the joy of the Lord is my strength and my song

Jesus You Are – The song about Jesus being whatever we need, features piano, hand claps, organ, backing vocals, and drums.

Key lyrics:

When I need rescue

You are my ransom

When I need shelter

You are my home

When I am weak Lord

You’re what I reach for

Lord I believe, whatever I need, Jesus you are

Everlasting Arms – This song about the everlasting arms of God, samples “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by Anthony J. Showalter and Elisha Hoffman. The song features piano, organ, backing vocals, guitar, bass, drums,                     

Key lyrics:

In the morning I am met with Your mercy

In the evening I am wrapped in Your love

There's no end to Your reach

There's no place I'd rather be

I'm leaning on Your everlasting arms


Baptized – This song about being baptized, features Matt Maher on vocals, and piano, guitar, bass, drums, and backing vocals. The song references the hymn “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” by Robert Lowry.

Key lyrics:

Tell me how deep and wide is the love of Jesus

My soul will testify to the water’s edges

I’ve been born again

Had to die to find new life

In the water, in the fire

I’ve been baptized

All of the songs are strong musically and lyrically. My favorites are:   

River of Life

Be Praised

1991

Everlasting Arms

Baptized

 

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New Music from Newsboys | Posted October-12-2021
I really enjoyed Newsboys UNITED, featuring former band members Peter Furler and Phil Joel. With Stand, the Newsboys move on with members Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein, and Jody Davis. The ten songs here give you what you exactly what would expect from the band – clean production, relatively short songs (the album clocks in at just 33 minutes), catchy hooks, backing vocals and simplistic, but encouraging lyrics.

Themes on the album include God not giving up on us and always coming through for us, Jesus doing the unexpected, believing God in difficult times, standing for God when trouble comes calling for us, not fearing, the blessings in our lives, and never being too far from a forgiving God.

Here are a few brief comments about each song: 

Magnetic – This upbeat song was written by Michael Tait, AJ Pruis, Bryan Fowler and Micah Kuiper. It was produced by Kuiper, Pruis and Tedd T. The song features guitar, guitar, drums, bass, percussion, and backing vocals. The song is about how God will never give up on us.

Key lyrics:

But every time I'm in that fight

Your love keeps pullin' me back, pullin' me back

It's magnetic


Ain’t It Like Jesus – This reggae influenced song was written by Michael Tait, Micah Kuiper, Juan Otero, Michael Cochren and Tedd T. It was produced by Tedd T. The song features guitar, bass, horns, backing vocals and drums. The song is about how Jesus will always do the unexpected.   

Key lyrics:

Ain't it like Jesus

To flip the situation?

Ain't it like Jesus?

Zero limitations


I Still Believe You’re Good – This song was written by Michael Tait, AJ Pruis, Bryan Fowler and Micah Kuiper. It was produced by Kuiper and Fowler. The song features keys, guitar, bass, drums, and backing vocals. Michael Tait has said that this song is really the whole COVID-19 story wrapped up in melody.  

Key lyrics:

Even in the valley, I still believe

You're good

Stand – This anthem was written by Michael Tait, Jeff Sojka and Ben Glover. It was produced by Sojka and Glover. The song features keys, guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals. The song is about who we will be when trouble comes calling for us. This will be a good song for Christian radio.

Key lyrics:

I'm gonna stand in a world that's breaking

Stand for a truth unchangin'

I'm not ashamed, I've considered the cost

I'll stand right here at the foot of the cross

And stand


Clean – This song was written by Michael Tait, Jonathan Smith, Bryan Fowler, Michael Cockren and Tedd T. It was produced by Tedd T and Fowler. The song features percussion, bass, keys, drums, and backing vocals. The song addresses how people perceive us and how we want to be perceived.

Key lyrics:

God, You're strong when I am weak

I need Your grace to help me to see

That I'm not longer a slave to me

I've been washed, I've been set free


Won’t Be Afraid – This anthem about not fearing was written by Michael Tait, Be Calhoun and Tedd T. It was produced by Calhoun and Tedd T. The song features guitar, percussion, bass, keys, backing vocals, drums and a catchy chorus.   

Key lyrics:

When I walk through the fires of life, I

Won't be afraid, no, won't be afraid, no 

Come Through – This song about God coming through for us written by Michael Tait, Micah Kuiper, Bryan Fowler, Michael Cochren and Tedd T. It was produced by Tedd T and Kuiper. The song references Romans 8:28, and features guitar, bass, drums, keys and backing vocals.

Key lyrics:

You always come through

You have not forsaken me

You are working all things for my good

Even when I cannot see

I know You always come through

For me 


Blessings on Blessings – This upbeat song about all of the blessings in our lives was written by Michael Tait, Ethan Hulse and Jeff Pardo. It was produced by Kuiper, Tedd T and Pardo. The song features keys, organ, handclap, guitar, bass drums, backing vocals, and a catchy chorus.  

Key lyrics:

I've got blessings on blessings

Written all over my life

Even when things are goin' wrong

I got so much goin' right

There's a song in my soul

And there's breathe inside o' my lungs

So many things to thank You for

How could I just choose one?


No Doubt – This song was written by Michael Tait, AJ Pruis, Micah Kuiper and Bryan Fowler. It was produced by Micah Kuiper. The song is about how Jesus is the only one. The song features guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals. 

Key lyrics:

There's no doubt

You are the only who has never let me down

Never Too Far Away – This song was written by Michael Tait, Bryan Fowler, Matt Lott and Dave Stovall. It was produced by Fowler. The song, which builds at the chorus, features keys, percussion, guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals.

The song tells us that no matter what we may have done, we’re never too far away from a forgiving God.

Key lyrics:

When everything falls apart

You're still in the arms of amazing' grace

You're never too far away


Best songs: 

Ain’t It Like Jesus

I Still Believe You’re Good

Won’t Be Afraid

Blessings on Blessings 

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Best Release from Andy Mineo since "Uncomfortable" | Posted October-10-2021
Andy Mineo, who has also released a number of EPs, returns with his fourth full-length album, and first album of all-new material since 2017’s Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird. It is a follow-up to 2014’s Never Land EP, which featured the gold record “You Can’t Stop Me”. The album includes brief narration from Mineo’s mother Fran, who died in 2018. The album features honest and transparent lyrics, excellent beats and collaborations. Themes on the album include relationships (with people and God), things he’s not going to do and things he’s trying to do, that life is hard but it could be worse, and priorities. It’s my favorite release of Mineo’s since 2015’s Uncomfortable.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Am I… - This song was written by Mineo, Hadar Adora, GAWVI, James Douglas and BEAM. It was produced by GAWVI and BEAM. The song features guitar and backing vocals as he makes references to some of his previous releases.    

Key lyric: 

The key is to find beauty inside of the tragedy

…Falling? - This song was written by Mineo, Hadar Adora, GAWVI, James Douglas and BEAM. It was produced by GAWVI and BEAM. The song features bass, percussion and backing vocals. He asks whether he’s falling from the sky, or falling in God’s hand. Is it a disguise or is it in God’s plan?   

Key lyric:

And my pronoun is just “that guy”

Been About It – This song was written by Mineo, Lecrae, SAK PASE and NOT KLYDE. It was produced by Mineo and SAK PASE and features Lecrae. The song features bass and percussion.

Key lyric:

How you never had COVID, you still got no taste?

You Know the Drill – This song was written by Mineo, Enzo Gran, Juice Bangers, Delgis Mustafa, and Wordsplayed. It was produced by Gran and Bangers, and features Wordsplayed, who reunites with Mineo from their 2017 album Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird. The song features a heavy bass beat, percussion. They make several pop culture references and hint that they will drop a second volume of Magic & Bird with no prior announcement.    

Key lyric:

God made me, I'm a one of one

Working On It – This song was written by Mineo, Rickie Tice, Alex Goose, Kaydence, Taylor Hill and Chandler Moore. It was produced by Alex Goose and Taylor Hill and features Moore and Hill. The song features a heavy bass beat, percussion, and backing vocals. The song is about working on things in our relationships.

Key lyric:

At least you know I'm always inconsistent

Nobody’s Coming - This song was written by Mineo, Lonestarmuzik, Noah NorTH, S1, Jameil Aossey, and Hulvey. It was produced by Aossey, NorTH, Lonestarmuzik and S1. The song features guitar, bass, percussion, and an emotional vocal from Mineo.

Key lyric:

What if we're the ones that we're waiting on?

Remind Me – This song was written by Mineo, Zac Lawson and JVKE. It was produced by JVKE and Lawson and features JVKE. The song features guitar, bass and percussion. The song is about problems in a relationship.

Key lyric:

Sometimes I forget your love

Forget your touch

Yeah, you got, you got, you gotta remind me


Not Gon’ Do – This song was written by Mineo, Joseph Solomon, Taylor Hill, Britton Rauscher, Conor Back and Aayana Smith. It was produced by Mineo and Hill, and features Solomon. The song features keys, bass, percussion and backing vocals. He talks about all the things he’s not going to do. 

Key lyric:

I won't apologize for being who I am 

It Could Be Worse – This song was written by Mineo and A.G. It was produced by A.G. The song features keys, bass and percussion.  

Life is hard, he thanks God, because it could be worse.

Key lyric:

Look at what happened to Cosby, man

Look at what happened to Ravi, damn

Now trying to make sure that it’s not me man

Priorities – This song was written by Mineo, BigBreeze, Hulvey, Zac Lawson and JVKE. It was produced by JVKE and Lawson and features BigBreeze. The song features a heavy bass beat.

Key lyric:

I need God in my life, yeah

'Cause we don't be talking enough

I give a call when I'm stuck

Not when I'm all the way up

I think He calling my bluff

I said I don't got no time for him

We make the time for the things that we love

You tell me what are your priorities


Trying – This song was written by Mineo, Ryan Lott, Dave James and Thad Cockrell. It was produced by Mineo and James. This song has Mineo talking and rapping over bass, guitar, keys and percussion as the song builds. He addresses a number of different areas in his life in which he is trying.  

Key lyric:

All my life all I ever did was try

Cross My Heart – This song was written by Mineo, Dizzycleanface, James Reese, Justin Peroff, Keith “Baby Wonder”, Duplessis, Dave Hamelin, Ink and ALDAE. It was produced by Hamelin, Dizzycleanface, Ace Harris and Soul Surplus, and features Ink. The song features drums, guitar and keys.   

Key lyric:

What if we didn't panic but instead we took advantage

Of the time that we got right now

Coming in Hot – This song was written by Mineo, Lecrae, Wordsplayed, SAK PASE, Marlon Montgomery, Brian Taylor, Ace Harris and Beleaf. It was produced by SAK PASE and features Lecrae. The song was originally released on Reach Records Summer Eighteen, and was recently certified gold. The song features bass, percussion,

Key lyric:

First, nobody wanna listen

Now, everybody pay attention

Now, everybody pay a fee


Best songs: 

Working On It

Nobody’s Coming

It Could Be Worse

Coming in Hot 

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Jon Foreman's First Live Album | Posted October-03-2021
2021 has been a busy year for Jon Foreman. Roll Tape: Live from Melody League Studios follows the February release of his solo album Departures (four of the twelve songs included here are from Departures), and the August release of Switchfoot’s album interrobang, followed by a tour with NEEDTOBREATHE. Foreman has described Roll Tape, which has an “unplugged” feeling, and some of which may have come from his livestreams, as his attempt to make a live album, his first, in a year when there was essentially no live music due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I enjoyed this new live solo release from Foreman, as I did his Departures, interestingly much more than I enjoyed interrobang from Switchfoot.

Below are a few comments about each song: 


Terminal – This song, originally released on The Wonderlands: Sunlight, was written by Foreman. The song, which builds gently, features guitar, some excellent cello, bass, backing vocals, and drums.   

Key lyric:

We are, we are the living souls

With terminal hearts, terminal parts

Flickering like candles, shimmering like candles

We're fatally flawed, we're fatally flawed


Jesus, I Have My Doubts – This song, originally released on Departures, was written by Foreman. He has stated that this is a song that steps into the ring with God. It is Foreman asking the big questions at the end of a long, difficult season. It’s his honest attempt to sing into his doubts. The song features harmonica, guitar and cello. He’s been singing broken songs looking for the light for so long, but the pain goes on and on. Can God reach him in the silence?

Key lyric:

Jesus, feels like the worlds in pieces

I'm sure You've got Your reasons

But I have my doubts

Jesus, I have my doubts


Side By Side – This song, originally released on Departures, was written by Foreman. The easy-going love song features Madison Cunningham. The song features acoustic guitar and bass. Foreman’s and Cunningham’s voices blend well. They are as different as snowflakes, but side by side they start to melt into something wonderful. Foreman has said that the song is an attempt to sing out the truth against a backdrop of his fears and doubts.

Key lyric:

Oh, the irony, friends and enemies

We'll all be buried side-by-side

A Place Called Earth – This song, originally released on Departures, was written by Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman and Lauren Daigle. The song features guitar, piano, bass and light percussion.

Key lyric:

Oh, how I long for Heaven in a place called Earth

Where every son and daughter would know their worth

Where all the streets resound with thunderous joy


Southbound Train – This song, which samples Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, was originally released on Fall, was written by Foreman. The song features guitar, harmonica and cello. 

Key lyric:

So, I'm looking out the window

And I'm drifting off to sleep

With my face pressed up against the pane

With the rhythm of my heart

And the ringing in my ears

It's the rhythm of the southbound train


Red and Gold – This song, originally released on Departures, was written by Foreman. The song was inspired as Foreman was on a hill in San Diego watching the sun go down and the car lights on the freeway below. The city glows, the traffic and rushing, of thirsty souls, hungry for meaning and love. The song features drums, bass, harmonica, guitar, and backing vocals.   

Key lyric:  

So, hold your faith, you're not alone here

Stay your pace, you're almost home

We're on our way, we're on our way home

Resurrect Me – This rocker, originally released on Summer, was written by Foreman. The song features bass and guitar, harmonica, and an excellent vocal.    

Key lyric:

Father Time steals our days, like a thief

There's no price that I wouldn't pay to get some relief

I've become an empty shell

Of a man I don't like so well

I am a living, breathing hell

Come on and resurrect me


The Cure for Pain – This song, originally released on Fall, was written by Foreman.  The song features guitar, cello, bass and drums.

Key lyric:

And heaven knows, heaven knows

I tried to find a cure for the pain

Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do

It would be a lie to run away


Only Hope – This song, originally released on Switchfoot’s album New Way to Be Human, was written by Foreman. The song features cello, guitar, bass and drums.

Key lyric:

So, I lay my head back down

And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours

I pray to be only Yours

I know now You're my only hope


Inheritance - This love song, originally released on The Wonderlands: Dawn, was written by Foreman. The song features guitar, bass, keys, and drums.

Key lyric:

Your heart is a work of art

I wanna be rich in memories not money

Our love is our inheritance honey


Your Love is Strong – This song, which samples the Lord’s Prayer, originally released on Spring, was written by Foreman. The song features guitar, keys, bass, backing vocals, and light percussion.

Key lyric:

Two things You told me

That You are strong and You love me

It Is Well With My Soul – This hymn was written by Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss. Foreman sings the song accompanied by acoustic guitar. 

Key lyric:

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

A Place Called Earth – This version of the song was recorded live at the Ryman Auditorium and features Lauren Daigle on vocals. The song features guitar, backing vocals and bass.    

Best songs:

Jesus, I Have My Doubts

Southbound Train

Resurrect Me

A Place Called Earth (Live from the Ryman Auditorium)

 


 

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Chris Tomlin Christmas | Posted September-29-2021
Chris Tomlin releases his fifth Christmas Songs of Worship project. His Christmas Songs of Worship series includes Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP released in 2020, Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP from 2019, 2015’s Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, and the gold-certified Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship from 2009. The new 12-song project, which includes four songs previously released on the above-mentioned EPs, was produced by Ed Cash and includes new songs as well as reimagined Christmas classics.  The album has Tomlin collaborating with CeCe Winans, We the Kingdom, Matt Redman, and Blessing Offor.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Emmanuel God With Us – This song was written by Chris Tomlin and Jason Ingram. The song opens with Tomlin singing over piano. It then gently builds with drums, bass, guitar and backing vocals towards a joyful chorus.

Key lyric:

Emmanuel, God with us

Emmanuel, King Jesus

The Savior of the world is born

Emmanuel, God with us

Emmanuel, King Jesus

The Savior of the world is born    



Christmas Day – This previously released song was written by Ed Cash, Scott Cash, Franni Cash, Martin Cash and Andrew Bergthold. The joyful song features drums, guitar, and excellent vocals from Tomlin and We The Kingdom. Classic Tomlin, this song would be a good one for congregational singing.

Key lyric:

Sing all you people

The Lord almighty reigns

Sing every creature of God

Come bless His name

For He is good, for He is good

He was born to conquer the grave

Light of the world

The reason for Christmas Day

All The World Awaits (Hosanna) – This previously released praise song about the coming of the Savior was written by Tomlin, Jason Ingram and Matt Maher. The song begins with guitar and gently builds with piano, drums and backing vocals. The son is inspired by Matthew 21:9 and Isaiah 9:6.

Key lyric:

Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace

Hail the Son of righteousness

Light and life to all He brings

Glory to the newborn king

Hallelujah – This joyful song features The Voice contestant Blessing Offor, who sang “Tin Roof” on Tomlin’s Chris Tomlin and Friends album. Offor sings over piano, bass, drums, organ and backing vocals.   

Key lyric:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

That’s what the angels cried

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Precious little child

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Sound of the angel’s joy

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Little baby boy

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day – This Christmas carol was based on a poem by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, includes a new chorus. Tomlin sings over piano, organ, bass, drums and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

I heard them ringing

I heard them ringing

All across the earth

I heard them ringing

The bells remember

They ring forever

Unto us a child is born a savior

Our savior

His Name is Wonderful – This previously released song was written by Tomlin and Ed Cash, and includes a chorus taken from Isaiah 9:6. The song begins with Tomlin singing over piano, and then builds with drums, strings and choir.

Key lyric:  

Come and adore Him

On bended knee

He came to ransom

Someone like me

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – This Christmas carol was translated in 1861 by John Mason Neale. The song starts quietly and gently builds featuring guitar, backing vocals and some nice drums.   

Guitar, backing vocals, drums,

Key lyric:

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, Israel

Hope of Israel – This previously released song was written by Tomlin, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan. The song begins with Tomlin singing over piano, then builds gently with strings and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

God is with us

Christ our Savior

Jesus our Emmanuel

He shall reign our King forever

The hope of Israel  

O Holy Night – This Christmas carol was based on a poem that was set to music by Adolphe Adam.  The song features a powerful vocal by CeCe Winans singing over guitar, piano, drums, bass, and choir.   

Key lyric:

God with us, Emmanuel

O night, O night divine

Crown Him (Christmas) – This song was originally written by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring, and includes some new lyrics. The song features Matt Redman, piano, backing vocals, guitar, drums and bass.

Key lyric:

Crowned by their royal gifts

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

Wise men approach this manager throne

With honors from afar  

Behold the Son of God

And bow down in this place

The Prince of Peace has come to us

O crown Him with your praise  

O Little Town of Bethlehem – This song was written by Phillip Brooks. The song features piano, strings, backing vocals and drums.

Key lyric:

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us, abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel

Crown Him (reprise) – This short ending song features Matt Redman, strings and a choir.

Key lyric:  

Not a throne of gold, but a manger throne

See His humility

Not a crown of gold, but a crown of thorns

See His humility

Best songs:

Emmanuel God With Us

Hallelujah

O Holy Night

Crown Him (Christmas)

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Reimagined Worship | Posted September-23-2021
Michael W. Smith’s best-selling album is Worship, which was released twenty years ago on 9/11, the day our nation was attacked. As a way to honor the tragic September 11 anniversary, Smith has released a reimagined version of the album. Worship Forever was recorded in front of a live audience in Nashville in July with a full symphony orchestra, choir and guest appearances by Amy Grant, Matt Redman and Tauren Wells. 

Smith adds a few newer songs to the track list – “Surrounded/Waymaker", and ends with the new studio recording, the piano and orchestra driven "Sing Again” as a bonus track. Below is the chorus for “Sing Again”:  

This lonely heart will sing again

These barren lungs will breathe again

Through suffering we're stronger

In the palm of His hand

Like a beacon in the night

Hope illuminates the sky

Reaching for each other

And as we carry on

We are keepers of the light


The project is very well done, though Smith performs the songs a bit slower with the orchestra than he did on the original album.

Here is the track list for Worship Forever:

Forever

Heart of Worship (featuring Matt Redman) 

Draw Me Close

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus 

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Above All 

Breathe

Let It Rain 

Agnus Dei (featuring Amy Grant) 

Awesome God 

More Love, More Power (featuring Tauren Wells) 

Surrounded/Waymaker (not on original album)

Forever (reprise) 

Sing Again (new song) 

 

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Songs for Congregational Singing | Posted September-21-2021
This is the second album of hymns from Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. Their first album, His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, was my favorite album of 2019. This new album may well be my favorite for 2021.

I was introduced to “the Matts” at the Getty Worship Sing! conferences in 2018.  Some of the songs on this album, all of which were written for congregational singing, were introduced at prior Sing! conferences. The album was produced by Ben Shive.

Here are a few comments about each song:

Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord) – This song was introduced at the 2020 Sing! conference and highlighted at the 2021 Sing! conference. It was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features piano, guitar, strings, drums, bass and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

Praise the Lord

Praise the Lord

Sing His greatness

All creation

Praise the Lord

Raise your voice

You heights and all you depths

From furthest east to west

Let everything that has breath

Praise the Lord


All Hail the King of Heaven – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features piano, drums, bass, strings, and choir.   

Key lyric:

All hail the king of heaven,

Now join with all creation,

Let endless praises crown his name

All hail the king of heaven.


Almost Home – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Lauren Papa and highlighted at the 2021 Sing! conference. This song features piano, bass, strings, choir and some excellent drums.

Key lyric:

We’re almost home

So press on toward that blessed shore

O praise the Lord

We’re almost home


Lovingkindness – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Matt Redman, and was introduced at the 2020 Sing! conference. This song features bass, guitar, drums and choir. 

Key lyric:

A life laid down to rescue us

With arms outstretched upon the cross

The greatest Gift there ever was

Of lovingkindness

Your lovingkindness


Christ Our Hope in Life and Death - This song was written by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker and Matt Papa, and was first released in 2020. The song features drums, bass, piano, organ, strings and choir. 

Key lyric:

O sing hallelujah!

Our hope springs eternal;

O sing hallelujah!

Now and ever we confess

Christ our hope in life and death.


The Everlasting Love of God – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Matt Redman, and was introduced at the 2020 Sing! conference. The song features piano, strings, drums, bass, and choir.  

Key lyric:  

O, the everlasting love of God,

It shall ever be my song

So immense and free; more than life to me!

The everlasting love of God


Unto the Almighty – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features guitar, drums, bass, piano, strings and choir.   

Key lyric:

All blessing, all honor, and glory

To him who is worthy

All praises unto the almighty


Christ the True and Better – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Keith Getty, and Matt Papa, and was introduced at the 2020 Sing! conference. The song features piano, bass, strings, organ, drum and choir. 

Key lyric:

Amen, amen

From beginning to end

Christ the story

His the glory

Alleluia, amen


With Simple Faith – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features piano, choir, bass and percussion.    

Key lyric:

Only trust him

Only trust him

Turn to Jesus now

He will save you

He will save you

With simple faith and childlike trust


Promises – This song was written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, Jonny Robinson, and Rich Thompson. The song features drums, bass, guitar, piano, organ and choir. 

Key lyric:

You are faithful to your promises

We will trust in what the cross has said

Through the ages, hallelujah you are

Faithful to your promises


O Give Thanks – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features drums, organ, bass, piano and choir. 

Key lyric:

O give thanks to God forever

for all he’s done for all he’s given

for every grace, bring every praise

to the giver of all, give thanks 


O Worship the Risen Christ – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa. The song features piano, bass, drums and choir.

Key lyric:

O praise the One, the Risen Christ

The name of names, the Lord of Life

Let songs of joy now fill the skies

He lives, he lives

O Worship the Risen Christ


Forever Jesus – This song was written by Matt Papa and Stuart Townend and was introduced at the 2019 Sing! conference. The song features, piano, organ, drums, bass, strings and choir. 

Key lyric:

When I meet His gaze, I will sing my praise

To the King, “forever Jesus”

All my sorrows past, I am home at last

With my King, “forever Jesus!”


Almost Home (Acoustic) – This is an acoustic version of the title song, written by Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Lauren Papa.

All of the songs are excellent. Here are my favorites:

Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord)

All Hail the King of Heaven

Almost Home

Lovingkindness

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death

The Everlasting Love of God

Christ the True and Better

Promises

Forever Jesus

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New Sound from Switchfoot | Posted August-20-2021
interrobang is Switchfoot’s 12th studio album and the follow-up to 2019’s Native Tongue album and 2020’s forgettable Covers EP. It was produced by Tony Berg. The album’s title comes from a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question.  

This is a serious album that features an experimental late 1960’s era pop sound, with familiar Switchfoot guitars and good backing vocals. The band stated that the album is unlike anything they’ve ever made before, and I agree with that. I give the band credit for not resting on their laurels, and instead pushing themselves. Though I found the music fresh, some of the lyrics are vague to the point of being hard to determine the message/meaning, and there is minimal explicit Christian content, which may make it difficult for these songs to get Christian radio airplay. Although Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands, this is not one of my favorite albums by them, and I probably won't revisit it much in the future. Themes on the album include questions, love, looking for truth and light, disagreeing, being wrong and learning things the hard way.     

Below are a few comments about each song: 

beloved – This song about looking for truth and light was written by Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman and Tony Berg. The song features keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, backing vocals and a Beatle sounding chorus. If he could open his eyes, would the truth be what would set him free. He can’t find the truth in the news or his social media feed.

Key lyrics:

I'm still looking for the truth

But I can't seem to find it in the news

Maybe I'll start singing like the blues, maybe


lost ‘cause – This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features a driving beat, led by guitar, drums and bass. The guitar work on this song stands out, reminding me of The Edge from U2 .   

Key lyrics:

Are we a lost cause?

Are we just lost 'cause

We won't be the future we refuse to see?


fluorescent - This song was written by Jon Foreman. The song opens with guitar and cello and then breaks out with a heavy rock drum, bass, keyboards and backing vocals. Foreman sings about being a moth outside a window, beating his wings against the front porch light. It’s a call to a woman he’s dreaming of, and his wings can’t sustain him too much longer. He wonders how long it will be until his florescent girl is his.  

Key lyrics:

We are always separate, always near

if i were you – This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The upbeat song is driven by a fast bass beat and drums, with guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. There are references to being 2020 enemies, Twitter, fear, and disagreeing.     

Key lyrics:

If I were you

And you were me

Would we still be doomed


To disagree?

the bones of us - This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The ballad has Foreman reflecting on a relationship. The song features guitar, keyboards, bass, light percussion, backing vocals and a memorable chorus. 

Key lyrics:

Our heart's like a flood

That washes us new

I'm fighting for us

But most of all, for you


splinter – This rocker was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features a driving beat led by drums, guitar and bass. It also features backing vocals and keyboards. It’s only illusions. Who can take the broken splinters from his head?  

Key lyrics:

My mind is at war

I lie awake in bed

Like a splinter in my hand

Like a splinter in my head


i need you (to be wrong) – This mid-tempo song, which was started a decade ago, was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and backing vocals. Often times we need the other to be wrong, but we find out that we were both wrong.   

Key lyrics:

All along we both were wrong

I need you

the hard way – This upbeat song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, backing vocals, bass, drums. He always learns things the hard way.     

Key lyrics:

Maybe there's no such thing as a rewind

There's no way to go back in time

I learn best from the replay

I always learn things the hard way


wolves – This song was written by Jon Foreman. Musically, this song is unlike any other on the album. The song features cello, bass, drums and backing vocals. All of his world is a collision and spin. It’s my least favorite song on the album.    

Key lyrics:

All of my world's a collision and spin

Hope is a war that we're already in

backwards in time – This mid-tempo love song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, bass, drums, Sgt. Pepper type sound effects, vocals from Tim Foreman and backing vocals. The song is about going back in time to give a relationship one more try.

Key lyrics:

If we could go back, would we take the same path?

If we knew what we know?

electricity – This love song was written by Jon Foreman. The song features guitar, drums, backing vocals and Sgt. Pepper type sound effects.   

Key lyrics:

Come on, hang up and hang out

Best songs: 

beloved

lost ‘cause

the bones of us

splinter

if i were you

the hard way

 

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New from NEEDTOBREATHE | Posted July-31-2021
Into the Mystery is NEEDTOBREATHE’s eighth full-length studio album. It debuted at #1 on the iTunes “Top Albums” charts upon release, and is one of my top albums of 2021 thus far.  

During the pandemic, the band recorded the album over a three-week period at a historic house turned recording studio in Columbia, Tennessee with co-producer and engineer Konrad Snyder, and special guests. Into the Mystery follows closely 2020’s Out of Body and 2021’s Live from the Woods Vol. 2

Themes from Bear Rinehart’s lyrics include reflecting back, longing to be loved, being easier on yourself, God’s love for us, taking chances,  

Below are brief comments about each song:

What I’m Here For – This autobiographical song has Bear looking back to his teens and twenties. A theme is being easier on yourself. The song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, drums, bass, keys and strings.     

Key lyric:

I don't need silver linings

I don't need so much more

I just need room to be wrong sometimes

That's all I'm hoping for


Into the Mystery – This song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, electric guitar, bass, drums and organ. The song is about longing to hear that one is loved, be it a human love or supernatural love. 

Key lyric:

'Cause I just wanna be loved by you

I cannot resist the need to hear you say it

Whatever you do, I will be there

Son, I will follow you anywhere


Sunshine – The band has said life is going to occasionally lead to disappointment and some very sobering mistakes. This is a song about being kind to yourself. The song features organ, drums, guitar, bass, and backing vocals.

Key lyric:

I, I wanna see you running through the field sometimes

I wanna see your eyes looking up through your hands to the sky

Tell 'em we feel alright, we're living in sunshine


Carry Me – This song was written by Bear Rinehart and Jon Foreman. This is a campfire song about wanting God to carry us from the river's mouth, to the mountain peak, through the great divide and the valley deep features Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, keys, piano and backing vocals.

Key lyric:  

All the ashes and scars they fail

They pale in comparison to yours

I Am Yours – This song about God’s love for us features the band’s original drummer Joe Stillwell. The song features synth, guitar, banjo, backing vocals, drums, bass, drums and keys.

Key lyrics:

If I had to write a story

Of the greatest love in time

I would have to sing of you


Chances – This beautiful song about taking chances was written by Bear Rinehart. Rinehart woke up early one day while the band was recording the album and he wrote this song, which the band recorded that day. The acoustic guitar driven song features backing vocals, piano, strings, and electric guitar. 

Key lyric:

It's always hard to find the courage to start dancing

But I am determined to take my chances

But peace can be hard to find in all this misunderstanding

I am determined to take my chances


Sittin’ in the Backseat – This song has Rinehart reflecting back on his family’s red 1986 Chevette, and remembering how free and fun it felt to sit in the car and look at the stars as they were riding down the road. The song, which features a memorable chorus, features guitar, keys, bass and backing vocals. 

Key lyrics:

We were young and we were undefeated

Give Me a Chance – This was a live take in the studio, and features Joe Stillman on drums. It’s a fun “jingle jangle rock song”. The song features guitar, tambourine, backing vocals, drums, piano, hand claps, organ and a few guitar solos.    

Key lyrics:

Give me a chance to be your man, baby

Don’t Throw All The Good Things Away – This song was written by Bear Rinehart and Natalie Hemby, and features Hemby. Rinehart has said that it’s easy to get caught up in what we’re doing and forget about relationships. Most of the time he looks back on those decisions with regret, so this song was a reminder of that. The song features acoustic guitar, keys, strings, bass and backing vocals.   

Key lyrics:

Don't spit on the grave while your family weeps

Don't throw all the good things away

Innocence – This is about Rinehart’s grandmother. The song features piano, drums, bass, guitar and backing vocals.     

Key lyrics:

I wanna rest

My weary bones on your providence

I wanna find somewhere that I can

Recover my innocence


I Wanna Remember – This song was written by Bear Rinehart and features Carrie Underwood. The song features keys, acoustic and electric guitar, drums, piano and backing vocals. The band has said that it is about life’s fleetingness, and is a nostalgic song that takes you back to the moments you never want to forget.

Key lyric:

I wanna memorize you, wanna stay here forever

'Cause I, I

I take a picture in my mind so we're always together

'Cause I, I wanna remember


West Texas Wind – This song reflects back on when the band was first touring in a van and would drive across the country. As the band went through Amarillo, it would be windy on the interstates, and they would literally see tractor trailers blown over on the side of the road. The song has Rinehart reflecting on the good life he has led. Yes, he’s made mistakes and hurt those he loves. He needs God again and is ready to let the world go. The song features piano, guitar, backing vocals, bass, organ and drums.

Key lyric:

I'm running to you like a west Texas wind

Singing God I need you, oh, how I need you

God I need you again


Best Songs 

What I’m Here For

Sunshine

I Wanna Remember

Carry Me

I Am Yours

Chances

West Texas Wind

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