Colton Dixon – Identity

Colton Dixon

The first time around, I dismissed Colton Dixon mostly because of the American Idol connection. I am not a fan of the overall concept of the show or the possible exploitation of the status the show can provide. However, after seeing Colton live and learning more about Colton the person and not the “idol,” I was finding myself more and more drawn to him and his music. I am certainly glad my opinions were challenged and I had been looking forward to this new release with much anticipation.

“Identity” is a concept album that has been broken down into three subjects; mind, body and spirit. The sections are creatively introduced by a spoken-word/instrumental segue. The album overall has a very progressive pop-rock soundtrack with elements of dance-tracks. Having experienced Colton’s live show once before, I am guessing these new songs will take his live show to a whole new level.

Personally, I really got into the album after the “Body” segment and particularly the song “Warriors.” It really seemed to pick up some momentum and further excitement at that point. I also like the Gospel message of “No Greater Love.” The highlight though is “The Other Side,” a peaceful song about life in eternity and how those behind can be comforted by the hope of salvation found in Jesus.

For more on “Identity” and Colton Dixon, check out his official website at where you can get tour information and song previews.

-Ken W.

Aaron Shust – “Love Made A Way”

Aaron Shust
“Love Made A Way”
Centricity Music
Grade = A-

After ten years as a Christian recording artist, Aaron Shust decided it was time.

“It felt like a new season, like a little celebration, a tip of the hat to the first ten years. . . . (Its) time to celebrate.” And he’s celebrating with a new, live recording.

There are several familiar songs from Aaron’s catalog, including “My Savior My God,” “My Hope Is I You” and an outstanding version of “Cornerstone.” About that song, Aaron said he wanted to do something simple.

“We played (Cornerstone) without even rehearsing. It was a beautiful worship moment.”

Some new songs are also included. The first single is “You Redeem.”

  • Rob S.

Aaron Shust – Love Made A Way

Aaron Shust
Love Made A Way
Centricity Music

This album is so flawless that aside from the applause between songs, you would have a hard time knowing that it was a live recording. The title and cover art do not even give it away and if you were to just listen to the songs you would think that it was simply a greatest hits project.

However, when you dig deeper, you find out that it is live and that it is more than Shust’s greatest hits. The song selection was very deliberately picked for this live recording. Shust purposely picked songs that would create a powerful night of worship. Also, the standards chosen, like “My Savior My God,” were not performed exactly as they were originally recorded. The live album gave Shust a chance to stretch his creativity a bit more and to build upon an atmosphere of worship that he finds invigorating as he tours.

There was another purpose behind the recording, that being a “celebration.” A celebration of a decade of recording and performing. It’s a mark well worth celebrating and I admire how Shust turned that into a night of worship (forever recorded) instead of a project that simply touts his own accomplishments.

It is most evident in “My Hope Is In You,” one of my favorite tracks on the new project. The fullness of the audience singing along can clearly be heard on this track and to me it is one of the most inspiring songs on the album. Along with the emotive “God Of Brilliant Lights,” and the rawness of “Cornerstone,” which was recorded spontaneously, further embodying the overall worship experience.

In conclusion, “Love Made A Way” is a meaningful testament to Shust’s 10 year anniversary.

Check out for more on Aaron Shust and “Love Made A Way.”

– Ken W.

Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust
Discovery House Music

The moniker, Out of the Dust, appears to have many deep meanings for the husband-wife duo of Chris and Stephanie Teague. It speaks of our creation and purpose in life – “All That I am Made For” and their own spiritual journey. The duo was married at an early age and then went through some very rough times which eventually led to divorce. Miraculously, God intervened and brought redemption and restoration to their marriage. It is an amazing story that you can read about on their website.

The new album is a mix of indie, folk, and pop styles that is somewhat like that of another husband-wife duo Waterdeep (not to be confused with Watermark). When I hear the sweet, tender voice of Stephanie, I think of Lori Chaffer singing “When the Cold Wind Blows.” However, there are many differences from that point that make Out of the Dust quite unique. For example, the focus on much of this album seems to be more on the pop format than the folk influences.

The duo does well trading off lead and singing two-part leads. Overall, the tones are soothing and the lyrics are uplifting. I particularly love the redemptive and hopeful song “Make Us Whole.” It has a strong message and it is a very upbeat and worshipful song. Other favorites include “All That I’m Made For,” “Safe to Shore,” and the traditional hymn, “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.”

For more on Out of the Dust check out their official website at

– Ken W.

Darlene Zschech – Here I Am Send Me (Live)

Darlene Zschech
Here I Am Send Me (Live)
Integrity Music

As prolific as her name is, I was surprised to read that this was Darlene Zschech’s first project in several years. The first in fact since 2013, which may not seem like a long time unless you consider the fact that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. That’s a lot on your plate aside from worrying about new music. While Zschech is at the forefront of the praise and worship genre, the new album is solid, but not ground breaking. That’s not a bad thing either. It takes a heart connection, not an entertainment thrill to worship authentically and that’s what she’s best at doing. When you consider the trials of her recent history, a song like “You Are Great,” proclaiming God’s greatness, is much more meaningful. The new project is full of such songs, “You Will Be Praised,” the emotively powerful “Emmanuel,” and the title track “Here I Am.”

For more on Darlene Zschech and “Here I Am Send Me,” check out her official website at

– Ken W.

Laura Story – Open Hands

Laura Story
Open Hands
Fair Trade/Columbia

The latest from songwriter Laura Story has already been impacting the charts with her lead single, the title track, “Open Hands.” This song includes guest collaborator Mac Powel (Third Day). It is a catchy song sure to inspire. As a parent, I immediately connected with “Give You Faith.” I like how she’s taking a common parental desire and put it to such a tender song. There is so much truth and wisdom in this song. For me this is the highlight of the album because I can connect with her on this personally. I also appreciate the fusion of old and new on “For the Love of My King,” a heartfelt song of adoration towards King Jesus. Lastly, I think the song “Every Word You Breath” sums up well the overall theme of the project; God’s character is honorable and his love is abounding. For more on Laura Story and “Open Hands,” check out her official website at

– Ken W.