Josh Turner – I Serve a Savior

Josh Turner
I Serve a Savior
MCA Nashville

I still remember Turner’s debut and just how excited I was to hear what I thought was the epitome of style for country music. His booming baritone stirred up memories of when mom and dad played a lot of ‘70’s country music around the home. I wasn’t a big fan of country then, but the nostalgia of it all now has stirred up good memories when I’ve listened to Josh Turner.

I can’t believe it took this long for Turner to come out with a gospel album. At first I thought I must surely have missed a gospel album from him sometime in the past decade or more of albums.  However, that’s not the case and his is his first such album.  Since it was a long time coming, and a such a meaningful recording for him, Turner was very deliberate about his song selection. He also made sure that he added his own bit of flair without compromising the integrity of the original. Additionally, there are a couple of  tracks that were recorded live, including his monumental hit “Long Black Train.”  All together they make for a very wonderful experience and an admirable gospel album.

Some of the other standouts include “How Great Thou Art,” “The River (Of Happiness),” and “Amazing Grace.” I Serve a Savior is a great testament of Turner’s faith and an equal representation of his amazing talent. Check out for more details and some samples.

– Ken W.

for King & Country – Burn the Ships

for King & Country
Burn the Ships
Curb | Word Entertainment

“Burn the Ships” is the third release from the critically acclaimed duo known as ‘for King & Country.” From my perspective, the duo has hit it off so well with their past two releases it is hard to believe this is only their third album. Their style of up-tempo pop and lyrical inspiration have propelled them to pop-sensation rapidly. I would say that songs like their lead single, “joy,” and the rhythmic “God Only Knows,” and the progressive “Amen” on their latest release is likely to reinforce that prominence even further.

I read what they had to say about the title and thought that it was interesting;

“Years ago, we learned about an explorer who arrived in a foreign land with his ships and men,” Joel explains. “After they proved too afraid to explore the new territory, the explorer called his men to shore and ordered them to ‘burn the ships,’ so they could only move forward. So many of us are bound by shame and guilt from our pasts, but there’s hope! Let’s step into a new day together as we share with you our journey, Burn the Ships.”

Additionally, when I listen to the whole album I am also drawn to the more tender side on songs like “Need You More” and “Control.” These are songs that go beyond snappy soundtracks and infections choruses.

Overall, “Burn the Ships” is a well-rounded release that exhibits maturity typically found in more veteran artist. For more information on for King & Country or “Burn the Ships” check out their official website at

– Ken W.

Mac Powell and the Family Reunion

Mac Powell and the Family Reunion
10 tracks @ 34:19
Grade = D+

At the end of his new band’s set at Lifest in Oshkosh, WI, singer Mac Powell extolled the crowd, “I have one more thing to tell you.” Something profound? “Buy my new record.” Guess not.

If you’ve listened to either of Mac’s two solo projects, you know he has a thing for country music. And that’s what this new project is-country music. And while there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with country music (I like Kasey Musgraves for example), this disk is riddled with country music clichés.

The chorus from the opening track “Back Again” goes like this;

“Can’t keep myself still; Gotta get my fill.”

Really clever, right? That’s about as deep as it gets.

“Whoo!” is a country-cliché party song while the gag-inducing “I’m Beginning to Wonder” is an “of course it’s all the girl’s fault” relationship abomination. Two songs open with a reference to being 5-years old. How original (insert sarcasm).

Two songs, “Flood Waters” and “Heaven” could cross over to Christian radio but if that’s you’re listening preference don’t bother getting the entire disk. In fact, if interested, check out ebay. You might be able to get (my) disk for dirt cheap. Out it goes. The instrumentation is fine, throw in a slide guitar! But the separate channel mix on the jam that ends “Heaven” is really annoying to listen to on headphones.

You can catch Mac Powell taking about this project via the link below.

– Rob S.

Christafari – Original Love

Original Love
Lion of Zion Entertainment

For many years now, Chistafari has been releasing edifying, Christ-centered, and entertaining Reggae style music. Their latest, “Original Love,” exemplifies what it means to live as you speak (or sing in this case). The music is just one part of their ministry focus, a tool in their arsenal of collective talents that have culminated in a worldwide mission. It is all well documented on their website.

The new music is fresh and upbeat, although, I never thought I would want to hear another rendition of “Good Good Father.” However, they have proven me wrong. You will also recognize “Beautiful Name,” which has been eloquently rerecorded with their signature style. When it comes to the originals, I was really drawn in by “Aloha Ke Akua” (God Is Love), and the same can be said of “Surely Goodness.”

Their musicianship and uplifting lyrics are refreshing. Overall, Christafari shows no signs of slowing down and it is really encouraging to see how they have wrapped their musical talents in such a missional way. Check out for more information on the band and “Original Love.”

– Ken W.

Kim Walker-Smith – On My Side (Live)

Kim Walker-Smith
On My Side (Live)
Jesus Culture Music

Kim Walker-Smith of the Jesus Culture recently released a live project named “On My Side.” The new album follows much the same format of previous releases from her and the general Jesus Culture brand. Noteworthy are the songs “I Know,” which aptly describes a right perspective of “Christ the Solid Rock” on which we can depend on, the heartfelt “Undone,” and my favorite, “Throne Room.” This last song does well to describe my thoughts on the throne room as it is described in Revelations. It’s another heartfelt and powerful song from a veteran worship leader.

You can find more on Kim Walker-Smith and “On My Side” from her Facebook page or the Jesus Culture website at

– Ken W.

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.