Here’s the link to part 1 if you missed it:
All Sons & Daughters – Live
Earlier on this year I bought their 3rd EP, ‘The Longing’ and saw this on the cheap on Amazon MP3, so bought it. This has been one of my favourite worship albums of the year. A folky album without being annoyingly like Mumford & Sons, more like Of Monsters & Men, with a bit of a Nashville feel to it. I really liked this album from the outset. And for once on a worship album, the opener, ‘Brokenness Aside’ is beautifully quiet and vulnerable. Usually when there is something like that on a worship album, it lasts for 1:32mins approx before the kick drum thumps in. But it doesn’t happen here. And its so refreshing! I love the swells from the organ and guitars in this album too, and its mixed very well. A great album. The male-female duo vocalists blend well and it has the feeling of an intimate, slightly-larger-than-a-coffee shop gig. Oh, and a nice version of ‘Nothing But The Blood’ as well. Recommended songs: ‘Oh How I Need You’, ‘Rising Sun’, ‘Oh Our Lord’, ‘Called Me Higher’, ‘Reason To Sing’, ‘My God My King’. Rating: 9/10.
Hillsong Young & Free – We Are Young & Free 9/10
Absolutely loved this album, from the upbeat songs like ‘Alive’ and ‘Wake’ to the mid-beat numbers ‘Lifeline’, ‘Love Goes On’, ‘End of Days’ and ‘Back To Life’ to the downbeat ‘Gracious Tempest’ and ‘Sinking Deep.’ One of the finest Hillsong offerings in recent years. Its not very ‘rich’ theologically but is a great, upbeat album which covers many aspects of the Christian life.
Keith & Kristyn Getty – Live At The Gospel Coalition
Also a favourite album of mine from this year. I really enjoy the Getty’s material, and Kristyn has a nicer voice than other common co-songwriter Stuart Townend. This slightly rockier album (of course its still Celtic folk, though, don’t worry!) packs a punch at points, with brilliantly-written hymns sung the whole way through. Accompanied by some of Nashville’s finest session musicians, the album really speaks of high quality musicianship. The drums are thumping in this, with some brilliant, musical and supportive playing from Dan Needham. 8.5/10
Elevation Worship – Nothing Is Wasted
I bought the deluxe 25-track live and studio version of this album from Amazon MP3 for only £5.99. From Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church, these guys are polished and well-produced. Lyrically the songs are solid. But they don’t sound much different to NewLife, Gateway, Soul Survivor.Or Hillsong for that matter. Actually, some of it is so similar to Hillsongs ‘Cornerstone’ album. Why do so much sound the same? Same big guitar sounds, multiple choruses, massive drums and big build ups. Are we so reliant on formula nowadays in modern contemporary worship? Didn’t interest me that much to be honest, although not a bad album. Rating: 6/10. Noteworthy songs: ‘Great In Us’, ‘Be Lifted High’, ‘Open Up Our Eyes’.
Darlene Zschech – Revealing Jesus
Darlene’s back with a new album. I was quite impressed with this album. She’s of course a pioneer in Christian contemporary worship music, but she still stays with the times in this album. The opening tune, ‘God Is Here’ lyrically is typical of Zschech, all about drawing near to God’s presence. It is also quite typically Hillsong, upbeat, guitar and drum driven, with plenty of ‘woahs’. Good song though. At 6:04mins it is quite long, too (not a criticism, its enjoyable), about 2mins longer than your average Hillsong Live opener. Other enjoyable tracks include ‘In Jesus Name’, ‘Your Name/Cry Of The Broken’ (Your Name originally a Paul Baloche song) and ‘Jesus At The Center’ (Israel Houghton track). Former Hillsong drummer Rolf Wam Fjell plays on this record and sounds great. 7/5/10.
The Digital Age – Evening: Morning
This David Crowder Band breakaway album came to my attention online. It’s pretty good overall, and has Crowder-influences as well as some slightly heavier tunes. It does miss that unique lead vocal of David Crowder, but, overall a good, creative batch of songs. 7/10
Bethel Music – Tides
When I first heard ‘Chasing You’, musically I enjoyed it. Lyrically I had to do a bit of thinking. Do we chase God because He hides from us? To me it felt backwards. I thought God reveals Himself to us. The story of Salvation. I also thought, to a new Christian seeking God this might be baffling. But then I realised it was about ‘God’s treasures’. Clever, current and musically strong song that wouldn’t be out of place in the charts. It’s a good start to a rather brilliant album from Bethel. For me, the best songs on the album are ‘Forever’ and ‘For The Cross.’ Brian Johnson can write some great songs on the cross. 8/10.
Other good albums:
Martin Smith – God’s Great Dancefloor – Step One and Two 7.5/10
Enjoyable tracks throughout both albums, including the title track, ‘Song of Solomon’, ‘Awake My Soul’ and ‘Waiting Here For You.’ Martin Smith is enjoying a renaissance of late and these albums are pretty solid. I went to see him on tour this year and thought he was great live.
Hillsong Live – Glorious Ruins 7/10
Having been quite disappointed (by their standards at least) by the previous few years of Hillsong Live releases, ‘Glorious Ruins’ surprised me. Yes, it definitely still has the ‘Hillsong’ (ie. big ‘whooahs’, U2 guitar riffs and 16th-note tom fills) stamp on it (why shouldn’t it though?), but there are also some signs of a shift away from the ‘Hillsong’ style . Some tracks are longer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, like the title track, but it does feel like it takes an age to kick into gear. Thankfully its surrounded by better tracks like ‘Man of Sorrows’ and ‘Always Will.’
Matt Redman – Your Grace Finds Me 7/10
‘Your Grace Finds Me’ is the difficult follow-up album to the superb ‘10,000 Reasons’. Similar to it (it was recorded at the same event), it has the beefy opening track ‘Sing & Shout’, followed by the more mid-tempo ‘Your Grace Finds Me’. My personal favourite, ‘Mercy’ is a beautiful track, and so is the closing one, ‘Benediction’. ‘Wide As The Sky’ is also pretty good. Solid overall.
Sovereign Grace Music – Grace Has Come : Songs from the Book of Romans (Special Edition) 7.5/10
Another good offering from Sovereign Grace Music. Musically solid, theologically rich and cheap to buy (£5.90 from Bandcamp!), I really enjoyed this. ‘The Gospel Was Promised’, ‘Nothing In All The Earth’ and ‘Judge of the Secrets’ all great tracks.