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It’s family-friendly holiday music in overdrive. Despite a certain glee club feeling, you can’t deny that Go Fish knows how to harmonize. They sing on Snow as though they are one voice. With the annual hullabaloo over saying “Happy Holidays”, it’s refreshing to hear Go Fish’s “Christmas with a Capital ‘C’”, featuring comedian Brad Stine. They still favor us with traditional songs such as “White Christmas” and “Joy to the World” while still giving every song their personal stamp. Not quite sure what the “My Jesus I Love Thee” hymn has to do with Christmas, but it is a delightful version nonetheless. Great for families and anyone who has enjoyed Go Fish’s recent kids-centered entertainment. Album Highlights: “Little Drummer Boy” and “Christmas with a Capital ‘C’” - jennifer e. jones
- Time Again... Amy Grant Live
Time hasn't aged Amy Grant’s voice. On the first track of her live CD, Time Again, she sings "Lead Me On" with the same freshness as she did back then. She gives acoustic band versions of her big hits from Heart in Motion (including “Baby Baby” and “Every Heartbeat.”) She goes as far back as “Thy Word” and up to her last mainstream pop hit “Simple Things.” A bonus treat comes in the form of an updated studio cut of “In a Little While,” showing off how the song’s classic merit still holds true 20 years later. While I prefer Vanessa Williams’ version of “Oh How the Years Go By,” Grant’s was quite appropriate for a career-celebrating album such as Time Again. Album Highlights: “Ask Me” and “In a Little While” - jennifer e. jones
Natalie Grant sends out her season’s greetings with Believe. It’s a mix of holiday favorites, both sacred and secular, that go from gospel to pop. The true highlight of this CD is Grant’s unbelievable singing voice, which is a joy to the world by itself. Grant’s vocals lend themselves quite well to the big band jazz sound, especially heard on “Let It Snow.” Her version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sounds a little too much like Mariah Carey’s; however, she belts out a particularly lovely “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Also, the original title track is a tender ballad of faith with a haunting melody. Album Highlights: “Silver Bells / Savior Came For Me / O Holy Night Medley” and “I Believe” - jennifer e. jones
- Everything Sad is Coming Untrue
Jason Gray delivers a tasteful and smooth blend of excellent songwriting, driving rhythm, and flowing melody in his new album, Everything Sad is Coming Untrue. His vocals, particularly on the ballads, demonstrate an intimacy with the lyrics and passion for the message. His vocal technique was also impressive, controlled, and accurate. The song choices are a nice balance of up-beats and ballads, all with the clear motive of praise and worship to God. Each track is catchy, personal, and fresh; this is an album you could listen to again and again. - monique derr
Album Highlights: "For the First Time Again" and "Jesus Use Me, I'm Yours"
- All the Lovely Losers
When’s the opening melody of “Blessed Be” sounded near identical to Delirious’ “Rain Down”, I knew I was off to the wrong start with Jason Gray’s new album. Lucky for Gray, he knows how to write a good song. The title of his latest project comes from the first track where he speaks specifically to “all the lovely losers” (“It’s for the poor, the broken and meek / It’s for the ones who look a lot like you and me”). Lyrically, Gray thrives. Without giving into puns, he takes abstract concepts and pours them into visuals we can grasp (i.e., the clever, humanized “Grace”). He presents his flaws and need for God with a simplicity that’s understandable and inspiring. It’s pop rock for the sensitive soul. Album Highlights: “Grace” and “Blessed Be” - jennifer e. jones
With a slight decline in rap music, due to its negative subliminal content, GRITS continues to maintain its place in the hip hop industry. Their message of truth incessantly prevails even in the midst of a contaminated industry. GRITS’ Reiterate draws in listeners and fans with a sort of eclectic feel, as they reiterate the truth of the gospel using a wide range of music and artistic ability. Starting off with a soft alternative intro, “Sky May Fall”, the listeners gain hope in a fallen society. “Fly Away”, “Turn It Up”, and “Remind Me” shift the album in a new direction as the artists dabble into the techno and pop music genres. Then driving it home, “Something About You” makes way for the rest of the album with a bit of a southern hip hop feel. Through their diverse array of musicality, GRITS manages to stay within their gospel-oriented mission. - ashley card
The best thing about this album is the fact that there are three new songs on it – giving you a break from the group’s old songs and beats. However, the 16-song album does give you one song to get krunk too: “Jay Mumbles - Mega Mix.” If you’re looking for a unique and fresh-type of sound coming from GRITS this time around, you might be slightly disappointed. Although GRITS has definitely paid their dues as underground icons, their momentum has seemed to slow a bit. Buy the album, but don’t get happy. Album Highlight: “Jay Mumbles – Mega Mix” - terri l. simmons
Group 1 Crew
- Ordinary Dreamers
Following up their win at this year’s Dove Awards for Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year, Group 1 Crew is back with another excellent project. Their urban, hip-hop style gets you dancing on songs like “Movin’” and “Gimme that Funk,” but these are more than just dance tunes. Manwell, Bianca, and Pablo take their God-given roles as entertainers seriously remarking in one song that “the dream was never to wanna achieve the green.” Whether it is encouraging listeners to pursue a closer relationship with Christ ("iContact" and "Our Time"), cheering Christians to live boldly for God (“Live Out Loud”), or singing of the Lord’s faithfulness (“I See You”) the band continually points to God as the source of their talent and reminds listeners that He has created us all with unique abilities to serve Him. This album rocks! Album hightlights: “Live Out Loud,” “I See You,” and “iContact” - belinda elliott
- Group 1 Crew
If you’re sick of Fergie going on about her “humps” and the mindless music of other hip-hop-pop bands in the mainstream, get an ear-full of Group 1 Crew. Manwell, Bianca, and Pablo are singing and rapping to bring you “to a place where all your problems roll away” (per the spirited “Let It Roll”). They have the funky style and thoughtful lyrics that proudly announce that this group won’t be another flash in your speakers. They tackle real life with an unashamed approach to following Jesus (“Every time You arrive, let my heart be open / ‘Cause it’s You I put my hope in / You give me love, give me strength, and You give me courage / Even though I don’t deserve it” from “Can’t Go On”). The songs are infectious, the beats are tight, but more than that, this group has substance – a quality greatly lacking in pop music today. Album Highlights: “No Plan B” and “Let It Roll” - jennifer e. jones
- Fireflies and Songs
Smooth vocals, comforting words, and strong instrumentation -- that's what you'll discover in Sara Groves new album Fireflies and Songs. Her rich melodies and silky tone quality make for a relaxing, inspiring, and positive listening experience. Where her vocal range falls short, her style and emotion make amends. Groves seems truly connected with God and her audience, making for a brilliant vessel between us and the Lord as we strive to feel of his love for us through song. - monique derr
- Tell Me What You Know
She’s one of the most creative voices in Christian music, and just when you think she’s reached the end of innovation, Sara Groves takes another turn. Tell Me What You Know is Groves at her best, and it enraptures from the first track. “Song For My Sons” has a childlike drumbeat as she passes on wisdom to her boys and her fans. “It Might Be Hope” is classic Groves as she sits at the piano and offers brilliantly beautiful lyrics over steady melodies. Her experimentation with rhythm continues on “In The Girl There’s a Room”. She lets the piano take a backseat on the finale, “You Are Wonderful”, which embodies a simplistic, Paul McCartney vibe to it. A true wonder! Album Highlights: “Song For My Sons” and “In the Girl There’s a Room” - jennifer e. jones
- Add to the Beauty
Sara Groves is the kind of artist who you can’t fully appreciate unless her CD sleeve full of lyrics is out in front of you. She is one of Christian music’s best songwriters with a storyteller’s rhythm. In Add to the Beauty, she highlights the traces of God one can see in everyday life – from heartache (“Rewrite This Tragedy”) to the complexity of relationships (“Loving a Person”). She offers comfort in “It’s Going to Be All Right,” and she gets a little gospel near the end of “How Can I Tell?” Lyrically, she speaks the truth yet again. Who hasn’t felt like: “I just showed up for my own life”? It's not her best by far. There are less breakout tracks on this album like there were on Other Side of Something but it has a gentle consistency. Album Highlights: “It’s Going to Be All Right” and “Loving a Person” - jennifer e. jones
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