AlphaOmegaNews

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:  http://alphaomeganews.org/media/?p=897

For more on Andrew Peterson and the “Resurrection Letters” check out his official website at https://www.andrew-peterson.com/.

– 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 http://www.genewatsonmusic.com.

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

– Ken W.

Jordan Feliz – Future

Jordan Feliz
Future
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 http://jordanfeliz.com/.

– 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 https://www.iamtheyband.com/.

– Ken W.

Insomniac Folklore – Everything Will Burn

Insomniac Folklore
Everything Will Burn

Insomniac Folklore unquestionably puts the “art” in Artistic with their unique brand of theatrical compositions. I believe they call it “charming and aggressive theatrical punk.”

Their style of music is by far the most unique style lyrically and sonically that I have ever reviewed. Specifically, their last release was the only CD I have ever reviewed with a “Parental Warning” on the cover. Although this latest release was given to me via download, I can only speculate that it too would have a similar content warning. It’s not for the faint at heart Christian. It is at times dark, vulgar, and shocking, but it speaks the truth like no other with its provocative lyrics and sometimes gloomy soundtrack. It is truly what I love most about the band and (so far) both of their projects that I have had the joy and privilege to review.

Concerning the music; the project is interlaced with musical interludes prefixed as a “Tetrad” which in musical terms is a set of four notes. Not sure the significance, but each one has a distinct part that follows. Including a reference to the Jewish holiday the “Succot” which, according to Wikipedia, commemorates the miraculous protection of God as observed by Jewish tradition. This makes some sense when you think of the overarching Apocalyptic nature of the project. Like I eluded to before, this is a though provoking collection of songs.

My personal favorites are the irrefutable “Everything Will Burn,” the oddly entertaining “Black Widow,” which speaks somewhat of the Pharisees and Sadducee’s of today (preachers and politicians) – “preachers make good salesmen, politicians make good crooks, sometimes you can’t tell which is which…” Then there’s the guitar driven “Dust” which is just awesome sounding, and lastly, “The End.” This aptly titled closing song has a haunting finish like an old-style spiritual. This is also one of the most difficult songs lyrically, it is very honest retelling of a horrifying event in singer Tyler Hentschel’s life.

“The End” contrasts the hedonistic behavior of a overstimulated and oversexed generation with the disturbing account of singer Tyler Hentschel’s own brush with death, robbed at gunpoint in an abandoned house. To the sounds of thunder and soaking rain, this sordid vision gives way to ethereal harmonies in a reprise of the title track that is not at all gloomy, but hopeful, radiant, waiting.

Personally, I have an appreciation for the provocative art and stylistic bravery of being diverse and eclectic. I also feel comfortable enough to be challenged in my way of thinking, particularly when it comes to presenting life as a Christian through music. While Insomniac Folklore is not  as polished as the top-40 we generally gravitate towards, it is truly authentic and praiseworthy.

If you’re interested in the artistic anomalous, check them out at http://everythingwillburn.insomniacfolklore.com/.

– Ken W.

November 2014 Review – “A Place Where Runaways Are Not Alone

Steven Malcom – The Second City Part 1

Steven Malcom
The Second City Part 1
Word Records

Malcom’s follow up to his self-titled debut is a short but full EP featuring four new tracks, of which three feature fellow upcoming artist Taylor Hill, Anderson Michael and Zauntee. While it is a small collection I found that it was more than full when it comes to content. “Not to Us” sets the spiritual tone with a lyrical testimony of a personal faith that’s changed his life. This is followed by my favorite, “Watch.” This song is deeply personal, and the lyrical rhymes just seem to flow so naturally. It’s such a cool way to communicate personal struggles and faith in song. The final two tracks, “Rodeo” and “Fadeaway” compliment the EP well with a gospel centered focus and excellent craftsmanship. For more on Steven Malcom check out his official website at http://www.stevenmalcolm.com/.

– Ken W.

Biographical Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cmc1FVQSJA4&t=3s

Self-Titled Review: http://alphaomeganews.org/reviews/2017/02/20/steven-malcom/

Imari Tones – Jesus Wind


Imari Tones
Jesus Wind
Kitchen Knife Records

It is no trivial fact that Imari Tones is a Christian Japanese heavy metal band when you consider the deeply rooted traditions of Buddhism in their country. One should not assume either that Christianity cannot thrive in the same vein as other more traditional religions of any region. It is within that tension that Imari Tones approached their latest release, “Jesus Wind,” as a concept album that concentrations on Japanese history from a Christian perspective. Their press release explains it well;

The album consists of 3 parts: Past, Present and Future. This is because the band decided to write not only about the past, but also about the future, in order to convey the message of hope. The Present part gives the listener a feeling of tension and reality, through the songs about the ongoing events like Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident in 2011 and political turmoil in the current world. The future part has almost prophecylike overtone, with spiritual utopian songs like “Revolution” and “New Jerusalem”.

All that aside, I  admire the fact that they are a hard-working band, laser focused on a mission. If you look at their Band Camp page, you’ll see they have close to two-dozen albums available! It’s a good stretch of time, work and effort that shows an incredible amount of commitment and drive.

The greatest appeal of their latest (and former) release for me, is the cutting-edge metal. I love the energy of the guitar riffs and leads that are backed up by a pounding back beat of drums and bass. I love to hear the blistering solos like on “The War” and the three-plus minute solo, “This is How Freedom Dies.” It leads into the fist pumping “Repent” which is one of my favorite songs on the new album. They also come close to the infamous rock ballad with the more subdued “The Peace;” which also has a sweet Satriani style solo too boot.

Imari Tones reminds me of a time when the neighborhood garage band was grinding out great tunes. It’s less radio polished and just pure rock driven. If you’re looking for something unique and eternally significant, I would highly recommend checking them out at the resources listed below.

– Ken W.

https://imaritones.bandcamp.com/album/jesus-wind

https://www.facebook.com/imaritones/

Nathan Tasker
“The Hymns Collective”
Luxtone Records.
15 tracks @ 61:32
Grade = A

I love the hymns and there are times when I want the mix to be simple and understated. Thank you Nathan Tasker for releasing such a disk.

“How Firm A Foundation,” “Be Thou My Vision,” (a fave) and “All Creatures of Our God and King” are just a few of the songs here. Sometimes it just Nate and his guitar. Works for me.

I’m glad I picked this one up during Nate’s tour stop with Michael W. Smith. I had Nathan at my church a couple of years ago and did an unplugged music video with him. Great guy.

– Rob S.

http://www.nathantasker.com/

Sara Groves – Abide with Me

Sara Groves
Abide with Me
Fair Trade/Columbia

Released last November, “Abide with Me” is a beautiful collection of hymns layered over a modest soundtrack. There is little to say other than this is a beautiful project, simply majestic and honoring. I love to come back to the traditional hymns every now and then and it is nice to have a fresh offering like “Abide with Me” to choose from. Sara Groves is a well-respected artist with a reach history of musical offerings and I can hardly think of someone more apt to bring such beauty and life to the classics like she has done here. Check out https://www.saragroves.com for more on Sara Groves and “Abide with Me.”

– Ken W.

Alexis Slifer – Famous For

Alexis Slifer
Famous For
Bema Media

Alexis Slifer, a former “Rubyz” vocalist, endeavors to establish her own voice on her new release “Famous For.” It’s a bright new EP with a tight range of vocal styles that mostly hover around a pop infused soundtrack. The heart of the album comes from a tried and tested heart that aches for the “healing forgiveness” of our great God and Father. From human trafficking in Cambodia to the core of her very own family, Slifer knows what it is like to depend on the peace that only God can bring to a broken heart. My personal favorites are the title track “Famous For” and “Wildfire.” Together they show great maturity and depth as an artist. The new project is six tracks long and short 23 minutes long, but it shows great potential for a breakout solo. Check out http://alexisslifer.com/ for more on “Famous For.”

– Ken W.