Bright Ones

Bright Ones
Bethel Music Kids

Bethel Church in Redding, CA has done an excellent job using music as a tool of ministry with several worship leader style projects in the past. The ‘Bright Ones’ is an extension of that ministry, featuring the youth of Bethel Church. The youth ministry has already had success with an earlier release and a 2016 Christmas EP. The new self-titled EP recently released (April 27th, 2018). It is a mix of creatively worded, Christ-centered, upbeat songs with an abundance of energy. The production is of high quality; however, it relies heavily on what I would consider a tracks-based sound. That’s what gives it the unending energy that’s fitting for a youth event opener or just a good, loud, listen at home. It’s lyrically positive and creatively enjoyable, a great asset for parents trying to infuse some positivity into their younger children.

For more information, check out the Bethel Music website for more information.

– Ken W.

Stryper – God Damn Evil

God Damn Evil
Frontiers Music s.r.l

There has been a string of new releases from Stryper over the past few years, and each one of them has carried its own energy. The vitality of the band has been very impressive and now it seems even more so on “God Damn Evil.” It may just be a weakness in my memory, but I do not recall any of the recent releases catching as much as attention as this one. One may think it’s mainly the shocking title at first glance, but if you listen to the project overall, I would say it’s earned adoration.

The new album is 11 songs strong and includes a bit of screamo on “Take it To the Cross,” but more of the traditional Stryper on songs like “Sorry,” “Lost,” and the title track, “God Damn Evil.” I am assuming that the first single, “Sorry,” is derived from some very personal lessons of pride, self-serving, impatient and all those other less-than-stellar qualities of human nature.  It is definitely a message worth heading. Lastly, one of my favorites,“Lost,” is a reflection of the general state of society and the depth of our depravity.  Aside from the poignant message, its a robust song sonically.

The title track actually sounds really good, and if you take time to process the lyrics it’s a very compelling song.  I think one thing it clearly shows is that society has perverted the word “damn” to the point that when it is used in its proper context, it’s unacceptable, but in every day conversation we tend to use the term very flippantly. Overall, It’s a good song that has people talking, so kudos to Stryper for upsetting the apple cart. However, if you would rather just feel all warm and fuzzy inside, there’s a nice little love song called “Can’t Live Without You,” that will help.  It also one of the best guitar solos on the album, second only to the thrashing on “The Valley.”

I don’t want to say anything too judgmental, but don’t be so priggish, go on and check the Stryper website ( for more links to interviews and reviews for “God Damn Evil.” And then give it a fair listen and just enjoy it for what it is; hard-rock bliss.

– Ken W.


Self-Titled EP

I was thinking that Jen Ledger would have such a monumental struggle meeting expectation for her new album, being overshadowed by her part in Skillet. Aside from her precision and skill at the drums, she had the opportunity to shine on backing and lead vocals. All of which can build up expectations.

I am not saying her new EP hasn’t reached those expectations, but I do think it could have added some extra pressure as she worked on her debut. It also has the potential to reflect in the words of critics like myself. Therefore, I tried to listen to this EP as if I had no idea who she was and my experiences with Skillet in the past few years.

With that in mind I have found a lot to like about the new EP. From the more progressive, “I’m Not Dead Yet,” to the energetic and uplifting “BOLD,” the energy and positivity flow effortlessly. On “Warrior,” I am reminded a bit of the band Superchic(k). This song also features John Cooper of Skillet. The aggressive nature of the soundtrack continues with “Foreigner” and she closes with the anthem-like “Iconic.” Overall the EP is a good collection of lyrically uplifting, with an equally upbeat, rock-driven, soundtrack. I am certain it will live up to all expectations when Ledger hits the stage as well as the airwaves.

Check out for more on the new EP.

– Ken W.

Andrew Peterson – Resurrection Letters (Prologue and Vol. 1)


Andrew Peterson
Resurrection Letters (Prologue and Vol. 1)
Centricity Music

It seems that every Easter we obviously focus on the death and resurrection of Christ more diligently, and often times we lament that we do not do so more fervently throughout the year.

Admittedly, for myself it sometimes takes a trigger to remind me. So, at Easter I have a heightened sense of the depth of it all as there is special music at church, TV programming, and just general study focused on the resurrection that help focus on it more intently. Now this year, I have Peterson’s “Resurrection Letters.”

“Resurrection Letters” is a three part collection that highlights the death and resurrection of Christ. Stylistically the music is in the form of a traditional singer-songwriter style, so it’s not restricted to a ‘special’ holiday format. It is something you can listen to anytime of the year, and sincerely reflect on the story of the cross.

At the end of the “Prologue” the EP, Peterson goes back to the beginning with “God Rested” and I think this emphasizes that God had a plan from the beginning and Jesus fulfilled that plan on his journey to the cross on our behalf.

“Volume 1,” leads off with “His Heart Beats,” which is an upbeat proclamation of Christ’s victory over death with an exclamation point; His Heart Beats!!! This is followed by stories of thieves and sinners alike (“Remember Me”), communion and reflection (“Remember and Proclaim”) and the complete finale “All Things Together.” A complete tapestry of story and music that highlights the power and completeness of the blood of the cross.

Interestingly, “Volume 2” was released several years ago and you can read about that here:

For more on Andrew Peterson and the “Resurrection Letters” check out his official website at

– Ken W.

Gene Watson – My Gospel Roots

Gene Watson
My Gospel Roots
New Day

I get very nostalgic when I listen to what I would consider old-time country and gospel like “My Gospel Roots.” There is something too very simplistic about this style of music, that lifts your spirits up.

As I listen to the music and the direct and scriptural lyrics, I sit and wonder if my aunts and uncles that loved this style felt uplifted and nearer to their “rock of ages” that Watson refers to in “Clinging to a Saving Hand.” Reading over Gene Watson’s history, 50yrs strong, with 75 charted titles and several Top 10 hits and No. 1 records, there’s a good chance he was a part of their personal collections. Watson has an impressive history for sure, and this latest album is an excellent addition to his repertoire. I like the gentle, melodious cry of “In the Garden,” and the rolling keys of “Old Roman Soldier,” countered by a more guitar driven and upbeat “Satisfied” and you have a wide range of tunes to enjoy.

The new album is listed on Amazon with audio samples and some more customer reviews that would back up my own positive remarks. You can also find more on Gene Watson at his official website at

For fans of Country Gospel, it’s a guaranteed favorite.

– Ken W.

Jordan Feliz – Future

Jordan Feliz
Centricity Music

The new album from Jordan Feliz is a worship party with dancing on the “Streets of Gold” and through the “Pages” of God’s grand plan. It sings of miracles and lives changed in 1989, leading to praises for a God that is with us “All Along.” The significance of a live saved by grace is further decreed in “Changed” and then humbly, earnestly, and melodiously proclaimed in “180.” This last one, “180,” is a song that has made me reflect too on how significant life has changed since my own rebirth. It’s a heartfelt song of running to a God that meets you where you are and waits to bring you back to His arms. All together, “Future” is a powerful new project with some very personal and reflective songs of worship set to an upbeat and joyful soundtrack. It’s a personal testimony many of us can relate to.

For more on Jordan Feliz and “Future,” check it out at

– Ken W.

I Am They – Trial & Triumph

I Am They
Trial & Triumph
Essential Records

I love how this album starts out with a southern gospel foot stomping “My Feet Are on the Rock.” It’s the kind of song that gets your blood a pumping and your praises running high. That’s followed up by an equally powerful praise song “To the One.” In fact, after previewing the album on iTunes on a few occasions I have found that I rated every track with 4 stars.

I listen to projects like this on multiple devices and typically mark those I really like randomly, so I know what to give a good listen to as I write a review. Apparently, over time, I marked each and every track on “Trial & Triumph” with four stars. I think what made a huge difference is that they can switch around the leads quite easily. They have a nice combination of vocals that makes for a good variety of ambiances from song to song.

Therefore, finding a few stand outs is very difficult, but overall, I was drawn to the tender tones of songs like “The Water” and “Near to Me.” These two speak to the “weak and weary” ways which we struggle with each day, but the lyrics speak of “hope,” “justice,” and being filled with the holy spirit. These two in particular are very uplifting and beautiful songs.

For more on “Trial & Triumph” check out the official I Am The website at

– Ken W.