Sidewalk Prophets Release New Full Length Christmas Album!

The following is based on a real conversation I had this morning with my intern, Jordan:

Me:  Good morning, what’s new?

Jordan:  I think most of your readers think you’re dead

Me:  What? Why?!

Jordan:  Because you haven’t posted anything about the new Sidewalk Prophets Christmas CD and it’s been over a week since it came out.  I’m starting to get a lot of angry e-mail.

Me:  It’s just October 2nd!  I’ve been busy with the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus thing, and the Scott Stapp thing, and I’ve got Royal Tailor work to do and besides I just posted a blog yesterday! I assumed I had at least until after Halloween to put something up on the blog about a Christmas CD!

Jordan: (shaking his head)  Beth, you of all people should know by now how those Sidewalk Prophet fans are since you are one of them…(Jordan takes his pointer finger and makes a circular motion around the side of his head)  Cra-zay!

Me:  (I don’t say anything.  I just pick up a file and throw it at him.)

 

I stewed over Jordan’s insinuations for a little while that I might be perceived as either dead or crazy, then I moved on to other more pressing issues.  In fact, I had almost forgotten about the debacle of the morning completely when I checked my e-mail this evening.  There, sitting atop a pile of 900+ other messages in my inbox was a message entitled “Sidewalk Prophets Merry Christmas To You on Fervent Records” from a record label publicity manager.  

My reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Apparently, the universe wants me to post a blog about this CD today, so buckle up ’cause here we go!

First let’s get my one and only critique out of the way.  (I know, I know, this is shocking, because I normally never critique anything, particularly not the Sidewalk Prophets…horror of horrors!  Please don’t send me hate mail!)

I’m not sure I like the album cover artwork.

There, I said it.

When my friend Jill called to tell me that she had bought a copy of the CD last week, she made the comment that cover was, and this is a direct quote, “whimsically fun and kind of creepy all at the same time”.  I didn’t know what that meant until I saw a .pdf of the cover today.  Now, I think “creepy” might be a bit harsh, but “whimsical”, yes, I can definitely see that.

Here’s the good news, though…this is a music blog, NOT an art blog, so I could really care less about the cover art.  What I care about is the content of the tunage contained on the CD tucked away inside the cover art.

With that being said, I feel like I need to say upfront that my expectations for this project by the Sidewalk Prophets may have been unfairly sky high.  Usually, I try to keep my expectations ridiculously low so I’m not disappointed all the time, but in all honesty, 2 of my very favorite neo-classic Christmas songs, Hope Was Born This Night and Because Its Christmas, are Sidewalk Prophets tunes.  If the Sidewalk Prophets didn’t knock this new project out of the park, I was going to be epically disappointed; like, so-disappointed-I-might-consider-boycotting-Christmas-this-year-and-proceed-directly-to-Easter disappointed.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that not only is Christmas on like Donkey Kong in 2013, my ancient Harry Connick Jr When My Heart Finds Christmas CD and Michael Buble Christmas CD will definitely have some fierce competition for rotation in the old CD player come December.

Merry Christmas to You, much like the album cover, is whimsical and fun, but that is where the similarities (thankfully) end; the CD is packed with 12 songs, some old, some new, and my two favorite neo-classics.  Each song shows a distinctive creative flair and a passion for music, two of the hallmarks of any Sidewalk Prophets album and two of the traits that I might argue that progressively endear this unlikely group of lyricists and musicians to fans with each subsequent musical release.

 

Let me address a few of the high points of this project, at least from my perspective:

Listening to Merry Christmas to You, I am sort of struck by how merry the CD actually sounds.  If you think about it, that isn’t always the case with Christmas albums.  Sometimes, Christmas music sounds more like dirge than the happy and joyous event it is.  I think Merry Christmas to You really captures the merry essence of Christmas just perfectly, even in typically more solemn songs like What Child is This and Silent Night.  Plus, what is not to like about a CD that incorporates the kazoo?  Seriously, that’s awesome.  I love the kazoo!

With that being said, let me be clear about one thing:  even though Merry Christmas to You sounds very merry indeed,  it doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that warm the heart and, quite possibly, wet the face.  (For me, that moment came early in the song What a Glorious Night…I’m known to cry like a baby when Linus tells the true meaning of Christmas found in Luke 2:8-24.)  If A Charlie Brown Christmas isn’t your thing, you might enjoy (read: get emotional) over the song Hey Moon.  I think Hey Moon may soon by joining Hope Was Born This Night and Because Its Christmas on my short list of neo-classics.

So, it’s not a well kept secret that I LOVE it when bands re-do hymnal or other traditional “church” music with a more modern twist; both Kutless and MercyMe have put out great examples of this type of album in last few years.  Needless to say, when I saw my two traditional favorite Christmas hymns listed as tracks on Merry Christmas to You, Silent Night and What Child is This, I was excited (and rightfully so!)

I love what the Sidewalk Prophets did with these two songs; if I could draw a big red heart and a happy face on my blog right HERE to show you how much I liked it, I would.  I’ve never heard a rendition of What Child Is This quite like this one before, and I was enchanted by it.  I thought it was lovely, to say the least.

As for Silent Night, well…it was beautiful.  Magical.  Perfect.  Brought tears to my eyes, and I promise you, I am not a crier.  Simple and elegant, and fit for the King of Kings. To me, no other version of Silent Night will ever top this one.

Now as much as I love listening to music, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a technically trained ear to be able to pick out most musical instruments.  I know enough to get by, but for me to be able to say, for example, “Hey, in the 25th measure on the 2nd beat in the 4th track, that was some epic drumming, Justin!  Right on!”

I know, I’m a disappointment, but at least I’m honest, right? 🙂

This leaves me with a limited number of things I can comment on without sounding like an idiot, such as cover art work, song lyrics, and, well, singing.  Unfortunately for lead singer Dave, this means I am going to pick on him for a little bit.  (Okay, not really!) 

It’s no secret that Dave can sing; in fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone in my hometown of New Haven has come up to me since the Sidewalk Prophets played a show here in June and said, “Man, that guy could sing!” I could be sitting under a big umbrella on a beach somewhere reading a good book instead of writing this blog.

Alas, here I sit on my couch in good old Indiana.

My point is, if I had to come up with something that truly disappoints me about Merry Christmas to You, it’s this:  the vocals are so, so good on this album, its truly bittersweet that the album is seasonal and only meant to be enjoyed 2, maybe 3 months max a year.

Yeah, so thanks a lot, Dave, thanks a lot.  (I kid, I kid!)

I like to think of myself as a bit of a connoisseur of Christmas music; I’ve been known to break out the Michael Buble and Jingle Bells in the middle of July just because I feel like it.  I find that a lot of the time, however, when artists put out a Christmas album, the results are sub-par.  Ho hum.  Blasé.  Yawn.

I’m so happy this was not the case with Merry Christmas to You.  The Sidewalk Prophets remained true to the message of Linus in his iconic opening monologue,  creating a sweet treasury of  holiday tunes that everyone will enjoy.  These songs seem to capture not only what the Christmas season is all about, but in a small way, what the Sidewalk Prophets represent all year long:  loving the family we are blessed with, caring for the friends we meet along the way, cherishing the memories we have from days gone by and sharing the hope that only comes from the baby that was born on that first Christmas for the days that still remain.

Yes indeed, my dear readers, Christmas has come early this year.  Whether you are a fan of the Sidewalk Prophets matters not; if you have a working set of ears, Merry Christmas to You is a must-have CD for your musical library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Favour’s Debut Good Enough to Steal (Three Times Over)

I love getting packages in the mail.  Not bills, but actual packages—especially ones that have new music tucked neatly inside.

Last week, I was super excited when one of my favorite cyber pen pals, Sarah from Tennessee, e-mailed me asking for my mail mail address.  Her cryptic message said something about sending me some new music that she new I would love.  Since I am almost certainly convinced that Sarah may very well have the best job in the world, I was undeniably excited about what the mailman would be bringing me.

Sarah knows infinitely more cool people than I do, which is (and isn’t) saying something.  At the top of that list (in Alex’s mind) is Luke and Joel of for King & Country fame.

Finally, my special delivery arrived and it was almost like Christmas.  I quickly read the enclosed note, which was quite delightful and made me laugh (and was added to my scrapbook, by the way).

Then, I pulled out the shrink wrapped CD containing the self-titled debut EP of the new group, Finding Favour.

The first thing that came to my mind was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Seriously, that is what I thought.

You see, the self-titled debut EP by Finding Favour and I already have a long and somewhat sordid history even though it has only been available since March.

Back in March, I had an advanced review copy of the Finding Favour EP on my iShuffle to listen to while my friend Jill and I were on a road trip.

Jill liked what she heard so much, she stole my iShuffle; still have yet to get that back.  (Hint, hint, Jill, if you are reading this—I’d really like my iShuffle back.)

Jill’s full review of the Finding Favour EP?  The following are direct quotes: “This CD is the BEST EVER!” and “I may like Finding Favour almost as much as I like Chris August!”  If you knew my friend Jill, you would know that she is a veritable nutcase about Chris August; she frequently refers to him as the ‘Justin Timberlake of Christian Music.’  She doesn’t throw around comparisons to how much she likes Chris August lightly, that’s for sure.

The second copy I had of Finding Favour’s EP my 7 year old niece stole from me in April.  Well, technically, she didn’t steal it…she just gave me the big, brown doe eyed look and asked me “Please, pretty please, can I have this?”  I mean, really, what I am supposed to say to my favorite niece in the whole wide world?  “No, you can’t have it.  Auntie B needs it for her blog.”  I don’t think so.  She’s 7, and doesn’t really care all that much about my blog unless she is prominently featured in it or it directly leads to the two of us having an all expenses paid spa day.

So, I gave it to her; and by gave it to her, I mean I gave her my entire iTouch.

Of the EP, my niece has said in her official review, “Its way better than Justin Bieber.  Can you get me a t-shirt?”

At the time I received my special delivery from my cyber pal Sarah, I had yet to hear more than the first two tracks of the Finding Favour EP, Shake the World and Love Stepped In.  I can wholeheartedly say after listening to the first two tracks that Finding Favour is way better than Justin Bieber.

I must say, however, I was feeling some very undeserved animosity towards Finding Favour.  How dare they record a project that is so good that both one of my dearest friends and beloved niece would steal from me?!  I mean, the nerve!

After the 2nd theft of a Finding Favour EP in my possession, I had given up on ever listening to the whole thing; yet, last Saturday I found myself in possession of another copy, a hard copy, of the CD.

I put the CD in at home, and Alex and I listened to the first few tracks while puttering around the house.  Without hesitation, Alex gave it a thumbs up, although he did have one question:  “Do these guys know how to hula hoop on stage while they play the guitar?”  (Alex is currently obsessed with the Bossy Frog Band.  Their guitar player hula hoops while performing.)

Honestly, I was surprised Alex even gave Finding Favour the time of day; he is devout in his loyalty to for King & Country.  If Luke and Joel start hula hooping and sport a giant frog costume while in concert, I have no doubt that Alex would forget all about the Bossy Frog Band.  So, for Finding Favour, to garner a thumbs up from Alex is roughly equivalent to winning a Grammy.

Seriously.

So, while the third track on Finding Favour’s debut project played, a song called Slip On By that I hear on the radio all the time and LOVE, I headed to the other end of the house to run the vacuum.

When I came back to the living room, the music had stopped playing.

“Alex, what happened to the music?” I asked.

“Daddy took it,” Alex replied.

Sure enough, the CD was gone.

So was Jon.

Long gone.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never see that CD again.

So, I did what any rational person would do:  I went on iTunes and bought my own copy, another copy, and made sure I have a copy stored on the Cloud for future use.

I have listened to the entire Finding Favour EP at this point, and I have to say, I can’t blame my friends and family for stealing the prior copies from me.

This CD is that good.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though; feel free to ask Jill, or Alyssa, or Alex, or Jon.

Disclaimer:  If anyone steals my current copy of Finding Favour’s EP that is downloaded on my iPhone, I may have to hold the band responsible because I can’t afford to replace another Apple product.

Just sayin’.

 

Tuesday’s Tunes…Citizen Way, Martin Smith and Matt Maher!

Every Tuesday I think, “Well, nothing’s ever going to top this weeks’ releases.”

Every week, I’m wrong.

This week is even worse (read: better) than usual as there are no less than 3 fantastic new releases in the world of Christian music available on iTunes/Amazon/Spotify/wherever music is sold.  Here’s the rundown, in no particular order:

Citizen Way

Fun fact:  I’ve actually seen all three new release artists perform in concert at one time or another.  Citizen Way is the group I’ve seen most recently.  I saw them when they were in Fort Wayne with Big Daddy Weave on the Redeemed tour back in March.  (I even have a picture with of me with Ben Calhoun, the lead singer, but I’m never posting it on the internet.  It’s hidden away, along with my picture of Chris August, because I was having a horrendous hair day.  Perhaps the worst hair day ever.  Needless to say, I don’t want photographic evidence of my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hair day floating around on the world wide web forever!)

Anyway, enough about me and my hair.  I loved Citizen Way’s portion of the Redeemed tour, and after chatting with them a bit afterwards came to the conclusion that they are very nice guys, indeed.  You should definitely check out their latest project, “Love is the Evidence!”

Martin Smith

First of all, I have to admit that back in the day I was a maniacal Delirious? fan.  I used to drive my family and friends nuts listening to King of Fools and I will never, ever forget being second row center stage in 2001 at the One Wild Night tour featuring Delirious, Matchbox Twenty, and Bon Jovi.  That may sound like a weird combination, but it was totally and completely   A-W-E-S-O-M-E !  Truly, a happy happy memory.

So, when earlier this year I found out that Martin Smith was releasing his first ever full length solo project, I was pretty hyped.  I immediately loved the first few pre-releases of his current project, ‘God’s Great Dance Floor–Step 01’, that I was treated to.  Let’s just say that I’ve listened to Smith’s entire project today several (and by several I mean at least 25) times today.  I   L-O-V-E-D  it, and I’m not alone…more critical critics than I have said the project is “the album of the year”, and I’m thinking that’s probably not an exaggeration.  Check it out below on Spotify, and then head over to iTunes to purchase yourself a copy!

 

 

Matt Maher

Last but not least is the newest project by Matt Maher called ‘All The People Said Amen’.  Hands down, his project has the best cover art and the songs contained within are nothing to turn your nose up at.  I already adore the first single off of ‘All the People Said Amen’, the song ‘Lord I Need You’.  In many ways, it’s kind of the perfect song.  I love it!  The whole album is really fantastic, and I especially enjoyed the live tracks that were recorded just up the road from me a ways at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.  Check out a sampling of ‘All The People Said Amen’, then grab yourself a copy for the road on iTunes!

New Music Pick of the Week–Rend Collective Experiment’s Campfire

rce

So, I’m sitting in my office this morning sipping on a bottle of SmartWater when I decided to turn on my as yet unlistened to copy of the Rend Collective Experiment’s latest project, Campfire.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the Rend Collective Experiment, this is a dynamite band from the Emerald Isle (otherwise known as Ireland).

As my close friends and family know, I kind of have a penchant for Irish folk/rock/pop music.  To make a short list of it, I cried a few tears when The Coors went on hiatus in 1996, and I have a serious thing for Glen Hansard’s music.

Needless to say, I have really liked the Rend Collective Experiment’s prior projects, Organic Family Hymnal and Homemade Worship by Handmade People.  If I were to guess, I’d say they are probably best known here in the US for their single, “Second Chances,” or perhaps for some of the touring they have done with Tenth Avenue North (The Struggle) and The Rock & Worship Road Show (2012).

Anyways, this morning I was hanging out in my office at church jamming to “Come on My Soul” and one of the young teachers that works in the daycare popped her head in my door.  “What are you listening to?” she asked with a smile.

“Rend Collective Experiment’s new album, Campfire,” I said.  “It’s good, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Is this really church music?”  she asked with a tone of disbelief tinging her voice.

It was my turn to smile.  “It is,” I replied.

“Wow, if my church had music like this I’d go every week!”  she said.  “Do you mind if I bring the two year olds over for tumbling and they can listen to this too?”

Since I kind of love watching the two year olds tumble around in the foyer outside my office on colorful mats, I cranked up the tunes and warmly welcomed the temporary diversion from the work at hand.

In what seemed like a matter of minutes, 5 of the cutest kids you could care to meet were frolicking in the foyer to the music of the Rend Collective Experiment.

A chubby-cheeked little girl with blonde pigtails and the biggest blue eyes I’ve ever seen, who was wearing a neon pink tutu and Hello Kitty rain boots, attempted to do somersaults on the tumbling mat, while an adorable shaggy blonde haired boy with big blue eyes held the hands of little brown haired girl and together they danced in a circle, laughing and stomping their feet to the beat of You Are My Vision.

At the rousing conclusion of You Are My Vision, the little girl in the neon pink tutu threw her hands up in the air and shouted, “Yay, Jesus!”

I smiled and thought to myself, “Yay Jesus, indeed!”

As I watched the kids thoroughly enjoy physically expressing themselves to the music, the words of their teacher from earlier began rattling around in my mind:  “Wow, if my church had music like this I’d go every week!”

Then, I remembered reading for prior research on the Rend Collective Experiment that one of the things that originally led them to make music was that they saw the  hostility that some people have towards church and/or Christians, and they wanted to create music to draw these people into worship.

From my experiences this morning, I think it is clear that the Rend Collective Experiment is quite adept at doing just that.

For that reason, Campfire is my official New Music Pick of the Week for 1/28/2013.  You should absolutely hightail it over to iTunes and pick yourself up a copy right now!  (To preview Campfire on Spotify, click on the link below.)

(Side note—Neon pink tutus and Hello Kitty rain boots are not required dress code while listening to Campfire  although, come to think of it, that would be completely awesome!   However, if I had a neon pink tutu and Hello Kitty rain boots, I’d probably never wear anything else!)

Sanctus Real Reveals Exclusive Preview of ‘Run’

The band Sanctus Real revealed an exclusive preview of their brand new album, ‘Run’, today on YouTube. ‘Run’, the band’s sixth studio album, will be available everywhere a week from today–Tuesday, February 5th, 2013. The 12 new tracks feature the one of a kind voice of lead singer Matt Hammitt and the alternately edgy/eclectic rock stylings of the other four band members: Chris Rohman on guitar, Pete Prevost on guitar, banjo, and piano, Dan Gartley on bass guitar and bells, and Mark Graalman on drums.

I have to say, I had almost forgotten how much I love Sanctus Real until five minutes ago when I listened to the preview for ‘Run.’ This may be the group’s sixth album, but from what I’m hearing on this preview the music of Sanctus Real sounds just as fresh and modern as their 2nd album, ‘Fight The Tide’, did almost ten years ago.

Let’s just say I’m super excited for next Tuesday, as ‘Run’ promises to be a continuing revelation of the musically talented Sanctus Real.

AudioA–King of the Comeback’s Clip

 

Here’s the second clip released from Audio Adrenaline’s forthcoming album, Kings & Queens.  This one is called King of the Comeback, which is a clever title that one could probably derive several meanings from.  Like yesterday’s clip of the The Fire Never Sleeps, I thought all 30 seconds sounded great and I’m ready for the full release!

 

Audio Adrenaline Releases First Clip Off New Album

 

Happy Friday everyone!  Today is the first in a 9 day (at least I think it’s 9 days?  Not entirely sure on that…) musical extravaganza of 30 second clips from the new Audio Adrenaline album, Kings & Queens.

I can’t decide if I’m more intrigued or disappointed by the first clip, The Fire Never Sleeps.  It definitely sounds interesting, but I’m disappointed because I’m not completely sure 30 seconds of any song is sufficient enough for my tastes (that is, unless we are talking about the song ‘Drunk Text’ by Manufactured Superstars featuring Paris Hilton.  That is perhaps the worst song ever recorded in the entire history of the world.  30 seconds of that song would be plenty!)

Guess I’ll have to wait patiently until tomorrow for the next clip to be released.  Or, I could hop over to Spotify and listen to the title track, Kings & Queens, which is a completely awesome song.  Feel free to join me!

 

Your Love Never Fails Celebrates 7 Weeks at #1!

 

Congratulations are in order for one of my ultimate favorite bands, the Newsboys!  Their current single, Your Love Never Fails off the epic album God’s Not Dead,  has reigned supreme on the charts for the last seven weeks!

I say in honor of this accomplishment, we should all turn up the volume on our speakers, click on the Spotify link above, and have ourselves a little Newsboys praise party to Your Love Never Fails 🙂

Manafest Releases New Video for “Human”

 

 

Canadian Hip Hop/Rapper/Rocker Manafest (aka Chris Greenwood) recently released a slick new video that I really like for his angsty, darkly pop infused tune, Human. The track is featured on Manafest’s latest album entitled Fighter.

The song features an attention-grabbing hook and raw, direct lyrics that I found to be almost captivating.  I especially liked the following lyrics from Human:

I wear my heart on my sleeve/If you cut me I’ll bleed/I know I cannot erase every mistake I’ve made/I never said that I was an angel/I never said I wouldn’t break down/But life keeps on moving/By now you should know I’m only human/

Manafest has a very compelling back story, which you can read more about by visiting his website at www.Manafest.net.  It would seem he definitely has some real life experiences to draw on that he is using to reach out to others with his soul penetrating music.

On his website, he is quoted as saying he likes to “sip on Early Grey tea before I go and rip someone’s face off on stage.”  That comment right there made me a fan of Manafest!  I love the dichotomy of that statement a whole lot 🙂

If you like the music of Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, or Red (all of whom are former tour mates of Manafest), then you will probably really like his latest project.  Go check it out!  (If you aren’t familiar with Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, or Red, some more mainstream artists that are stylistically similar to Manafest include Linkin Park, Beastie Boys, POD and Three Days Grace.)

New Music Pick of the Week–Meredith Andrew’s Worth It All

meredith andrews

 

Let me start by saying my New Music Pick of the Week for 1/22/2013 is an unusual one.

While it is not unusual for me to review worship albums on Spin: the Blog, I tend to lean more towards more mainstream, radio ready tunes for my new music picks of the week.  Everything changes this week with the release of Meredith Andrews’ latest album, Worth It All, which is my New Music Pick of the Week for January 22nd, 2013.

Other than Andrews’ current radio hit off of the Worth It All album, the single Not For A Moment, I was not familiar with her body of work.  Some light but effective detective work revealed that Andrews’ began singing in church when she was just six years old; from these youthful beginnings, the Word Worship artist has soared to distinguished heights, winning Dove Awards for “Worship Song of the Year” and “Praise and Worship Album of the Year” in 2011 and recognition as Billboard’s “Most Promising New Artist” in 2008.

After listening to Worth It All, it is fairly easy to ascertain what all the hoopla about Meredith Andrews is all about.  Andrews has a lush, evocative voice that is unparalleled in its beauty.  Her passionate and inspiring vocals are surprisingly versatile, at times reminiscent of Darlene Zschech’s extravagant and powerful range (Open Up The Heavens, Burn Away) while at other times still lovely but toned down and more suited for mass appeal on the radio (Wonder of Wonders, Pieces).

Andrews’ beautifully crafted Worth It All has something to uplift everyone’s soul on its 11 track album, regardless of whether or not they are the typical worship music fan.

Open Up The Heavens—The first track on the album, and in my opinion, one of the standouts.  It’s a superlative blend of Andrews’ rich lead vocals, compelling lyrics, and ardent back-up vocals and music; a truly great praise and worship song.

Not For A Moment (After All)—If you haven’t heard this song, I’d really like to know what Christian radio station you’re listening to because this song is everywhere (and with good reason, I might add).  This song is nice showcase not just for Andrews’ voice, but for her writing ability as well (Andrews’ co-wrote the song with her husband, Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes); one of my personal favorites on the album.

Strong God—This song starts off with a slower tempo, gradually building in its hold over the listener until a crescendo near the end.  Honestly, as I listened to this song I had to look at the cover of the CD a few times because I was thinking, “How can a voice that big come out of such a diminutive, youthful looking woman?”  Still don’t know the answer to that question!

Start With Me—I feel like this is one of the most authentic, transparent works on the album, and quite frankly, I loved it.  The lyrics are beautifully heartfelt while remaining painfully honest:  “Break what needs breaking/Until you’re all I see/Start with me/Start with me.”

Worth It All –The album’s title track, and quite deservedly so.  An epic-sounding love song for Jesus, which is kind of fitting considering the title of the song.  The lyrics are simplistic, but Andrews’ vocals and the musical accompaniment add layers of luxurious textures that are very satisfying to listen to; a fine choice for the title track.

All I Ask—This song has a different feel about it than most of the other songs on this album.  This song bears the sentimentality of a 1950’s melodically infused torch song; part prayer, part confessional, 100% lovely.

Burn Away—Brilliant and captivating lyrics collide with Andrews’ fiery vocals, creating another standout on the album.  “Only You/All I need/Let nothing stand/In Between/Make me yours/Consuming Fire/Burn Away/Everything that breaks your heart/Everything that is not love/Purify my every thought/Take away/Everything that comes between us/Everything that isn’t true/Jesus make me more like you/Burn away”.  I loved this track!

Your Kingdom Reigns—This song has grown on me.  At first, I wasn’t completely sure about it, but with each click of the repeat button it has grown on me.  The lyrics are very simple, but Andrews’ voice really makes this song shine.  Andrews’ always seems to give the album everything she’s got on every track, and it really paid off on this track in particular.

Wonder of Wonders—I thought this was a really sweet song, and I liked Andrews’ tone and the expressive quality of her voice on her track.  This is one of those songs where you can definitely hear the versatility and power of Andrews’ voice.

The Gospel Changes Everything—this is such a beautiful song, perhaps somewhat pared down stylistically from the more grandiose numbers like Open Up The Heavens, but in the simple truths of the song’s lyrics, its true strength is revealed.  Andrews’ voice has an almost whimsical, mesmerizing quality to it on this track that is especially poignant when paired with the sentiments of the song.  I could personally listen to this song over and over.

Pieces—With clever lyrics and an upbeat tune, Andrews’ ends her third album on a high note.  The radio ready Pieces again shows that Andrews’ has considerably more to offer her fans than just straight up worship music.  “It’s a complex puzzle you call your life/It’s an uphill climb/It’s an constant fight/And it wears you down/Feeling like you’re alone/Like you don’t belong/And you won’t be loved/If you don’t measure up/And you wear your scars/Like they’re who you are/Give him your wounds/Your bruised and broken pieces/All your questions/All your secrets/You don’t have to hide who you are/You belong to someone greater/Than all your past mistakes and failures/He knows how to make your pieces fit.”

Of her latest work, particularly the song Not For a Moment, Andrews recently said, “When we wrote the song, we had no idea that God would use the lyrics of this song to minister to us months after we had written it.”  She went on to add, “The truth that He loves us and will never forsake us, even in our weakest, darkest moments, is a truth that never changes.  It is always true.  He is constant, good, and in control even when it’s difficult to believe.  I’ve seen first-hand the influence that truth set to music has on people’s lives.”

Andrews’ is correct on all counts with this statement.  In 2011, my cousin Rachel Bevington tragically lost her father to a massive heart attack in the middle of the night, leaving her left to feel an agonizing spiral of pain and hurt in the time that followed.  It was during this time that Rachel discovered Andrews’ music, who she says is one of her “ultimate favorites.”   Of the single Not For A Moment, Rachel said “I’ve played this song countless times and it has really helped to put the pain at ease of losing my father.  The song has so much meaning, and has brought me so much healing.”

I’m pretty sure that this kind of reaction to her music makes the singing/songwriting process Worth It All for Meredith Andrews.

Andrews’ latest project truly makes a statement about what really is Worth It All.  Much like the Gospel changes everything, so too does the album Worth It All; when it comes to previously held ideas about what a worship album is supposed to sound like, Worth It All breaks the mold and changes everything in a refreshing, unique way.  This album absolutely has the potential to be one of the top releases in Christian Music this year.

With the release of Worth It All, Meredith Andrews continues to distinguish herself as one of the premier female artists in the music industry today.  Andrews’ trademark lavish vocals and beautifully crafted lyrics come together to create a one of kind album that is not only engaging and authentic, but will faithfully bless the hearts of all who listen to it for years to come.

For King & Country’s New Single, Middle of Your Heart!

My favorite percussion wielding, Jay Leno guest appearing, brotherly dynamic duo have a brand new single out off of their super fierce debut album, Crave.  

The song?

Middle of Your Heart.

I’m thinking the song gets its title because once you listen to it, the lyrics will go straight to the middle of your heart.  Here’s a brief sampling of what I mean:

This is where it begins
This is where all the worry ends
This is where I say I don’t need to have control

This is where I admit
I don’t know how to handle it
Life in all of this chaos
You’re my only hope
And all that I have to offer
Is the white flag of surrender

So take me to the middle of Your heart
Lead me to wherever Your love starts
To a new day dawning
To the place You are
And if You want to take me over the edge
I’ll let you cause Your love is where I’ll land
Wanna be right where You are,
In the middle of Your heart

As you might expect, my 6 year old Alex (one of the world’s biggest For King & Country fans) loves this song.

A lot.

As a matter of fact, so do I; so we highly suggest you take a listen to it, then call everyone you know and tell them to  listen to it, and then call every radio station that you know and ask them to play it…

Well, I think you get the general idea.

Just go listen to it!

Winter Jam Pick #2–Toby Mac’s Eye On It

 

I’m going to lay down some truth right now:  I have been a fan of tobyMac in one way, shape, or another since I was approximately 12 years old and tobyMac was just starting out rapping with DC Talk.  Fast forward 20 years, and I’m still a fan of tobyMac, although I no longer have DC Talk posters hanging in my personal spaces.  (Well, I do have an autographed ‘Hits Deep Tour’ lanyard hanging from the rearview mirror in my car, but surely that doesn’t count, right?)

My six year old is also a young tobyMac fan in training.  He has been known to sing various tobyMac hits on our family’s pool table with a toy microphone while busting out some pretty fierce dance moves that would no doubt make Mr. Mac himself proud.  This morning, he drew a picture for tobyMac that says on the inside “I love your music TobyMac.”  On the outside, he drew a big picture of a stage with three people on it.  When I asked who the people were, he rolled his eyes at me and said, “Mom, can’t you tell?  It’s DJ Maj, tobyMac, and da Bomb (also known as Brian Haley, tobyMac’s drummer.)”

I will never make that mistake again!

‘Eye On It’ is a crazy good song…we’re talking Family Force 5 cray button crazy good song here.  I love the opening lyrics to the song (and in case you were wondering, yes, my son Alex can rap the entire thing!)

“I set my eyes to the west, walkin’ away  from it all

Reachin’ for what lies  ahead, I got my eye on it

I see my sweat hit the  ground, I put my foot in the block

This is the race of my life and I can’t wait for this shot

‘Cause I can feel the wind at my back

Chest is pumpin’ like a heart attack

Feet are movin’ and my mind is locked

Pressin’ on with everything I got

I got my eye on it

I  got my eye on it

I got my eye  on it”

Sadly for Alex, he is not going to get to go to Winter Jam tonight since it’s a school night.  He also missed out on the Hits Deep tour because it was a school night, too.  He is understandably angry with me for being, and this is a direct quote, “the meanest mom EVER!”

I guess I will just have to enjoy seeing tobyMac perform ‘Eye On It’ enough for both of us 🙂