Jason Gray’s “A Way to See in The Dark” album. Jason Gray is the kind of artist that is truly an ARTIST! He’s poppy, folksy, rockish… I can’t describe his style without making it sound unappealing, but it really does work! Even from the design of the cd jacket, you get a taste of who he is; I can tell that he is honest, creative, and thoughtful, and these are qualities that I think make a musician special. Did you know that singing for Jesus has helped him overcome stuttering?! I am in love with his voice and this album. My favorite songs are “Remind Me Who I Am”, “The End of Me”, “No Thief Like Fear”, “Without Running Away”, and “Jesus, We Are Grateful”. “Remind Me Who I Am” is a song that easily becomes a daily prayer; I find myself using it often. It’s about what you would guess: those times when you need God to reassure you of your identity in Him. Both “The End of Me” and “No Thief Like Fear” feel like lessons and encouragement wrapped in one. They’re worded just right so that they tug on you in a convicting yet uplifting way. I love this line from “The End of Me”, and it explains the song by itself: The end of me’s not the enemy/ It’s where mercy gets the better part of me/ The end of me’s not the enemy/ It’s where love was always leading me/. “No Thief Like Fear” is beautiful and truthful, speaking of the things fear robs you of. The bridge makes me declare along: I am free, I am free/ for my God has set me free/ From these chains I am released/ for you my God have set me free/. “Without Running Away” is the big one for me: it encourages me to stay strong in loving God and the people around me, and also lets me be a little broken. And of course, “Jesus, We Are Grateful” is a pretty way to thank Jesus for all He does! I think my favorite part of the album in general is the poetic yet understandable lyrics. It’s harder than you would think to achieve clarity while using beautiful words, but Mr. Gray can do it! If you want a piece of art that will speak into your life, try “A Way to See in The Dark.”
Josh Wilson’s “See You” album. Who doesn’t love someone who uses 20 instruments for one album, especially when 18 of those he plays himself and one of them is called a wurlitzer?! That doesn’t include all the friends he brought in to make noise with toasters, chip clips, a bag of M&M’s, and other silly things! Josh Wilson brings just the right balance of fun and depth to his music. Let’s talk about my favorites of this album: “Behind the Beauty” shares that God’s love for us is in everything, from a sunrise to a symphony, and that the warmth and wonder we feel when we experience these things are His voice. What a picture! “Fall Apart” is an inspiring view of our struggles– what if this turns out to be the best thing to happen to us? It’s a great reminder that we become closer to God in our hard places. “See You” is hearbreakingly honest. It speaks of situations we can’t see God being in, and assures us: I know You’re standing here/ You’ve been crying these same tears/ yeah, You’ve been here all along/ so give me strength to just hold on/ until I see You/. I get chills every time. “Always Only You” is an adorable love song about newlyweds. I love it! Do you remember/ the first time you held my hand?/ I’m sure I would have liked that concert/ but I wasn’t/ watching/ the band/. You can’t tell me that’s not cute! “Forest Fire” is based on the verse in James that speaks of the tongue being a flame; the song takes the analogy further and has a great sound. Finally, he shares his gorgeous instrumental version of the hymn “It Is Well.” I love the creative, comfortable music that Mr. Wilson brings to the table and think you should give it a try!
Audio Adrenaline’s “Don’t Censor Me” album. I am very much an “Adrenaline Junkie”, so I was delighted and surprised when a friend found this album and thought of me! If you look past the 90’s clothes, hair, and poses, it’s enjoyable! (Haha!) There are some great songs to be discovered here. Audio Adrenaline has always been a fun and gospel-wearing band that could explain things in an easy-to-understand way, and we can count on them to rebel for God! I’m sure you’ve heard “Big House”, the upbeat anthem about being in Heaven as God’s child. Along with it, my favorites are “Jesus and The California Kid”, “Don’t Censor Me”, “Rest Easy”, and “Scum Sweetheart.” “Jesus and The California Kid” shares that followers of Jesus can be just as cool as everyone else WITHOUT sin or attitudes; I always laugh at the transition from the Beach Boys-esque chorus to the fast-paced verses that somehow work together. “Don’t Censor Me” can be a little awkward in the beginning, but it’s so true and needs to be said– if people can get away with all these nasty things we see and hear on tv and in music, why does the world try to censor the gospel? The song declares: Only one word shakes the earth/ Only one word holds the worth/ One word, G.O.D./. “Rest Easy” is a pretty song I hum to myself when I start to feel stressed out that gives me a little peace, and “Scum Sweetheart” is a unique way of expressing our “break up” with worldliness. It warns of the dangers of loving the world, exposing its darkness and evil intentions. This album convinced me that Audio Adrenaline has been great from beginning to end! (Did you know they stopped recording to begin an orphanage in Haiti?)
Red’s “End of Silence” album. Red is the flawless marriage of hard rock and pretty melodies! They prove it right away with the intro to the album, an instrumental piano piece that has a haunting quality to it. Immediately following is “Breathe Into Me” with its intense electric guitar, but they manage to flow together! I completely LOVE Michael Barnes’ voice and the passion it carries with it. My favorite songs on the album are “Breathe Into Me”, “Let Go”, “Already Over”, and “Hide.” Almost all of these express the deep desire, the NEED to be closer to God and overcome their dark places. “Breathe Into Me” is like a prayer you pray when you see you’ve run from God and want to return to Him, but are unsure how. “Let Go” could be written to either the enemy or a particular sin that is dragging you down. It shares how terribly he or it has been hurting and deterring you, and screams: you can’t have me anymore/ Let go!/. I am obsessed with it; it is so pretty (in a rock-out way) and something I need to be declaring everyday! “Already Over” explains God’s constancy and that once I give it all to You/ letting go of me/ reaching as I fall/ I know it’s already over now/. There’s a second version of it on the album as well, slower and a little more intimate. Finally, “Hide” is slightly depressing but real, painting a picture of what it feels like to abandon God for a sin. Although Red addresses some seemingly dark themes, they address them with the truth, and I appreciate their music.
Disciple’s “Scars Remain” album. My brother’s favorite band is also one of mine! I love Disciple and their passionate, honest lyrics with their hardcore metal sound. They can go to places of pain with hope yet without sugar-coating. My brother has three cd’s that he is great at sharing, my favorite being “Scars Remain.” My favorite songs from it: “Love Hate (On and On)” describes the struggle between God and the enemy, between love and hate; after lamenting because of the hate they see, they pray Jesus, I can’t take the hate anymore/ Save us from ourselves before/ it goes on and on and on around and again/. “My Hell” is so deep! It says that true hell is not in death or pain, but that: Even Heaven is hell if somehow You were not there/ Lord, I need to breathe You/ drink You, dream You/ Nothing ever will compare/. It’s so true! Hell is life without God, in this life OR the next! The title track, “Scars Remain”, is my brother’s favorite song, and I must say it ranks pretty high for me, too! I absolutely love it. It starts out asking God why you’ve been hurt and mistreated when you’ve had faith, crying that the scars remain/. In the chorus, they answer their own question: When I see You, I see scars that are matching/. I get chills every time I hear that line! Jesus has the same scars we do; He’s felt our pain, and risen above it so that we can, too! Amazing! “Game On” is full of passion; it’s written in Jesus’s perspective, and says that He loves everyone on earth, but also that if someone comes against His people He will not stand by and do nothing– He will come! The almost battle cry in the bridge also gives me chills! “After the World” is a beautiful song about God’s love that always has been and always will be for you, that it’s the fulfillment of all your desires. Lastly, “Dive” is about persevering with the knowledge that God is your strength and you can fly on your broken wings! All of these songs have great sound and drive their points home, creating a wonderful album for those who want something hardcore in a God-pleasing way!