AlphaOmegaNews

Natasha Owens – We Will Rise

Natasha Owens
We Will Rise
Maharlow Records

Released this past summer (2017), Owens’ debut album “We Will Rise” was, in my opinion, one of the timeliest releases this past year. While the content and spirit of the album arose from own struggles and tragedies, it came at a time when the nation needed to hear some encouraging words. Post release, there were an unprecedented number of natural disasters and man-made tragedies and through it all Owens’ message of hope in Christ reverberated strongly. As I listen to the song “Safe,” it reminds me that while the world may seem out of control, God is in control and He will never forsake me. It is an incredibly tender song with such a reassuring message. If you bookend that with the title track, “We Will Rise,” you have a complete assurance that in the end, God will redeem those who cling to Him and proclaim the name of Jesus.  What an incredibly encouraging message.

– Ken W.

For more on Natasha Owens visit her official website at http://natashaowensmusic.com/.

Jeremy Camp – The Answer

Jeremy Camp
The Answer
Sparrow

“The Answer” is Camp’s latest release in a long line of recognized accomplishments. With an incredible record of 38 No. 1 hits on the charts, it is important to note that “The Answer,” is not just a chart seeking project. Indeed not, the message of the entire album hinges around proclaiming the name of Jesus. He sings of his own personal challenges on “Never Stopped Loving,” a central song on the album and his personal testimony (in my opinion). On “Carriers,” Camp sings of the great commission as a call to action for the listeners. The title track, “The Answer,” decrees the character of Jesus and affirms what God’s word reveals to us. Overall, the message is on point and Camp’s means of delivery are spot on as usual. “The Answer” is an amazing outcome of reflection and worship.

For more on Jeremy Camp check out his official website at http://www.JeremyCamp.com.

– Ken W.

Gateway – Monuments

Gateway
Monuments
Fairtrade Services

A new brand of contemporary worship, Gateway, a collective effort of the Dallas-Fort Worth Gateway Church, is a mix of traditional congregational worship and a more modern, dance-mix worship (“For All My Days”).

While the originals are creative and upbeat, I find myself drawn more to the more traditional songs like “Precious Jesus.” Of the originals, I find myself drawn to songs like “Living Water” and “My Only Hope” as they are focused more on the lyrics and less on the glitzy soundtrack.

Overall though “Monuments” is a decent representation of what can be done when a church pulls together a group of gifted musicians.

– Ken W.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GATEWAYworship

Iron Bell Music – God That Saves

Iron Bell Music
God That Saves
Provident

The title and the cover say so much about this album, as it comes from the hearts of the writers who have experienced great depths of anguish. The depths of which only an amazing God could you pull you out of and help you rise above. Those experiences translate into song on “God That Saves.” The title track speaks of being “rescued” and “grace,” two of the strongest characters of a God that cares for His people. Their debut project contains 11 new songs recorded live at one of their favorite venues known as “the barn.” The live recording gives it a more personal feeling that I like in a worship album. I can more easily connect to songs that I hear coming more from the heart than the console. I think with the personal testimonies and the apt ability to write and create vertical worship, Iron Bell Music has a favorable ministry in front of them. For more on Iron Bell Music check out https://ironbellmusic.com/ and in the meantime be listening for the title track as it is already spinning up the charts.

– Ken W.

Mandisa – Out the Dark

Mandisa
Out the Dark
Capital CMG

So often, because of misplaced priorities, it is human nature to think that people that are successful and culturally popular have not problems/worries. It is also uncommon that someone with celebrity status is transparent enough to let the public in on his or her darkest days in such an open way, but Mandisa is the opposite of all that is common.

Having found herself suffering greatly from depression, she now shares publicly her struggles with depression through song. The lyrics are so uplifting and incredibly personal; there is no doubt that God is going to use Mandisa to speak to many hearts. There is such encouragement in songs like “Unfinished” and “I’m Still Here.” She also speaks of social issues on “Bleed the Same.” This is a very meaningful song for the church in this challenging time in history.

The new project also comes with a few guest appearances, with TobyMac and Krik Franklin on the aforementioned “Bleed the Same,” and the energetic Brit Nicole on “What You’re Worth.” Lastly, Jeremy Camp also appears on “My First Love.” Jeremy has a unique testimony himself and I think that adds a lot to the overall meaning of the song.

The deluxe version is 18 tracks long, with a couple of those being short interludes that help tie all the songs together, as well as some recorded messages (“Voicemail Intro”) that she shares as a reminder of how others deeply care for you when you most need it.

“Out of the Dark” is a deeply transparent and relatable project sure to encourage others and serve as a reminder of how much God’s love can lift us up.

– Ken W.

North Point InsideOut – Nothing Ordinary

North Point InsideOut
Nothing Ordinary
Centricity Music

“Nothing Ordinary” is the first of a series of planned worship projects on the Centricity label this year. This EP features five up-tempo worship tunes that have a very large congregation feel. To carry this same experience in the local church would be difficult without the breadth of musicians that North Point can deploy, or without depending heavily on backing tracks. Neither of which fit my preferences during a service, but for casual listening, I can appreciate the upbeat style. Thus, for listening purposes, I wish the album were longer. It seems to spin by very fast when I am playing it at work or home. The album has a subtle intensity and powerful lyrics. A worthy combination for sure. For more on “Nothing Ordinary,” check out the official North Point InsideOut Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/npinsideoutband.

– Ken W.

Covenant Worship – Sand & Stars

Covenant Worship
Sand & Stars
Integrity Music

“Sand & Stars,” the latest from the Dallas area Covenant Worship band, was literally recorded under the stars and live during a special event. The songs are crafted around a message of the covenant established by God that secures the legacy of believers all over the world. It is all vertical worship. While it has been recorded live, it is hard to tell aside from the occasional applause between songs. However, the song selection is still refreshing and uplifting. I have a few favorites, like “All Honor,” and the upbeat “Love Has Overcome.” I also like the familiar, but fresh “Doxology” which has a more organic and flowing production than the original hymn.

For more on Covenant Worship and “Sand and Stars” visit the official website at http://www.covenantchurch.org/covenant-worship.

– Ken W.

Hannah Kerr – Overflow

Hannah Kerr
Overflow
Black River Christian

Already available electronically, Hannah Kerr, a young new aspiring singer/songwriter, is dropping her debut on CD this Good Friday. Her song, “Radiate” is already doing well on radio and I would suspect if she gets radio support, there are plenty more Top 40 singles on this album.

While Hannah is a talented vocalist, she is also a partner in the writing process so she has more invested in this than just her vocal talents. Over all, “Overflow” is a complete joy to listen to and I am not usually a big fan of Top 40 Adult Contemporary. I just find that Hannah’s tender voice is so sincere and she draws you in to the lyrics.

One of my favorites is “Never Leave Your Side,” where she reminds me that God is in control and He’s there to guide us through this complicated (and sometimes scary) world. This is a common theme with “Warrior,” “Your Love Defends Me,” and “Lifeline.” The album also includes a collaboration with Mark Hall (Casting Crowns) titled “Be Still and Know.” I found this to be another gentle reminder of God’s enduring love.

Aside from singing, Hannah is an ambassador for Youth for Tomorrow (youthfortomorrow.org) and she leads worship at her home church in Brentwood, Tn. For more on Hanna check out http://hannahkerrmusic.com/.

– Ken W.

Brooke & Boggs – Wildfire


Brooke & Boggs
Wildfire
Brooke and Boggs Music

One half of Brooke & Boggs is Michael Boggs, formerly of contemporary Christian group FFH. This new endeavor finds Michael partnering with worship leader Brooke Voland. The combination is powerful. The worship style is lofty and vocally emotive, both key elements in leading others in a very expressive style of worship.

Both Michael and Voland had been leading worship in their own churches until Michael set out to find a musical partner to record new songs with. He was led to Voland and together the set out to make original worship songs that would help equip churches.

While this is not an uncommon mission among worship artist, it is different than what they both have done in the past; FFh was more of a contemporary-pop, radio friendly music and Brooke Voland was originally a touring and recording country vocalist. Their new music draws the attention more vertical and the style is more congregational than performance.

The first single is “Grace Upon Grace,” an airy, elegant, worship song with moments of swelling choruses and impassioned vocals by Brooke. Both take the lead on “The Cross Stands,” a story about the power of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and the symbolic nature of the cross; “the cross stands when we can’t.” It sings of freedom from guilt, shame, and hell as the “cross stands above it all.” It’s a beautiful testament to the power of the cross.

They don’t have much of a web presence from what I could find, but they do have a landing page and a Facebook page if you’re interested in learning more about Brooke & Boggs.

– Ken

http://brookeandboggs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/brookeandboggs/

Jaci Velazquez – Trust

Jaci Velazquez
Trust
Integrity Music

It has been a long time since I have heard from Jaci Velazquez, but what a way to reemerge! The new album highlights Jaci’s signature voice and pep that I have always enjoyed. The worship standards like “Great Are You Lord” have a fresh new sound. The new songs, they range from worship to a more pop flavored sound.

In particular, I like the worship song “Praise the King,” as well as the message of hope in that you hear in “Rest.”  Lastly, there is the celebratory sounds of “Sound Of Your King.”

“Trust” is a well-rounded CD musically, and Jaci is still on regards to vocal ranges and abilities. I would suggest checking out https://www.jacivelasquez.com/ for more on “Trust.” The new album is being released in both an English and Spanish version on March 31st, 2017.

– Ken W.