Colton Dixon’s “A Messenger” album. Confession: I’ve watched a lot of American Idol. I’m finally giving it up this year (even though they have Harry Connick, Jr. now), but I’m glad I was able to watch Colton Dixon’s journey when he was on it. He has incredible talent and I was pleased to see him be open but uncompromising in his song choices. His album was a valentine from my mom (who is bigger fan, haha!). My favorite songs from it are “Noise”, “I’ll Be The Light”, “Never Gone”, and “This Is Who I Am.” “Noise” is about the distractions in our hearts and all around us that keep us from seeking Jesus, lamenting, “Everything is noise/ everything is screaming out/ everything has come alive, oh, but I’m getting lost in the sound/ I need to hear your voice/.” I love the sound of this song. “I’ll Be The Light” is written in God’s voice, and speaks of His strength when we are weak; this one also has a great sound, I love his piano playing. “Never Gone” has been way over-played on the radio, but it’s still my favorite on the album. It speaks of the times that feel void of God’s presence, like we’re in a dark room, and reminds us, “I’m still standing here/ no, I didn’t disappear/ now the lights are on/ see, I was never gone/.” It has encouraged me many times, because I used to describe my depressed times as “the dark room.” And “This Is Who I Am”, again, has a great sound, and talks about the difference being a Christian makes in our identity. I appreciate Mr. Dixon and look forward to what else he does! (Plus, how can you hate this? You can’t, it’s impossible.)
Bridge City’s self-titled album. The worship team for the annual Generation Unleashed conference in Portland, Oregon released this cd last year and I am absolutely in love with it; it is so obvious that they recorded real worship when they recorded these songs. I’m pretty big on all of them, but my favorites are “Joy”, “Beyond Wonder”, “Found In You”, “Can You Feel”, and “Show Us Your Glory.” “Joy” brings just that to me! It speaks of the safety of God’s presence, and reminds us of the beauty and absolute JOY that is coming. “Beyond Wonder” has a beautiful sound, and expresses that nothing compares to Him. “Found In You” is probably my favorite from the cd. It’s simple, honest praise for being redeemed, and it always gives me such peace. “Can You Feel” and “Show Us Your Glory” are connected to create an incredible opportunity for worship; they mean so much to me because I remember the first time I heard them at the conference. I was crying, “No, I do NOT feel Him! I don’t feel anything!” I was so angry, but then the lyrics continued. I was quieted by them, and soon I had a teeny, tiny little feeling: hope. It allowed me to declare, “Come like you promised/ fall in this place/ come move in power/ Lord, have your way/ I will wait on you/ I will wait on you/ I will wait on you/ breathe on me/.” I don’t know if the song will be as powerful to anyone else, but I tremble every time I hear it. This cd is real worship and I am honored to be able to share in it.
Shawn McDonald’s “The Analog Sessions” album. If you own any other Shawn McDonald cd you already own a few of these songs, but the good news is: these are completely fresh. This album is an acoustic remix of many of Mr. McDonald’s hits, plus it includes two new songs in both their acoustic and original versions. My favorite remixes are “Eyes Forward”, “Gravity”, “Captivated”, “Take My Hand”, and “All I Need.” [If you’ve read this ancient review, you know that there are other songs I love in their original versions a bit more.] “Eyes Forward”, for me, is a reminder to not let anything distract me from seeking Jesus and ONLY Jesus. “Gravity” has a fun sound (the original does, too) and takes a peek into battles of flesh and spirit, likening sin to gravity when we’re trying to fly. “Captivated” is passionate and descriptive worship; the sound is pretty and so are the words. “The wind and the clouds and the blue in the sky/ the sun and the moon and the stars so high/ the sand on the shore and the waves in the sea/ the air in my lungs and the way You made me/ the blood in my veins and my heart You invade/ the plants how they grow and the trees and their shade/ the way that I feel and love in my soul/ I thank You my God for letting me, letting me know/.” “Take My Hand”, again, is super fun with his R&B style; it expresses our need for God and asks Him for His strength. And my favorite of all is “All I Need”, a sweet and soulful love song to the Lord. Endless creativity from my hometown brother!
Mars Hill Music Worship Sampler. Mars Hill Church has started a label for unique worship artists, and the sampler has a taste of the songs from many of those artists; I intensely love nearly each one. Some of them are originals, and some are modern takes on classic hymns. I don’t think I can really write a review on it since it’s essentially a mix cd, but I definitely recommend checking it out! My favorites are “Grace Alone” by The Modern Post, “Oh! Great Is Our God” by The Sing Team, “My God, My Father” by Red Letter, and “Depth of Mercy” by Kenosis. I listen to this cd all the time; it helps keep my head where it should be.
Thousand Foot Krutch’s “Welcome to The Masquerade” album. It is very possible for one cd to make you a giant fan of an artist, because this cd did that for me and Thousand Foot Krutch! They’re passionate, they’re metal but unafraid to be gorgeous, they’re honest; I can’t ask for much more. My favorite songs from this album are “Welcome to The Masquerade”, “Bring Me to Life”, “E for Extinction”, and “Look Away.” The title track is a creative look at transparency and how important it is; it’s a call for us all to burn the masks we wear and be genuine with people, even if we’re not okay. This is a theme that permeates the entire album. “Bring Me to Life” takes place in a moment of realization that we’ve been hiding what’s really going on inside us because we’re afraid to be broken, and ends with a decision to be open so that we can finally live. “E for Extinction” speaks from the place of having just changed. It challenges the world to try changing us back, and screams that we never will because this is what we were meant to be. And “Look Away” is my absolute favorite song on the album; I keep thinking I like others more, but right when I hear it again I know I’ll never love another one as much. It is beautiful; it is a voice for those of us who are encouraged to be apathetic or content with our pain. Do not stop caring, do not stop growing, do not look away! This album is a blast to listen to, but it’s also an encouragement.