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- Blue on Blue
Leigh Nash’s Blue on Blue could take a few spins to sink in – mostly because Sixpence None the Richer fans may be expecting this to be Divine Discontent Vol. 2. However, the former frontwoman seeks to pave new ground. She keeps it mellow and simple throughout, and at times Blue on Blue gets a little too sedated. “Never Finish,” for example, nearly lulled me to sleep. A clear radio hit is hard to distinguish but I must admit that “My Idea of Heaven” is deceptively catchy (I found myself still humming the chorus long after the song was done). No covers like “There She Goes” this time. It’s all Nash, all original. Sixpence can still be heard faintly echoing through the halls of Blue on Blue. The musical arrangement on “Nervous in the Light of Day” mixes Eastern influences with Top 40/pop piano. Blue on Blue has its moments; I just wish there were more of them. Album Highlights: “My Idea of Heaven” and “Nervous in the Light of Day” - jennifer e. jones
- Not Without Love
Ok, I’ll admit that sometimes I find the CCM scene a little void of fresh sounds. I’m a bluesy-pop kinda girl, and I usually have to hit up my ipod for some Colbie Callait, Jason Mraz, or even some John Mayer when I have a craving for some smooth tunes. But I was pleasantly surprised with Jimmy Needham’s latest album Not Without Love. This is his second major release, and it’s a winner all the way around. Listeners will be hooked with the easy way his lightning fast lyrics slide into a groove that will keep heads bobbing all day long. Album highlights: “Come Around,” “A Breath or Two,” the vintage sounds of “Firefly,” and “Forgiven and Loved.” Also, listen up for the sweet benediction/monologue on the last track, “Not Without Love.” – rebekah wilson
Jimmy Needham could be the breath of fresh air Christian music has been gasping for. His happy blues style is something not commonly found on the charts today. An old soul in a young body, Jimmy sings for his supper with all his might. “For Freedom” in particular is where you see the strength in his range. That’s just what he does with his voice. Jimmy’s guitar licks and picks rock with a groove that is way beyond his years. Some of Speak goes into the typical adult contemporary so pay closer attention to the blues tracks because this is where Jimmy shines. Tracks such as “Lost at Sea" showcase Jimmy’s flow that is comparable to mainstream singer Jason Mraz. His knack for improvision should make Jimmy a joy to see in concert. Looking forward to watching this new songbird spread his wings. Album Highlights: “For Freedom” and “You Make Me Sing” - jennifer e. jones
- The Heat
Needtobreathe refuses to coast on the acclaim they received for Daylight. The Heat brings more than fire as the boys from Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, dig into those deep Southern rock roots. You’ll be gripped from the first stompin’ beats on “Restless” through to the revival sounds of “Washed By the Water”. While “Signature of the Divine (Yahweh)” is the flagship radio single, “We Could Run Away” has mainstream hit potential. Mixing Sunday and everyday themes, Needtobreathe continues to look at life and contemporary Christian music from new and exciting angles. Kudos on breaking the sophomore slump. Album Highlights: “Restless”, “We Could Run Away”, and “Washed By the Water” - jennifer e. jones
NEEDTOBREATHE’s debut album has a certain charm that’s irresistible. In spite of some melodies that sound entirely too much like Building 429 meets the Goo Goo Dolls, there is a heart that refuses to die on Daylight. You can feel it in lead singer Bear Rinehart’s undeniably strong voice. Daylight starts off slow but really picks up after its stellar track “Hayley.” They jump out of the adult contemporary sound for a moment on “Knew It All,” where it sounds like they picked up a thing or two from the UK’s Bloc Party. “I Won’t Look Back” is an excellent curtain-call ballad with a piano background and a harmonica in the bridge. For these tracks alone, this band deserves a shot. Album Highlights: “Hayley” and “I Won’t Look Back”- jennifer e. jones
New Life Worship
- Counting on God
If you’re looking for a live worship album from a church that has consistently produced quality and uplifting worship, check out New Life’s latest release, Counting on God. This is a great testimony from a church that has seen more than its share of trials, from the devastating fall of its former pastor to the tragic shootings on its property last year. Their cry, as the title song states is to have: “joy unspeakable that won’t go away, just enough strength to live for today. So I never have to worry what tomorrow brings, ‘cause my faith is on the solid Rock. I am counting on God!” Other highlights include “Savior” and “Overcome,” both testimony songs of dependence on God’s grace to make it through. In a world of troubled times, the underlying theme of this entire album speaks life and hope to the body of Christ: well worth the price of an album. – rebekah wilson
- In the Hands of God
Christian music's favorite boys from Down Under are back with their brand new release, In the Hands of God. Off the tail end of news that lead singer Peter Furler is no longer touring full-time, this new album solidifies this band as a strong voice in Christian music. Unlike albums in the past, In the Hands of God offers a wide range of tunes -- from power pop to alternative/guitar rock. Thankfully, Furler's signature sound isn't lost in the myriad of updated melodies. "Lead Me to the Cross" and "In the Hands of God" are sure to be Christian radio hits. Album Highlights: "The Way We Roll", "The Upside", and "My Friend Jesus" - hannah goodwyn
- Go: Remixed
newsboys joins the remix trend by revamping Go into a techno-rock excursion worthy of the most discerning ear. Between three producers, Tedd T. (Mute Math), Max Hsu (Superchick), and Lee Bridges (India. Arie), they’ve hidden plenty of treasures in this project. “City to City” sounds like it just left tobyMac’s “Diverse City” with hooks from Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love.” The already near perfect “Your Love Is Better than Life” got a nice rock symphony facelift from Hsu. I defy you to stand still during the dance club remix of “I Am Free”, and things get downright Moby-like with the electronic funk in “Secret Kingdom”. All the while, Go: Remixed stays true to newboys’ exciting call to edge-gripping evangelism. Bravo! It’s even better than Go. Album Highlights: “I Am Free” and “City to City” - jennifer e. jones
The newsboys continue to bring us more contemporary Christian music from down under. Go is an energetic adventure full of the stuff that makes the newsboys such a staple in the Christian industry. Techno-tinted rock reigns here, and just when you think they're out of fresh ideas, Go features a few twists and turns. I was particularly fetched by “Your Love Is Better Than Life,” which has a neo-'80s new wave, Aussie rap done by Peter Furler. They’re still full of CCM pop as illustrated by “Secret Kingdom,” a song that feels like it could have been on Take Me to Your Leader. I can’t say it’s the best album in their collection, and it should be very pleasing to newboys lovers and attract some new fans as well. Album Highlights: “Your Love Is Better Than Life” and “Let It All Come Out” - jennifer e. jones
- The Christmas Hope
They created an instant Christmas classic with “The Christmas Shoes”. Now NewSong has a new holiday song to share. Despite being down one member, the four-man band still sing amazingly in unison. The Christmas Hope has the most contemporary feel of the albums this year. They turned “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” into a Top 40 pop/rock tune and let their inner blues-y soul shine on “Jingle Bell Rock”. I was really impressed with the sentimental jazz of “What a Wonderful World” and “Southbound Flight”. Of course, your heart will still stir a little at “The Christmas Shoes”. NewSong fans will have no trouble getting in the spirit with a little bit of “Christmas Hope”. Album Highlights: “The Christmas Blessing” featuring Rachael Lampa and “What a Wonderful World” - jennifer e. jones
- Salvation Station
NewWorldSon has a funky style that is all their own. The group initially met at a jazz club where they played gospel music. On their debut album, they have incorporated those roots into a fantastic blend of jazz, gospel, and soul, which they call "speakeasy gospel." Their energetic sound and creative lyrics do indeed speak easily of the difference God has made in their lives. From the upbeat "Salvation Station" and "Working Man" to the more introspective "Sweet Holy Spirit," the album mixes soulful praise with thoughtful reflection of God’s place in our lives. Highlights: "Sweet Holy Spirit" and "Citybus Lovesong." - belinda elliott
- The Lost Get Found by Britt Nicole
Christian music's answer to Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, Britt Nicole offers a solid sophomore album with The Lost Get Found. This Sparrow Records pop singer has a high-energy, contagious sound that teens will enjoy. The CD's title track matches a beautiful melody with spiritually meaningful lyrics. However, the lyrical depth seems to shallow-out on the other tracks. Album Highlights: "How We Roll", "Welcome to the Show," and "The Lost Get Found" - hannah goodwyn
- Life Light Up
A worship album at its very core, this new self-titled project showcases Christy Nockels' lyrical and vocal talent. Known for her work on Passion albums and her duo group Watermark (with her husband and producer Nathan Nockels), Christy is back with this debut record as a solo Christian artist. At first listen, it seems to lack a unique, newness about it -- like its been done before. But once listeners hear the depth of the spirit-lifting lyrics on a couple of the tracks, they will feel compelled to join Christy in worshipping God. Album Highlights: "A Mighty Fortress" and "Marvelous Light" - hannah goodwyn
As a new parent, Christian music’s piano girl is facing life’s new challenges with style and grace. Read the full review...
- Bebo Norman
A new music label and a new approach to recording has done nothing to change the earthy, folk-rooted sound of Bebo Norman. His new self titled project is rooted in the tuneful sensibilities of comparable artists like James Taylor and John Mayer; all the while, confidently stretching the musical arrangements to his worshipful melodies. Slightly more upbeat and driving than his previous work, the new album focuses on rebuilding life from brokenness, a byproduct of several relationships close to Bebo. In “Pull Met Out”, “Ruins”, and “One Bright Hour”, we find Bebo at his vulnerable best. Also, don’t miss “Britney”, an open letter of sorts to Britney Spears. Not his best work (Myself When I am Real is still the best) but Bebo Norman is still a very welcome addition to your CD collection. - chris carpenter
- Between the Dreaming and the Coming True
Meet the more serious Bebo Norman. The themes on Between the Dreaming… will strike a chord with any war-weary soul. Musically, Norman gives less pop/rock radio hits and more haunting ballads. The melancholy, sacred tones of “My Eyes Have Seen Holy” and “Time Takes Its Toll” show the maturing CCM singer/songwriter has a lot of depth. Although parts of “Bring Me to Life” sound frighteningly like “Rain Down” by delirious?, for the most part Norman attempts to pave new ground. He even writes his first-ever recorded love songs to his new bride called “To Find My Way to You” and “Sunday.” Looks like our boy’s all grown up, and fans and newcomers alike will enjoy the new stops on his journey. Album Highlights: “Sunday” and “Time Takes Its Toll”- jennifer e. jones
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