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year end review

CBNmusic's Best Contemporary Christian Albums of 2006

By CBNmusic

CBN.comThe following are the best albums released in 2006 as voted on by the CBNmusic and staff. Everyone agrees that picking favorites this year was difficult. However, certain artists rose above and beyond the mundane to bring us original, thought-provoking music.


Turn Around Turn Around by Jonny Lang

(A & M Records)
Jonny Lang’s Turn Around captures his blues/rock style rather well. This bonafide-hit CD features a duet with legendary singer Michael McDonald (“Thankful”) and a song co-written with Steven Curtis Chapman (“My Love Remains”). Sit back and enjoy Lang’s soulful voice and incredible guitar riffs. Album Highlights: “Thankful,” “Bump In the Road,” and “On My Feet Again”

Good Monsters
Good Monsters by Jars of Clay

(Essential Records)
We love Good Monsters, because it is such a different sound for Jars of Clay. The songs are upbeat and catchy, and they continue to produce inspirational lyrics like those that first attracted us to them. We haven’t liked one of their albums this much since the first one. Album Highlights: "Dead Man " and "There Is a River "

DecembeRadio by DecembeRadio

(Slanted Records)
DecembeRadio's self-titled album is like your favorite pair of jeans -- comfortable, worn-in, and it makes you feel as though you can go anywhere. They surprised us all with back roads rock'n'roll that doesn't compromise the name of Jesus. This band brings Christian rock back to its origins. Album Highlights: "Drifter” and “Alright My Friend”

Business Up Front, Party in the Back
Business Up Front, Party in the Back by Family Force 5

(Gotee Records)
We guarantee you haven't had this much fun listening to an album ever. Family Force 5 was 2006's guilty pleasure band with a crazy mix of tricked out rap metal and plenty of crunk. They proudly stomp where most Christian bands fear to tread, making them the break-out artist of 2006. Album Highlights: “Kountry Gentlemen,” “Earthquake,” and “Put Ur Hands Up”

Wide-Eyed and Mystified
Wide-Eyed and Mystified by Downhere

(Centricity Records)
After five years, Downhere hits its stride with Wide-Eyed and Mystified. The lyrics are on point; their sound is more robust, and Marc Martel’s unique vocals have never been better. They weigh the balance between rock guitar and melodic piano well with a consistent rhythm throughout the entire project. Album Highlights: "The More" and "1,000 Miles Apart"

Between the Dreaming and the Coming True
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True by Bebo Norman

(Essential Records)
Marriage looks good on Bebo Norman. After CCM's bachelor got hitched, he revealed his more serious side. The themes on Between the Dreaming… will strike a chord with any war-weary soul. He could have fallen back into the same old singer/songwriter cliches. Instead Norman gives less pop/rock radio hits and more haunting ballads. Maturity at this stage of the game is rare and worth noting. Album Highlights: “Sunday” and “Time Takes Its Toll”

Ripen by Shawn McDonald

(Sparrow Records)
Shawn McDonald has grown up from the shy guy with a lone guitar, and his sophomore album Ripen shows every inch of that evolution. McDonald ’s sound is fuller now with a wide array of instruments. Listen to Ripen with headphones on, and you’ll hear a rainforest of joyful noise. Album Highlights: “Reason,” “The Rider on the White Horse,” and ”Take Hold”

Coming Up to Breathe
Coming Up to Breathe by MercyMe

(INO Records)
Artists of MercyMe's caliber could easily get lazy with their established fanbase. However, MercyMe took a chance and amped up for Coming Up to Breathe. The circus-feel of “So Long Self” speaks to the light-hearted nature that weaves in and out of every song, while “Hold Fast” shows the strength of God’s grip on us in hard times. We appreciate the slight shift in their musical focus. Album Highlights: “Hold Fast” and “Coming Up to Breathe"

Comatose by Skillet

(Lava/Atlantic/Ardent/SRE Records )
Skillet doesn't do anything softly, and Comatose ripped through late 2006 like a tornado. It's undeniable, larger-than-life dark rock gets a shot of reality and maturity. They kick it off with a killer track in "Rebirthing." The high-rising guitars and orchestra build anticipation for an album that won’t disappoint. Without jumping on the emo train or getting into goth theatrics, Skillet creates a project authentically them but a step above the already powerful Collide. Album Highlights: “Rebirthing” and “The Last Night”

Reach by Warren Barfield

(Essential Records)
Many singer/songwriters this year were good but one in particular took his music to the next level. Warren Barfield took tragedy and uncertainty and turned it into a collection of songs that "reach" for God both lyrically and musically. Not to mention that Barfield's voice elleviates to new heights of soul. Album Highlights: “Closer” and “Shadow”


Best Live Album

Now Is the Time Now is the Time: Live at Willow Creek, Chicago USA by Delirious?
(Sparrow Records)
If a band is worth their ticket price, they should be able to put on a great live show, and a truly great shows can be felt on a live CD/DVD. That was accomplished by Delirious? in '06. Now Is the Time warps you to Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church and pulls you in to lifting up Jesus. Now Is the Time is truly a masterpiece of a performance with everything a worship-lover wants. Album Highlights: “Rain Down” and “Our God Reigns”

Best Re-Release Album

Nothing Left to Lose Nothing Left to Lose by Mat Kearney
(Inpop Records)
This year, we saw an unusual amount of re-releases as many EP/indie bands got a second chance at making over their first album. Mat Kearney stood head and shoulders above the rest with his revised Bullet. Nothing Left to Lose is almost a completely different animal with tracks that make it much less one-sided. And with recognition from the music lovers at Grey's Anatomy, Kearney has everything to gain in '07. Album Highlights: "Nothing Left to Lose" and "Can't Break Her Fall"


Read last year's list.

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