Sep 30, 2016 CD Reviews
The title speaks volumes of what this album is, which is a worship centered encounter with our Great God. Recorded live, Encounter, is a high-energy worship set proclaiming the victory in Christ, “Our God Wins,” and the joy, hope and freedom that can be found in Christ – “Through Christ.” The CD also contains a modern classic, “Breath,” which is one of those songs I believe help start the modern worship movement not so long ago. It’s been a long time since I have heard this song performed so it was cool to come across it again on this album. And for the more traditionalist, the CD closes with “How Great Thou Art.” A traditional hymn that has always inspired awe and reverence for God’s power and grace and our heartfelt response to his greatness. While the majority of the soundtrack has a more contemporary, guitar-laden, soundtrack, the addition of such a classic as this was greatly appreciated. For more on The Neverclaim and “Encounter,” check out http://www.theneverclaim.com/.
– Ken W.
Sep 25, 2016 Feature Story
Steven Curtis Chapman
“Songs and Stories” tour
September 21, 2016
I’ve seen Steven Curtis Chapman in concert several times and have attended dozens and dozens of other Christian concerts. This was, however, the first smash-up concert I’ve attended, with multiple artists sharing the same stage; and I must say I really enjoyed this show.
Steven Curtis was joined by Mac Powell of Third Day and Brandon Heath. It was refreshing hearing old favorites in new settings as many times the performers took turns on the verses. Or, on the iconic “Dive,” Steven Curtis played lead banjo!
Mac Powell and Brandon Heath had their moments, too. Mac did a tune from his independent country music release. While hardly a fan of so-called country music, I enjoyed Mac’s performance. The three-hour concert (which included a pitch for Steven Curtis’ “Show Hope” foundation and an intermission) ended on the rousing Third Day song “Soul on Fire.” Brandon sang a new song inspired by the old pop standard “Lean on Me.” Can’t wait for that one to come out.
This tour has several dates remaining through the middle of October. Mac Powell will be teaming up with tobyMac on Mac’s next tour.
Photos and Story by Rob S.
Sep 25, 2016 CD Reviews
“The Very Next Thing”
12 tracks @ 54:28
Grade = A
Casting Crowns releases a new record of studio recordings. Lead singer Mark Hall shares some insight into the record during an interview recorded during Lifest 2016 in Oshkosh, WI.
The record opens with the atmospheric Easter anthem “Hallelujah. “What If I Gave Everything” is an honest song about holding back one’s gifts from Jesus.
The new record is not a retread of the Crowns’ sound. I loved the acapella open and bluegrass of “When The God Man Passes By.” Mark Hall’s voice is not heard on “Song That The Angels Can’t Sing.”
Solid throughout, a record worth listening to.
– Rob S.
Sep 23, 2016 CD Reviews
Love & The Outcome
These Are the Days
I have developed a great respect for this duo over the past year as I’ve watched them grow as a family from stage and from their social media. Their latest release, “These are the Days”, is a pleasing bit of fresh air. I love the upbeat style of music and the mellow tones of the vocals. Combined with the depth of the lyrics, it makes for a great CD. It’s very inspirational, with expressive songs like “Good Life,” “If I Don’t Have You,” and one of my favorites, “Gates.” This song speaks of breaking free from the bondage of life as we press in to God and push through the gates to His love. The opening track, “Strangers,” is a rousing tune that I believe is indicative of their energetic live performances. “These are the Days” is an all-around joy for Love The Outcome fans. For more, check out http://www.loveandtheoutcome.com.
– Ken W.
Sep 14, 2016 CD Reviews
I like how they have labeled themselves as “soul-edged” pop as coming up with words to describe their beat is not so easy. The grove they create is infectious. Take for instance, “Open the Clouds.” It starts with a spiritual tone and then suddenly kicks in with a stirring beat that makes you want to move – hands in the air, praising God and looking forward to Christ’s return with contentment. I don’t know that I have heard many dance tracks set to the book of Revelations like this song. The soul-filled-spirituals continues with “Life in the Death of Me,” “Soldier,” and “Good to Me.” And then, it ends with a more tender piano led melody, “Solid Rock.” It’s a great way to earnestly re-center your heart and focus on God’s grace during life’s hard times. I thought it was a spectacular closer for such a robust and spirit filled project. For more on Unspoken, check out http://unspokenmusic.com/.
– Ken W.
Sep 4, 2016 CD Reviews
All Sons & Daughters
Poets & Saints
The new album from All Sons & Daughters is a reflective album that blends traditional hymns with a more modern soundtrack. The stories behind each song have historical significance as the duo traveled to Europe with a handful of friends to create a collaborative project that looked deep into the lives of people like “C.S. Lewis, Saint Patrick, John Newton, Saint Thérèse, Saint Francis, William Cowper, Saint Augustine, George MacDonald.”
The historical significance is heard throughout the lyrics and I truly enjoy the King James style of language they implement on a few of the tracks. For the most part, the album is very reflective and meant to educate and inspire by means of relating key figures in Christian living to our own lives. When I listen to songs like “Rest In You” and “I Wait” I am force to reconcile my own conditions with others who have truly suffered affliction and still held fast to God’s mercy and grace. I believe patience is the word most fitting.
The associated book, Poets and Saints: Eternal Insight, Extravagant Love, Ordinary People, and the video-based lessons, Poets & Saints: A Community Experience, are a complete package designed to work in concert with each other. A concert of prayer and study. Leslie Jordan, one-half of the All Sons & Daughters duet describes it this way; “Our hope is that in this music, book and curriculum, people will find connection, with one another and connection with God,” says Jordan. “A place of vulnerability and discovery where there is freedom and forgiveness… conversations that generate spiritual health, a ripple effect that changes people’s lives.”
It’s a significant project that goes beyond the surface of the typical entertainment level of music today. For more on “Poets & Saints” check out http://allsonsanddaughters.com/.
– Ken W.
Sep 4, 2016 CD Reviews
Walking in the Spirit
Creative Soul Records
Singer-songwriter Gretchen Keskeys debut, “Walking in the Spirit,” released earlier this summer. The new album is primarily inspirational and adult-contemporary in style. Through song, Gretchen shares the struggles in her life and how her faith has given her a more pinpoint purpose in life.
It is an interesting backstory considering she comes from a family that was influential in the area of self-help psychiatry, but it was the faith of her mother that pointed her in the direction of freedom and healing.
As I stated, I would consider the majority of the album to be more inspirational with a heavy emphasis on the vocals, there are many moments of musical creativity as well. In particular, I love the tenacity of “The Battle” and the heartwarming tone of “Prince of Peace.” They’re two of my favorites on the whole album.
For more on “Walking in the Spirit,” check out http://www.gretchenkeskeys.com/.
– Ken W.