The 700 Club | CBN News | Spiritual | Family | Health | Finance | Entertainment | TV | International | ShopCBN
archive of album reviews

Used CD Bin

# - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y - Z



  • Encore: For Future Generations  
    In Encore fans get new versions of their favorites and a few new solo songs. This album is solely for the hardcore 4Him loyalist because the new tracks aren’t that different than the originals. For example, you can’t improve upon the perfection that was the classic “Basics of Life,” and if anything on the new track, you can tell that Tony Sutherland’s voice is not quite as smooth as it used to be. The solo songs are decent with Marty Magehee’s “Runaway Train” standing out from the pack. If you’re looking for a real greatest hits collection from this dynamic four-some, then get The Best Ones from 1999 and let the curtain close on this Encore. Album Highlights: “Where There Is Faith” and “Runaway Train” - jennifer e. jones


Aaron Greer Band

  • Agents of Change  
    Since 2005, Aaron Greer Band has been sharing the Gospel through shows that combine music with technology and other forms of media. In conjunction with the concerts and tour, Agents of Change is the second album that this band has recorded. The CD gives listeners a rare taste of melodic guitar rock mixed with clean lyrics and electronic background sounds. Though Aaron Greer’s timeless message and clear vocals are solid, some may find the album to be too old-fashioned sounding. With simple guitar licks, some vocal echoing, and synthesizer noises, the result mostly sounds like something from the 90s. Album Highlights: “May Your Glory Move” and “I Want My Life to Speak.” – amy nickerson


  • Don't Wait  
    Benjamin Gate fans looking for a reunion album on Adie’s new Don’t Wait shouldn’t hold their collective breath. Adie’s done with the hard rock. Now she features a softer side on her first solo album. Leaning more towards adult contemporary rock, she exercises pianos and acoustic guitars this time around. Her husband, Jeremy Camp, who’s now the edgier one of the two, shares some songwriting and playing credits on such songs as “When It’s Over” and “If I’ll Ever.” The ballads (i.e., “What Have I Done” and “Time”) are tender, and if you get over the fact that she can wail on the microphone a lot harder than this, they’re actually kind of pleasant. You’ll recognize her cover of the Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn;” it rocks a little but doesn’t lift off the ground high enough. Overall, take a look at this album with fresh eyes and ears, and you just might enjoy it. Album Highlights: “Overwhelm Me” and “Don’t Wait (Lazy Day)” - jennifer e. jones

Addison, Shari

  • Shari Addison  
    Shari Addison was crowned runner up to winner Crystal Aikin on BET's "Sunday Best," a singing competition. While not the winner of the competition, Crystal did not give up but rather kept running, and her hard work is paying off. Addison released her debut album in January. The CD is a mix of traditional  and contemporary Gospel music, and is sure to be loved by those who favor the type of  music. Addison provides a variety of tunes from slow to upbeat tempos with lyrics that worship Christ and others that seek Him. Shari Addison is a pretty good album to be Addison's first, and I look forward to seeing what comes from her in the future. Album Highlights: "Whateva," "No Battle, No Blessing," and "Please Make Me Better" - kimberly a. lilly

Afters, The

  • Never Going Back to OK  
    “Beautiful Love” fans can jump off the edge of their seats because the long-awaited follow-up album to I Wish We All Could Win is here. The former coffee shop guys now known as The Afters are at their rock/pop best with 12 cross-over-ready tracks on Never Going Back to OK. The ballads show more depth than they have before, and you get that when you really listen to “Ocean Wide” and “Beautiful Worlds”. As cheesy as it sounds, “Myspace Girl” is surprisingly cute and catchy, and “Falling Into Place” has multiple layers lyrically and musically. The Afters continue to explore the bounds of earthly and heavenly relationships. And they get a little better with every step. Album Highlights: “Falling Into Place” and “Myspace Girl" - jennifer e. jones
  • I Wish We All Could Win  
    This debut by The Afters is a rock’n’roll wave of honest lyrics that show the reality of our often bumpy journey of faith. Read the full review...

Agnew, Todd

  • Better Questions  
    The ghost of Johnny Cash has been haunting Todd Agnew. At least, that’s the impression I got hearing the depth of Agnew’s soul in the first notes of  “Still Has a Hold”. He truly shed the boy-next-door worship leader image he had on Grace Like Rain and exchanged it for that of a rugged spiritual outlaw. “Why can’t you see me as one of the least of these?” is just one of the "better questions" he asks on this country/rock-filled road. He shows his frailty and strength in every lyric and guitar stroke. His take on “Our Great God” is a powerful yet gentle giant. Better Questions tops off at sixteen songs, and Agnew satisfies even the most critical ear . Album Highlights: “Our Great God”, “On a Corner in Memphis” and “Least of These”- jennifer e. jones
  • Do You See What I See?  
    Todd Agnew’s powerful style, and storytelling lyrics share new perspectives of the Christmas story in his third and latest project, Do You See What I See?.  Each original song is written from the point of view of different eyewitnesses of Christ’s birth.  Everyone’s life was changed.  Personal dreams were replaced with God’s plans.  But then again, He sees our future more than we can, so put your trust in Him.  Other Christian music artists joined Agnew on this CD, including Vince Lichlyter from Jonah33, Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave, Anthony Evans, and more.  Grab a copy of this uplifting album and another one to give to a friend.   Album Highlights: “Did You Know?”, “He is Called Jesus,” and “In the First Light” - hannah goodwyn
  • Reflection of Something  
    Zealous worship leader Todd Agnew shares his passionate songs with music fans once again. Straight-forward lyrics question and humble as each song will open your eyes to see God's breathtaking wonder and glory. Agnew changes it up from his first CD by adding blues and southern gospel tones to his powerful rock style. Expect great things from this one. Album Highlights: "My Jesus," "In the Middle of Me," "Where Were You" and the 10 other songs - hannah goodwyn

Aikin, Crystal

  • Crystal Aikin  
    BET's "Sunday Best" winner and former ER room nurse, Crystal Aikin, released her first album in January 2009 and it is Awesome--with a capital "A"!  Aikin's new found fame is very much deserved, as her journey to present day was not an easy one. Before becoming the winner of "Sunday's Best," Aikins saw many doors closed in other competitions, before seeing an open one. And, she even witnessed her father pass away from a sudden heart attack. But everything happens for a reason, and surely there is a time and season for everything. And God's timing, it's perfect. Based on the lyrics, arrangements, tunes, etc. heard on Crystal Aikin, every closed door and tough experience has only brought Miss Aikin closer to God. Because of her experiences, through her music you will be drawn closer to Him too. This CD has music to worship to, dance to, cry to, and even laugh too, but more importantly it is an album that will help you seek, worship, and praise Jesus Christ. It is definitely a must have.  Album Highlights: The entire album! - kimberly a. lilly

All Star United

  • Love & Radiation  
    Let the lineup change as it may, All Star United still rocks. Love and Radiation is pure Christian pop rock like newsboys or Audio A. The title track kicks things off with very descriptive visions of God (”You’re the virus that’s running through my veins / You’re a danger like love and radiation / Seeping into my brain”). Although it’s one “yeah, yeah” too many, the perkiness of “You You You Yeah Yeah Yeah” is infectious. The musically predictable “We Could Be Brilliant” is one I could do without, however the audacity to fly in the face of popular Christian music on “Song of the Year” is remarkable. Irreverent and holy at the same time, ASU reigns supreme. Album Highlights: “Song of the Year” and “Love and Radiation” - jennifer e. jones


  • Cities  
    Anberlin is one of the most unique voices in Christian rock today, and their new album, Cities, only solidifies their title. Frontman Stephen Christian’s emo-ridden vocals sing with more conviction than some worship songs. They are still challenging the lost souls with lyrics such as, “There’s more to living than being alive” from “Reclusion”. And the driving beats and synthesized keys made famous from their first hit “Ready Fuels" continue on tracks “Godspeed” and “A Whisper and a Clamor”. Yet, with all the “clamor” and hype, they slow it down for “The Unwinding Cable Car” and “Inevitable”. The best Anberlin album is here. The only thing sweeter will be hearing these new songs live in concert. Album Highlights:  “Dismantle.Repair” and ”Godspeed” - jennifer e. jones

Anderson, Jared

  • Where Faith Comes From  
    Some may know Jared Anderson from his active involvement with Colorado’s Desperation Band. Other fans might remember his first solo effort, Where To Begin, released in 2006. Now, the artist is back with an all-new album entitled, Where Faith Comes From. The solid lyrics take an honest look at exactly that as the CD explores the beauty of Christ, the trials of this world, and the act of finding Him within this life. Nonetheless, fans of Desperation could find this album disappointing. A few tracks stay true to the genuine, energetic sound of the worship band. However, others fall a bit flat, dragging down the momentum of the CD instead of pushing it onward. Album Highlights: “All I Want,” “Glorified” - amy nickerson

Anderson, Nigel

  • The Catalyst  
    The Catalyst is the sophomore project from Nigel Anderson, better known as Legin. The catchy beats of these tracks are what initially draw you into this Gospel Rap album, but it is Legin’s powerful lyrics that leave a lasting impression. His love for Christ and people shine through in every song. In “Seek the Lord,” he encourages listeners to press into God and spend time seeking His face. In “Believe Thee” he expresses a burden to reach unbelievers. He writes, “Sometimes it gets hard, and then it gets easy, You say you won't forsake, no, You won't leave me. Every night I pray, Lord, that you keep me. What is it gonna take for this world to believe Thee?” It is the heart-felt passion on this track and others that brings depth to the album. Album Highlights: “Seek the Lord,” “Move,” “Believe Thee,” and “God is an Artist.”  - belinda elliott

Andrews, Meredith

  • The Invitation  
    The Invitation is the title of the latest album from Meredith Andrews. With this album, the talented musician invites listeners to experience God’s grace. Songs such as, “You Are Not Alone” and “You Invite Me In,” remind listeners of God’s promise to never leave them, nor forsake them. Another song on the album entitled, “Show Me What It Means” share Andrews’ desire to know more about God and his will for her life. Other songs on the album simply take the time to honor God with praise and worship. Over all, the entire album invokes listeners to reflect on who God is and to accept his invitation of love unconditional. Album Highlights: "You Invite Me In," "Draw Me Nearer," and "Deeper." - kimberly ann lilly

Ashmont Hill

  • Ashmont Hill  
    The self-titled debut album by Ashmont Hill has developed out of four relatives from a community near Boston who have led music in their church for years. Most of the songs included on the CD are originals written by Phil Thompson, though listeners will recognize a few Matt Redmond tracks, “Gifted Response” and “Blessed Be Your Name.” With tight harmony and calming melodies, Ashmont Hill will catch the interest of fans of classic gospel music. However, even with the worshipful lyrics and smooth vocals, this album is not for everyone. Album Highlights: “You Proved Your Love” and “Gifted Response” - amy nickerson

Audio Adrenaline

  • Until My Heart Caves In  
    It is hard to imagine a band like Audio Adrenaline recording an album that drips with love and emotion. But that is exactly what they have done with their ninth studio release, albeit in their own raucous way. From Mark Stuart’s trademark growl to Ben Cissell’s thundering sledgehammer drumming on the opening track “Clap Your Hands,” it is clear Audio A’s intention is to recapture the classic rock sound. The power groove continues on the title track but eventually settles into comfortable pop rock territory, definitely not their strength. Not to be confused, this is a very likable album. It just lacks the lyrical creativity that fueled previous Audio A standards. Album Highlights: Clap Your Hands" and "Light of the Sun" - chris carpenter

Auge Joel

  • On The Blue  
    In his solo debut, Joel Auge brings his original worship music and folk-rock style to Christian homes and radio stations. With 12 tracks that blend strong vocals (including some nice falsetto) with acoustic melodies and truth-filled lyrics, On The Blue offers something for everyone. Auge says that he hopes that his songs “will stretch people’s hearts and minds while they’re worshipping Jesus.” Singing biblically sound lyrics that focus on God and invite everyone to give Christ the glory instead of themselves (even stating this outwardly in “Glory Glory”), Auge should be proud to have fulfilled his goal. Album Highlights: “Even The Rocks” and “Singing Hallelujah.” - amy nickerson


  • Faith: A Collection of Hymns  
    The only real downfall of Avalon’s Faith: A Hymns Collection has nothing to do with its content but rather its timeliness. After hearing every pop Christian act (from Jars of Clay to Out of Eden) record a hymns project last year, fans of the genre may be a bit weary of “How Great Thou Art” covers. Nevertheless, the members of Avalon sing their hearts out as they do best. They don’t do anything revolutionary to the songs but the perfect harmony in which Jody, Greg, Melissa, and Janna sing shines a new light all their own. The war-like drums on “It Is Well” is a new take on the classic. A folk version of “Jesus Loves Me/’Tis So Sweet” is precious. Also, it was fairly ambitious of them to tackle “Total Praise,” a song mostly done by choirs 10 times their size. Avalon fans will delight in this addition to their collection, as might fans of hymns. Album Highlights: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “Total Praise” - jennifer e. jones
  • Stand  
    Few groups sound just as strong together as they do individually and Avalon stands above the crowd. Those who love their signature vocal harmonies will dig their latest release, Stand. While their lyrics couldn’t get more simplistic at points (“Love won’t leave you empty-handed” from “Love Won’t Leave You”), their strong suite remains their ballads. “Orphans of God” is a sweet but strong reassurance of the Lord’s love, and the title track is also a powerful call for the faithful. They get out of their element with the funky intro on “I Survive” and make it work with heavy guitars in the chorus. Over all there aren’t easily recognizable hits like “You Were There” or “Adonai” but Avalon still sings as good as they ever have. Album Highlights: “We Will Stand” and “I Survive” - jennifer e. jones


Barfield, Warren

  • Worth Fighting For
    Encouraging, convicting and comforting are words that describe Warren Barfield’s new album Worth Fighting For. The 11-track project, which is Barfield’s third, has catchy tunes behind lyrics that are filled with life experiences that everyone can relate to. The first single off the album, “Love Is Not A Fight,” speaks of what love is and why it is worth fighting for. “Say It With Your Life,” reminds believers to let their life reflect what they believe. While “The Singer Not The Song,” tells that worship is not something we sing, but something we live. This new album shows the maturity of Barfield as a man and the growth in his walk with Christ. It is one that his fans will appreciate. Album Highlights: “The One Thing,” “As It In Heaven” and “Love Is Not A Fight.”
    - kimberly a. lilly
  • Reach  
    What I love about Warren Barfield’s sophomore release Reach is twofold. First, he lets the natural soul in his voice shine through – especially on the first track “I’ll Be Alright.” His confidence level has grown to feature not only quality songwriting but the vocals to go with it. Secondly, track after track, Warren maintains a smooth groove with vulnerable passion that almost sounds a bit like Maroon 5 but still very much Barfield. Warren continues in the vein of “Mistaken” and “Soak It Up” with lyrics you can identify with (i.e., “I’m on top of the world / And my world’s upside down / All I have is you” on “Closer”). On Reach, Warren reaches for soulful heights and grasps them with near perfection. Album Highlights: “Closer” and “Shadow” - jennifer e. jones


  • Another Journal Entry  
    Don’t let the lackadaisical title fool you. Another Journal Entry is something you want to read. On their sophomore release, this sister act serves up more rock beats and power ballads. Their lyrics still strive to go deeper than the typical teenage angst (as seen in “I Need You to Love Me” with lines like: “Your love makes me forget what I have been”). Vocally, BarlowGirl mix their sweet voices with hard riffs. While nothing on this album will rock your world, BarlowGirl fans will be satisfied, and even the toughest cynic can’t deny that these little ladies have promise. Album Highlights: “5 Minutes of Fame,” “No One Like You,” and “Never Alone (Acoustic Version)” - jennifer e. jones

Bates, Brian

  • Worlds Collide  
    Musician and songwriter, Brian Bates, has found new inspiration in the past couple of years. His second album, Worlds Collide, clearly indicates this, showing a passion and love of missions, travel, and other “worlds.” More specifically, Bates has partnered with World Vision in an attempt to bring water, food, healthcare, and education to people in Sierra Leone in Africa. Brian’s newest CD tells the stories of his work there, with songs like “You Danced” and “Elijah” exploring issues of poverty and brokenness while also revealing an awe for the simple joy some of the poorest people have. While the music may seem like anything else on the radio today, Brian’s insight and heart will easily keep you listening. Album Highlights: “Under” and “You Danced.”– amy nickerson

Battistelli, Francesca

  • My Paper Heart  
    With a style reminiscent of Sara Bareilles (especially on the album's first single, "I'm Letting Go") Francesca Battistelli's soulful voice and unique songwriting ability make My Paper Heart shine. Whether it is celebrating God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us (“Free to Be Me”), trusting Him with our future (“I’m Letting Go”), or allowing Him to heal our wounds (“My Paper Heart”), Battistelli’s lyrics are as authentic as they are vulnerable. Well I’ve been treated like a valentine / That’s been ripped apart and left behind /I’m a fragile girl /In a crazy careless world, she writes in the album’s title track. Her versatile styles range from piano-driven pop to a more funky jazz sound (“Blue Skies”). This album has it all --  powerful vocals, stick-in-your-head choruses, and refreshing lyrics. Expect to be hearing a lot more from this talented artist. Album Highlights: ‘I’m Letting Go,” “Free to Be Me,” “Time in Between” – belinda elliott

Barrettsmith, Brooke

  • Brooke Barrettsmith 
    You might remember Brook Barrettsmith from American Idol’s Season Five; she made it to the top 40 before being eliminated. Well, Brooke is back. Her self-titled debut album, Brooke Barrettsmith, was released on June 10 and is very impressive. The pop/rock artist has a style that is similar to something you’ve probably heard before, but nevertheless, she makes every song personal and unique by sharing her life experiences and her faith. The ten tracks on the album give insight on various topics including: the comfort of God, letting go of past mistakes, and faith in God. Album Highlights: "Quiet My Heart," "Farwell," and "More Real."  - kimberly a. lilly

Beeching, Vicky

  • Yesterday, Today and Forever  
    When female worship leaders who praise on guitar are few and far between, Vicky Beeching arrives with Yesterday, Today and Forever. It’s essentially Chris Tomlin meets Jennifer Knapp. Her songs are fetching with enough of a hook to catch on in any church service. Lyrically, Beeching lets her devotion run deep and never strays from Scripture. She offers solid songs of her own like the title track, “Call to Worship” and others. Yet she provides a soft touch to worship standards like “Above All Else” and “Turn Your Eyes.” Certainly, Beeching is sharing songs from her heart that you’ll be singing on Sunday mornings in 2006. Album Highlights: “Call to Worship” and “Turn Your Eyes” - jennifer e. jones

Big Daddy Weave

  • Every Time I Breathe  
    Every Time I Breathe is not so much a step up for Big Daddy Weave as it is a step sideways. They’re still rocking with the same sound that started their career on One and Only. Although it smacks of typical Christian radio fluff, a few bright tracks make it a pleasurable listen. “All the Same” is a venture into Dave Matthews Band’s world with a full band sound. They cover Rich Mullins’ “Hold Me Jesus,” and their edgier version of “Let It Rise” isn’t half-bad. However, these songs get lost in a sea of familiar riffs and lyrics that are the same as Weave’s contemporaries. A decent new album but if this is a sign of what’s to come from Big Daddy Weave, I’ll stick with an “Audience of One.” Album Highlights: “All the Same” and “Every Time I Breathe” - jennifer e. jones


  • God of This City
    Bluetree’s latest record features rock anthems for the church who isn’t afraid of getting a little loud in their praise to God. This band of Irish brothers in Christ, with its rock and ballad-style songs, is sure to be the next big leader in bringing new songs to worship services around the world. The band’s fun rock sound, backed by strong lyrics that glorify God, is definitely their strength. Favorites: “God’s Plan”, “Life’s Noise,” and “Burn Me Up” - hannah goodwyn

Boone, Pat

  • Glory Train: The Lost Sessions  
    Originally intended to be a cutting edge crossover release when it was recorded in 1975, this album is easy listening by today’s standards. But you can’t help but like the man who made white buck shoes popular. What sets this album apart is not the novelty of lost recording sessions but the inclusion of a newly recorded all-star tribute to the world’s most famous evangelist, Billy Graham. Entitled “Thank You Billy Graham,” the ensemble single and supplementary DVD features a diversified line up including, Bono, Leanne Rimes, dcTalk, Andre Crouch, to name a few. Album Highlights: "Thank You Billy Graham" Album Highlights: "Fire," "Confused" - chris carpenter

Brennan, Moya

  • An Irish Christmas  
    There’s something very enchanting about the Celtic melodies of Moya Brennan. Her voice is light and airy as she softly sings both traditional and new holiday songs. Obviously, fans of Enya, Michelle Tumes and other like singers are more likely to enjoy this Irish rendition of yuletide joy. Listeners will get an earful of sweeping vocal arrangements and the gentle plucking of a harp. Brennan is a one-woman choir on “Carol of the Bells,” yet she gives the most delicate of performances on the final track “Silent Night”. An acquired taste but well worth it. Album Highlights: "Carol of Bells" and "Silent Night" - jennifer e. jones

Brewster, Lincoln

  • Today is the Day  
    Today is the Day, gives Lincoln Brewster fans two things: an appetizer of the expected CCM hits, and then a musically diverse, meaty entree. Like his other releases, this album has several accessible hits for corporate worship. The title track, a solid praise tune co-written with Paul Baloche, is already getting heavy Christian radio play, and worship teams will easily adapt the meditativePower of Your Name.” But while each song has its definite merit, the main course begins with his newer, less-predictable material. Highlights: The soulful, jazzy, gospel styles he introduces on “Give Him Praise,” “The Arms of My Savior,” and “This Love,” and his shredding guitar solos on songs such as “Let Your Glory Shine” and “Salvation is Here.” - rebekah wilson

Building 429

  • Building 429 
    Building 429 released their self-tilted album on October 21 and it is not so pleasing to the ear. Personally, after hearing this album I’m not ready to be one of their fans. I do not doubt that Jason Roy, Michael Anderson, and Jesse Garcia are talented young men, but that talent is just not heard on this album. The lyrics of many of the songs are interesting and thought provoking, but in others if the vocals don’t put you to sleep, then the tunes are bound to give you a headache. Nevertheless, I won’t completely write the album off because admittedly I’m not a huge fan of the band’s style of music, and because of that I do recommend that you give it a listen and evaluate the album for yourself. Highlights: “Shoulder,” “Always” and “End of Me” – kimberly a. lilly
  • Iris to Iris 
    I know it’s unfair to wish that Building 429 would make another hit as easily catchy as “Glory Defined”. However, I believe that a band as evolved as this one should have a sound that matures with every album. I’m not finding that to be the case on Iris to Iris. While I appreciate the sold-out devotion to Christ in every lyric, the tracks don’t pop out of the mundane. For example, “Amazed” sounds like every other song on Christian radio today, as does “Waiting to Shine,” in spite of its sincere tenderness. This ship doesn’t sink completely. “Constant” comes up for air with a light melody and a guitar riff that echoes behind Jason Roy’s voice. Iris will pacify the absolute Building 429 fan, but we should all hope for better. Album Highlights: “Constant” - jennifer e. jones
  • The Space in Between Us  
    There’s nothing terribly original about Building 429, but they sure do know how to craft a catchy pop-rock song. Read the full review...
  • Rise  
    If you loved Building 429’s first album The Space in Between Us than you will absolutely love their sophomore release Rise.  The reason is simple; it sounds nearly identical.  While the disc is certainly enjoyable to listen to, the boys from Nashville have not really broken any new ground.  This is a concept album through and through.  Beginning with the title track and continuing through “Fearless” and “Alive,” the theme of rising from a world of brokenness to a life filled with potential, promise, and hope is quite prevalent.  A confession, I absolutely love their cover of Blessid Union of Souls’ “I Believe.”  It is a gritty performance that will resonate for hours after you hear it.  Album Highlights: “Searching for a Savior,” “Empty” (featuring Tait), and “I Belong to You” - chris carpenter

By the Tree

  • World on Fire  
    I love the theme of By the Tree’s new album, and it's beautifully illustrated in the title track: “There is a Savior in the sky / Giving His life to set this world on fire.” However, the musical vehicle to get that theme to your ears is running tired. World on Fire is more adult contemporary Christian rock that’s suffering from a lack of originality. Their knack for covering worship songs is helpful to distinguish one song from another, but the effort to be novel is missing. "Rain Down" is grand, but it’s hard to mess up a delirious? song. On “Shine” (not the newsboys’ song), former drummer, now lead singer Aaron Blanton says it all when he sings, “What can I do that’s never been done / What can I sing that’s never been sung?” My sentiments exactly. Album Highlights: “How Beautiful You Are” and “Rain Down” - jennifer e. jones



  • Cadia
    Tori Smith and Courtney Myers may be young and new to Nashville’s music world, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a listen. In fact, this duo’s debut, Cadia, offers tight vocals, challenging lyrics, and a refreshing energy that is hard to come by. With a sound like BarlowGirl or Krystal Meyers and a blend of biblically-based wisdom on topics ranging from high school life and dreams (“This One’s for the Girls”) to prayer and apologetics (“Only a Prayer Away” and “Curious”), these girls will please the teen crowd and the parents. Album Highlights: “This One’s for the Girls”, “Jesus” and “Inside Out.” - by amy nickerson

Caedmon's Call

  • Overdressed 
    Caedmon’s Call and Derek Webb join forces again for social change and divine discomfort on Overdressed. Like a ‘60s hippie band thirsty for a revolution, it’s hard to deny their fight (especially on the acoustically driven, campfire song, “All Across the Western World”). The melodies take a backseat to the message on this album, which sadly makes some of the songs quite underwhelming. Nevertheless, their points pack a serious punch (i.e., “The reaching of the steeple felt like one more expensive ad for something cheap” from “Expectations”). The one song where lyrics and harmony stand toe-to-toe is “Hold the Light” -- a two-minute outro rolls on while the title is whispered over a light guitar solo. Overdressed is hardly CC’s Share the Well, nor is it Webb’s Mockingbird. But fans of the old days will still feel the magic. Album Highlights: “Hold the Light” - jennifer e. jones
  • In the Company of Angels II: The World Will Sing  
    On the press release accompanying Jeremy Camp’s latest album, Speaking Louder Than Before, a bold headline reads, “Husband. Father. Artist.” Along with a few pictures of Jeremy Camp the rock star, is a family portrait. This is a good metaphor for his latest CD and the direction of his career. In a way, Jeremy Camp’s music is secondary to his personality and his celebrity in the Christian music world. Along with being an artist, Jeremy Camp strives to be a minister and a model of a solid Christian guy (which is admirable), but doesn’t seem overly interested in breaking new ground as an artist. With polished, upbeat inspiration tracks like “I’m Alive” and “Giving You All Control”, Camp creates pop-friendly songs, but doesn’t explore any new territory. Camp fans will dig the latest record, but it isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. Highlights: “There Will Be a Day” “My Fortress” – jesse carey- jennifer e. jones

Camp, Jeremy

  • Speaking Louder Than Before
    On the press release accompanying Jeremy Camp’s latest album, Speaking Louder Than Before, a bold headline reads, “Husband. Father. Artist.” Along with a few pictures of Jeremy Camp the rock star, is a family portrait. This is a good metaphor for his latest CD and the direction of his career. In a way, Jeremy Camp’s music is secondary to his personality and his celebrity in the Christian music world. Along with being an artist, Jeremy Camp strives to be a minister and a model of a solid Christian guy (which is admirable), but doesn’t seem overly interested in breaking new ground as an artist. With polished, upbeat inspiration tracks like “I’m Alive” and “Giving You All Control”, Camp creates pop-friendly songs, but doesn’t explore any new territory. Camp fans will dig the latest record, but it isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. Highlights: “There Will Be a Day” “My Fortress” – jesse carey
  • Beyond Measure
    If you already love Jeremy Camp, then you’ll take an interest in his latest album. However, Camp will be hard-pressed to win over new fans with Beyond Measure. This project -- and honestly every project since 2002’s Stay -- is a mix of the same songs and lyrics scrambled just enough to call it new. If played against heavy hits like “Understand” or even “Lay Down My Pride”, very few songs on Beyond Measure can measure up. “Feels Like” is the strongest attempt at stirring up praise where Camp belts out a half dozen “hallelujahs” near the end. Don’t get me wrong. Camp is a phenomenal rock star with a message that is nothing short of inspiring. However, I’m afraid that we’ve seen the best he’s got in his earlier works. Album Highlights: “Feels Like” and “I Am Nothing” - jennifer e. jones
  • Live Unplugged
    He’s live, he’s unplugged, and he sounds exactly the same. Even in this stripped down acoustic set (which really isn’t stripped down when you have a full band and mini orchestra), Jeremy Camp’s vocals are note-for-note the same as on the originals. Certain selections such as “I Still Believe” and “Walk by Faith” are nearly identical to the album versions. There’s no improvisation nor added innovative spice to the songs. The saving grace of Live Unplugged is the DVD. Camp talks about his new family, shares his faith, and shows a humorous side that’s downright charming. Diehard, can’t-get-enough-of-him fans will covet this intimate look at Camp but for everyone else, wait until something new comes out. Album Highlights: “My Desire” and “Stay” - jennifer e. jones

Carlozo, Lou

  • Stick Figure Soul
    What happens when a critic makes his own attempt at musical greatness? If Lou Carlozo’s (Chicago Tribune) new album is a guide, it isn’t anything to get excited about. Having played in two bands before, Carlozo is a talented musician, but his dated sound (think late 60’s) will resonate with few listeners. Probably anticipating this, Carlozo tried to make up for it with his lyrics. But his aims at grand symbolism are more confusing than inspiring, and sometimes he uses the same symbols on more than one track. Further, parents need to look out for songs like “Solomon Has Sung,” which heavily hints at sex. Stick Figure Soul does have an overlying message of redemption—which is clearly heard in the songs “Always” and “Morning Hurts My Eyes”—but that can be found on nearly any Christian album. Finding it on Carlozo’s comes at too high a cost. Highlights: “Morning Hurts My Eyes” and “Always.” – bethany duval

Carr, Sheri

  • Fearless Now
    In the realm of Christian worship music, Sheri Carr is no amateur. The artist has participated in several Vineyard recordings and is already being played on the radio. Fearless Now, Carr’s solo debut, is quickly revealing that her dynamic voice and humble attitude is worth recognition. The album is exactly what should be expected of a contemporary worship leader, complete with a backup choir on a few tracks and simple repetitive lyrics that make it easy to catch on. The 12 songs that make up this album are not the successful, jumpy pop tunes heard too often today. Instead, they are the basic offerings of a Christ follower and church leader. And that is what makes them valuable. Album Highlights: "Into Your Arms" and "Sing Your Praise" – amy nickerson

Carried Away

  • Closer to You
    Carried Away offers pop worship at its sugary worst. They harmonize like angels but after a few tracks, they sound like an all-female Jump5 cover band with far less energy. The rock songs pale in the afterglow of groups like BarlowGirl. Their Disney-esque arrangments may delight preteens but not anyone who wants depth in their lyrics. The silver lining on this album is their duet with Jeff Deyo mostly because it has his signature sound. Album Highlights: "Carried Away" - jennifer e. jones

Casting Crowns

  • The Altar and The Door  
    There’s a reason why Casting Crowns is one of the best Christian bands out today, and that reason is evident when you listen to The Altar and The Door. After three albums, lead singer/songwriter Mark Hall still knows how to speak for those who cannot. “Every Man” hits you right between the eyes as Hall places himself in everyone’s shoes. He paints a hopeful picture of forgiveness on "East to West" (i.e., “Can you tell me how far the east is from the west... One scarred hand from the other”) . He still knows how to ask the hard questions as he does on “Somewhere in the Middle” when he says, “Would we trade our dreams for His?” The Altar and The Door leaves plenty of room for the sinners and the saints to come closer to Jesus. Album Highlights: “East to West” and “What This World Needs” - jennifer e. jones
  • Lifesong  
    What a relief to know that Mark Hall hasn’t back down lyrically. While “Lifesong” and “Praise You in This Storm” are full of the usual CCM sentiments, songs like “Does Anybody Hear Her,” “Love Them Like Jesus,” and “While You were Sleeping” go straight to your heart and pull you into deeper levels of loving your neighbor. While they continue to serve up Top 40 pop melodies, they show their diversity in “Prodigal” with a beautiful classical guitar. As good as the first time? Well, Mark’s hard-hitting lyrics may no longer be novel, but they still pack a mean punch. The songs where they go off the beaten CCM trail are worth the second time around. Album Highlights: “Set Me Free,” “Does Anybody Hear Her,” and “Prodigal”
  • Casting Crowns  
    Radio hit "If We Are the Body" is only the beginning of the rich treasures found on this CD. Read the full review...

Casting Pearls

  • Casting Pearls
    Veterans of the indie scene, Casting Pearls, make a solid showing in their national debut, one that is sure to encourage all listeners to "Focus" on God. Fronted by Bryan Olesen, former Newsboys guitarist, this Midwest band blends modern acoustic and high-energy rock along with powerful vocals to give music fans a variety of songs that will not bore. Album Highlights: "Alright," "All About Love," "Revolution," "Loves Done Something" - hannah goodwyn

Chapman, Steven Curtis

  • This Moment
    In addition to a legacy of accolades and achievements, Steven Curtis Chapman is celebrating today -- right now -- on his latest album. His classic CCM sound is heard throughout tracks like “Miracle of the Moment". He runs the full range of the human experience from walking the streets of London in “Yours” to the joy within the struggles of motherhood on “One Heartbeat at a Time”. Speaking of family, look out for “Cinderella” to catch on as the next big father-daughter song like its predecessor “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle. Chapman’s sons, Will and Caleb, are now part of his band, and you can hear their influence on the youthful “Children of God” and “You Are Being Loved”. Definitely a keeper for SCC fans. Album Highlights: “Miracle of the Moment” and “You Are Being Loved” - jennifer e. jones
  • All I Really Want for Christmas
    This is everything a Christmas album should be. Rather than falling into the too often used routine of regurgitating a compilation of slightly different renditions of traditional Christmas tunes, Steven has produced an album with a truly nice mix of traditional and original work. You’ll be put in a praising mood with the song, “Angels From The Realm of Glory,” and be getting into the Christmas spirit with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Steven’s passion for God and family comes thru loud and clear, which is what makes him Steven Curtis Chapman. Icing on the cake of this work is the delightful storytelling introduction and concluding song by daughter Shaohannah. This album is a must have for any Christmas collection. Album Highlights: "Angels from the Realm of Glory" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - tim crowley


  • Shine Through the Stars
    Chasen Callahan, lead singer of Chasen, states that his band’s goal is to reach people wherever they are. Though other bands with this goal might neutralize their lyrics in order to draw in non-Christians, Chasen’s debut album, Shine Through the Stars, leaves no doubt as to what the band holds as their top priority. With a light rock style, Chasen’s simple praise lyrics are reflective of their time spent writing choruses for their church. The opening track sings, “If it comes down to the world and loving you, I choose you.” Other songs such as “Crazy Beautiful” and “History Tonight” acknowledge the pain of this world while offering the hope of God. Though these lyrics certainly aren’t new to the Christian music world, Chasen does deliver them with admirable skill that, if not inspiring, is still pretty enjoyable to listen to. Highlights: “Crazy Beautiful” and “Drown.”
    - bethany duVal


  • Uncommon Days
    Circleslide puts on a great live show but lacks a consistent “wow” factor on CD. Tracks like “Gravity” and “Walking on the Waves” are songs of great spiritual significance lyrically, as is most of the album, but musically they simply don’t go far enough. Because several songs sit on the margin, certain ones stand out brilliantly such as the hope-inspiring “Get Up.” The guitar sizzles on “Noah,” where the U2 influences can be heard. Plus, “The Weatherboy (C’mon, C’mon)” lets Gabe Martinez really dig into his vocal depth. The days aren’t terribly uncommon at times but they offer a decent debut nonetheless. Album Highlights: “The Weatherboy (C’mon, C’mon)” and “Get Up” - jennifer e. jones

Collins, Curt

  • Another Day
    Edgy and original are two words that describe Curt Collins new album Another Day. The album is great for people who are seeking praise & worship, and inspirational songs in one CD. Having a variety of slow, medium, and fast-paced tempo songs, Collins’ music gives listeners lyrics and beats to dance, relax, or worship to. It also includes Collins’ rendition of the Classics "Blessed Assurance" and "Jesus Paid It All." Over all, when compared to other Christian artists, Collins’ sound and style is very unique and is truly his own. His fans, past and future, will not be disappointed. Album highlights: "Shelter Me," "Once Again," and "Jesus Paid It All" – kimberly a. lilly


  • Connersvine
    Chris Wilson, the artsy guitarist, and Hunter Smith, the professional football player, wouldn’t strike most as a likely pair, but when they’re singing as a band in the recording studio, every difference is forgotten. In their self-titled album, Connersvine, these young men bring us a soft rock sound very similar to that of Jeremy Camp. The first song, “Glory Be,” introduces a theme of worship that continues through the rest of the album in songs such as “Lay Down” and “Hosanna.” In the middle, listeners will closely identify with the songs “Sacred Mystery,” which speaks of the impossibility of fully knowing God, and “Closely Far Away,” in which Wilson and Smith wrestle with the conundrum of the distance of God’s kingdom and the closeness of His Spirit. Most wouldn’t put these men together, but together they bring a solid message in a format that will be welcomed by listeners of all kinds. Album Highlights: “Glory Be,” “Closely Far Away,” and “Overflow” - bethany duval

Crabb, Jason

  • Jason Crabb
    Like Christy Nockels, Jason Crabb is not new to the Christian music scene. For years, he and his family (simply known as The Crabb Family) entertained and encouraged audiences with their Southern Gospel sound. Now Jason's stepping out with his first CD as a solo artist. The record is what you'd expect from this southern music lovin', pastor's kid; it's packed full of catchy, country-flavored tunes and energetic Gospel songs. For those who aren't used to the country music genre, the twang might be a little much. All in all, this Dove Award winning artist will do well as a solo artist. Album Highlights: "Somebody Like Me" and "Walk on Water" - hannah goodwyn

Cunningham, Adam

  • Adam Cunningham
    Adam Cunningham couldn’t be normal even if he tried. Although he’s a down-home boy who’s a whole lot of country with a little bit of rock and roll, his self-titled project is unpretentious and close to the heart. Like any debut, there are home runs, and there are a few ground balls. Adam has radio-ready hits in “What Love Can Do” and “One Angel”, while I could do without the bouncy “Come Back”. He mixes love songs for his wife and for his Savior, which is a refreshing trend for new Christian artists. He also pines for the salvation of an old friend on “Friend of Mine”. His worship leader side comes out on songs like “You Are My God” and “Glory Down”. With all that, Adam should be the artist to watch in ’07. Album Highlights: “What Love Can Do” and “Friend of Mine”   - jennifer e. jones


D, Barry

  • Born to Play
    Got jazz?  Barry D does.  And gospel and R&B too.  With his latest jazz instrumental album, Born to Play, Barry D gives you a little bit of everything.  A piano prodigy by age eight, Barry has learned a lot along the way.  Tracks like "Going Through" and "Take Me Higher" offer traditional jazz vibes, while songs like "The Wind" feel more like smooth R&B.  Barry has even mixed in a little Spanish influence with "Si Usted Tiene Sed".  Although a couple of the original songs missed the mark for me, the majority are good and the covers are impeccable.  The 'piece de resistance' is Barry’s cover of "I Want to Know What Love Is".  It is simply beautiful, and it really takes you back. It’s also one of the only tracks with choral accompaniment. Album Highlights: "I Want to Know What Love Is" and "The Train’s Comin’" - pilar davis

D'Arcy Carmen

  • A Place Called Grace
    If you like to listen to music while soaking in the presence of the Lord then Carmen D’Arcy’s debut album, A Place Called Grace is for you. The album is all about worshipping God to the fullest and nothing less. D’Arcy is an experienced worship leader and a gifted song writer, both of which are very evident on the album. She co-wrote ten of its eleven songs. Many of them are authentic love songs to God. “We Adore Thee” and “You’re Beautiful” give thanks to God for his grace and mercy to all. Another song, “Fade” is a reminder that the highest glory and honor is due to God alone. A place Called Grace is a worship album that ranks with the best and it is a must have for all who love to glorify God. Album Highlights: “We Adore Thee,” “You’re Beautiful,” and “You Are Everything.” – kimberly a. lilly

David Crowder Band

  • Remedy Club Tour
    The David Crowder Band released the Remedy Club Tour CD/DVD on August 19, and it is one of those albums you either love or hate. The CD has everything you would expect from the Crowder Band — fun rock songs and cool sing-along lyrics. So if you’re already a die-hard fan of the band, then you are sure to love this album. However, if you’re one of those people that has been waiting for the right DCB song to take you over the edge before declaring yourself a fan, then unfortunately that song is not on this album—nor is it on the DVD. Album Highlights: "O Praise Him," "No One Like You," and "Surely We Can Change." – kimberly a. lilly
  • Remedy
    It was next to impossible to top the epic A Collision, which landed David Crowder Band on the top of all the “Best of” charts. So, the band did one better… and didn’t even try. Remedy is a completely different animal, shorter in length (a mere 10 tracks) and musically more concise. Gone are the peeks and valleys. Remedy is a quick shot in the arm full of everything you love about DCB. Futuristic worship and a heart that’s bleeding for a Savior to come are the crowning achievements of this album. “Glory of It All” is a welcoming call to dive in. The first single, “Everything Glorious”, is straight Crowder, while “We Won’t Be Quiet” is soon to be the next concert crowd pleaser. Underneath it all is a message that simply says “Jesus is the answer.” It’s thoroughly enjoyable and the healing balm for a hurting world. Album Highlights: “We Won’t Be Quiet”, “Remedy”, and “Glory of It All”- jennifer e. jones
  • A Collision
    "Innovative worship" and "David Crowder Band" should be synonyms. The Texans bring together all genres to praise the Lord on A Collision. What I love about DCB is that they utilize every instrument in their band to create a unique sound all their own. They can do simple, get-the-youth-group-jumping praise like “Here is Our King” and the melancholy but hopeful “O God Where Are You Now.” You really see DCB’s diversity during “Part B” where they dabble in southern gospel and bluegrass with the help of the fabulous Marty Stuart and his mandolin. Somehow through all the others who dipped in and out of the pop worship trend, DCB has not only stayed in the game but remained on top. A Collision is "depravity" meeting "divinity," and yes, it is a "beautiful collision." Too hard to pick album highlights. It’s an experience piece that should be listened to in its entirety with headphones on and hands lifted high. - jennifer e. jones
  • B Collision
    Your need to buy David Crowder Band’s B Collision is directly proportioned to how much of a fan you are. B Collision would more aptly be called A Collision: The Remix, because it’s mostly the same songs with a few twists. More acoustic cuts are done of “Beautiful Collision” and “Wholly Yours.” “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” is extended from an intro into a full song. The live versions of “Be Lifted” and “I Saw the Light” are fun but not that much different than the originals. If you can’t get enough of DCB, then by all means, flock to this latest release. But if the seven songs aren’t enough for you, then A Collision was extensive enough to keep you satisfied until the band comes out with new material. Album Highlights: “Beautiful Collision-B Variant”- jennifer e. jones

Day of Fire

  • Cut & Move
    “I’m not afraid to show my heart.” This line from “Hole in My Hand” is a truth that’s evident in Josh Brown's gravel-deep vocals as he sings about Christ on Day of Fire’s new album Cut & Move. Their debut self-titled CD was a hard act to follow, but Day of Fire brings it on with even harder guitars and hard-hitting lyrics. For example, the bass lines are deeper and the drums more driving – especially on “Run.” They keep it interesting while never deviating from the sound that made them a breakout artist on the hard rock scene. Album Highlights: “Reborn” and “Hole in My Hand” - jennifer e. jones

dc Talk

  • Jesus Freak: The 10th Anniversary Edition
    dc Talk… Even 10 years later, Toby, Michael and Kevin still know how to redefine CCM. The 10th anniversary re-release of Jesus Freak is re-mastered, cleaner, and a Godsend for those of us whose 1995 CDs barely play past “Colored People”. For the Jesus Freak lover, this album has everything: every track from the original that plays as fresh as the first time, live performances of the Beatles’ “Help!”, REM’s “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)” among others, and modernized make-overs of classic dc Talk songs. Unlike the anti-climactic Freak! (the snooze fest of Jesus Freak covers by Gotee artists), the remixed versions of “So Help Me God”, “Like It, Love It, Need It”, and others transform them into trip-hop, acoustic pop, or acid jazz for the soul. This double-disc delight only proves that dc Talk is and always will be ahead of its time. Album Highlights: “So Help Me God (Savadocious Junk Yard Mix 1974)” and “What Have We Become? (dDubb Remix)”- jennifer e. jones


  • Satisfied
    August 26 was a great day for rock music lovers, as it is the day DecembeRadio’s new album, Satisfied, was released. The album has a lot of hardcore rock songs that are sure to please young rockers and other songs that will even reach non-rock lovers. The CD is made up of tracks that will encourage and inspire fans, and songs that will surely be satisfying to their ears. Album Highlights includes: " Love Can," "Be Alright," "Find You Waiting" – kimberly a. lilly
  • DecembeRadio
    DecembeRadio paves a possible road to crossover success on their debut self-titled album. Their sound (very Bon Jovi meets Nickelback and Default) is backroads rock’n’roll with Christ-centered lyrics. “Drifter” has the country soul guitars and the southern organ that recalls their West Virginian roots. They don’t sound like anything on Christian radio today which may work to their favor. The God-is-comin’-to-get-you track, “Can’t Hide,” and the even tougher “Dangerous” are hard-hitting. “Alright My Friend” is more mellow yet still gripping. Impressive. This band brings Christian rock back to its origins. Album Highlights: “Drifter” and “Alright My Friend” - jennifer e. jones


  • Kingdom of Comfort
    Since the debut album in 1996, Delirious? has been a well-known Christian rock band – and for good reason. The newest CD, Kingdom of Comfort, offers listeners yet another album to enjoy. The album gives old fans more classic Delirious? moments, while also adding a grittier guitar sound to the mix. With a relevant message on apathy, the band challenges people to “break the silence” and ask the question “what are we living for?” (see the songs “Break the Silence” and “Kingdom of Comfort”). At times, the album sounds a bit depressing in mood, but overall portrays a message of hope, revolution, and rock and roll. Highlights: “Love Will Find A Way” and “All God’s Children” – amy nickerson
  • Now Is the Time: Live at Willow Creek, Chicago USA
    Worship is really meant to be recorded live over an audience with hands raised high. You feel that on Delirious?’s latest album, Now Is the Time. The UK band came to Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church to lift up Jesus and play a few of their favorite songs. They get a little raucous (“Paint the Town Red”) but know how to slow it down too (“What a Friend”). After several lackluster covers released by other bands recently, it was a joy to hear Delirious? reclaim “Rain Down” again. Plus, it’s simply splendid how “Every Little Thing” blends right into “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Take Off My Shoes,” then launches into a larger-than-life rendition of “Majesty.” Now Is the Time is truly a masterpiece of a performance with everything a worship-lover wants. This epic album serves as a reminder that Delirious? is still among the forerunners of modern rock worship. Album Highlights: “Rain Down” and “Our God Reigns” - jennifer e. jones

Deyo, Jeff

  • Surrender
    It's raw, unabashed worship live. A must-have for worship music lovers and those who own Light or Saturate. After a slew of pop artists wore out the worship trend, Jeff Deyo comes back and displays the passionate adoration for God with musical skill and precision that makes this genre come alive again. Album highlights: "More Love, More Power" and "Bless the Lord" - jennifer e. jones

Diaz, Jonny

  • More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz
    INO Records' newest artist Jonny Diaz steps onto the Christian music stage with a solid debut release in More Beautiful You. This singer, songwriter delivers sincere lyrics about life and faith with a pleasant, easy-on-the-ears voice. Listeners can expect to hear tunes reminiscent of Jason Mraz's fun melodies in "Soon Will Fade" and “Love Like You Loved”, and a little bit of Rascal Flatts-esque country in "One Thing". All and all, it's a good start for this new artist. Album Highlights: "Soon Will Fade" and "Love Like You Loved" - hannah goodwyn


  • From a Kid's Point of View
    While junior soul brothers like Ne-Yo and Chris Brown dominate the R&B charts with meaningless revamped Usher hooks, there is a voice in the wilderness that’s calling out for Christ. Meet the passionate Dijon – the 14-year-old singing sensation. There’s a whole lot of music inside this young talent and his debut, A Kid’s Point of View, is an excellent showcase. I especially give him kudos for a different version of “How Great Is Our God” that’s worthy of the original. Also, the title track speaks the mind of any child suffering through divorce. He is, as his songs say, “a true soldier for God”. Album Highlights: “A Kid’s Point of View” and “How Great Is Our God” - jennifer e. jones

Dillon, Bethany

  • Waking Up
    With her third album, Bethany is waking us up to her staying power, and fans of her breathy vocals and distinctive lyrics will not be disappointed. On tracks such as “Tell Me,” and “Come Find Me,” she displays stirring raw strength and emotion and even delivers a few feel-good love songs (“When You Love Someone” and “You Could Be the One”) that teens will love to dream to. While the album is essentially successful, watch out for a few mildly monotonous tracks, and listen for “The Kingdom,” the driving force behind the album’s power that leaves even the title track in the dust. The most likable element is identifying with lines such as “Teach me how to hunger/’Cause I don’t know the words yet,” showing Bethany’s characteristic longing for truth on this praiseworthy release. Album Highlights: “The Kingdom,” and “You Are On Our Side” - rebekah wilson
  • Imagination
    It’s more teen acoustic pop from the Inspo/AC charter Bethany Dillon. This sophomore release plays like a part two of her self-titled debut. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it doesn’t exactly imply growth or stretch as an artist. A few songs like “New” and “Hallelujah” are rehashing typical CCM radio. However, “My Love Hasn’t Grown Cold” is smooth and allows Bethany to experiment with a little bit of Norah Jones-esque crooning. Whether you’re expecting more or less from this follow-up, Bethany still gets brownie points for being so talented at so young an age. Album Highlights: “Airplane,” “Dreamer,” and “My Love Hasn’t Grown Cold” - jennifer e. jones


  • Southern Hospitality
    Disciple's Southern Hospitality has a welcoming start that almost departs from the band's holy scream-fest, mosh-worthy origins. The title song rolls along the same southern hard rock tracks as DecembeRadio. However, it doesn't stay there for long. "Romance Me" is almost emo, and by the sixth song, Disciple is back to its old habits. The chorus of "Phoenix Rising" sounds a lot like its first single, "The Wait Is Over". It's good, but we've heard it before. Hardcore fans of the band will probably dig into this new release; however, I'm still holding tight to their far more superior (and cohesive) sophomore album, Scars Remain. Album Highlights: "Southern Hospitality" – jennifer e. jones
  • Scars Remain
    The wait is over for Disciple fans who couldn’t be satisfied with the scream-fest that was their last self-titled release. Scars Remain is serious metal that may leave you with some flesh wounds, but you’ll be better for it in the end. Front man Kevin Young’s voice pierces through every track like a sword. The words “This is what I want / for you to die” run through the chorus of the opening track, “Regime Change”, and set the tone for the rough’n’tumble rock romp. The guys use brute force on “Game On”, yet, they get downright sentimental on their ballads (i.e., “I arrange the light of your first day / I create the rhythm your heart makes” on the divine love song “After the World”). Disciple delivers a surprisingly thoughtful album that still rocks. Album Highlights: “Game On” and "My Hell" - jennifer e. jones

DJ Maj

  • BoogiRoot
    It’s time to get back to the BoogiRoot. DJ Maj assembled an all-star cast to help him out on his fourth album. From the Verbs to LA Symphony to Mars Ill’s manChild, it’s a parade of rappers slinging decent rhymes on funky rhythms. In spite of the multitude of collaborators, BoogiRoot has a consistent flow that doesn't drop the ball from track to track. Maj also manages to stay true to his own sound while still highlighting the best of the visiting MCs (i.e., tobyMac’s “Can’t Take It Away” sounds like a bonus track off of Diverse City). Get up with the deep beats of "uAppeal” or groove with “Soul Window.” It’s all good through and through. Album Highlights: “Gotta Go Now” and “Love (So Beautiful)" featuring Liquid Beats, “Soul Window” featuring MOC and Ayiesha Woods, and “uAppeal” featuring manChild and Special ED - jennifer e. jones


  • Wide-Eyed and Mystified
    After five years, Downhere hits its stride with Wide-Eyed and Mystified. The lyrics are on point; their sound is fuller, and Marc Martel’s unique vocals have never sounded better. “The More” stands out as the first track and radio single for good reason. It rocks the hardest with a fun beat and a chorus that begs you to sing along. They weigh the balance between rock guitar and melodic piano well with a consistent rhythm throughout the entire project. Tracks such as the acoustic, thought-provoker “1,000 Miles Apart” and the powerful “Surrender” show the band is finally comfortable in their own musical skin. After one listen, fans will fully understand what Downhere means when they sing, “I’m here to testify / It’s been an amazing ride with You.” Album Highlights: "The More" and "1,000 Miles Apart" - jennifer e. jones

Driscoll, Phil

  • Drops of Praise
    Phil Driscoll is more than just a trumpeter. His voice resounds with the experience of over 30 years in the music business. With Joe Cocker grittiness and a soulful yearning like early Mylon Lefevre, Driscoll offers an album that mixes all of his styles into one. There’s blues (“True Love Cannot Hide”), bossa nova (“Love Unchanging”), gospel (“Drops of Praise”) and everything in between. “I Will Dance” is a back-porch-on-a-summer-day, reflective ballad about the passing of a loved one. He put the traditional worship song “Lord I Give You My Heart” to a mellow jazz tune. Overall, Drops of Praise is an excellent watermark in an already remarkable career. Album Highlights: “Capital,” “True Love Cannot Wait,” and “Beautiful” - jennifer e. jones

Bryan Duncan & the NehoSoul Band

  • A NehoSoul Christmas
    It’s blue-eyed soul for the holiday season as Bryan Duncan and his NehoSoul Band serve up a few Christmas classics. He gives old school songs like “Silent Night” and “Winter Wonderland” a jazzy spin, and he is in his groove on “Christmas Time is Here.” With only ten songs, it’s a little short, and it flows so well you don’t want the party to end so soon. You gotta love the carefree, debt-glorifying melody of “Christmas Comes But Once a Year,” and Bryan Duncan’s own “This Christmas” (“Treat every soul like it was Christmas”). Great holiday fun! Album Highlights: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Christmas Time is Here” - jennifer e. jones



  • Galatic Conquest
    eleventyseven morphs into an intergalactic blend of Jonas Brothers and Stellar Kart in a teen/pop/rock genre that is starting to show its age. The trio plays up the electronic key-tar in a posh punk fashion riddled with ‘80s riffs. It’s hyper, and that’s just about all it has going for it. For those young ‘uns who dig the retro sound, there is an inevitable concert favorite in “Fight to Save Your Life” where they chant: “Join the fight to save your life / Don’t leave it up to everybody else.” “How It Feels” is the obligatory acoustic, love-song-for-Jesus ballad. Tender and sincere but not surprising. Galatic Conquest is for eleventyseven’s niche audience who doesn’t remember when this kind of music was popular back in1985. For those of us who do, we’ve seen it done better. Album Highlights: “Fight to Save Your Life” - jennifer e. jones
  • And the Land of Fake Believe
    If it’s pop punk you want, then get a load of eleventyseven. This South Carolina threesome jumps on to the Flicker Records roster with the cleverly named And the Land of Fake Believe. It’s hard to sit still during the energetic riffs and fast beats on “Odds and Evens So’s,” and “Anti-Adieu” made this listener actually day dream about how much fun eleventyseven must be in concert. Plus, breaking up has never been more fun than on “A Stellar Sayonara” and “Teenage Heartbreak.” Granted, the lyrics aren’t Shakespeare but if dig Hawk Nelson and Stellar Kart, then go take a trip to The Land of Fake Believe. Album Highlights: “A Stellar Sayonara” and “Here with Me” - jennifer e. jones

Engle, Joel

  • I Believe in You
    When it comes to corporate worship, the market is cornered by a firm called Tomlin, Deyo, Redman, and Hughes. Joel Engle attempts to make a name for himself in this packed house with his sophomore album. The trouble with I Believe in You is that it doesn’t make the music as unique as it needs to be. In spite of the earnestness behind the title track and others like “If I Don’t Bring You Glory”, Engle can’t help but mimic every other worship leader on the radio. The spark of hope that gives this project life is in the yearning of “Capture Me Again”, the closing ballad. In it, he longs for a soul re-ignited with a fiery passion for Christ. I can only wish the rest of the project shared that same fire. Album Highlights: “Capture Me Again”- jennifer e. jones

English, Michael

  • The Prodigal Comes Home
    The Prodigal Comes Home is the recently released album by Michael English. The album sounds a bit like English’s testimony and autobiography all in one.  With lyrics such as: “I made some choices that I’m not proud of · I was a mess couldn’t care less · ‘Bout anyone but me · But there was this angel I was so sure would save me · Oh we fell in love and I messed that up…,” it appears English is singing of an unfortunate affair that resulted in his divorce from his first wife. Never the less, his entire album is full of touching, heartfelt personal experiences of life and of God’s grace. Others songs proving this include: “Feels like Redemption,” “Break Through” and “The Only Thing Good in Me.” Without a doubt, this album is his best.  Furthermore, for those who have a little insight of English’s personal testimony the album will prove to be even more powerful. Album Highlights: “Sanctuary,” “Feels Like Redemption,” “Break Through,” “Time.” - kimberly a. lilly


  • Lamps
    Esterlyn is a boy band that would make great performers at events such as Ron Luce’s Battle Cry and Acquire the Fire. Yet, this group would make great performers at any place where there are people who love jumping around to loud music.  Their debut album, Lamps, is cool in its own way, yet their sound is substantially similar to many other bands. Tracks on the album provide encouraging slow and up-beat tempo songs of the pop/rock genre that the young adult generation, if no one else, will absolutely love.  The album was influenced by Matthew chapter 5, which speaks of letting your light shine; hence the album’s title Lamps. Hoping to inspire listeners to be the light in any dark place, Nick, John, and Tony sing about personal life experiences and God’s continuous work in their lives.  Album Highlights: “We All Need,” “This Mystery,” “Emptiness,” “Faster Faster,” “Lamps.” - kimberly a. lilly

Evans, Anthony

  • The Bridge

    Anthony Evan’s latest album, The Bridge, is a must have CD for all worshipers. The album is made up of popular contemporary worship songs such as, "Here I Am To Worship," "Blessed Be Your Name," and "Let It Rain." The Bridge was birthed during a season of transition that required Evans to completely surrender to God. It was during this particular season that Evans realized that he was created to worship. As a result of Evans' realization, worship is exactly what The Bridge is all about. On the album, Evans successfully puts his own personal spin on each song, giving each one a unique and individual flavor. So, if you’re looking for some old songs with new twists, or if you’re like Evans and you’ve realized the importance of worship, then this is the album for you. Album Highlights: "Here I Am To Worship," "Your Name," and "Lord I Give You My Heart/ How Great Is Our God.”  - kimberly a. lilly

  • Letting Go
    Anthony Evans’ strong suit has always been his smooth, powerful vocals, and they are certainly showcased on his sophomore album. His ability to belt out his notes with strength saves this occassionally cliché CCM release. He does his best to change things up by getting more rock’n’roll in his soul on “Good Enough” and “Love You With My Life.” The title track is an encouraging message of God’s faithfulness to the hurting heart. It’s adult contemporary with little compromise and a decent follow-up album worthy of this talented singer. Album Highlights: “Letting Go” and “Whatever I Can’t Erase” - jennifer e. jones

Everyday Sunday

  • Wake Up! Wake Up!s
    Everyday Sunday takes a giant step up on their latest album. Much like Stellar Kart and Relient K, this rock band matured in both their sound and lyrical content this time around. You hear it from the very first track, “Let’s Go Back”, where they plead: “Tell me what you want / And I’ll tell you / You’re so much more than / Anything you thought that you could be.” They keep just enough pop in their rock to make their songs catchy. They even resurrect some ‘80s keyboard on “From Me to You”. Themes bounce between relationships (“I’ll Get Over It”) and wanting a deeper faith in God (“Apathy for Apologies”). Fans and Sunday novices alike should get their hands on this impressive project. Album Highlights: “Let’s Go Back” and “Apathy for Apologies”- jennifer e. jones


Falling Up

  • Captiva  
    While listening to the fourth release from Falling Up, I found myself wondering, “Where’s the punch?” These new songs lack the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the BEC recording artists. They’re still good though. “The Dark Side of Indoor Meets” has a ghost-like quality about it. However, there are no tracks like “Moonlight” or “ Broken Heart” that just get inside your head and refuse to come out. Songs such as the title track have the band exploring their electronic, down-tempo side. True fans of Falling Up will embrace the shift while those looking for another record full of radio hits should keep looking. Album Highlights: “The Dark Side of Indoor Meets” and “Capitva” - jennifer e. jones
  • Dawn Escapes  
    Piano melodies interwoven in dark guitar riffs have always been Falling Up’s signature, and Dawn Escapes gives more of what their fans adore. Hats off to the boys for having one of the coolest album covers of the year. However, this album’s main downfall is the lack of standout hits like last year’s “Bittersweet.” Every song bleeds into the next without a clear, strong winner. Hardcore Falling Up followers should dig it but newbies should buy their first album, Crashing, for a proper introduction. Album Highlights: “Into the Gravity,” “Moonlight” and “Contact” - jennifer e. jones

Family Force 5

  • Dance or Die  
    This sophomore effort from Family Force 5 is a mixed bag. On the one hand, every song is full of energy and guaranteed to get you dancing. On the other hand, the band veers from their signature style somewhat and fans looking for lyrical depth won’t find much here. What they will find is a plethora of synthesizers and an electronic sound reminiscent of the 80s. Most of the tracks explore themes of love ("The First Time"), heartbreak ("Share it with Me"), or dancing ("Dance or Die," "‘Rip it Up"). However, a few songs ("Radiator," "Wake the Dead’) do offer more spiritual connotations. There are no overt Christian lyrics here, but perhaps that is the appeal for many FF5 fans. The band diligently avoids hitting listeners over the head with a spiritual message. If funky dance tunes are what you’re craving, you'll love this rock party. Album Highlights: “Wake the Dead” “The First Time,” and “Radiator” – belinda elliott
  • Business Up Front... Party in the Back  
    Buckle up and brace yourself for ATL’s Family Force 5. From the start, you’re caught up in a crazy mix of tricked out rap metal with plenty of crunk. Not since 4th Avenue Jones have I heard such a genre-breaking band on a CCM label. FF5 announces their presence with force on the opening track “Cadillac Phunque.” “My mama raised me in the dirty south” is their anthem on “Kountry Gentlemen,” and songs like “Love Addict” and “Earthquake” promise that this band rocks a live show. It is light on the Christianese, which may unnerve parents but rest assured that the message of a man’s need for Christ is clear in “Replace Me” (“Make me what you want me to be / I am yours for you to use”). Business Up Front, Party in the Back… much better than a mullet. Album Highlights: “Kountry Gentlemen,” “Earthquake,” and “Put Ur Hands Up” - jennifer e. jones


  • We Shine  
    Fee draws you in before you’re even aware that you’re tapping your foot to the beat. The youth-group-oriented Georgia band already earned buzz through the Passion conferences, and it shows when you listen to the bouncy rock/pop of We Shine. It’s hyperactive worship music in the same vein as David Crowder Band and Hillsong United. The title track alone is enough to make you stand up and dance. You can’t escape the joy that bubbles over on “Happy Day”. By the same token, “Burn For You” details a desire for Christ without shame. There’s no doubt that these guys love God, love what they do and want to share it all with you. Such enthusiasm and talent deserves two thumbs up. Album Highlights: “We Shine” and “Happy Day” - jennifer e. jones


  • Still the Cross  
    The band’s newest offering provides a mixture of the funky pop that FFH fans have come to love along with a few more mellow ballads. Read the full review...
  • Voice From Home 

    FFH attempts to capture God speaking to His children. This idea is a great one, but the results are slightly disappointing. In their efforts, the band oversimplifies God’s attributes. The messages in all the songs are hopeful and encouraging, but I was hoping for lyrics that would dig a little deeper. The band also differs from the toe-tapping folk music of previous albums, opting for a more piano-driven pop sound. While their previous albums are better suited to my taste, this album does provide an important message -- that both God’s faithfulness and His love for us are immeasurable. Album Highlights: “Grand Canyon,” “The Only Hand You Need,” and “Worth It All” - belinda elliott

Fiction Family (Jon Foreman & Sean Watkins)

  • Fiction Family  
    Fiction Family has a bit of a folk music twist. Listeners are introduced to the album with an acoustic intro by Jon Foreman and guitarist Sean Watkins. I found myself in deep thinking trying to take in the metaphoric lyrics. “When She’s Near” gives off a sweet, steady melody that is pleasant to the listeners. It’s a perfect illustration of “puppy love”. “Out of Order” carries the album in another direction, brining forth counteractive rhythms that shift the mind in different modes. The music is a perfect reflection of disorder. “Please Don’t Call it Love” shifted my mind in a peculiar mode as Jon Foreman sings from his heart about what he believes to be love. Look for My Baby ends the album with a classic rock n roll twist. Listeners of Fiction Family will definitely enjoy what this new album has to offer. - ashley card

Fighting Instinct

  • Fighting Instinct  
    This self-titled album from southern rock band Fighting Instinct is a must get for all rockers out there.  The extraordinary talents of guitarist/lead singer T.J. Harris, drummer Dallas Farmer, and bassist Jason Weekly has the potential to make all 10 original songs hits.  Harris’ strong, pure rock voice and amazing guitar riffs give the band a impressive start with this debut CD.  Influences from great rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jimi Hendrix and the band’s strong faith message and worshipful lyrics set them apart.  “My Heart Cries Out” rocks an expression of real passion for our God.  The band also shows beautiful melodies and soft rock sounds in “Crush” and “Back To You.”  Album Highlights: “You Don’t Know,” “Just To Please You,” and “You Found Me First” - hannah goodwyn

Flatfoot 56

  • Knuckles Up  
    Put up your dukes. Flatfoot 56 is coming to town. I guarantee you haven’t heard anything quite as raucous under the Christian mantel. The four-man band, complete with thrashing guitars, bagpipes, and a mandolin, march onto the Flicker Records label with maddening Scottish punk/metal that’s an assault on your senses. But that’s a good thing. From the moral lessons in the title track to the irreverent "Holdfast," Knuckles Up is as close to authentic punk rock as you’ll get while still giving glory to God. You see the heart behind the moshing especially on “The Rotten Hand” (“My Father’s got a plan for my life / So now I follow Him with my back turned from sin / Lead me on my Father Adonai”). It’s an amazing piece of work. This album should come with a warning though: Not for the timid listener. Hardcore punk fans only. Album Highlights: “Rotten Hand” and “Knuckles Up” - jennifer e. jones


  • Flyleaf  
    After their EP climbed the rock charts, Flyleaf finally shows us what they’re made of with the release of their self-titled full-length album. Immediately what grabs you about Flyleaf is the twisted soprano singing of Lacey Mosley. She’s not afraid to give a hard rock scream although she’s half the size of her male bandmates. The band bares their faith with dark lyrics like “I tried to kill you / You tried to save me.” Listeners get the hit songs “Red Sam” and “Breathe Today” (although I like the EP version better) along with new music including “There For You,” which features Dave Navarro on guitar. Musically, Flyleaf offers little above its contemporaries, but this album is worth a buy for Mosley's voice alone. Album Highlights: “Cassie” and “I’m So Sick” - jennifer e. jones

FM Static

  • Critically Ashamed  
    It’s time for fun pop-punk again! FM Static returns with Critically Ashamed. The fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously helps this tongue-in-cheek album be entertaining. The nearly nonsensical love story of “Video Store” is just what those TRL teeny-boppers want. They actually point out some real life ironies in “Flop Culture” (such as pseudo-"Sk8r Girl" Avril Lavigne posing in men’s magazines). “Waste of Time” is spiritually tinged and offers the lost a chance to be loved just as they are (“I’ll be everything that you want me to / Except for perfect”). FM Static fans should be pleased. Album Highlights: “Flop Culture” and “Waste of Time” - jennifer e. jones

Foolish Things

  • Even Now
    Though it was released independently, the powerful lyrics and catchy melodies on this sophomore album from Foolish Things make it worthy of attention. The song’s title track "Even Now" is a beautiful reminder that God’s love and care for us remains constant regardless of our circumstances. "He hasn’t left you out to dry, even now. You haven’t left his watchful eye, even now," the song says. It encourages us to remember that "when we don’t see how, My Father is worthy of my hope even now." Other powerful tracks include "Love Chained Me Here," a love song written from God’s perspective and the energetic "Who’d You Put in Charge," about who we let control our lives. It is rare that I enjoy all the songs on an album, but every song this album offers reflects both the depth of the band’s talent as well as their passion for God. This is a band to watch! Highlights: "Even Now" and "Keep Us Together." - belinda elliott

Foreman, Jon

  • Limbs and Branches  
    A compilation of choice tracks from his Seasons collection, Limbs and Branches holds the best of Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman's solo work. His most popular songs from his Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer EPs are included, along with two new tunes, "Broken From the Start" and "Over the River." Fans of the progressive Seasons CDs may not love this one as much as it’s a bit all over the place since Jon’s songs are mix-matched on the album. Still, what's not to love about his poetic, folksy vibe and personal vocal vision? Album highlights:  “The Cure for Pain,” “Your Love is Strong,” “Resurrect Me.” - hannah goodwyn
  • Summer EP  
    Jon Foreman easily pulls off Summer, his fourth and last EP in his Seasons collection. Connecting it with the other three albums to provide fans with a complete look at a year works well. However, the solo EP also proves to be a success in its own right. With songs on themes such as resurrection, true substance, and everlasting life, this album offers a hopeful look at what’s to come (“The House of God Forever”), while also challenging believers to trade in their shows and religious games for what is real (“Instead of a Show”). Jon Foreman is honest, bold, and full of creativity in this album of acoustic tunes and soft ballads that any fan will enjoy. Album Highlights: “A Mirror is Harder to Hold” and “Instead of a Show” – amy nickerson
  • Spring EP  
    Since 1997 when the first Switchfoot album came out, Jon Foreman has been an obvious talent. This third acoustic EP in Foreman’s new solo collection proves what many have already known – Jon is not only a gifted rocker, but also a poetic genius. With a sound much like Bob Dylan’s and thoughtful lyrics pulled straight from Scripture, this CD is sure to capture the attention of many. Spring is an artistic look at love and new life that is sometimes melancholy, but always deep. Album Highlights: “Your Love Is Strong” and “Baptize My Mind” – amy nickerson
  • Winter EP  
    I must admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman was releasing a series of solo EPs based on the four seasons.  It just sounded too self-indulgent.  But I must confess, Winter is a winning disc.  Featuring a musical sparseness reminiscent of a cold winter’s day, Foreman delivers six strong tracks that are very clear about where he stands on faith.  Unlike Switchfoot, there are no vague lyrics to be found.  Especially strong is “Learning How to Die”, a song about how we were created to be in Heaven, not earth, and “Somebody’s Baby”, a tale of a homeless woman’s downward spiral from hopefulness to death.  If you are expecting Switchfoot, don’t bother to pick this up.  But if you are looking for music that is real and brutally honest, then Winter is for you. Album Highlights: “Learning How to Die” and “Somebody’s Baby” - chris carpenter
  • Fall EP  
    Jon Foreman is the mastermind songwriter behind Switchfoot. So it’s no surprise that his solo EP, Fall, is a lyrical delight. Six songs are just enough to chew on as Foreman takes you on a road trip through his mind. He’s forever longing for heaven on earth with songs such as “The Cure for Pain”, and his view of humanity’s duality on “Equally Skilled” is both chilling and revealing. This is the perfect way to spend that iPod gift card. Album Highlights: “Equally Skilled” and “Southbound Train” - jennifer e. jones

Franklin, Kirk

  • The Fight of My Life  
    There's a struggle going on within Kirk Franklin, and it's transparent on his latest album. While The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin and Hero stand an inch or two taller than this record, The Fight of My Life still has plenty of reach. The first single "Declaration (This Is It)" is an urban gospel war cry that will raise up the warrior inside of you. "Jesus" is like a throwback jersey with its comfortable, hip grooves. However, I could do without the watered down "Hide Me". tobyMac makes a splendid appearance on the rocked out "I Am God". This is definitely a pick-me-up to those in the valley and a reminder that God is the only one who gets you through. Album Highlights: "Declaration (This Is It)" and "Jesus" - jennifer e. jones
  • Hero  
    He’s the most famous non-singing singer in CCM, and now Kirk Franklin raises the bar for urban gospel on Hero. I miss the “live” feeling of previous albums like The Rebirth but overall it’s a much cleaner recording. As usual he’s ready to move seamlessly between mainstream R&B and Christian radio with songs like “Sunshine” and “Better.” Vocally, Kirk’s choir is stronger than ever and has perfected their harmonizing since the last album. As if his singers weren’t enough, he sought the help of other gospel greats such as Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, and J Moss to name a few. With the salvation message tucked into the “Brokenhearted reprise,” this album has set yet another standard for the rest of Christian music to chase after. Album Highlights: "Sunshine," "Keep Your Head" and "Looking for You"

Fraser, Brook

  • Albertine  
    Albertine.  That is the title of Brook Fraser’s second album. The New Zealand native sings with so much depth in her lyrics that it is easy to write the album off as boring on the first listen. However, with the second listen you get a better understanding of what she is singing about. “Albertine,” a song on the album (and its title) is about an orphan Fraser met while visiting Rwanda. After seeing the way of life in the nation devastated by genocides, Fraser sings of her responsibility to help. In another song, “Faithful,” she tells of how she has learned to seek God even when his presence is not felt. For a 19 year old, Fraser seems to have a great amount of wisdom, which is displayed in every song. Though this album is her second, it is her first to be released in the U.S., but I doubt that it will be her last. Her sound is different in a good way and is a good pick for those who are tired of the norm. Album Highlights: “Shadow feet,” “Faithful, and “Deciphering Me.” – kimberly a. lilly

The Fray

  • The Fray
    Peaking at the No.1 spot of the Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums Billboard chart, this new self-titled record from The Fray is a solid soundtrack. Famous for their previous hit "How to Save a Life", The Fray showcase their talent on a new track called "You Found Me," which has already gained popularity on the radio and online. Its honest lyric and strong melody compels you to sing along. Unfortunately, this new album has a weakness: the lack of variety from track to track. Listeners may find it hard to distinguish between a few of the songs; they are too alike. Album Highlights: "You Found Me," "Syndicate," and "Happiness." - hannah goodwyn

Free Chapel Worship Center

  • Moving Forward  
    When Moving Forward kicked off with “Great God”, I thought I was in for another rousing, yet typical worship album. However, Israel Houghton, Ricardo Sanchez and all of Free Chapel Worship Center were just warming up. Give this album some time, and it will truly set something a’blaze in your soul. By the sixth track, “I Call Your Name”, I was worshipping along with the enrapturing praise. “My Nation Healed” goes off on a holy call for the countries of the world to come to Christ. And the Latin grooves on “Celebrate” will get your feet moving. This is the perfect gift for someone who loves vivacious corporate worship. Album Highlights: “My Nation Healed” and “I Call Your Name” - jennifer e. jones

Freeman, Ronnie

  • God Speaking  
    Nashville-based worship leader Ronnie Freeman is back with his sophomore album. The pop Christian artist released his debut project five years ago, and this one is just as powerful. Focusing on the struggles we sometimes face while walking out our faith, as well as the freedom that Christ offers, Freeman’s rich voice and smooth melodies provide hope and encouragement. Quite a skilled song-writer, Freeman’s lyrics are the strength of this album. Listeners may recognize the title track, "God Speaking," which American Idol finalist, Mandisa, also recorded on True Beauty. Other songs that pack a spiritual punch are the guitar-driven "Breakaway," and the inspirational "The Other Side." Freeman’s songs provide a great opportunity to allow God to search our hearts and to spend time reflecting on where we are in our walk with Christ. Other album highlights: "My Inheritance," with Watermark’s Christy Nockels and "Sober Me." - belinda elliott


Gaitsch, Bruce

  • Sincerely  

    Within moments of listening to the first track, “Miss Sam”, on Bruce Gaitsch’s Sincerely, I found myself exhaling a million worries. Something is quite soothing about this acoustic instrumental album. Bruce’s many years as a studio musician are evident; he does wonders for showcasing the brilliance of his McPherson guitar, because you can feel every note resonate. Sincerely is obviously for fans of Keaggy or anyone who likes no-fuss strumming. If that’s you, then let this “guitarist’s guitarist” comfort your soul.  Album Highlights: “Miss Sam” and “Sally’s Prayer" - jennifer e. jones

Generation Unleashed

  • Generation Unleashed 

    The new generation's heart for Jesus is ringing out in many live CDs like those from Passion. The same rings true for Generation Unleashed. The worship album, which was recorded live from Portland, Oregon, showcases Maranatha! Music's latest youth explosion. Truthfully, this guitars-gone-wild praise escapade has been done before in countless youth conferences, and the lead singer's voice is near identical to that of Hillsong United. Likeness aside, Generaion Unleashed puts on a great show full of unbridled enthusiasm and corporate worship for the new millenium. I like the cascading riffs on "Something In My Heart". This project is clearly for those who are into the youth worship movement. Highlights: “Always” and “Something In My Heart" - jennifer e. jones

Go Fish

  • Snow  
    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

Grant, Amy

  • 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

Grant, Natalie

  • Believe  
    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

Gray, Jason

  • 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


  • Reiterate  
    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
  • 7  
    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

Groves, Sara

  • 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


Hall, Charlie

  • The Bright Sadness 

    The Bright Sadness is the name of latest CD from recording artist Charlie Hall. The greatness within this album is found in the lyrics of each song. Hall is very detailed within his lyric, passionate, and more importantly he sings the Word of God. However, when sound is considered it’s easy to realize that there is no variety on the album, as many of the songs sound very similar. Because of the close similarity of songs, the album will become boring to listeners really quick. It is Hall’s monotone voice that will lead listeners down the road of boredom and possibly cause The Bright Sadness to be ejected from CD players and replace with something more appeasing to the ear. Album Highlight: "Mystery," and "Walk The World" – kimberly a. lilly

  • Flying Into Daybreak 

    Three years have passed since the Christian music scene heard anything new from singer/songwriter Charlie Hall. So it is good to now realize his new album, Flying into Daybreak, was worth the wait. Charlie’s Spirit-sensitive lyrics capture the heart of his walk with God on this 12-track CD, entirely written by him. Declarations of God’s consuming love and beauty are in surplus on this contemporary worship treasure. Marching band-like beats call a people who are willing to take hold of their destinies and the work needed on this earth. His passionate love songs to Jesus and “on your feet” praise make this must-hear music. Album Highlights: “Sum of Beautiful,” “All My Love,” “Running with Your Heart,” and “Come For Me” - hannah goodwyn

Hart, Sarah

  • Into These Rooms 

    Remember how that first breeze of Spring feels coming through your window? That's what listening to Into These Rooms feels like. Sarah Hart is a breath of fresh air into contemporary music with her sweet vocals and warm acoustic melodies that wrap around you like an old quilt. Each song is thoroughly pleasing to the ear and musically well crafted down to the last note. Whether she's praising God in "So We Will Worship" or pleading for His help in "Be With Me, Lord," Sarah Hart reveals her delicate heart on this album. I can only hope the rest of the world sees its beauty. Album Highlights: “His Name is Joseph” and “Brave New World” - jennifer e. jones

Hawk Nelson

  • Hawk Nelson is My Friend 
    These Canadians pop-rockers get high scores for this, their third, CD. It is their best yet. It’s classic Hawk Nelson with powerful lyrics set to tunes featuring high-energy electric guitar and drum rhythms, and pleasant surprises like the Ramones-esque shouts in “Friend Like That”. Lead singer Jason Dunn’s strong vocals work in tandem with bring-the-house-down beats that will compel your feet to tap and head to bang to their impressive melodies. – hannah goodwyn
  • Smile, It's the End of the World  
    Don’t let the album’s title confuse you. It sounds pessimistic, but really, it’s a clever way to remind us to hold on to happiness despite our circumstances. In “One Thing I Have Left,” the lyrics remind me of the childhood saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Several songs touch on difficult topics, but overall spiritual undertones are subtle and somewhat rare. So don’t expect this album to become your next favorite worship collection. Still, I enjoy how these guys don’t take themselves too seriously, but also successfully cover subjects like suicide and feelings of abandonment. I imagine their teenage fans can certainly relate to their music, especially the piano-driven ballad “Zero.” I hope to see even more maturing the next go-round. Album Highlights: “Zero,” “Everything You Ever Wanted,” “Something on My Mind” - andrea d. hicks

Hawkins, Walter

  • A Song in My Heart  
    The "Godfather of Gospel", Bishop Walter Hawkins, takes us to church with his latest offering. With legendary strong vocals, he sticks close to his traditional gospel roots, especially on the "Staple Singers Tribute (Help Me Jesus)". As old school as it sounds, A Song still has a few surprises including the hidden hymn on "All I Know". Album Highlights: "Highest Praise," "A Song in My Heart" - jennifer e. jones

Heath, Brandon

  • What if We 
    Known for his hit, “I’m Not Who I Was”, singer-songwriter Brandon Heath is back with a new set of potential radio favorites. His new song, “Give Me Your Eyes”, has already gained popularity on the charts, peaking at #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Christian Songs” list and staying at the top for the past fourteen weeks. This Dove award winner knows just how to get a listener’s attention with his inspirational lyrics and catchy beats. A plus on this Brandon’s sophomore album, is “Sore Eyes”, a new tune recorded with Jars of Clay. Album Highlights: “Sore Eyes”, “Give Me Your Eyes”, “Wait and See”, “London” and more – hannah goodwyn
  • Don't Get Comfortable  
    When Brandon Heath’s debut album, Don’t Get Comfortable, first came across my desk, I thought, ‘Just what the world needs: one more guitar-playing singer/songwriter.’ Perhaps that’s true, but the world definitely needs Brandon Heath. His simple approach to acoustic adult contemporary music puts him in the same league as Warren Barfield and other treasures of CCM. “Steady Now,” Heath’s mid-tempo confessional, is the first track to catch your attention. There he sings, “We don’t have to wait until the end of the night / Just to say that something’s wrong and maybe nobody’s right.” The uplifting “Our God Reigns” is a nice foray into praise and worship. By the album’s end, you’ll admit too that Heath has a nice launching pad to take off into what looks like a promising career. Album Highlights: “Steady Now” and “Let’s Make It Last” - jennifer e. jones

Heller, J.J.

  • Only Love Remains  
    Think of lyrics that swim in a deep ocean of melancholy hope and you’ll get a hint of what J.J. Heller is all about. Her brand of mellow acoustic folk/pop makes her a blend of Sara Groves and Sarah Hart. She reminds us of how amazing grace truly is in “Thank You.” The variety of lonely hearts she displays is touching on “Love Me.” Heller is not afraid to sing the way she thinks with an honesty that stings a little. Certain tracks like “Make Believe” make Heller a storyteller reminiscent of Jewel on Pieces of You. Without a lot of fuss and flare, Heller delivers a strong album for those who like their music quietly stirring. Album Highlights: “Love Me” and “When I Leave” - jennifer e. jones

Hill, Kim

  • Broken Things  
    Thirteen albums later and Kim Hill still never ceases to amaze us. Like a female John Mellencamp, the Memphis-raised Hill has found a voice in deep, gritty Southern rock. This time around on Broken Things, she aims for the wounded hearts. She offers hope for the woman who’s killing herself to be perfect on “A Million Pieces.” “Wide” gives similar reassurance as she sings, “Nothing could lessen the weight of her sin / Or the bruises she gave herself carrying them… I wish she could see / He’s never left her.” Hill writes some of her own songs but gets good help from talents like Marc Byrd (Third Day), Kate Miner and Jill Phillips. With skill like Hill’s, she’ll turn 13 back into a lucky number. Album Highlights: “A Million Pieces” and “Wide” - jennifer e. jones


  • Celebrating Christmas  
    The great aspect of a Hillsong Christmas album is that Darlene Zschech has a team of talented singers and musicians to work with. That makes for an diverse collection of holiday songs that glorify the birth of Christ. The acoustic instrumental of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” warms your soul like a fireplace. They favor big band jazz on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, yet release their soulful side on the calming “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. The original “O Rejoice” resounds with the worship sounds that made the Australian praise team so popular. I’m thoroughly impressed with Hillsong’s way of Celebrating Christmas. Album Highlights: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” - jennifer e. jones
  • Mighty To Save  
    In a sea of worship albums and praise songs, you really need to rise above the mundane to craft a song that will be sung in churches across the world. It’s a tall order but that seems to be Hillsong’s specialty. Darlene Zschech leads the Aussie ministry team into another quality live CD full of catchy songs to liven up your worship experience. It’s tough to keep your feet still during “The Freedom We Know” as they sing, “Our broken dreams have life again.” “Adonai” (not to be confused with the song by Avalon) also rocks but it’s the softer melodies like “At the Cross” that drive this album. For example, “Found” lightly welcomes you into a calming holy presence. Hardcore worship fans will revel in this release. Album Highlights: “The Freedom We Know” and “Found” - jennifer e. jones

Hillsong London

  • Hail to the King
    If you are already a Hillsong fan, than I am sure you’ll love Hillsong London’s recent release entitled, Hail to the King. On the hand, if you’re not already a Hillsong fan, than this is not the album to bring you over the fence. The CD features a variety of tunes with slow and upbeat tempos, along with lyrics that exalt and worship King Jesus.  Yet, it has nothing unique or fresh about it that you wouldn’t expect from a band with “Hillsong” in the front of it’s name. Nonetheless, though the album is slacking when it comes to uniqueness, that does not take away from the fact that it’s does provide good worship music and because of that you should give it a listen. Album Highlights: “You Brought Me Home,” “Hail to the King” and “I’m Not Ashamed” – kimberly a. lilly
  • Jesus Is: Remix
    Hillsong London jumps in the mix with its remix album of 2006’s Jesus Is. The thumping techno beats whirl around you on 12 electronic worship songs. The ambient intro to “Lord of All” gets you in the mood with praise-worthy deep grooves. “Follow the Son” is straight out of an ‘80s video game soundtrack for anyone feeling nostalgic. The tempo gets down for “Where the Love Lasts” and “Above All”. All the while, you get the same wide open faith that you expect from a Hillsong production. For newbies to this genre, this is an inspiring introduction. Album Highlights: “Lord of All” and “Jesus Is” - jennifer e. jones

Hillsong United

  • All of the Above 
    Hillsong United is well on its way to superseding the impact of Darlene Zschech and its elder Aussies. Fourteen-tracks strong, All of the Above is the truest definition of modern rock worship. As they sing, “Call us out / Let the world see / You are God” on “Point of Difference”, you get an accurate picture of what this youth group band is all about. Their songs are excellent illustrations of their passion. “Break Free” does just that as the guitars rip through the track. Then the chords whisper within ballads “Desperate People” and “Draw Me Closer”. High-energy and strictly vertical, this album is another great movement of Hillsong United’s mission to light this generation on fire for Christ. Album Highlights: "Break Free" and “Lead Me to the Cross” - jennifer e. jones

Houghton, Israel

  • Live: A Deeper Level
    If there ever was a praise anthem composer for the new millennium, my vote would be for Israel Houghton. “Again I Say Rejoice” and “You Are Good” are staples in a lively church. Now Houghton returns from his previous South African album to A Deeper Level. He manages to stay on the platform he’s built for himself with great, high energy songs you will inevitably hear in your church over the next year. “Say So” is classic Houghton with a chorus that rings through the rafters. In between the radio-ready praise songs, there is plenty of spontaneous, Upton-esque worship. The gentle melody of “So Come” is an instant call to the throne room. It’s rare to find but this songbird can do no wrong. Album Highlights: “Say So” and “So Come” - jennifer e. jones

Hughes, Tim

  • Holding Nothing Back  
    "Wait, didn’t Matt Redman write ‘Here I Am to Worship?” Although many people believe that, the author is actually a fellow Brit—worship leader Tim Hughes. His third and latest album, Holding Nothing Back, is another mixture of heart-felt worship and celebrations, keeping in focus all Jesus has done for us, as with the upbeat single “Happy Day.” But he doesn’t just stop there! As the title suggests, Tim pushes past mere commitment to God in favor of total surrender in every part of life with songs like “Everything” and the title track. Several are the result of collaborations with Delirious frontman Martin Smith and guitarist Stu G. Look for more fabulous worship hits from this album to make the “Now playing at ‘your church’ this Sunday morning” status. Album Highlights: “Everything,” “Happy Day,” and “Clinging to the Cross.” - rebekah wilson

Hyper Static Union

  • Lifegiver  
    Hyper Static Union is hard rock with soul. If it doesn’t sound plausible, just listen to their bass lines. You don’t find this kinda funk in your everyday Christian rock band. The flagship band off of Rocketown’s new rock imprint, RKT Music, mixes it up from track to track. “Right Where You Want Me” takes me back to the beginning days of ‘80s new wave ballads. Songs like “Can’t Leave It Alone” could double as good samples for hip-hop artists. They are unapologetically Christian in their lyrics, and if they keep this up, they can continue to sing, “This funky light of my salvation / I’ve got to let it shine” for many years to come. Album Highlights: “Can’t Leave It Alone” and “Praying for Sunny Days” - jennifer e. jones



  • Love 

    Known for the 2005 radio favorites “One More Night” and “Rescue Me”, Inhabited is back again with their sophomore album Love. Offering fans the same unique sound as the first album but with new stories to tell and obstacles to address, Inhabited will both win the crowd and challenge listeners. Sara and Marcus Acker, along with Charlie Harper, speak up on topics like beauty (“Hush”), death (“I Miss You”) and respect (“Respect”) in a current, relevant way that will resonate with today’s teens. However, the strong beat and repetitive lyrics could get tiresome for certain listeners. Album Highlights: “Song to the Fatherless” and “One Show” - by amy nickerson


Jackson Waters

  • Come Undone  
    For all the buzz that Jackson Waters received on MySpace and iTunes prior to the release of Come Undone, I was expecting a lot from this debut… perhaps too much. Unlike the name of the track “Different”, most of the songs here are far from that with used lyrics and over-played melodies. To enjoy this album, you’ve got to cling to the good songs, which – few as they may be – are really good. The much buzzed, One Tree Hill soundtrack-worthy song, "Center of Attention", shows a marvelous depth within simplicity. The title track really let’s David Leonard’s voice dance in a wide range. Jackson Waters is good but every new band that comes out ups the ante a little. Here’s to hoping that Jackson Waters keeps up. Album Highlights: "Center of Attention" and "Come Undone" - jennifer e. jones

Jamgochian, Jaime

  • Above the Noise
    With the loud ruckus taking precedence in our world today, it sometimes proves a difficulty to hear God’s voice. Jaime Jamgochian’s sophomore project, Above The Noise, challenges this idea with soulful and honest worship music that presents listeners with an invitation to be still and really listen to our Creator. The songs are biblical, the lyrics heart-felt, and the offering meaningful. Turning on this album might just allow God’s voice to speak a little louder. Album Highlights: “God Unchanging,” “Sing of Our God” and “I Stand In Awe” - amy nickerson
  • Reason to Live  
    It’s Nichole Nordeman meets Watermark meets everything else on contemporary Christian radio. To her downfall, Jaime Jamgochian’s Reason to Live is good on its own but comes into a rather crowded Top 40 genre with not enough originality to go around. To her credit, Jaime has a mellow sweetness to her voice that is pleasant to the ear, making these familiar melodies more bearable. She also enlists the help of the great singer/songwriter Scott Krippayne (“Life Up the Name”). Reason to Live is very worship-driven with passion-filled yet often used lyrics: “Let everything I do…/ Exalt Your Holy name / My King, My God.” A very nice try but may lack the novelty spark to stay in your iPod Shuffle. Album Highlights: “Heart of Heaven” - jennifer e. jones

Jars of Clay

  • Good Monsters  
    Jars of Clay… You gotta love ‘em. Even when they miss the moon, they land on the stars. Good Monsters, while not quite the triumph of Redemption Songs, is still a masterpiece of progressive rock with great melodies and lyrics that read like poetry. On this album, the band marvels at the complex depravity of man while putting their own flaws on the table (“I have no fear of drowning / It’s the breathing that’s taking all this work” front man Dan Haseltine sings on “Work”). Although patches of the album are darker than fans may be used to (i.e., the melancholy “Surprise” where he sings, “Love won’t cure the chaos / And hope won’t hide the loss”), the band holds fast to the idea of redemption. Eleventh Hour still stands as their best work but Good Monsters solidifies Jars of Clay as the best thing to ever happen to Christian music. Album Highlights: “Oh My God” and “Dead Man (Carry Me)” - jennifer e. jones
  • Redemption Songs  
    It is quite enjoyable and brings a comforting reassurance of God’s presence in our lives. Read the full review...

Jobe, Kari

  • Kari Jobe
    Upgrading from worship pastor at the Dallas/Fort Wroth based Gateway Church, Kari Jobe takes a leap of faith in which she decides to spread the hope and healing of God by way of releasing her very own album. Kari Jobe’s sweet, soft, angelic voice pierces the heart of listeners as it creates an aesthetic presence of God’s anointing. Starting off with a praise and worship song, “I’m Singing,” Kari Jobe sings lyrics that are uplifting and heart warming. “Healer” is an intimate song to God, a cry to God that Jobe decides to trust in her Father. “Joyful” brings an acoustic, soft, and soothing sound, while “Beautiful” slowly carries the listeners into a quiet and transcendent form of praise and worship. I found myself aesthetically pleased with every song on the album. - ashley card

Joel, Phil

  • the deliberatePeople. album 

    According to Phil Joel, the deliberatePeople. album is the result of time spent locked away from the influences of Nashville. The ten-track CD was composed in his garage, and the sound is still the norm for Christian Top 40. I don’t know how far away he got from Nashville but it wasn’t far enough. The deliberatePeople. album rings of a newsboy turned singer/songwriter with little more than a guitar and a piano. While I wasn’t wowed by anything I heard, the poet in Joel is passionate about the Lord and that is telling on songs like “Time Alone” and “Changed.” The effort is obvious but just not noteworthy. It’s a middle-of-the-road project for Phil Joel, and this entire album still can’t touch the greatness of his former radio hits “Adore” and “The Man You Want Me to Be.” Album Highlights: “Time Alone” and “Awe” - jennifer e. jones

Johnson, Jack

  • Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George 

    The hippie from Hawaii gives us adorable sing-a-longs and soft lullabies for the new movie Curious George. Kids and seasoned Jack Johnson fans alike will enjoy this playful album. He keeps the melodies simple and upbeat and gets help from a few very special guests including G. Love and Matt Costa. Listeners learn a lot of good lessons like sharing (from “The Sharing Song”), what to do when you’re scared (“Lullaby”), and preserving the planet (from the Sesame Street-esque “The 3 R’s”). By far the best track, written and co-starring Jack’s friend Ben Harper, is where they sing “I can change the world… / Make it a kinder place / With my own two hands.” A good message for any generation. Album Highlights: “Upside Down,” “We’re Going to Be Friends,” “With My Own Two Hands” - jennifer e. jones


  • Strangest Day  
    Lead singer Vince Lichlyter’s strong voice and worshipful lyrics command this new release from alternative rock group Jonah33 ("You made yourself an endless maze of love, so I never give up. Don't want to leave this mystery"). The band also got it right in that they put a variety of rhythms on this project. But they didn't go far enough in highlighting original rock sounds, which are already overplayed as it is. This unfortunately drags the album down to an average rating. Album highlights: "This Is It," "Mystery," and "Search Me, Know Me." - hannah goodwyn

Jonas Brothers

  • It's About Time  
    If you’ve been looking for something to hold you over in between Jump5 albums, the Jonas Brothers are more than eager to deliver. It’s About Time is boy band pop/rock on overdrive. “Mandy” is already an MTV TRL favorite. The three brothers keep their formulaic music pretty simple with lines like “She walked out of the door / And right out of my life” from “7:05.” The ballad, “One Day at a Time,” is a mildly impressive tale of young unrequited love. They’re not reinventing the wheel by any means but you can’t argue with the powerful preteen population; this is the kind of dreamy pop music that girls across the nation swoon for. Three spins but only if you're under 18. Album Highlights: "One Day at a Time" - jennifer e. jones


  • And So It Is  
    Jontez comes from Kirk Franklin’s powerhouse God’s Property, and it shows. His beats and flow are hip-hop soul with a latin twist at the end. “Don’t Walk Away” has that contemporary R&B sound that hints at a Diddy/Bad Boy style. He continues to blend different genres into his groove with “Rising Son”; the chorus boasts a sweet Asian flare. What really gives Jontez a unique edge is being not only a talented singer but holding songwriting credits on this CD. A pleasantly surprising debut! Album Highlights: “Don’t Walk Away,” “Rising Son,” and “Can’t Get Enough”- jennifer e. jones

Julian Drive

  • My Coming Day 
    New Inpop Records releases their first album, My Coming Day, by song artist, Julian Drive. This acoustic and alternative artist of Georgia roots shows listeners what it means to worship. I found each song soothing and pleasant to the ears. Putting me in a calm and relaxed state; resting in the presence of God. Listeners would consider Julian’s songs to be sincere. Shifting the album in multiple directions, the album starts off with soft rock sounding track entitled, “From Your Hands”.  Then it transitions to an alternative sound throughout the rest of the album, beginning with “Always There”. Then driving it home, song entitled, “The Reason Is You”, causes listeners to engage in an intense praise and worship experience. - ashley card


  • Hello & Goodbye
    Six years after their debut, the members of Jump5 are bidding their fans farewell with their final album, Hello & Goodbye. Long-term fans will enjoy the typical Jump5 mix of new and remixed originals along with covered classics. The highlight of the latter, of course, is the very popular “Hello Goodbye,” originally by the Beatles. The group also manages to create a very nice barber shop effect for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” As for their new songs, fans know better than to look for a challenge in the group’s feel-good lyrics. Still, the standard messages of faith (“You”), friendship (“Still Got Me”), and seizing the day (“Fly”) ring true on the album and are perfectly formed for in-car karaoke and dancing around the house. Hello & Goodbye is a perfect farewell to loyal fans and an invitation for new fans to look up the songs that started it all. Album Highlights: “Fly,” “Hello Goodbye,” and “Shoot the Moon.” - bethany duval



  • Dreams & Visions 
    In a day when punk-rock is king, and R&B is his lady, Mary-Kathryn’s latest album is the cat that slinks around the room, but mostly goes unnoticed. A soft array of new age-style music, Dreams & Visions contains beautiful vocals and skilled instrumentation inspired by the Middle East. Unfortunately, the gentility of the music ensures that most listeners will hardly notice Mary-Kathryn’s efforts. Songs such as “Psalm 91” and “Glory Forever” work better as white noise than as anything else. If listeners do concentrate on the lyrics, they’ll hear simplistic words of praise to and longing for Christ, but Mary-Kathryn’s words are by no means ground-breaking. In “Flying Towards the Sun” Mary-Kathryn sings, “I’m falling into you, falling into place.” Similar lyrical content is found throughout the CD. Despite the album’s artistry, it seems that Mary-Kathryn has missed her time. Today’s listeners will shoo her music out the back door. Highlights: “Glory Forever.” – bethany duval

The Katinas

  • Still 
    Eighteen years into their professional musical careers, the Katina brothers admit that the charm of certain job aspects has worn away, but one passion has always remained strong: praising God through music. Set to the adult contemporary—with a twist of island—sound the Katinas are known for, Still gives listeners an energetic worship experience that is sure to get them moving. From the rock-edged “Alive,” to the gospel-toned “Praise,” the album has something special for each fan, new and old. And the strong message of thanks for God’s enduring faithfulness is great for everyone to hear and join in on. They may be nearly two decades in, but the Katinas are still going strong. Highlights: “Everlasting God,” “Alive,” and “Praise.” – bethany duval

Kelly, Sarah

  • Where the Past Meets Today  
    Her debut album Take Me Away made the virtually unknown Sarah Kelly a Grammy-nominated rock star. On her follow-up, Kelly presents more of the raw, uncomfortably vulnerable music that made her so great. With a voice unlike any other in Christian music today, Kelly drives home her passion in songs like “Between the Lines” and “Believe Again.” The album has a few pot holes that should be avoided (“The Beauty of It All” and “Still Breathing” almost serve as extra, unneccessary padding). Her ballads make up for the mishaps. With “Remember Me Well,” Kelly could bring ‘70s classic rock back to modern music. She also takes the listner inside the jail cell of Paul and Silas on “About Midnight.” Not as good as Take Me Away but a worthy piece of work that will hopefully earn her the Best Female Vocalist award that she deserves from the GMA. - jennifer e. jones

Kids in the Way

  • Let Love Win
    A Love Hate Masquerade is something longtime Kids in the Way fans can sink their teeth into. Full of anthems to pump your fists to, these Kids could start a revolution with such powerful tracks as “Your Demon” and “We Kill at Twilight”. “Far from Over” rebels against the standards of the world. “Sugar” is by far the most crossover worthy yet may ruffle some stuffed collars as the boys detail the fury of a woman scorned: “She’s the devil in black stilettos / She’s a fully loaded debutante”. Few rock bands age well but Kids in the Way seems to get better with every album. Album Highlights: “Sugar” and “We Kill at Twilight” - jennifer e. jones

Knapp, Jennifer

  • Live  
    For the Knappy fan that feels abandoned by the singer’s absence, Gotee is sending out a belated Christmas gift this year. This concert CD, recorded in New Mexico, captures her spark for live playing. Listeners get an earful of the true strength of Knapp’s vocals, especially on “A Little More.” She rearranges “The Way I Am,” stripping it down and letting the haunting melody and lyrics shine through, and the extended intro into “Undo Me” is worth the album price alone. Her voice still runs deep like Rita Springer, and her Melissa Etheridge-esquse way of attacking a guitar just makes us miss her all the more. If this is the last of Knapp, I’m satisfied but wish that she’d left us new material to remember her by. Album Highlights: “The Way I Am,” “Martyr’s and Thieves” - jennifer e. jones


  • Hearts of the Innocent  
    Kutless is a band that sort of grows on you.  I must admit that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with them when I first saw them in concert three years ago.  But with each album release, they seem to be getting better and better.  Their fourth studio release, Hearts of the Innocent builds on the success of Strong Tower.  A bit less melodic than previous releases, this album succeeds based on its sharp, sometimes biting lyrics. The rock songs are edgy and the ballads serve as nice tempo shifts throughout.  However, a few songs don’t seem to fit either category (“Mistake,” “Winds of Change”), causing the album to seem uneven and forced at times.  Album Highlights: “Hearts of the Innocent” and “Legacy”  - chris carpenter


LA Symphony

  • Disappear Here  
    LA Symphony has gone through the ringer, and it shows. The tragedies that surrounded this band in 2004 fueled the fire on Disappear Here. It’s 14 tracks of thought-conscious hip-hop that offer a little bit of hope to anyone who’s in the fire. Now, I’ve heard tighter rhymes and better beats than these before but there is an undeniable heart behind Disappear Here. For example, “C’est La Vie” gives a firm but sympathetic apology to the bandmates’ families: “I know the passenger seat of your car is mad cold / When I’m out on the road being alone is mad old / … But you know what I’m out here doing / Tryin’ to blow up the spot.” Over all, LA Symphony has what it takes to deliver urban inspiration. Highlights: “Dance Like,” “Give,” and “C’est La Vie” - jennifer e. jones

Lang, Jonny

  • Turn Around  
    Since the age of 13, Jonny Lang has shared the stage with Patti Labelle, B.B. King, U2, Stevie Wonder, and many more greats. Lang’s talent is even more evident in his new album, Turn Around. It’s blues fused with a rock style that is refreshingly different from the overdone pop/rock regulars on Christian radio stations today. The CD features a duet with the legendary Michael McDonald (“Thankful”), and “My Love Remains,” a song co-written with Steven Curtis Chapman. This new project is sure to be a worthwhile addition to your collection. One complaint though – the lyrics occasionally take away from Lang’s beautiful, soulful voice and amazing guitar riffs. Album highlights: “Thankful,” “Bump In the Road,” and “On My Feet Again.” - hannah goodwyn

Lawrence, Donald

  • The Law of Confession 
    Donald Lawrence's music will bless your soul!  Somehow he manages to take the word of God and make it into incredible, ear-pleasing songs. The Law of Confession is simply the Word of God in song, and it is good--really good. The new album, which is Lawrence's second one, is inspired by the forthcoming book, The Law of Confession by Bill Winston. According to Lawrence the album revolves around the Biblical tenet, "A  law is simply a principle, based on the predictable consequence of an act." Continuing, Lawrence tells that, "Confession in the Greek language is "homo-logeo," which means to say what has been said. Simply put, Lawrence says "there is a spiritual law for confession: just say what God has already said--speak the Word." Speaking the Word is exactly what he does from track 1 through track 13, and in between some tracks he even teaches the Word. The Law of Confession is for everyone, and it's definitely for praise and worship lovers. Undoubtedly, you can expect to sing-a-along to many of the songs on this CD in a place of worship near you soon. Album Highlights: "The Word of the Lord" and "Let the Word Do the Work" - kimberly a. lilly


  • Opposite Way  
    Last year Leeland’s debut album raised the bar for Christian rock. This year’s sophomore project, Opposite Way, sets that bar even higher. Kicking off the album is “Count Me In,” a high-energy song about not just accepting, but getting excited about God’s plans. This theme of spiritual zeal continues throughout the album with songs such as “Don’t Go Away” and “Wake Up”—the latter proclaiming, “We need to wake up, wake up / Live like God / Pour out love.”  Mixed in with the excitement are songs for which the band slows down in awe-filled worship. The songs “Enter This Temple” and “Brighter Days” ask for God’s presence on earth, and “Thief in the Night” is the deep longing of a servant waiting to go home. All in all, Opposite Way is an album of passion and honor for a mighty King—and you want to be counted in. Highlights: “Count Me In,” “Brighter Days,” and “Thief in the Night.” – bethany duval
  • Sound of Melodies  
    Newcomers Leeland offer Sound of Melodies but some of these tunes are awfully familiar. Many songs, including the title track, have those rising piano/guitar crescendos that sound like everything the Goo Goo Dolls have done in the last five years. Fetching? Yes. Catchy? Absolutely. Original? Hardly. I feel like I’ve heard some of these songs before. For example, “Yes You Have” could have been done by any of the hundreds of worship bands saturating the market today. All is not lost on Melodies. Lyrically, I like what they did with “Tears of the Saints.” They jumped out of line and reached out to those who have fallen through the cracks of religion (“There are schools full of hatred / Even churches have forsaken / … This is a state of emergency”). The cheerful “Hey” and “Can’t Stop” have a lot of pep. Overall, they’ve got what it takes but Leeland needs to find something unique to latch on to lest they fade into CCM obscurity. Album Highlights: “Tears of the Saints” and “Can’t Stop” - jennifer e. jones


  • The Catalyst  
    The Catalyst is the sophomore project from Nigel Anderson, better known as Legin. The catchy beats of these tracks are what initially draw you into this Gospel Rap album, but it is Legin’s powerful lyrics that leave a lasting impression. His love for Christ and people shine through in every song. In “Seek the Lord,” he encourages listeners to press into God and spend time seeking His face. In “Believe Thee” he expresses a burden to reach unbelievers. He writes, “Sometimes it gets hard, and then it gets easy, You say you won't forsake, no, You won't leave me. Every night I pray, Lord, that you keep me. What is it gonna take for this world to believe Thee?” It is the heart-felt passion on this track and others that brings depth to the album. Album Highlights: “Seek the Lord,” “Move,” “Believe Thee,” and “God is an Artist.”  - belinda elliott

Lippard, Joy

  • Joy Lippard 
    At eighteen years old, Joy Lippard released her self titled album this month. While Lippard has been described as one with a "knack for songwriting," that knack is not present on the 10 songs on the album that were either written or co-written by her. I found many of the lyrics to be very empty and many times confusing. Even more, many of the songs seem to be based more around a dating relationship gone wrong, than anything that concerns Christ. With that said, this album is not for those seeking worship music, or good music for that. Truthfully, I'm not sure who this album is for. - kimberly a. lilly

Littrell, Brian

  • Welcome Home  
    As a Backstreet Boy, Brian Littrell knows a lot about making catchy pop songs, but his gospel release Welcome Home is his farewell to being a boy bandmate who sings in space suits for screaming girls. Littrell has a clean, mature and pitch-perfect voice that finally has a chance to shine unopposed. He co-wrote many of the songs while also employing the songwriting talents of Joy Williams, Mark Harris (4Him) and Ian Eskelin. “Wish” is a sweet vision of desire as he wishes he could have seen Christ when He walked the earth. Littrell is still ever the swooning pop star on the piano-driven “You Keep Givin’ Me.” Lovers of the Backstreet Boys may take a while to come around but Littrell is more than welcomed into the church. Album Highlights: “Grace of My Life” and “Angels and Heroes”- jennifer e. jones


Maher, Matt

  • Empty and Beautiful 
    Matt Maher’s Empty and Beautiful is one of the best new albums I’ve heard this year. The album was released on April 8 and is sure to be a favorite of all who hear it. Joyful upbeat songs such as “Your Grace Is Enough,” “Look Like A Fool,” “Great Things” and “Shine Like The Son” are bound to have you on your feet leaping around praising God. Similarly, the songs “As It Is In Heaven,” “Leave A Light On,” “Unwavering” and “Lay It Down” will quickly lead you into a quiet place of worship. “Empty and Beautiful” is an album that is fun and one that has something for everyone. It will not disappoint! Album Highlights: The entire CD! – kimberly a. lilly


  • True Beauty 
    Refreshing and revealing, thought-provoking and truthful, Mandisa’s debut release True Beauty is an absolute delight.  Stellar vocals and a rich full musical sound add to the pure joy of a CD that reflects the heart of a woman who has found the love of Jesus in the midst of heart-wrenching pain.  I’d like to give this CD to everyone I know with the words, “Listen to this.  This is what Jesus is all about.”  If you only buy one new CD this year, make it this one. Buy it for yourself and buy it for someone you love. Album Highlights: "God Speaking" - linda michaels

Manic Drive

  • Rest & Rewind
    In their latest album, Reset & Rewind, Manic Drive has managed to beat the sophomore lull and turn out an album sure to be a favorite. Though the messages are traditional, the band doesn’t hold back in how these messages are presented. In “Obvious” they challenge listeners to deepen their faith, singing, “Sing your melodies, but would you ever think to die for it, like many men who have devoted their whole lives for it?” For those already on their way, but unsure of where to go next, “Eleven Regrets” vents the frustration of loving God and having nothing left to offer. After the harder material that makes up most of the album, listeners will be happy for the 11th (“L-O-V-E”) and 13th (“The Inventor”) tracks, which let up for some light praise. Though decidedly a rock album, Reset & Rewind has a little something for everyone. Highlights: “Obvious,” “December Mourning,” and “L-O-V-E"- bethany duval

Mars Ill

  • Pro Pain  
    “This ain’t just a rhyme / It slips into your skin.” The words of manCHILD properly sum up the long-awaited Gotee Records release Pro Pain. After a year of stalling and false starts, Mars Ill finally unleashes a powerful album. In raw hip-hop beats that sample old school soul (“I Is”), rock guitars (“Glam Rock”), and ‘70s bass lines (“Say So”), the duo describe life stuck in between greatness and reality. Honesty about fame's rough side in “Dog Ear Page” and “The Moment” give this reviewer more respect for the men who added essential bricks the foundation of Christian rap. You have to dig deep for the spiritual content but songs like “When Heaven Scrapes” will leave little doubt of where Mars Ill’s convictions lie. Album Highlights: “More” featuring Ahmad Jones and “Effortless” - jennifer e. jones

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives

  • Souls' Chapel  
    Aside from having a cool band name, Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives offer this blues/country medley that is southern comfort to the soul. Inspired by the Staple Singers as a child, you can hear the influences of the southern and black gospel as well as the blues legends in his downhome guitar licks. It kicks off with “Somebody Save Me” that has the Soggy Bottom Boys-esque harmonies with a lot of soul. It rocks on to the last song, which is the title track, where the guitar echos in a dream-like haze. Definitely for the blues lover in you. Album Highlights: “Souls’ Chapel,” “Lord Give Me Just a Little More Time,” and “I Can’t Even Walk” - jennifer e. jones

Mary Mary

  • The Sound 
    “The Sound” is completely opposite of what you’ve heard from Mary Mary in the past. The album features many R&B/Hip-hop like tunes that will appeal more to the younger generation. Technically and musically, the album is very well put together, as it explores a variety of musical elements that I am sure many people will appreciate. However, on a spiritual and intellectual level the album is suffering drastically and as a result the best thing about it is the sound of the beats to many of the songs. Album Highlights: “I’m Running” and “Seattle” – kimberly a. lilly
  • Mary Mary  
    The princesses of Christian R&B return with more hip-hop soul. Heads are still bobbin’ from “Shackles,” and the ladies did not disappoint for their third album. They have a little something for everyone with the big band sounds of “Biggest, Greatest Thing” to the disco-flavored “The Real Party.” The collaboration with Kirk Franklin, “And I,” is an airy, mellow mix -- unexpected but went with the album’s flow. Lastly, Mary Mary really showcases their spectacular singing. Their vocals are solid from track to track. Album Highlights: “Believer,” “What Is This,” “Biggest, Greatest Thing,” and “Yesterday” - jennifer e. jones

Max, Kevin

  • The Imposter  
    KMax has one of the most recognizable voices in music. It’s sweet to hear that it’s not only the highlight of The Imposter, but has only gotten stronger with age. The sophomore release on Northern Records holds nothing that’s typical and everything that’s relevant about today’s “Killers-Franz Ferdinand” rock scene. “Confessional Booth” kicks off the album with a good scream and total rock’n’roll flare. “Sanctuary” is a solid radio hit, and lines like “I find your beautiful mind in everything / And everything is all I need” in “Beautiful Mind” highlight Max’s hidden sensitivity to the divine. In my favorite surprise of all, listen to KMax go gospel on “When He Returns.” You just gotta love this guy. Album Highlights: “Platform,” “Confessional Booth,” “Sanctuary,” “When He Returns” - jennifer e. jones

McDonald, Shawn

  • Scattered Pieces: Live  
    Shawn McDonald is raspy and full of heart on his live CD, Scattered Pieces. He starts off with the breathless “Ramblings of a Beggar” from Ripen and bleeds right into “I Am Nothing” from his debut album -- showing how much this artist has truly grown in the last three years. McDonald keeps it cool with his mostly acoustic blend. If I had one complaint, it’s that certain songs sound dangerously like their album versions, thus making the performance less exceptional. However, within the 17 tracks, McDonald tries to mix it up (i.e., the up tempo “Gravity”, “Take My Hand” and the sweet serenity when Shawn and his audience join in the chorus of “Amazing Grace”). Shawn McDonald fans will get their money’s worth with Scattered Pieces but others may want to wait for new material. Album Highlights: “Gravity” and “Amazing Grace” - jennifer e. jones
  • Ripen  
    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 much more full now with a wide array of instruments. Listen to Ripen with headphones on, and you’ll hear a rainforest of sounds, especially on songs like “The Rider on the White Horse.” Lovers of Simply Nothing may be surprised but rest assure that Shawn still keeps it acoustically mellow (The heartfelt-almost-made-me-cry ballad “Lovely” is very reminiscent of classic McDonald), and his yearning to grow closer to God has not wavered. Very much an experience album, Ripen flows and takes you on a journey from track to track. Album Highlights: “Reason,” “The Rider on the White Horse,” and ”Take Hold” - jennifer e. jones

McClurkin, Donnie

  • We All Are One
    One of gospel music’s top male vocalists, Donnie McClurkin, releases another gospel hit album. We All Are One features Mary Mary, Ce Ce Winans, and Yolanda Adams. Listening to this album was refreshing, as it took my mind back to the gospel music world and its roots. Donnie McClurkin continues to prevail in drawing listeners to the simplicity of his lyrics, the unfathomed meaning behind the lyrics, and the anointing that flows out of the music. Album Highlights: Trusting in You,” “We All Are One,” and “The Great I Am.” - ashley card

McLaughlin, Jon

  • OK Now
    Jon’s sophomore effort is already seeing some mainstream success with “Beating My Heart” making Billboard’s Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks at #21, just behind Colbie Calliat. Laced with modern backbeats and synthesizers reminiscent of Coldplay’s signature sound, it's one of the album’s best. Jon shows off his admirable talent as he rocks the piano keys in a Billy Joel like manner. He’ll charm you with his soulful voice and honest lyrics about his faith, life, and love; still he's not the Piano Man.  Album highlights:  “Beating My Heart,” “You Are the One I Love,” “We All Need Saving.” - hannah goodwyn
  • Indiana
    Indiana, singer-songwriter and pianist Jon McLaughlin’s first Island Records release, is a stellar album. Waxing soulfully with his rich, scratchy, smokey vocals, Jon soothes and inspires with his jazzy selections. With hints of Billy Joel, Elton John, Maroon 5, Switchfoot (especially on “Anthem for American Teenagers”), and Train, his piano-driving, high-hat-hitting, guitar-riffing tunes and deep-thinking lyrics will resonate with a Christian market interested in a bit more edgy and emotionally raw material. Something familiar, and something a bit different, Jon manages to incorporate a sound all his own. And because of that, we will likely see this up-and-coming artist stick around for a while. Album Highlights: “Beautiful Disaster” and “Anthem for American Teenagers” - laura j. bagby

McNease, Heath

  • The Heath McNease Fan Club Meets Tonight
    Heath McNease is certainly not the first rapper to throw his guitar licks on to a turntable. Listening to his debut album, it’s difficult not to think of John Reuben and Paul Wright. Since he’s going to ride the acoustic hip-hop train, at least he rides it well… if not better than his predecessors. McNease is a former college theater major, and it shows because he’s not afraid to throw himself into his songs. His rhymes are oddly edgy, clever and quick especially on “Rumors”, (i.e., “He’s obnoxious and obstinate / Let's hope we don’t see him topless on COPS again”). In spite of promoting all the loose screws in his head, McNease boasts mostly in the Lord. Sprinkled throughout this hip-hop odyssey is genuine faith. Listen to McNease’s blend of rap, soul, rock and reggae with an open mind but be careful. You may wind up a member in his fan club without even realizing it. Album Highlights: “Rumors” and “Love Me” [Featuring Pigeon John]  - jennifer e. jones


  • Coming Up to Breathe  
    “This is MercyMe?” That’s what you might ask yourself when the title track of Coming Up to Breathe hits your ears. The boys who once called themselves the poster children for adult contemporary rock out a bit on their fifth studio release. 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. I’m appreciating the slight shift in their musical focus. It reflects a band whose tragedies have given them faith that’s both rock-solid and child-like. Album Highlights: “Hold Fast,” “3:42 a.m. (Writer’s Block)” and “Coming Up to Breathe - jennifer e. jones
  • Live [DVD]  
    Musically, even the casual MercyMe fan will get their money’s worth. Read the full review...
  • The Christmas Sessions  
    Bart Millard and the boys fused together a variety of musical styles with diverse arrangements that encompass a wide spectrum of musical influences. From the U2 styled guitar on "It Came upon a Midnight Clear" to the Mannheim Steamroller influenced "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to the country swing of "Silent Night," the band leaves virtually no musical stone unturned. The Christmas Sessions effectively bounces back and forth between religious themed carols and rollicking renditions of time tested commercial classics. There is no real downside to this album; it is strong throughout. Album Highlights: "It Came upon a Midnight Clear," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and "Joseph's Lullaby" - chris carpenter

Metallo, Alyce

  • Alyce Metallo 
    A high school Spanish teacher, singing professionally and making a difference in teenage lives has always been a balancing act for Alyce Metallo. With the release of her self-titled debut album, however, she has put her focus on singing and isn’t looking back. Similar to the R&B-gospel style of Yolanda Adams, Metallo is full of energy. From the opening song, “Stay,” strong vocals and a good beat encourage listeners to get on their feet, and though Metallo slows down at points, her enthusiasm never dies. Whether it’s original tracks of celebration of God and Christian fellowship or her jazzed up rendition of “Blessed Assurance,” Metallo shares a sincere excitement unique in the musical world. Though Metallo caters to a niche gospel audience, her talent and passion is such that every other niche can at least appreciate. Highlights: “Stay,” and “I’ll Fly Away.” – bethany duVal

Meyers, Krystal

  • Make Some Noise 
    Make Some Noise offers some new musical styles and a new lyrical depth for Krystal Meyers’ fans. With a songwriting ability that seems well developed for a 20-year-old, she tackles topics that go deeper than typical feel-good pop lyrics. She is at her best on rock tracks like “My Freedom,” asking God to set us free, and “S.O.S.” which calls out to God for rescue. She also mixes it up stylistically with upbeat dance tracks like “Love It Away,” “Shine,” and “You’ll Never Know,” a song that feels like something straight out of the 1980s. Of course the album wouldn’t be complete without a couple songs aimed primarily at her teen girl fan base. These include “Up to You,” a classic teen break-up song, and “Beautiful Tonight,” about our identity in Christ. Overall, this is a solid album from an artist who is proving herself to be quite versatile. Album Highlights: “Shine,” “My Freedom,” and “S.O.S.” - belinda elliott
  • Dying for a Heart  
    The issues I had with Krystal Meyers’ first self-titled album still linger with her follow-up, Dying For a Heart. We already have an Avril Lavigne; we don’t need another one. Nevertheless, if you’re into that kind of music, Meyers’ MTV-tween market pop/rock sound is admirable. She offers up 10 songs (all under four minutes for those with short attention spans) to move your inner “sk8er grl.” To her credit, she takes on more serious problems than just teenage angst. On “The Situation” Meyers sings/screams about the various situations teens find themselves in and how “Jesus can be your escape.” Maybe you need to wear a chain attached to your belt to get into Meyers’ brand of tomboy rock’n’roll, but if you’re that girl, this one’s for you. Album Highlights: “The Situation” and “Together” - jennifer e. jones

Michael Gungor Band, The

  • Ancient Skies 
    At a time when hymns are making their exit, and churches desperately need praise songs with spiritual depth, the Michael Gungor Band gives us … more milk. A collection of songs originally written for Gungor’s church, Ancient Skies is a rock-praise album full of repetitive and uninspiring lyrics. Choruses are simple repetitions of one or two lines, and Gungor’s themes hardly go beyond the fact that, well, God is pretty awesome. Whereas some people can pull this off, Gungor’s lack of scriptural roots cause his words simply to sound like a recitation of Christianese. Even when he broaches more challenging topics (“White Man,” “Song For My Family”), his words ring hollow because other people have already written on those songs—and they’ve written them better. For teen retreats who need a few songs to jump around to, this album will be great; but for those of us looking for something original, Gungor just doesn’t make the cut. – bethany duval
  • All I Need Is Here 
    After years as a solo artist and worship leader, Michael Gungor has assembled a few of his musical friends (including his wife and brother) to create The Michael Gungor Band. Their first offering is All I Need Is Here, a collection of corporate worship songs with a hint of David Crowder Band mixed into easy-to-sing Matt Redman. Before you think it's standard worship-fare, Gungor spices it up with his own twist. “Ancient Skies” is full of bright lights, and every hand should raise at the praise-worthy “Prodigal”. The jump from folk to cascading electric rock on “Fly” is surprisingly brilliant. The ballads on this album showcase Gungor’s sensitivity to the Spirit yet the uptempo tunes show his band’s musical depth. Fantastic! Album Highlights: “Fly” and “Prodigal” - jennifer e. jones

Millard, Bart

  • Hymned Again 
    MercyMe’s frontman Bart Millard follows up his 2005 collection of hymns with Hymned Again, a new assortment of old favorites. These may be the hymns you grew up singing, but probably not like this. Millard mixes the familiar songs with styles ranging from New Orleans jazz to down-home southern bluegrass. While his first album paid tribute to his grandmother and the hymns she used to sing, this one was inspired by his kids. Several of the hymns are well-known favorites including toe-tapping versions of “I Saw the Light,” “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” and “Victory in Jesus.” Other tracks are lesser known, but soon to become favorites. These include “Brethren We Have Met to Worship” and the only original on the album, “Jesus Cares for Me,” which features Millard singing with country artist Vince Gill. This album has quickly become one of my favorites. Album highlights: “Victory in Jesus,” “I Saw the Light,” and “Brethren We Have Met to Worship” – belinda elliott


  • Superhero 
    The five small town boys of MissionSix may not seem like rock stars at first glance. They are young (between the ages of 12-14), inexperienced, and somewhat lacking height at the moment. However, given a chance, this group proves to be both talented and mature. With energetic tunes that primarily target preteens, their debut album, Superhero, offers clean fun and a clear message of hope, life, and Christ. As the young band members all play instruments, produce a unique sound, and have even helped write their songs, they show our culture and specifically their generation that with God on your side anything is possible. People will be bobbing their heads to MissionSix for years to come. Album Highlights: “Monday Morning,” “We Got The Beat” and “Walk A Mile” – amy nickerson

Monk & Neagle

  • The Twenty-First Time
    The Twenty-First Time is an album of highs and lows. It’s not as soulful as Monk and Neagle’s debut. You don’t get a good groove going until you hear “Into Orbit”. Most of the songs are standard adult contemporary pop, which is good, just not as interesting as before. Lyrically, M&N couldn’t get better. “What Soldiers Do” is valiant, and “Beautiful You” is a happy-go-lucky, acoustic lover’s dream. I expected a bit more from the worshipful “Hallelujah, Jesus”, but it’s okay as ballads go. The debut album's “Stars Would Fall” makes a reappearance on this album without much explanation; however, it’s still a great song. It would have been nice to see them test the limits a bit more. They certainly have the talent to go further. Album Highlights: “Into Orbit” and “What Soldiers Do” - jennifer e. jones

Moore, Geoff

  • Speak to Me 

    Geoff Moore’s Speak to Me plays like an old dusty guitar that comforts you with every strum. The CCM veteran has those signature scratchy vocals that only sound better with age. He sings along with Watermark’s Christy Nockels on “When I Get Where I’m Going”, a song previously made famous by country star Brad Paisley. Moore co-wrote several tracks and added his bits of wisdom (i.e., “In a world away from luxury / Is where I found prosperity” from “Every Single One”). He even offers an acoustic ballad of “This Is My Father’s World”. Most of the album is mellow, but he’s not afraid to let the cymbals clash on tracks like “So Long, Farewell (The Blessing)”. On Speak to Me, Moore proves he can still go the distance. Album Highlights: “When I Get Where I’m Going” and “Your Day" - jennifer e. jones

Morant, Jason

  • Open 

    For a 24-year-old, Jason Morant has an old soul, and he lets it shine on Open. This follow-up to the popular Abandon is thoughtful worship that runs deep lyrically and musically. He takes listeners on a 16-track journey – from a plea for love (“Open”) to intimacy with the divine (“Veil”). Tied together with instrumental piano and violin interludes, Open is downright captivating. Morant has the lyrical depth of Derek Webb with the musical ingenuity of David Crowder. It’s a killer combination all wrapped in his own personal style of soothing, experimental rhythms. Worship singer/songwriters, take note. This is how it’s done. Album Highlights: “Holy Is the Lord” and “All of Me” - jennifer e. jones

Moss, J

  • V2... 

    They don’t call him “the voice” for nothing. J. Moss is a wonder on the mic. V2 is like an electric shock to gospel music, and Moss does it with a little help from his friends. Cousin Kiki Sheard lends her vocals to the opening track “Jump, Jump”. Kirk Franklin talks his way through the digitized “Dance”. There’s so much production on the first two tracks that “Know Him” (featuring Karen Clark Sheard) and “Abundantly” are welcomed, calmer songs that truly showcase Moss’ signature vocals. You get a touch of his live show with the sing-able “We Love You”, and his vulnerability on "Nobody" could bring a tear to your eye. Well balanced and full of hits (including the current radio single “Operator”), V2 is the next generation of gospel R&B. Album Highlights: “Praise on the Inside” and “Operator” - jennifer e. jones

Mullen, Nicole C.

  • Sharecropper's Seed, Vol. 1 

    Nichole C. Mullen digs into her roots on her latest album. Inspired by her ancestors, she offers her hip brand of Top 40/Christian pop with hints of African rhythms. Sharecropper's Seed, Vol. 1 isn’t terribly different than her previous works, which is a little disappointing for anyone looking for Mullen to reinvent herself. The title track starts it off a little slow, but a radio hit can be heard in the upbeat “So in Love”. There’s tenderness to “When I Grow Up” when Mullen sings with wishful children. Sharecropper’s Seed will be a nice addition to collectors of Mullen’s catalog of music. Otherwise, I’m waiting for volume two. Album Highlights: “So in Love” and “Under the Shadow” - jennifer e. jones

Munizzi, Martha

  • No Limits Live 

    It’s music and ministry, preaching and praising… It’s Martha Munizzi live. With a voice that few can hold a candle to, Munizzi shows her fans that there is No Limit to God’s power. Two discs worth of music supply plenty of songs that could be the next “Because of Who You Are,” the song that made Munizzi a household name amongst gospel lovers. Your heart will be lifted on “He’s Already Provided,” and you will cheer with triumph on “Till the Walls Fall.” She mixes plenty of worship (“Name Above All Names”) and praise (“What He’s Done”) and calls the saints to higher ground ( “Chosen Generation”). Gospel fans will adore this release. Album Highlights: “He’s Already Provided” and “Jesus Is The Best Thing” - jennifer e. jones



Nash, Leigh

  • 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

Needham, Jimmy

  • 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
  • Speak  
    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
  • Daylight  
    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 by newsboys
    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
  • Go  
    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

Nicole, Britt

  • 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

Nockels, Christy

  • 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

Nordeman, Nichole

  • Brave  
    As a new parent, Christian music’s piano girl is facing life’s new challenges with style and grace. Read the full review...

Norful, Smokie

  • Smokie Noful: Live  

    Smokie Norful's live album is a breath of fresh air. It’s obvious that this record is all about giving God praise. In this fourth CD, but first live release, Smokie delivers each song as if they were personal prayers. With songs like, "He’s Gonna Come Through", "Dear God", "I’ve Been Delivered" and "Don’t Quit", this album will inspire and remind you of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. All in all, it’s a good album to have in rotation. Album Highlights: "He's Gonna Come Through" and "No One Else" - terri l. simmons

  • Life Changing  
    Smokie Norful carved a place in gospel music’s heart with his song for the weary, “I Need You Now.” He shows that he’s got more to give on Life Changing. While I felt like I’d heard some of these melodies before, the sentiment behind them is still healing and soul-stirring. Pass over the overdone tracks like “Celebrate” and get to the meat of this project. “Um Good” is a dangerous confession of faithfulness to God. He reworks Whitney Houston’s “Run to You” into a prayer to God – not to mention the funky “Put Your Hands Together.” Norful delivers a gospel album worthy of the name he’s created for himself and the name of Christ that he uplifts. Album Highlights: “Run to You” and “Um Good” - jennifer e. jones

Norman, Bebo

  • 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


O'Brien, Michael

  • Something About Us  
    NewSong always teetered on the edge of soul in their CCM career. Now that former member Michael O’Brien has broken free, he’s diving in head first. Something About Us is an early valentine from O’Brien to his wife. It breathes all the sincerity and urgency of a man madly in love. He sings lines that will make the hopeless romantic in you sigh (i.e., “Take in your voice / Breathe in your hair / A cinematic vision / Pardon if I stare” from "Beautiful You”). On Something About Us, O’Brien’s solo musical style dances between neo-Sinatra and Michael Buble. The R&B/jazz blend fits his strong vocals like a glove and makes this album the perfect retreat for any weary couple. A must for anyone who’s ever been in love and those who love to dream about it. Album Highlights: “Low Fat Latte” and “Something About Us” - jennifer e. jones

Olivia The Band

  • Where We Come From, It Never Snows
    At first listen, this sophomore project by Olivia The Band honestly sounds a bit unoriginal and shallow. With lyrics about Hawaiian sun, surf and sand and a mainstream sound much like any punk/rock music on the radio, I found myself tuning out before giving it a chance. However, after allowing the CD a few more spins, the catchy, upbeat tunes began to work their magic. Not only are the tracks on Where We Come From It Never Snows happy in sound, they also offer positive lyrics revealing a refreshing hope that doesn’t shine through most songs today. Album Highlights: “808” and “Something Greater” - amy nickerson

Out of Ruin

  • What I Can't See
    From the name of the band to the cover of their latest CD, Out of Ruin seems like your typical rock band, but it’s strong lyrics and a southwestern flair that separate this band from the others. On their latest album, What I Can’t See, The band sings openly about their struggles in the faith. In “Spirit,” they ask, “Why do I fight, fight the steps that you’ve laid down before me? Please don’t give up on me.” And “Broken Pieces” gives a message of how God uses hard times to form us into better Christians. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable tracks is “Alimente El Corazon,” in which the band breaks from singing and gives us a spicy piece of instrumental worship. One feels that every note and lyric is coming straight from the art, and that makes Out of Ruin a band worthy of generous attention. Highlights: “Broken Pieces,” “Man To Be,” and “Alimente El Corazon.”
    bethany duVal

Ortega, Fernando

  • The Shadow of Your Wings  
    Sit back, sip your coffee slowly, and let the gentle, rolling melodies of Fernando Ortega take you away into the heavenlies. Nothing truly compares to Ortega’s take on Christian music, and he exhibits it again on The Shadow of Your Wings. Hymns have never sounded so haunting yet soothing. The same quiet intensity of his previous work (and in my mind his best), 2002’s Storm, restores these classic songs back to their simplicity. Yet, he still takes a few risks. Almost sensing that we’ve heard "Great is Thy Faithfulness" one too many times, he changes the rhythm of the song completely -- making it refreshing. The tranquility on this album is not for everyone but, for true lovers of piano ballads for your Sunday evening, it doesn’t get much better than this. Album Highlights: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Sing to Jesus” - jennifer e. jones


Parachute Band

  • Technicolor  
    In the first 30 seconds of Technicolor, I had to check the CD cover to see if I was really listening to the Parachute Band. "Come to the River" has a peppy, Fall-Out-Boy sound to it that is nothing less than infectious, and I was dancing in my seat in time. Unfortunately, the album slips into the comforts of fairly typical corporate worship. Tracks like "Living Rain", "Come Before" and "Grace" (while beautiful) cause the album to lag in the middle, and musically Technicolor never fully recovers until the upbeat "No Eye Has Seen". Despite inconsistencies, the push towards heaven is undeniable throughout the entire album. This is vertical adoration that is excited about the greatness of God. Worship leaders and those who love bands like Hillsong United should embrace this rainbow of praises. Album Highlights: "Come to the River" and "Shout It Out" – jennifer e. jones


  • Everything Glorious  
    Just short of hearing the angels sing, the Passion worship band is the closest thing a worshipper can get to heaven. Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall and others headline this live performance CD and throw up praise to God with 13 tracks of rock. With the roar of the crowd behind them, Tomlin kicks off this album with the energetic “Awesome is the Lord Most High,” and then he kicks it into high gear with “Party” (which sounds like something out of a college frat house). The title track belongs to David Crowder who asks the pertinent question: “You make everything glorious / And I am yours / What does that make me?” An album worthy of ushering in the presence of God. Serious worshippers need only apply. Album Highlights: “We Are Yours” by Charlie Hall, “Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill, and “You Are My Joy” by David Crowder Band - jennifer e. jones

Patty, Sandi

  • Songs For The Journey 
    Songs For The Journey is the latest album by Gospel Music legend Sandi Patty. With this album, Patty confirms her ability to be versatile with the different genres of music while sharing her personal life experiences. Without a doubt, Patty’s God given gift to skillfully sing pop, gospel, hymns, and opera is clearly evident on this album. Each track gives listeners a little bit of everything—music for worshipping, relaxing, or simply soaking in the presence of God. Album High Lights: Through It All, Operator, and Were It Not For Grace. - kimberly ann lilly

Payne, Kendall

  • Grown  
    Where have you been, Kendall Payne? It has been six long years since her debut album, Jordan’s Sister, won a Dove award for Best Alternative Rock Album but Payne is finally back with her long anticipated follow-up, Grown. A winning combination of guitar and verse this mostly acoustic collection falls somewhere between Sixpence None the Richer and Patty Griffin musically. Emotionally charged with highly vulnerable lyrics, Payne explores many of life’s lingering mysteries including the aging process (“Scratch”), the unpredictability of life (“Rollercoaster”) and following your convictions in the face of fear (“Stand”). Grown is not unlike a meandering afternoon spent in a small out of the way café; transparent, sometimes boisterous, a bit tender, and always sparse. Album highlights: “Scratch,” “Rollercoaster,” “The Moon,” and “Stand” - chris carpenter

Peterson, Andrew

  • Resurrection Letters: Vol II  
    Andrew Peterson is a thinking man's singer/songwriter. So I was concerned when the first two tracks of Resurrection Letters sounded too much like Steven-Curtis-Chapman-esque contemporary Christian music. However, by the clever wordplay in "All You'll Ever Need", Peterson slips back into his comfortable stride with a slide guitar gently guiding the way. Fans of his powerful storytelling through song will sink into the incredible depth of Resurrection Letters. The wisdom in "Hosea" unfolds in layers as Peterson looks at the redemptive relationship between the prophet and Gomer. Peterson is painstakingly honest with his own flaws on "I've Got News" and "Don't Give Up on Me". He continues to give us anything but ordinary, and this new collection of gems is no exception. Album Highlights: "Hosea" and "Love Is a Good Thing" – jennifer e. jones
  • The Far Country  
    You can always turn to Andrew Peterson for child-like faith in a complicated world. His latest offering, The Far Country, is no exception. His signature sound of quiet folk has barely changed a note, which works for Peterson because it allows his stellar lyric-writing skills to shine. He paints beautiful pictures with his words in songs like “All Shall Be Well” and gives us such heart-breaking lines like “Why hast thou accepted me / When all my love was vinegar / To a thirsty King” in the song “Mystery of Mercy.” While his tempo may be too slow for some, Peterson fans will enjoy exploring The Far Country. Album Highlights: “For the Love of God,” “All Shall Be Well,” and “Mountains on the Ocean Floor” - jennifer e. jones

Phelps, David

  • Life is a Church  
    When it comes to male singers, I dare you to find anyone in the adult contemporary music world who can hold a candle to David Phelps. The former Gaither Vocal Band member offers us more of his vocal strength in Life is a Church. While it starts off a little too similar to other CCM bands with “With His Love (Sing Holy),” he revs it back up with “Something’s Gotta Change” and then again with the album’s strong suite in the title track. Phelps is singing at the top of his game in “Behold the Lamb” and attempts a little spoken word with “Long Time Coming.” If you love adult contemporary groups like Casting Crowns or you’re a Phelps fan, then you’ll enjoy this record. Album Highlights: “Life is a Church” and “Behold the Lamb”- jennifer e. jones

Phillips, Craig & Dean

  • Top of My Lungs  
    This could possibly be the best album from Phillips, Craig & Dean yet. They modernized their sound just enough to keep up with the times; however, their signature harmony and passion for Christ thankfully hasn’t changed a note. On their 11th studio project, these pastors sing the songs that will soon become essentials in your worship service. “Amazed” is simple and beautiful and ushers in the gentle presence of God, while “Top of My Lungs” is a joyous praise song done only as PCD could do. There’s a pleasant treat at the end of the album where the men sing with their kids on “’Tis So Sweet.” With Top of My Lungs, Phillips, Craig & Dean pull ahead as one of CCM’s best vocal bands. Album Highlights: “Top of My Lungs” and “’Tis So Sweet” - jennifer e. jones


  • The Reckoning  
    Less Rap Metal. More Rock. That seems to be the vibe Pillar is sticking with on their fourth full-length album, The Reckoning. It falls right in line with their previous efforts that mix heavy rhythms with the pondering of man's selfish nature. Rob Beckley lets his voice scream and rip through tracks like “Tragedy” and “Crossfire,” but he can get low and melodic on “Angel in Disguise.” You see how they wanted Reckoning to be more than just a scream fest. Kalel, Lester, and Noah shine on the all-instrumental “Elysian,” and special kudos to Noah on the relentless opening riff on “Resolution.” It’s hard to see any rock anthems like we saw in “Fireproof,” but there is a enough good stuff to keep Pillar fans banging their heads. Highlights: “Awake” and “Tragedy” - jennifer e. jones


  • Blink
    When you listen to this record, you’ll feel like you stepped into a lullaby land. And that was on purpose. Relatively new mommy and vocal artist Tiffany Lee’s talent for writing incredibly moving lyrics is present on this new album, which she’s dedicated to her sons. The one draw back is that a few of the songs sound too much like the next. Besides that, Blink is a treat that any sacrificing parent will treasure. Album Highlights: “In My Arms,” “God Will Take Care of You,” and “Me” - hannah goodwyn


  • When Angels and Serpents Dance
    After guitarist Marcos Curiel’s four-year hiatus from the band, P.O.D. is back together and rockin’ out new songs fans will love. In true P.O.D. fashion, this album features the band’s signature sound of electrifying guitar riffs, pounding bass, and lead singer Sonny Sandoval’s unmistakable scream. But, the CD also offers a mesh of tunes that has a mainstream appeal, specifically with their pop-ish song "Shine With Me" and the blues rock, soon-to-be hit "It Can’t Rain Everyday." Album highlights: "It Can’t Rain Everyday," "Addicted," and "When Angels and Serpents Dance." – hannah goodwyn
  • Testify  
    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And that’s exactly what P.O.D. has done on their latest album Testify. That hardcore California rock/rap sound that put them on MTV is in every pulsating beat. While there’s nothing that differs greatly from the previous Satellite or Payable on Death, P.O.D. still rocks out with plenty of guest appearances – including the buzz-worthy messianic Jewish reggae rapper Matisyahu on “Roots In Stereo” and “Strength of My Life.” They even sample that West Coast rap flava’ in “On the Grind” with Boo-Yaa Tribe. Longtime fans and newbies should devour Testify. Album Highlights: “Sounds Life War” and “Goodbye For Now” - jennifer e. jones

Pocket Full of Rocks

  • Song to the King  
    Pocket Full of Rocks is similar to what Casting Crowns would sound like if they did strictly worship music. While they strive to touch the Father’s heart, the six-person band carves a place for themselves amongst ragamuffin worshippers like Rich Mullins and Jason Upton. Michael Farren’s vocals show a selfless devotion to God that runs deep like a river in his words. It is paired perfectly with fresh, original worship songs – something lacking after the recent pop praise trend. It is fully described in “Falling” where they boldly proclaim: “My heart sings a song that even angels cannot sing.” A solid praise and worship debut. The Album Highlights: “Song to the King” and “Falling” - jennifer e. jones

Point of Grace

  • How You Live
    Point of Grace carved a niche within the easy listening side of the Christian market, so it’s difficult to expect them to do anything different on their 12th release. How You Live brings together all of the treasures that Point of Grace fans hold dear: strong vocal harmony and syrupy sweet lyrics – good but entirely too predictable. Every song could fit on any one of their other albums. Now, Heather Payne is admittedly powerful on the title track, a ballad that reminds us to cherish the simple miracles of family and laughter. The mix of “It is Well” in "You Are Good" gives the song an extra boost. In truth, the ladies of Grace are still masters on stage and in the studio; however, this reviewer would have liked to see them go a little further into the deep end this time and take a risk or two. Album Highlights: “How You Live”- jennifer e. jones
  • Winter Wonderland  
    Strong harmonies are always a highlight listeners can enjoy from any Point of Grace album. This new project brings together both traditional carols and popular Christmas songs, such as “Jingle Bells” and “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Point of Grace puts a flavorful change on each song, but the abrupt movement from serious to overdone songs weighs its likeability down. This CD’s hidden gift is a beautiful, original song, “Let There Be Light.” Album Highlights: “In the First Light,”“Let There Be Light,” and “Breath of Heaven”- hannah goodwyn

Press Play

  • Life is Beautiful  
    It’s hard to believe this is a debut album. As soon as I “pressed play” on my iPod to listen to Press Play’s debut album Life is Beautiful, I was hit with a sudden burst of energy! With combinations of grunge, rock, and groove, this new album will definitely keep your head boppin’. "I Love Who You Are", "Unashamed" and "Fill This Place" (featuring Darlene Zschech) will be instant favorites. "Angels Sing" vibes with a little bit of Hillsongs United flavor, but is sure to usher you into the presence of the Lord. This debut album is a “must have.” Album Highlights: "Unashamed", "Angels Sing", and "Fill This Place" - terri l. simmons


  • Here We Go Again
    Carolyne, Jordan, and Caroline are the members that make up the band PureNRG. The three young servants of God are on a mission to entertain, educate, and promote Christian values for young people through music. After listening to there latest CD, Here We Go Again, it appears PureNRG has successfully accomplished their mission. The album has many up tempo songs that have catchy tunes and are sure to have listeners singing along. Even more, every song on the album is either uplifting, shares the love of God, or encouraging. Here We Go Again is an album that parents can buy for there kids with peace knowing that all its content is clean. It is also an album that can compete with any Disney tune heard on the Disney channel, or on Radio Disney. Album Highlights: "Like," "Call On Jesus," and "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  - kimberly a. lilly




  • End of Silence  
    End of Silence by Essential Records’ Red is a symphony of rock. It’s dark and disturbing yet very hopeful with a big orchestra and piano backing its metal melodies. Very Evanescence meets Kutless. Tracks like “Lost” really prove Michael Barnes as the new rock vocalist to envy. The bridge on “Let Go” where he sings, “You can’t have me anymore” gave me chills. I even felt a hint of Staind-like goth in “Break Me Down.” End of Silence has its moments of dipping in and out of cliché Christian rock but for the most part an excellent debut. Let’s hope there is no “end” to Red. Album Highlights: “Breathing into Me” and “Let Go” - jennifer e. jones

Redman, Matt

  • Beautiful News  
    In the race to make the next great worship song that will be sung in churches all over the world, Matt Redman puts his Beautiful News up for consideration. It is a worthy contender. I tip my hat to Redman for going beyond the standard worship fare and bringing us something we can sink our hearts into. On “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”, he ponders how he can serve God more while the world foolishly chooses not to believe. It kicks up a notch musically on the title track, and you can almost hear scores of audiences singing along in time. Even the last track packs a powerful, digitized outro in “Beautiful News (Reprise)”. Redman truly makes the Good News a thing of beauty.  Album Highlight: “Beautiful News” and “You Never Let Go” - jennifer e. jones

Relient K

  • Five Score and Seven Years Ago 

    If you love the high-energy sounds of Relient K, you will not be disappointed with their latest offering. While Five Score and Seven Years Ago explores some new ground, the band has not abandoned the lively rock and catchy melodies that fans have grown to love. The album also features more of their characteristic sense of humor and clever word play. Perhaps one of the most interesting tracks is “Deathbed,” the powerful reflections of a 75-year-man looking back over his life just before he dies. Clocking in at 11 minutes long and featuring Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, this song vividly describes the journey of an unbeliever through years of searching before finding the love of Christ. The thought-provoking lyrics in this song and others are the reason I love this band. Album Highlights: “Come Right Out and Say It,” “I Need You,” and “Forgiven”- belinda elliott

Remedy Drive

  • Daylight is Coming 

    If you haven't heard Remedy Drive, you should. Though this is their debut album, the four brothers who make up the band are not newcomers to the Christian music scene. Prior to signing with Word Records the indie band has been playing more than 200 shows a year. On Daylight is Coming they combine their high energy, piano-driven rock with thought-provoking lyrics. Songs like “Something Made to Last” and “All Along” challenges the things that our culture views as important while pushing us to search for more than the fading pleasures of this world. Other songs (“Hope,” “Daylight”) remind listeners that we are never alone. The upbeat “Heartbeat,” serves as a wake-up call for Christians who may have become complacent in their faith. With a sound along the lines of Switchfoot, the guys’ message is clearly Christian without being preachy. Album Highlights: "Hope," "All Along," "Heartbeat," "Something Made to Last" – belinda elliott


  • Rendezvous 

    Created in response to the Frank Moore Bible study, Rendezvous is a compilation of worship music selected with personal and corporate use in mind. The goal of the project is to take the church beyond musical genres and preferences, to a place where only passion for God matters. Great—if you don’t consider “inspirational” or “soul” to be genres, and if you didn’t really care about the corporate bit. Similar in style to Twila Paris and the Winans duo, these 90’s-style tunes are written and stylized for the solo voice. And though there is a sincere feeling in these songs, the only use most churches will have for this project is perhaps a Sunday morning special. Rendezvous will reach the small niche that misses the good ol’ days, but contemporary listeners should probably take a pass. Highlights: “You’re Everything” – bethany duval

Reuben, John

  • Word of Mouth  

    The Boy vs. The Cynic took John Reuben from boy to man in the rap game. Word of Mouth is the continued journey of this lyrical wordsmith. Reuben isn’t finished provoking our minds to think beyond what we see. He waxes philosophical on tracks like “Focus” where he rhymes, “Adolescence took our wind and left us restless”. Ever the cognitive poet, Reuben challenges further on “Trying Too Hard” (i.e., “Every one of us is born a genius until we got too cool to play”). Some of the beats fall flat in effort to keep pace with Reuben’s addiction to pronunciation.  However, you get his message loud and clear. When it comes to life, “sing it like you mean it.“ Album Highlights: "Miserable Exaggeration" and "Focus" - jennifer e. jones

Rice, Chris

  • Amusing  
    Refreshing. Lyrically innovating. Amusing. Chris Rice’s new album is all that and more. With a new label, Rice is exploring sweet romance and other great mysteries of life. He’s not shy with lines like “I better finish this song / So my lips will be free,” and the melodies dance from adult contemporary to jazzy crooning and swooning. He is at the top of his songwriting game, and his new playground should give him plenty to write about. Album Highlights: “When Did You Fall,” “Amusing,” and “Lemonade” - jennifer e. jones

Riddle, Jeremy

  • Full Attention  
    Jeremy Riddle isn’t as complex as his name may allude to. His rock/piano debut, Full Attention, is out and proud about one man’s relentless pursuit of God. And he’s not afraid to over-extend himself for the Gospel. His vocals attempt to reach high heights on “Close”. After listening to the uplighting choir “Stand in Awe”, you begin to see that Riddle is modern worship through and through. “Sweetly broken, holy surrender” described not only the song by the same name but Riddle’s approach to music. There are moments during Full Attention where I worry that he may fall into the CCM trappings of heart-felt yet overused lyrics. However, catchy songs like “Call to Praise” and the passionate “What Joy is Found” are evidence that Riddle easily has what it takes to make it big in the Christian arena. Album Highlights: “What Joy is Found” and “Close” - jennifer e. jones

Robbie Seay Band

  • Give Yourself Away
    Robbie Seay knows how to write songs that make you remember exactly where you were when you heard them. Just as the first notes of his breakout album, Better Days, are burned in my mind, so are specific moments of Give Yourself Away. It’s full of worship and comfort for the soul. “New Day” is in the same vein as “Breathe Again” or “Better Days” as he sings, “I’m gonna sing this song / To let you know that you’re not alone / And if you’re like me / You need hope, coffee and melody”. You’ll feel uplifted by the soaring "Shine Your Light" and "Come Alive", while magnifying the Lord in "Go Outside". The Robbie Seay Band’s consistent blend of piano rock and lyrics to lighten your load continue to reign supreme. Album Highlights: “New Day” and “Shine Your Light” - jennifer e. jones
  • Better Days  
    The debut by the Houston-based Robbie Seay Band reminds me why I love music. The four-man band shines bright with adult contemporary introspective melodies that ease into the ears straight down to the soul. Still true to their indie roots, the Robbie Seay Band has made a singer/songwriter's dream of simple yet profound lyrics. An album that makes you reflect on your life, worship your God, and love your neighbor? It's time to start our Best of 2005 list... Album Highlights: "Better Days," "Breathing Air Again" - jennifer e. jones

Rocket Summer, The

  • Hello, Good Friend  
    It's Ben Folds with a splash of Relient K. This spunky one-man band delivers piano-driven pop/rock that's got a lot of heart. Some tracks fall flat but when it rocks, you can't deny his passion. Album Highlights: "I Was So Alone", "Around the Clock," "Never Knew" - jennifer e. jones

Rodriguez, Freddy

Light in the Darkness
Recorded in Las Vegas, artist Freddy Rodriguez believes in creating diverse array of music that reflects multiracial Body of Christ. With a mission to make is first album, Light in the Darkness, a church classic, Rodriguez does what it takes to bring it into full fruition. With a joyful beginning, “We lift Our Hands” had me jumping in my seat. Throughout the rest of the album, songs consisted of a collaboration of instruments such as the electric guitar and the piano. Some songs even carried me away with a Latin style. “I Will Run” and “Alive With You” provokes the listeners to cry, lift their hands, and partake in a form of deep worship. “We are Champions” carries us to the end of the album with a rather triumphant finale. - ashley card

Rosario, Joann

  • Joyous Salvation
    Growing up in Chicago with Puerto Rican roots mixed in, Joann Rosario blends her unique gospel style into her third album entitled Joyous Salvation. Offering listeners 10 new tracks, the album is clearly centered on the message of salvation presented in Isaiah 12. Song lyrics explore the holiness and glory of God in tracks such as “You are Holy” and “Glory to You”. Others express a desire for God to restore and move in the lives of His people (“Restore to Me” and “Come on Everybody”). Rosario’s voice is soothing, and it is obvious she knows how to use it. Overall, I am confident that the CD will keep past fans satisfied while also gaining new ones. Album Highlights: “Glory to You” and “Beyond” - amy nickerson

The Rubyz

  • The Rubyz
    The Rubyz self-titled debut album is good, but not great. With so many voice effects (on every song) I was left wondering if the girls really have singing talent. The best thing about the album is the message in some of the song lyrics. Because many of the lyrics in music today are unfit for teens, The Rubyz’ moral message will definitely be something fresh for their generation. The girls sing about the importance of God in the song, “In My Life” and why teens should not want to grow up too fast in a song entitled “Thirteen.” I was delighted to hear their nice rendition of the boy band “Fee” song entitled “We Shine.” Yet, it was disappointing and a bit confusing to hear a rendition of the love song “Umbrella” by R&B singer Rihanna. Overall, the girls did a decent job on their first album but they definitely still have room to grow—lots of it. Highlights: “We Shine” and “Thirteen.” – kimberly a. lilly


Sallie, Nate

  • Ruined for Ordinary
    Nate Sallie used to be this hair-gelled pop/rock singer who made music for ordinary Christian radio. Just by glancing at the shaved head on his latest album cover, anyone can tell that Sallie is a changed man with a new sound. As though he was possessed with the influences of Gavin DeGraw and Maroon5, the former poster boy for CCM bangs on the piano keys with fury. Sallie sings his heart out on such sure-fire hits as “Let Go of Me”, and it’s hard not to loosen up to the Big Easy swagger of “Look At Me Now”. But most importantly, he stands strong for Christ on every track; you’ll be strengthened by lines like, “If there’s no practice in your preach / Then it’s true, your talk is cheap” from “Undercover Belief”. I love the new Nate, and he’s ruined us all for the ordinary. Album Highlights: “Look At Me Now” and “Let Go of Me”- jennifer e. jones


  • Aware
    Salvador is no new name in the Christian music world. Through a focused dedication to their Savior and to music, the jam band is back again with their sixth studio recording, Aware. With humble lyrics from frontman Nic Gonzales and a winning combination of musical experience and spontaneity, the album offers fans another strong CD. Though not for everyone, the Latin feel and the upbeat sound of Salvador is well captured and the lyrics provide listeners with a fresh perspective on God’s universal truths.  Fans will come away with a challenge to be more aware of God in their daily lives. Album Highlights: “Aware” and “You Rescue Me” – amy nickerson
  • Dismiss the Mystery
    This is the symphony of a band that is comfortable in their sound. Instead of changing their music, Salvador sticks with their signature Latin groove… and to that, we say, “Thank you.” Dismiss the Mystery is everything you love about Salvador: jam band riffs, catchy pop hooks, and lyrics that go for God’s heart. Fans will enjoy every song especially the vibrant Spanish “Te Enaltezco Dios.” There’s a great opening track in “Now That I Have You” that sets an almost Latin jazz tone. In a departure from praise and worship, “Trying to Be the Sun” goes behind the facades that people wear to offer them hope (“I know you’re at the end of the road / But you can’t let anybody know / ’Cause you’re too busy being everybody’s everything”). Uplifting and still dance-worthy. What’s not to love? Album Highlights: “Trying to Be the Sun” and “Now That I Have You” - jennifer e. jones

Sanctus Real

  • Face of Love
    Sanctus Real’s latest offering is a case study in contrasts. While the band shows a marked maturity in their songwriting, they seem to have lost many of the melodic hooks that fueled 2004’s Fight the Tide. Much of this polarity can likely be attributed to the many personal highs and lows they have experienced of late including marriage, birth, a 2005 GMA Award, the departure of bassist Steve Goodrum, and the death of a parent. Unlike the high energy of their first two releases, The Face of Love tends to plod along without a great deal of energy. The lyrics are definitely deeper, wiser, and stronger but they are not enough to drive this album beyond the status quo. Especially strong tracks include “I’m Not Alright”, a declaration of our need for grace, and the Romans tinged “We’re Trying”. Album Highlights: "I'm Not Alright" and "We're Trying" - chris carpenter

Schultz, Mark

  • Broken & Beautiful
    Nobody can tell a story through a song like Mark Schultz. It’s hard not to give him credit for that, even though musically, he’s purely formulaic. On Broken & Beautiful, he brings the same piano-driven epic tales of life, love, and worship that launched him as worthy competition for Michael W. Smith back in 2000. This album is full of tearjerkers such as the inspirational story of Schultz’s real-life adoption on “Everything to Me.” “He’s Walking Her Home” reminds me of his big hit, “Letters from War,” in that Schultz details the moments of love that pull life together. If you’re looking for something innovative, perhaps you should look on. However, true fans of Schultz’s storytelling will fall in love with this honest release. Album Highlights: “Everything to Me” and “He’s Walking Her Home” - jennifer e. jones

Scott, Kathryn

  • I Belong
    Kathryn Scott, Northern Ireland’s well-known singer and songwriter, returns with her second album. With a mix of both catchy, contemporary tracks and slower worship songs, I Belong is honest and from the heart. However, the writing is sometimes too repetitive and unoriginal, skimming the surface instead of diving deep. For example, the song “Thank You For the Cross” repeats “Thank You, thank You for Your love that saved us… Thank You for the cross” quite a few times, and the words could easily become meaningless to the listeners. Skipping to the middle or end of the CD would be a better choice than listening to all of it. Album Highlights: “Grace Has Called My Name” and “What a Friend” - amy nickerson


  • Greatest Hymns
    If you can separate this album from the dozens of hymns put out this year, then you may enjoy it. Many songs are piano-based with a purity that allows the listener to experience the hymn unadulterated. Nicol’s vocals are stronger than ever, and the infusion of gospel, blues, and African rhythms give it extra spice. Unfortunately, its downfall is being yet another hymns project at the tail end of a tiresome trend. Album Highlights: “Amazing Grace” and “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” - jennifer e. jones
  • Bless the Broken Road: The Duets Album
    Re-recording mainstream songs that are currently popular is an easy way to get attention so I was never impressed with Selah’s decision to do “Bless the Broken Road.” The vocal trio is already fighting an uphill battle without the powerful vocals of former member Nicol Spongberg. However, they got a little help from their friends. This duet album features chart-toppers like Nichole Nordeman, Tiffany Lee of Plumb, BarlowGirl and more. In spite of selecting a few singers who are known for making rock music, Bless the Broken Road is mostly adult contemporary and almost hymn-like. There are a few surprises though. They did a haunting folk take on “All My Tears” with Kim Hill and switched it up to bluegrass rock with Jason and Adam Crabb on “Ain’t No Grave.” Kudos on the collaborations. Album Highlights: “Glory” (feat. Nichole Nordeman) and “All My Tears” (feat. Kim Hill) - jennifer e. jones

Send, The

  • Cosmos
    Falling Up graduate Joe Kisselburgh is branching out on his own with his one-man band, The Send. As debuts go, Cosmos has many impressive points. The melodic keys and addiction to a higher pitch followed him from his previous band and are a welcomed mainstay on tracks like "An Ephiphany". It’s much lighter musically than his labelmates on Tooth & Nail – very Death Cab collides with Kutless. The Send isn’t overtly Christian but lyrics leave room for spiritual exploration (“I am over feeling like I am all alone / So meet me where I am” from “Begin”). This average Joe is in a league all his own. Album Highlights: “The Fall” and “The Science of the Sky” - jennifer e. jones

Seventh Day Slumber

  • Finally Awake
    Seventh Day Slumber’s mega hit “Caroline” from their previous album really established them as the kings of the monster ballad. Now on Finally Awake, they bring more sensitive rock than you can probably handle. The slow songs on this CD make you long for the moments when it bangs your head (i.e., the crunching “Burning Bridges”, “Last Regret” and the opening track, “Awake”, that rips into this project). Those songs aside, Finally Awake is mostly slow and occasionally drags. By the final track (yet another ballad), they sing of loss over acoustic guitars very sweetly (“I’m barely hanging on with all these empty feelings”). I appreciate the sentimentality but is this hard rock or rehashed Jeremy Camp? Here’s to hoping the next Seventh Day Slumber album puts "Caroline" to rest and returns to rock. Album Highlights: “Awake” and “Missing Papers” - jennifer e. jones

Shane & Shane

  • Pages
    Soulful and soothing, intimate and inspiring, Shane and Shane’s newest release, Pages, sends you running to Jesus with your whole heart.  Lyrics like, “May a vision of You be the death of me,” and “I beg You to break through,” inspire listeners to seek Christ with everything they have. And as "Burn Us Up" pays tribute to the story of the three Hebrew children who faced death rather than deny their God, we are reminded that undying devotion is a price worth paying for the prize of greater intimacy with our Lord. If you want to draw closer to Jesus, this new CD from Shane and Shane will be a welcomed addition to your music collection. Album Highlights: "Vision of You" and "Burn Us Up" - linda michaels
  • An Evening with Shane & Shane
    The extraordinary harmonies of Shane & Shane are captured once again in this collection of live performances of fan favorites and their brand new song, “Arise”. The 2-disc set features the group’s powerful folk-worship, acoustic guitar sound and special DVD footage, including a studio tour and guitar lessons from Shane Barnard. Album Highlights: “Arise,” “Yearn,” and “The Answer” - hannah goodwyn

Sheard, Karen Clark

  • It's Not Over 

    It’s definitely not over for this gospel diva. Karen Clark Sheard sings from her gut on this album! It’s Not Over is a powerful mix of signature vocal runs and riffs from guest artists like: The legendary Clark Sisters and Israel Houghton. And, if you’re an old-school Clark Sisters’ fan, you can probably appreciate the remake of “You Brought The Sunshine” on this album. Other songs that will transcend your worship experience include “Favor” and “Show Me Your Glory.” This album offers satisfaction and hope to anyone looking for an electrifying praise & worship, Holy Ghost experience. Get the album. Highlights include: “Hallelujah” and “Be Blessed.” - terri l. simmons

Sheard, Kierra 'KiKI'

  • This Is Me 

    In spite of her traditional gospel family roots, Kierra “KiKi” Sheard did her hip-hop soul homework. This Is Me not only picks up where I Owe You left off but takes it a step higher. Your speakers will thump with the bass-heavy beats on tracks like “You’re the Only One” and “Faith.” The message of the Gospel’s absolute truth makes “It Is What It Is” a solid hit. She makes a great anthem for women of virtue in “Wrong Things” where she sings, “To whom much is given / Much is required / That means everything I see / Might not be for me.” With energy that won’t quit, this sophomore effort has everything a good R&B album needs to succeed. Album Highlights: “It Is What It Is,” “Wrong Things” and “Have What You Want” - jennifer e. jones

Shust, Aaron

  • Whispered and Shouted
    It’s difficult to think of Aaron Shust writing a worship anthem that could succeed “My Savior, My God”. But as he chants “Long live the King” on the first track of Whispered and Shouted, I believe he’s got a winner. Ditching the clichés, Shust’s new album is everything that Christian radio needs injected into its pores. You can hear it pulsating through every track – especially on “Like I Never Felt Before” and “Create Again”. His vocals sweep low, and he beats on his guitar with a relaxed confidence like Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers... as if this is all old hat to the new artist. His lyrics have perfected the art of puncturing the soul as heard on “Give Me Words to Speak”. It all culminates in the Revelations-inspired “Worthy / Let All I Do” that falls like a curtain on a follow-up album that puts the first to shame. What’s more amazing is how easy Shust makes it all look. Album Highlights: “Long Live the King” and “Worthy / Let All I Do” - jennifer e. jones
  • Anything Worth Saying
    The trouble with the guitar-playing singer/songwriter is that there are about a million other guys just like him. I spent most of Aaron Shust's first album thinking I've heard this before. He tries earnestly with a sweet contemporary sound and lyrics that are constantly chasing after God. However, with the Chris Tomlins, John Mayers, and Chris Rices of the world who have already had their say on the pop charts, Aaron -- though very talented -- is just another face in the crowd. Album Highlights: "Stillness (Speak to Me)" - jennifer e. jones


  • Comatose
    A lot of hype surrounds the release of Skillet’s new album, Comatose, and I must say, it’s well deserved. Their 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 sound build anticipation for an album that won’t disappoint. I love that lead singer John Cooper’s wife, Korey, gets a more prominent singing part on songs like “The Last Night.” They have some very Skillet-esque monster ballads in “Say Goodbye.” “Better than Drugs” drives hard the fact that Jesus is the ultimate high. 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” - jennifer e. jones

Sligh, Chris

  • Running Back to You
    Chris Sligh captures the essence of a prodigal son returning home with raw, sweet lyrics which chronicle his own spiritual journey. His songs have a familiarity that will capture your attention and tug deeply on your heart. I found myself singing along after only one or two listens to "Vessel," as if I had always known the lyrics or even wrote them myself. Seriously, from start to finish this is a solid, brilliant worship album. It’s rare that I immediately and completely connect with a musician’s work, but Chris interjects his faith into original songs with profound simplicity and beautiful musical arrangements.  I absolutely love the use of strings in the Eleanor Rigby-like song "Loaded Gun." The album takes many creative risks that will rightfully launch this former American Idol contestant into a successful career as a contemporary Christian worship songwriter and performer. I foresee much love "raining down" for Chris Sligh. Album highlights: (All songs, really) "Empty Me," "Are You Pleased," "Loaded Gun," "Vessel" – andrea hedlund

Slaughter, Alvin

  • Overcomer
    Alvin Slaughter is no new name in the world of gospel music. As a former lead vocalist of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and an internationally renowned worship artist, he has now released Overcomer, his seventh album with Integrity Music. Though not a style for everyone, Slaughter’s music expresses hope and inspiration with an energy and passion that is evident. With 15 tracks, this CD offers listeners a variety of worship music, both slow and fast, and includes a strong message that with Christ we can overcome the world. Album Highlights: “O Give Thanks” and “Power In the Name of Jesus.”  - amy nickerson

Smith, Jake

  • Real
    It’s rare to find a male guitarist/singer/songwriter who has the goods to standout from the crowd. However, Rocketown's Jake Smith has what we've been searching for. Soulful, fun, electric, and eclectic, Smith embodies the thriving New Orleans spirit with his new album Real. If you can imagine Justin Timberlake unplugged with the heart of Shawn McDonald and the party side of Paul Wright, you’re faintly touching the pulse of this newcomer. Smith can make you dance with the hip-hop chords of “Can’t Save Your Soul”, then draw a tear with the tender “Real Love”. Real is full of surprises and inspiration at every turn, and nearly every track is gold. The best new artist of the year has arrived. Album Highlights: “Can’t Save Your Soul”, “Get Up”, and “Real Love” - jennifer e. jones

Smith, Michael W.

  • A New Hallelujah 
    Following the successful live worship albums, “Worship” and “Worship Again,” Smith introduces “A New Hallelujah.” This album begins with an expansive sound, showing off its 250 voice choir and special guest, The African Children’s Choir, and if you are a Smitty fan, you’ll love it. On one hand, he introduces some great songs that are vibrant and poignant, and tries to be accessible to all kinds of worshippers, worldwide. On the other hand, if he is truly looking for a ‘new’ hallelujah, he should consider staying away from some of the rehashed cover songs. Hillsong already did Mighty to Save really well, and his Chris Tomlin and Delirious tracks are just “ok.” However, he hits some great high points like the title track, which just feels majestic as the massive choir kicks in, the tribal drum intro to Prepare Ye the Way, and his continued celebration of the nouveau hymn movement with an updated I Surrender All. – rebekah wilson
  • Stand  
    Smitty tickles the ivories again for our listening pleasure on Stand. While there were moments that I was longing for the operatic thunder of “Healing Rain,” Michael W. Smith still knows how to make a mean contemporary Christian album. His lyrics remain centered on the strength and beauty trapped inside the everyday Christian and the God who inspires it all. Musically, even after 20 plus years, Smith manages to evolve further. I didn’t think it was possibly to improve upon Keith Green’s “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” but Smith has done it. He’s near soulful while channeling his inner Stevie Wonder on “Escape Your Love”. This project certainly stands as a worthy addition to Smith’s already voluminous collection of excellence. Album Highlights: “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”, “Cover Me” and “Escape Your Love”- jennifer e. jones

Smith, Stephanie

  • Not Afraid 
    Being a new face in the music scene, 24 year old Stephanie Smith comes through with full force. Her newly released album, Not Afraid, has a rather vibrant and inspirational beginning. Starting from Smith’s first track, “Beauty”, listeners are awakened by the multifaceted pop/rock sound. The lyrics touch on self-esteem issues and the true essence of a man’s beauty. Throughout the entire album, Stephanie continues to inspire listeners. “Superstar”reiterates the message that everyone is a superstar, with an alternative twist. “You Alone” shifts gears from alternative to praise & worship, allowing listeners to bask in sweet melodies of transcendent praise. Listeners are able to engage in an aesthetic experience with the Holy Spirit. “Over It” takes it home with a more lively alternative sound. As I finished listening to the album, I felt as if I had a complete internal makeover. Stephanie Smith is truly an excellent moral example for young women.- Ashley Card

The Sonflowerz

  • All Over The World  
    Last summer, the Leander sisters, AKA the Sonflowerz, won Best Over-All Vocal Group at GMA Music in the Rockies. Now, with their latest release, we get to find out why. Featuring beautiful harmonies, similar to Point of Grace, the acoustic pop duo sings with an earnest longing for Christ that will grip the hearts of listeners. From the beginning, the album’s upbeat title track, “All Over The World,” the sisters sing of a passion for delivering God’s word to all nations. But true significance comes when they slow down for songs like “My Adoration,” which humbly celebrates the completion we find in Christ, and “Legacy,” a song dedicated to a friend who sacrificed everything and died as a missionary in Nepal. In their honest reflections, the Sonflowerz transcend simple thanks, demonstrating a yearning for God in every form. Their songs are an offering listeners will be glad to join in on. Highlights: “Edge Of My Seat,” “Legacy,” and “Cover Us.” – bethany duval


  • Glimpse  
    I was looking for a little more imagination on Sonicflood’s live CD, and I found it lacking. Sure, if you love standard, run-of-the-mill Sonicflood worship, then you’ve found your Christmas gift. The band serves up old favorites such as “Open the Eyes of My Heart” and “I Want to Know You”. However, I found myself bored with even the more upbeat songs on the album. It’s a rather short concert CD, being only nine tracks of live music with two studio songs. At the very least, I liked the bass-heavy, chilled out version of “Resonate”. You really gotta love Sonicflood in order to eat up this new release.  In any other case, I say to wait for some new material. Album Highlights: “Resonate” - jennifer e. jones
  • This Generation  
    It's an improvement over their recent offerings, but it falls short of the other praise & worship albums out there. Read the full review...

Sparks, Jordin

  • Jordin Sparks
    Yet another graduate from American Idol throws her vocal hat into the music ring. Jordin Sparks used to tour with Michael W. Smith but her debut lacks the confidence to step out. The bright potential on this album is dulled by generic production and forgettable lyrics. There is a glimmer of hope in the icy “Freeze” where she sings in a chilling whirlwind of sound. True, Sparks’ voice is a beautiful thing, however it doesn’t have an all-consuming hook such as the powerful force of fellow alum Kelly Clarkson or the raw grit of Daughtry. Jordin Sparks is just another pop album, and seriously, do we need another one? Album Highlights: “Freeze” - jennifer e. jones


  • Sleepwalkers  
    There’s a certain charm to Spur58 that draws you into their national debut release. Sleepwalkers is like The Fray with a few jagged edges of rock. The piano keys pound almost as hard as the guitars. Lyrically, there’s a lot to inspire you here. “Wake up and breathe again” is the chorus of the title track and the theme of the album. You don’t have to worry about this new band glossing over the gospel. “Sustaining Me” and “I Am Yours” are modern vertical worship songs that you could sing in your car or in the sanctuary. Although Spur58 has its moments of lazy Christian-ese, you can really see that Sleepwalkers is striving for something more than the typical here. Album Highlights: “Sleepwalkers” and “Kyle’s Lament” - jennifer e. jones


  • I Will Go 
    In their latest album since Beauty In the Broken (2006), Starfield presents a solid, heart-felt CD of modern worship songs. Although the anthems are somewhat different from the Christian pop tracks of past albums, the energy is the same in I Will Go. With a thorough look at God’s calling, Starfield encourages listeners to step outside of their comfort zones and live in a way that glorifies God. Including a remake of Hillsong United’s “Hosanna” and many new tracks that are compassionate and challenging, this album is worth the investment. Album Highlights: “Hosanna” and “I Will Go” – amy nickerson

Staton, Candi

  • I Will Sing Praise to You 
    Legendary song artist, Candi Staton, releases her first praise and worship album entitled, I Will Sing Praise to You. After a dozen gospel albums, almost 30 Billboard R &B chart singles, and Grammy nominations, Candi Staton takes listeners back to the basics of worship.  Her album consists of old school worship songs that have lasted throughout the many radical changes of the Christian music industry. “Alpha and Omega” is the prime example of a song that wrenches the heart of listeners. Though the lyrics are simple in reiterating who God is, pulling at an intimate place of one’s spirit, it rouses the listeners to yield to his presence. “Here I am to Worship” takes listeners to an even deeper level of praise. The song causes listeners to make a declaration of worship. Shifting the album in high gear, “I Will Rejoice” has a sound for the listeners to jam to. I found myself dancing in my seat; I couldn’t resist. “I Will Rejoice” is a mere reflection of God’s joy. - ashley card

St. James, Rebecca

  • aLIVE in Florida
    After more than 200 concert dates a year since '94, Rebecca St. James finally released her first Live concert CD/DVD package, aLIVE in Florida (March 20).... Read the full review.
  • If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something
    Rebecca St. James hops off the worship train and returns to her rock roots with 12 tracks that boast God-esque rhythms. It’s a good shot, and the pros and cons on this record balance each other out. Some melodies I’ve heard before (i.e., “Alive”) but the rock/techno-fused “God Help Me” is one of the best songs Rebecca’s done since “Reborn.” tobyMac spices up “Thank You” and saves it from a rather redundant chorus (“Thank you, thank you, thank you / I’ve got two words for you). Lyrically, Rebecca never reinvented the wheel, and this album is no different; however, it has a few bright spots (“I praise you in the center of the fire”). Overall, the message of love reigns supreme and makes this record a point of maturity for a CCM veteran. Album Highlights: “You Are Loved,” “God Help Me,” “Shadowlands” - jennifer e. jones

St. Louis Family Church

  • My Whole World
    St. Louis Family Church (SLFC), started in 1988 and now with over 6,500 members, has always had a passion for worship and evangelism. Now, as a collective effort, SLFC offers its debut album, My Whole World. With the talent of many skillful worship leaders and 13 live tracks including both music and prayer the CD gives listeners a full worship experience. Many churchgoers will find the album a familiar, natural sound. However, with repetitive lyrics, predictable tunes, and a chorus of voices people can easily find at their local church, this experience might be one to pass on.  Album Highlights: “My Whole World” and “Glory.”  - amy nickerson

Stapp, Scott

  • The Great Divide 

    With his signature baritone voice as strong as ever, Scott Stapp is ready to be heard in his first solo album, The Great Divide. All 10 original tracks are beautifully written songs that show the former Creed lead singer’s lyrical talent. New beginnings and freedom are its themes with Scott declaring he’s a “broken man” and a “simple man” who “learned to listen to that voice within [his] soul.” Fist-clenching questions about hard times and spiritual reflections are mixed in with the familiar post-grunge/hard rock sound Scott calls his own. This CD is for all the fans who fell in love with any of Creed’s three platinum-certified albums. Give it a try even if you didn’t appreciate his talent before because you’ll miss some great songs if you pass it up. Album highlights: “Surround Me,” “Sublime,” “The Great Divide,” and “Broken.” - hannah goodwyn


  • Beauty in the Broken 

    Just when you think worship rock has run its course on creativity, Starfield pulls Beauty in the Broken out of their hat. With the exception of a few tracks, their second album is exceptionally fascinating. You’re hooked from the first haunting piano riff of “My Generation.” “Great is the Lord” has an unrelenting beat, and those resonating guitars have a U2’s Edge tone to them. By the end, Starfield gets you with their lyrics that go the extra mile. They remind us that “nothing here’s as good as it should be / ‘cause this is the rehearsal... / I believe our secret longings / Tell us that we’re not at home” on “Love is the Reversal.” All I can say is wow. Album Highlights: “Unashamed” and “Love is a Reversal” - jennifer e. jones

Stellar Kart

  • Expect the Impossible
    This album features all the things we’ve come to expect from Stellar Kart including power pop melodies and catchy choruses. I would have liked a little more depth lyrically, but the band is right on target for their intended audience – youth. Feel-good tracks like “Sunshine” and “Shine Like the Stars,” encourage listeners to live out their faith, while “Pray” digs a little deeper into spiritual issues. Though “Eyes” is reminiscent of pop from the 1980s, it has a strong message: "All this world can offer I'll leave behind / I've had enough of being blind / open my eyes / I want to see what you see beyond these beautiful lies."  The group returns to their punk rock roots with the song “I Give Up,” which is perhaps the best track on the album. I’d love to see more songs like this from the band in the future. Album Highlights: "Innocent," "Jesus Loves You," "I Give Up" - belinda elliott
  • We Can't Stand Sitting Down
    Stellar Kart elbows their way through a sea of pop/punk bands to produce the unlikely likable We Can’t Stand Sitting Down. Rarely does a band’s sophomore album supercede their debut but the 2006 New Artist of the Year (Dove Award) did it with punked-out style. We Can’t Stand hits the ground running with a fast song about taking your time, titled “Procrastinating.” They tackle deeper topics on this album. An impressive track, lyrically, is “Only Wanted” where lead singer Adam Agee takes the role of a father hoping the best for his child (“I pray for the day you see / I tried to raise you the best I know /… I hope you don’t end up just like me”). They offer supportive friendship on “Me and Jesus” and give it all up to God on “Lose Control.” Stellar Kart matures both spiritually and musically while still maintaining their boyish charm. Album Highlights: “Me and Jesus,” “Only Wanted,” and “Angels in Chorus” -jennifer e. jones

Story, Laura

  • Great God Who Saves
    Laura Story’s chart-topping “Indescribable” became a famed anthem when Chris Tomlin sang it on his 2004 release, Arriving. In her label debut with INO records, Story uses her own voice to revolutionize the world of musical worship. Great God Who Saves is a strong collection of acoustic contemporary worship that is sung with both beauty and a unique sincerity. The upbeat “Bless The Lord” and more gentle “Grace” recognize God’s faithfulness and patience in His dealings with His followers. “There Is Nothing” expresses a simple, but earnest desire to know God with a deep and steady passion. Fans of “Indescribable” will be happy to see not only its inclusion on the album, but also “Immortal, Invisible,” which expresses similar lyrical sentiments. This is an album for which every worship leader should be on the look-out. Album Highlights: “There Is Nothing,” “Indescribable,” and “Mighty To Save.” – bethany duval


  • Everything and More
    Gotee showcases hard rock with melody in their latest debut artist StorySide:B. Everything and More reminds me of a mix between the Pillar of late and the Creed of old – strong vocals on rock hard songs that breathe with a sense of desperation for the divine. It’s good but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before. I wonder if StorySide:B has found their own voice when I hear acoustic ballads like “More to This Life.” While it’s not their strong suit, their lyrics reach for a certain depth (“Don’t try to judge / Just try to forgive / Because we all have mistakes / We live with” from “You’re Not Alone”). My hope is that they stand out more in concert because on CD, this band blends into the crowd. Album Highlights: “Everything and More” - jennifer e. jones


  • Murder by Pride by Stryper
    Sometimes the more things change the more they sound the same. Featuring the same heavy metal harmonies and blistering guitar work that made them a secular crossover hit in the 1980s, Stryper has returned to the music scene with their first recording of new material since 2005’s Reborn. Older, wiser, and with slightly less hair, the Yellow and Black Attack has seemingly not missed a beat with Murder by Pride. Frightening album cover aside, Murder by Pride is chock full of full-throttle music that will satisfy older fans while winning over scores of new ones. Album Highlights: “I Believe”, “Run in You”, and the ballad “Alive” (a song that will have people reminiscing about “Honestly”) - chris carpenter


  • Rock What You Got
    Superchick explores new ground with their latest album, Rock What You Got, and once again they deliver a fantastic collection of inspiring tunes. The project features powerful anthems similar to those found on their last albums, but composed with even more energy to form a sound that the band is calling “rock-o-tronic.” In the lively rock tunes “Rock What You Got” and “Alive” the band encourages listeners to embrace the talents and gifts that God has given them and live life to the fullest. In softer ballads like “Hold,” “Breathe” and “Crawl” the band urges Christians to be confident that God will see them through even when times are tough. For Superchick fans, this is a CD you don’t want to be without! Album Highlights: “Rock What You Got,” “Alive,” “Hold”  - belinda elliott
  • Beauty from Pain
    An anthem-filled, non-stop coaster with the clear message for anyone going through tough times: "There will be a dawn." Read the full review...

Swift, The

  • Singing Back to You
    It’s difficult to get around the CCM box that The Swift has painted itself in. Much like their earlier contemporary worship songs, Singing Back to You runs in the same vein with near repetitive consistency. While they sing with all their might, there’s not enough originality in Singing to be arresting or even mildly entertaining. That’s not to say that this album doesn’t have its moments. I love how the guitars echo as if in a hallow hall on “Make Known.” Your heart will be lifted up as Britt Edwards sings, “When hope is lost / I’ll call you Savior / When silence falls / You’ll be the song in my heart” (“When the Tears Fall”). Their heart’s in the right place; I’m just waiting for their music to get there too. Album Highlights: “Make Known” and “When the Tears Fall” - jennifer e. jones


  • Oh! Gravity.
    Every blue moon, a band deserves the hype surrounding a new release. Simply put, these guys can deliver every time. Switchfoot is one of those bands. Oh! Gravity., the oddly punctuated yet poignant CD, is a road trip through the mind of frontman Jon Foreman. It’s a spiritual journey that will take you from faithless doubt in humanity to finding faith in God alone. They haven’t written a better title track since “Beautiful Letdown”, and it’s among the best opening tracks ever heard. From the descriptive dreamscape of “Faust, Midas, and Myself” to the dirt road religion of “Dirty Second Hands”, every track on this CD is solid gold. If certain oddities in life get better with age, Switchfoot is the fine wine of both CCM and mainstream music. Album Highlights: “Circles”, “Dirty Second Hands”, “Awakening” (oh, just go buy the CD) - jennifer e. jones
  • Nothing Is Sound
    This highly anticipated follow-up by Switchfoot is far from a letdown. Written and recorded on the road, it is a spiritual journey for the band members. Switchfoot reveals the vulnerability and fears which exist in all of us. Playing off the album’s title, Nothing is Sound, the lyrics reveal a deep desire to understand what it means to be sound or free from moral defect and worthy of confidence. Powerful lyrics such as “I have been thinking about the meaning of resistance, of a hope beyond my own” have spiritual undertones that take us beyond our own understanding. Switchfoot compels us to accept our brokenness and use it for God’s glory as they remind us, “Blessed is the man who’s lost it all.” Album Highlights: "Stars," "Happy is a Yuppie Word," "The Shadows Prove the Sunshine," "The Blues," and "We Are One Tonight" - andrea d. hicks


Take 6

  • Feels Good  
    I can’t stop listening to this album. There’s something about smooth and soulful acappella that makes me appreciate music a lot more. Take 6 generates a lot of energy on Feels Good by using harmony in a way most have never heard before; worth noting, the songwriting is very expressive. If you can appreciate jazz and acappella, then you will appreciate this new album by Take 6. “More Than Ever” is probably the best track on the album; you’ll play that one again and again. Highlights: “More Than Ever” and “Lamb of God” - terri l. simmons


  • Bone-A-Fide  
    If you think Kanye West is hip-hop’s saving grace, think again. T-Bone returns with his Bone-A-Fide 8th CD, and we all throw up a big “Thank God.” From tight beats to T-Bone’s smooth flow, the tracks on Bone-A-Fide are just that. T-Bone and his boys spared no lyrical expense with solid rhyme-writing like: “See, I’m all for Jesus / But I’m nothing like Mase / I’m too ghetto and gutter / But covered with His grace” on the song “A Few Good Men” (and I couldn’t help but include this quick line: “They hear me spit and they’re like, Holy toledo / ‘Cause when it comes to rappin’ I’m the one like Neo”). With a classic West Coast sound, T-Bone’s not shy about his skills or the fact that they come straight from God. He keeps his raps Christ-centered without the shady or generic references to “the man upstairs.” In this world where mediocre rhymes are making the charts on both the Christian and mainstream rap charts, T-Bone gives hip-hop a second chance. Album Highlights: “Let That Thang Go,” “Can I Live,” “Ya’ll Can’t Win,” and much more - jennifer e. jones

Ten Shekel Shirt

  • Jubilee 
    You know the songs: The duds in the middle of the album, or the ones tacked onto the end. You listen to them once, skip them for the next month, and finally listen to them again, only to decide they really aren’t that bad. This sums up the experience of Ten Shekel Shirt’s latest album, Jubilee. Focusing on the release God gives us from our pasts, the band has written thoughtful lyrics in a gentle rock format. Songs consider healing from abuse (“Fragile”), starting over after straying from God (“Love From a Lesser God”), and the abolitionist’s mission (“It’s Slavery”). Unfortunately, the album lacks energy and musical variation. All but one of the songs have that end-of-the-album “Let’s calm down, now” feel, and 43 minutes of that can only be one thing: boring. Highlights: “Spark” and “Wartime Lullaby” – bethany duval

Tenth Avenue North

  • Over and Underneath 
    Though Over and Underneath is Tenth Avenue North’s debut record, many will recognize them from their hit single “Love is Here,” which is already making its mark on Christian radio. Listing to the album, it is clear that songwriter Mike Donehey and the band offer a successful mix of honest lyrics, memorable melodies, and a desire to use their musical abilities for Christ. The rock/worship songs will not only give listeners the opportunity to glorify God, but will also give insight into Christ’s own view of humanity (especially songs: “By Your Side” and “Beloved”). Tenth Avenue North is a band that is sure to make an impression in the years to come. Album Highlights: “Love Is Here,” “Let It Go,” and “You Are” – amy nickerson

Third Day

  • Revelation  
    The Georgia-based band returns to its Southern rock roots with this latest album. The band has gone on record as saying the project was an attempt to start fresh and recreate the band’s sound. The result is an album that combines Third Day’s popular rock style with a new level of vulnerability in their lyrics. Their powerful “Call My Name” offers hope to people going through tough times, while tracks like “This Is Who I Am” explore our need for God to be continuously working in our lives. The album also features performances from Chris Daughtry, Flyleaf’s Lacey Mosely, and guitarist Robert Randolph. Revelation is a must have for Third Day fans. Album Highlights: “Call My Name,” “This is Who I Am,” “Slow Down,” and “Run to You” - belinda elliott
  • Christmas Offerings  
    In the late 1980s Michael W. Smith released an energetic, uplifting song called “Goin Thru the Motions”. Smitty’s musical work implored listeners not to settle for the mundane realities of the world but to always do their best. Sadly, Third Day’s Christmas Offerings can best be described as "Goin Thru the Motions". Sure, Mac Powell’s earthy croon is in fine form, but the disc itself falls flat. Four unimaginative originals coupled with a paint-by-numbers rendering of such classic carols as “Silent Night”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, and “Joy to the World” make this a very ordinary Christmas collection. This is a must-have disc for hardcore Third Day fans and nobody else. - chris carpenter
  • Wherever You Are  
    Wherever You Are is best summed up in its opening track “Tunnel” when Mac Powell sings: “You’ve got your disappointments and sorrows / I’m gonna try to give a little hope to you.” On this ninth go-‘round, Third Day digs deep into life’s pain with unapologetic disillusionment. Without sugar-coating tragedy, they write lyrics from a broken heart (i.e., “Yesterday I found / That everything I knew was wrong”), and you can hear it in Mac’s voice on every song. In the face of suffering, Wherever You Are also clings desperately to Christ and offers steadfast love for life’s mysteries. This album is the perfect blend of doubt and faith and arguably Third Day’s best songwriting to date. Album Highlights: “How Do You Know,” “Mountain of God,” and if “Rise Up” doesn’t move you, check your pulse. - jennifer e. jones

This Beautiful Republic

  • Perceptions 
    This Beautiful Republic’s sophomore project, Perceptions, has something for everyone. It offers hard-hitting “screamer” songs like “No Turning Back,” a song about finding freedom from addictions and “My God,” about pursuing God rather than selfish desires. For those that like their rock a little softer, the album also offers tracks with more of a pop/rock sound on “Learning to Fall,” which calls Christians to surrender all of themselves to God and “Beautifully Broken,” which celebrates God’s sacrificial love. Amidst their catchy choruses and guitar riffs are thought-provoking lyrics as in “For the Life of Me.” For the life of me I can’t explain the reason You died and the reason You came was for the life of me. What do You see in me? I’m a leper not a king. Rock fans will want to add this to their collection.  Album Highlights: “Learning to Fall,” “Beautifully Broken,” “My God,” “For the Life of Me” – belinda elliott

Thousand Foot Krutch

  • The Flame in All of Us 
    TFK brings their holy rage like a fire on their fourth studio project. A few weaker tracks (particularly the trite “Wish You Well”) try to pull this album down a few rungs on the ladder, but it continues to climb and has the potential to soar. “My Home” is the obvious breakout hit in my opinion with heart-on-sleeve love for the things that give us stability. There is an ‘90s grunge to “Learn to Breathe” that I haven’t heard since early Pearl Jam, while the tumbling drums and chants on “InHuman” make me wonder if the Canadian rock stars slipped a little Marilyn Manson into their listening repertoire. With experimental vocal inflections plus a wrestling sound musically that keeps you guessing, The Flame In All of Us  burns bright and strong. Album Highlights: “Learn to Breathe” and “My Home” - jennifer e. jones
  • The Art of Breaking  
    It's 11 tracks of pure "rawk" music with plenty of anthems -- an album well worth the wait. Read the full review...


  • Portable Sounds  
    Just when you think that TobyMac ran out of tricks up his sleeve, the man who makes magic with music presents Portable Sounds. Toby gives this album everything he’s got and still leaves you wanting more. The first track invites you to the party with a message of “one world, one love.” Once inside, Toby shares his devotion to the lost (“Face of the Earth”), his family (“No Signal”), and his God (“Lose My Soul”). And if that’s not enough, the rap/rock anthem “Ignition” will make you come alive. In true Toby style, the renassiance man marries a Christ-centered message with relevant beats. So rest assured, when TobyMac says he’s “all in”, it’s the safest bet you can make. Album Highlights: “Ignition” and “One World” - jennifer e. jones

Tomlin, Chris

  • Hello Love 
    Chris Tomlin has a remarkable ability to pen worshipful messages from the heart and lift our eyes toward heaven. He does this again with his new album. While it’s difficult to top his worship anthems, “How Great is Our God” and “Amazing Grace: My Chains are Gone,” there is plenty to love here. “Jesus Messiah,” the album’s first single, is a captivating tune about Christ’s rescue of sinners by His sacrifice on the cross. Another powerful track, “I Will Rise,” celebrates how God has defeated death and offers us victory over the grave. The inspiring lyrics of “God of This City,” are sure to make this song an anthem used at Christian events worldwide. Other upbeat worship tracks like “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and “You Lifted Me Out,” round out the album along with a new rendition of an old hymn, “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.” Hello Love will quickly become another favorite from this astounding artist. Album highlights: “Jesus Messiah,” “I Will Rise,” “God of This City” – belinda elliott


  • Sunday! 

    Tree63’s fifth album is like a fight song for the suffering. With peppy, almost punk/ska-like beats and catchy guitar riffs, Sunday! is packed with contagious joy. It urges us to embrace the real hope we have in Jesus Christ, while holding us accountable for social injustices in our society. The epitome of the album lies in “Alright,” a hymn for their beloved home, South Africa (and anyone struggling, really).  “Alright” reminds us that this – our seemingly unrelenting problem - too shall pass; “Though darkness overcomes you now / Morning will break through somehow.”  The already popular single “Sunday” offers a spirit of optimism by reiterating the promises of the cross. “Becoming” and “The Revolution” are a call against apathy and offer an honest self-examination of the church body. Album Highlights: “Alright”, “Becoming”, “Sunday”- andrea d. hedlund

  • Worship Volume One: I Stand for You 

    For those unfamiliar with Tree63, it may take a few listens before this album will grow on you. Some of the songs just are not memorable. But overall, the ebb and flow of slower ballads and upbeat worship tunes is nicely arranged. The album begins and ends on a likeable note, as the album concludes with a short cover of “Amazing Grace.” Audience participation in live tunes such as “Treasure,” “Joy,” and “King” definitely add a rocking vibe to Tree 63’s rendition of worship music. Album Highlights: “I Stand for You,” “Nothing But the Blood,” “Look What You’ve Done” - andrea d. hicks

Trent, Tammy

  • Stronger 

    Tammy Trent’s fourth album, Stronger, is one of hope amidst pain. It is about restoration after sorrow and beauty out of ashes. And who better to sing of tragedy than one who has experienced it? A few years ago Trent’s husband of 11 years passed away in a tragic diving accident. Now, the artist has slowly embraced and shared the light that has come through the darkness. Though this album is nothing new (with the normal Christian message, a sound like Point Of Grace, and predictable melodies), it is clear that God has worked in Trent’s life so that He can work through her to reach others. For that alone, this CD is worth a look at. Album Highlights: “Rain On Me” and “I’m Letting Go” – amy nickerson

  • I See Beautiful 

    Tammy Trent’s R&B/Pop flavor hasn’t changed since she lit up CCM in the late ‘90s… and that’s the problem. She sounds exactly the same and is stuck on a sound that was hip 10 years ago. I See Beautiful is over synthesized and doesn’t let Trent’s voice really stand on its own. It’s not until further into the CD that Trent gets a chance to shine. “Forgive Me” is a heartfelt, at-the-foot-of-the-altar ballad where she sings, “Forgive me / Once again cover me / ‘Cause I don’t even know why / Your mercy never dies / But I’m glad.” It flows seamlessly into “Run into the Arms of Love,” a song that offers hope for the repentant sinner. This release is disappointing only because we know she’s much more talented than she lets on. Album Highlights: “Forgive Me” - jennifer e. jones

Troccoli, Kathy

  • The Story of Love  
    This Story of Love reads like two different tales. In one story, you have Troccoli as we’ve known her recently: the soothing ballad-singing CCM goddess. In the other story, we have a sultry jazz songstress whose music fits in any smoky club. “Pick Yourself Up” and “I Cor 13” are mellow tunes that are more like Diana Krall rather than what we’re used to from Troccoli. She even adds her Italian spice to the vocal standard “The Glory of Love”. Yet she bows to the old traditions with sleepy songs like “Psalm 34” and “Friend for Life”.  They’re good but now we know they can be better. I vote to lose the adult contemporary tunes and go all jazz. I’ve seen a side of Troccoli that should take her into her next 20 years of ministry. Album Highlights: “The Glory of Love” and “I Cor  13” - jennifer e. jones
  • Comfort  
    This album is appropriately titled. If you are in need of 50 minutes of comfort, then this album might be for you. Kathy sets a mood with the first song that carries throughout the album, which is fine, again, if you are in a quiet and contemplative mood. Normally a comfort song or two is nice, and quite enough for me. This is comfort overkill. With so little variation in this work it was hard to distinguish one song from the next. As I played this album in the background for the first time as I always do, I actually stopped at one point to check and see if I was listening to one long song. With so little tempo variation it fails to draw you in. It’s just too slow. So, if you are not in the mood, take a pass on Comfort. - tim crowley

Tumes, Michelle

  • Michelle Tumes  
    A new Michelle Tumes means only one thing: more synthesized, Enya-esque melodies to swirl through your ears like a whirlwind. Tumes is an acquired taste, and you have to dig this kind of music to enjoy her lastest offering. The album is short with the longest song barely going over four minutes and thirty seconds. It’s pretty standard Tumes without too many detours from the sound she perfected on Center of My Universe, Listen and Dream. My fear is that she’s grown stagnant. Celtic dreamscapes like “Caelum Infinitum” and “Yearning” are solid songs, although a little overdone. On her aptly self-titled project, Tumes presents herself in true form for true fans  only. Album Highlights: “Hold On to Jesus” - jennifer e. jones


Unger, Justin

  • Disengage 

    After a two-year break from the music industry, former Across the Sky member Justin Unger is going solo with his newest album, Disengage. Piano-driven pop with a guitar-given edge, Disengage is an album of devotion to God. The title track gives the message of Luke 9:23-26: You have to lose your life to gain it. With this in mind, the rest of the album allows listeners to lose themselves in praise to God for His greatness and enduring faithfulness. In “Everything” Unger sings, “Everything You said You would do, You’ve already done.” And “In God Alone” proclaims God’s unique deity. Unfortunately, the use of these timeless messages means that Unger’s album isn’t very unique. His style is pleasant and his words are encouraging, but they don’t challenge the listener. It makes for nice listening today, but it will probably be forgotten in a year or two. Highlights: “Disengage,” and “Fly.” - bethany duval

Until June

  • Until June  

    Until June has something to offer all year long. With heady, high-pitched vocals that remind me of my REO Speedwagon days, these Phoenix natives embody neo-'80s L.A. pop that goes deeper than the surface to reveal the heart inside. Their debut self-titled album announces its long-awaited arrival with “Sleepless”, a great track where lead singer Josh Ballard remembers feelings of love lost. “What I’ve Done” longs for forgiveness while “Outer Space” longs for a deeper, God-like perspective. Pianos and guitars mix like a touch of Snow Patrol and Coldplay, especially on “You Do” and “Unnoticed”. Lovers of non-typical Christian music will breathe a sigh of relief that says, “Thank God ‘June’ is here.” Album Highlights: “Sleepless” and “You Do” - jennifer e. jones

Upton, Jason

Utecht, Ben

  • Ben Utecht by Ben Utecht
    When you think of NFL players and music, sports fans can’t forget the ’85 Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle”, and often try to forget about the ill-fated rap release from Deion “Prime Time” Sanders. But, unlike his gridiron predecessors, Ben Utecht is no novelty. Utecht is best known as a Super Bowl-winning tight end, but his debut album, released through Word Distribution, shows the Cincinnati Bengal’s other passion—worship. His songs are carefully-written, sincere testaments to his faith. Though the album doesn’t break any new ground stylistically, Utecht is a talented singer. Check out the album opener, “Generation”, where Utecht displays a Jeremy Camp-like ability for a catchy chorus. Other Album Highlights: “Heal Me” and “Run to You” - jesse carey


Various Artists

  • Glory Road Original Soundtrack 

    Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and the late Marvin Gaye sing on an all-star playlist for the soundtrack to the motion picture... Read the full review.

  • Gospel Superfest
    The album consists of a collection of songs performed by well-known gospel artists that have made a tremendous mark on the music industry, including Karen Clark Sheard, Tye Tribbett, Trinitee 5:7, Melvin Williams, Shirley Murdock, and more. From Karen Sheard’s, “It’s Not Over” to the down home black gospel sounds of Jones Hall and Worship & Praise’s “Deep Down In My Heart”. The album takes you back to the familiar sounds of black gospel music, which fans are sure to love. Album Highlights: "Deep Down in My Heart" and "The Lord's Prayer." - ashley card
  • Hip Hope Hits 2009
    Hip Hope Hits 2009 is a refreshing CD. Refreshing in that it is a lyrically clean CD full of good, understandable, Christ glorifying rap music! The album features well-known Christian rap artists such as Canton Jones, TobyMac, KJ-52, and other really good artists. Hip Hope Hits 2009 will make a great gift for grade school aged children who enjoy rap music and are making an attempt to follow Christ. Likewise, the album will be much appreciated by young adults, and the young at heart that favor rap music. Album Highlights: "What You Want," "One World" and "I Call Him G.O.D." - kimberly a. lilly
  • How Great Thou Art: Live From The Grand Ole Opry
    Country music fans will love this album. The collection is a celebration of the gospel music that is performed regularly at the Grand Ole Opry each year by some of country music’s biggest stars. It features 12 gospel songs recorded live by various artists including the Charlie Daniels Band with Third Day’s Mac Powell, Alan Jackson, Patty Loveless, Trace Adkins, Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, and Carrie Underwood. For many of the artists who grew up singing in church, the project is a return to their roots. Mac Powell’s powerful voice shines in the top-tapping "I’ll Fly Away," and Vince Gill offers a stirring rendition of "Give Me Jesus." Carrie Underwood provides an inspiring performance of the album’s title track, "How Great Thou Art." Other album highlights include "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" and "Just a Closer Walk with Thee." - belinda elliott
  • Night Owls Vol. 4: A Shot in the Dark
    This album is worth staying up for. Night Owls Vol. 4 features 20 tracks from the best and the brightest of the hip-hop underground. There’s not a lot of filler or unnecessary bravado on this compilation. Just straight rap. Even the pickiest hip-hop head will enjoy the “back-in-the-day” flow on “California Soul” by Maximillian. LA Symphony’s CookBook and UNO Mas drop their trademark brilliance with “Always Shine”. And try not to break your neck to the marching band beats of “We Will Not Stop” by theBREAX featuring LMNO of Visionaries. This army of holy rap artists are poised to take over the world. So if anyone needs a lesson in “New School”, this is how it’s done. Album Highlights: “California Soul” (featuring Maximillian”) and “We Will Not Stop” (featuring theBREAX and LMNO of Visionaries) - jennifer e. jones
  • Rendezvous 

    Created in response to the Frank Moore Bible study, Rendezvous is a compilation of worship music selected with personal and corporate use in mind. The goal of the project is to take the church beyond musical genres and preferences, to a place where only passion for God matters. Great—if you don’t consider “inspirational” or “soul” to be genres, and if you didn’t really care about the corporate bit. Similar in style to Twila Paris and the Winans duo, these 90’s-style tunes are written and stylized for the solo voice. And though there is a sincere feeling in these songs, the only use most churches will have for this project is perhaps a Sunday morning special. Rendezvous will reach the small niche that misses the good ol’ days, but contemporary listeners should probably take a pass. Highlights: “You’re Everything” – bethany duval

  • Underground Sound
    Executive Producer Paul Wright, who helped create the popular Wow series, now brings listeners a new collection of songs from the top 15 independent Christian recording artists. The first volume of Underground Sound is a well thought out mix of some of the best quality in underground Christian music. The album provides a broad variety of tracks; songs by bands and solo artists, rock beats and acoustic stylings, and edgy themes and worshipful lyrics. Though most listeners won’t like everything on the CD, it does offer many fans of Christian music a bit of education in the vast area of Christian, independent musicians. Album Highlights: “Something Wrong” by Separated and “Ruin Me” by the Jeff Johnson Band - amy nickerson
  • WOW Gospel 2009
    WOW Gospel 2009 is filled with numerous hit songs. Many of the 2008 and 2009 chart-topping songs are featured including Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It,” which is currently the number one Gospel album on the Billboard chart. A variety of favored Gospel artists such as, Smokie Norful, The Clark Sisters, Shekinah Glory Ministry, and more make up the two disc CD set. So if you are a Gospel music lover seeking all your favorites on one album, then WOW Gospel 2009 is a must have. Album Highlights: "Even Me," "Never Would Have Made It," and "Jesus" - kimberly a. lilly

Velasquez, Jaci

  • Love Out Loud
    With a record contract at age 14, 13 albums since then, and 16 hit singles, it is clear that Jaci Velasquez is no new name in the Christian music industry. Her latest album, Love Out Loud, serves as another project to add to her success. A little older and a little wiser, Velasquez explores the broad concept of love on her debut release on her self-owned recording company. The new CD smoothly offers listeners a healthy, upbeat outlook on both God’s love and man’s. Through covering Jaci’s feelings for her husband in “A Likely Story” and “Tango” to her relationship with Christ in “Jesus (The Way)”, the album invites listeners to love out loud. With traces of her Latin background, honest lyrics, and a great overarching theme, this album is sure to please Velasquez’s many fans. Album Highlights: “Nothing But Sky” and “Love Out Loud” – amy nickerson
  • Beauty Has Grace  
    She's back but don’t get too excited. Beauty Has Grace, though boasting both qualities, has neither of the two. Read the full review...


  • Free
    It seems like the ladies are very serious about "being real" this time out. Their past CDs have been glossy, but this one seems more transparent. Read the full review...


Walker, Tommy

  • I Have a Hope 

    Though I Have A Hope is Tommy Walker’s first nationally released studio project, this singer/songwriter has over 15 years of experience. With a background in worship leading and 8 live recordings, Walker now proclaims his reason for hope in this new album. The tracks offer a full worship experience giving listeners strong Biblical-based lyrics and Christian messages. However, some may find themselves wishing for more of Walker’s smooth voice and acoustic guitar and less of the background vocalists and choirs. Album Highlights: “I Have A Hope” and “In the Light of Your Glory” – amy nickerson


  • A Grateful People 

    Watermark, the minstrels of praise, collected their best to prove that they truly are "a grateful people." This greatest hits/live album is worth the purchase for the title track only. Chris Tomlin lends his vocals on a nice medley of “A Grateful People / Bless the Lord.” The Nockels also give us spirited live versions of favorites such as “Gloria/Friend for Life” and “Take Me There” that truly display the purity of Christy’s voice. Fans also get some of their early hits like “More Than You’ll Ever Know” and “In the Garden (There Is None Like You).” It may not be awe-inspiring but it’s good Watermark worship through and through and an essential for fans of their work. Album Highlights: “A Grateful People / Bless the Lord” - jennifer e. jones

Webb, Derek

  • The Ringing Bell  

    Like his label mate, Sara Groves, Derek Webb is a master with words. His previous album, Mockingbird, was sheer genius, setting him up to raise the bar for The Ringing Bell. Fortunately for us, Derek delivers better than Fed Ex. No stranger to controversy, Derek releases his inner John Lennon and strips away our false conceptions about real world Christianity. The Ringing Bell resounds through 10 short tracks and ironically starts with “The End”. He throws a few political jabs on “Savior on Capitol Hill”, and he gives another sexy ode to his wife on “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again”. With razor sharp edges and a thinking man’s compassion, I’m glad he’s on our side. Album Highlights: “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again” and “The Very End” - jennifer e. jones

  • Mockingbird 

    Derek Webb is like the pied piper of CCM with his latest release Mockingbird. While the album is largely acoustic and light on the musical flare, Derek put all of his creative energy into his lyrics – and it pays off. Mockingbird is a cognitive adventure that digs deeply into social, political and even romantic issues. He takes shots at self-indulgent ignorance in “A New Law” (“I don’t want to know if the answers aren’t easy”) and protests the war in “My Enemies Are Men Like Me” (“Peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication”). In true Dylan fashion, Webb keeps it purposely simple to let his message shine through. A lyrical masterpiece. Album Highlights: “Please Before I Go” and “Love Is Not Against the Law” - jennifer e. jones

West, Matthew

  • Something to Say 

    He almost lost his voice, and now he’s helping others find theirs on Something to Say. Matthew West gives it his all on his third album. Lyrics have always been this songwriter’s strong suit, and his fans will enjoy more insights from his journey on such songs as the title track and “You Are Everything”. While the melodies are fairly standard for adult contemporary Christian radio, there is a sense that West is going for broke this time around (i.e., “I don’t care if I break / At least I’ll be feeling something” from "The Motions"). You also get a glimpse inside the head of a new father on "Safe and Sound". Looking for an album to lift your spirits beyond your circumstances? West is pointing you towards the light. Album Highlights: “You Are Everything” and “Safe and Sound” - jennifer e. jones

Wickham, Phil

  • Phil Wickham
    Phil Wickham tosses his hat into the singer/songwriter game with his debut self-titled album. It’s very Chris Tomlin meets John Mayer meets, sadly, everything that's already been done to death. In an industry that is already chock-full of guys who sing and play guitar, Phil’s novelty factor is a bit dim. However, it’s not for a lack of trying. “I Will Wait For You” showcases some strong vocal talent, and his heart that longs after the Father is evident throughout (especially when he sings: “I want to hear the thunder of who You are” in “Mystery”). Phil Wickham gives it his all but it’s just not enough to set him apart. Album Highlights: “I Will Wait For You” - jennifer e. jones

Winans, CeCe

  • Purified
    This woman needs no introduction! In her trailblazing seventh solo album, Purified, CeCe Winans transforms the power of gospel music with celestial melodies, street R&B and infectious elements of pop. Inspiring and passionate, Purified offers street-savvy tracks like “Pray” and “A Place Like This” for any listener looking for spiritual intimacy. When you listen to the CD, you’ll notice the refreshing element of love throughout each song. Simply put, CeCe Winans’ new CD is all-of-dat…and a bag of chips! Album Highlights: “All That I Need” and “Purified.” - terri l. simmons

Winans, Marvin

  • Image of a Man
    M2 Entertainment releases the new album Image of a Man by artist, Marvin Winans. The album is an in-depth look at what a man is and what a man should be, as the artist states, “I think people are searching for who they are and their purpose in life.”  Immediately, while listening to the first track, “Lord Do It”, I was swayed by the beat. Marvin Winans most definitely gives off an R &B artist image. Each song had beat for the listeners to jam to. “It’s Been So Long” has a bit of a slow jam feel to it, while “Steps To A Man” presents more of symphonic melody. Many of Winans songs are reflections of a man’s mistakes of the flesh and internal battles. They are songs that touch on issues that individuals are too invulnerable to talk about in a casual conversation. I found myself many times being able to relate to these battles. From this album, listeners will feel that they are not alone. - ashley card

Woods, Ayiesha

  • Love Like This
    After rocking the charts with her debut album, Ayiesha Woods continues her dancey beats with Love Like This. Full of originality, Woods takes on the theme of love from every angle. Starting with the title track, God is praised for His unfathomable attentions to Christians, but in “One Day,” Woods also speaks of the patient love God has for the unsaved. And in “Love Can’t Wait,” she calls the rest of us to demonstrate this love as well. Throughout the album, Woods keeps the same upbeat attitude listeners originally fell in love with. A pop collection with a touch of rock here, and bit of techno there, Love Like This is a fun album that’s great for praising God or just dancing around the house. Ayiesha has done it again. Highlights: “Love Can’t Wait,” “Never” and “Because of You.” – bethany duval
  • Introducing Ayiesha Woods
    Gotee recording artists are known for the way they twist and turn their music to morph into new genres. So it was a little disappointing to hear the first few tracks of Introducing Ayiesha Woods and feel like I was listening to another Nichole C. Mullen. Thank God it runs off the adult contemporary road by the fifth song, an energetic Jamaican romp called “Crazy.” By the soothing R&B groove of “What You Do to Me” and the urban block party feel of “Days,” I’m diggin’ Ayiesha again. The diversity on Introducing is refreshing but Woods could easily loose the adult contemporary/rock songs to have a pitch-perfect debut release. Album Highlights: “Crazy” and “What You Do to Me” - jennifer e. jones

Worth Dying For

  • Worth Dying For
    The mission of rock worship band Worth Dying For is to be not just a band, but a youth movement that can shake generations.  They are definitely making an impact as one day after the release of their first nationally distributed CD they were number two in the Christian/Gospel section of iTunes.  Their passion for God is clear in the message of their songs.  Their song “Take Me” is an encouragement to those struggling through difficult times in their life.   There is no doubting the message this group wants to convey as they sing, “Empty me for I am broken for Your glory.  In all I do praise will be brought to your name ‘cause I love you Jesus”.    This unique group is writing new songs with an original sound.  Although an album geared for a younger generation, this pop alternative rock CD has something for everyone. – lisa webber

Wright, Paul

  • Wright or Wrong These Songs are Paul's
    Is it just me or is Paul Wright sounding more like tobyMac with every album? Wright or Wrong mixes rap, disco, and acoustic pop in such a gumbo-fashion that it all comes together for a yummy EP. While still maintaining his youthful care-free licks, you can see a little bit of growth in this artist musically. He is sure to make the girls swoon with love-letter songs like “Radio”. I wasn’t fond of the breathy “Hold Me”, but the vulnerability he shows on “My Cards” (“It’s hard to have a girlfriend / I really want a good friend,” he sings) helps keep this album afloat. I love the touches of maturity, and hopefully it points us towards an even better Paul Wright album in the future. That aside, I still hope this Peter Pan never grows up. Album Highlights: “Saturday” and “My Cards” - jennifer e. jones
  • Sunrise to Sunset
    Paul further perfects his brand of summertime, easy acoustic hip-hop. Sunrise to Sunset is purposely light with fun tracks made for the beach-bound. He sings a little more than he did on Fly Away but his love for getting the crowded hyped hasn't changed. The novelty of this genre has waned with the crowding of Shawn McDonald and Mat Kearney but Paul still delivers for the beach bum in all of us. Album highlights: "Heaven," "I Can Feel Your Love" - jennifer e. jones


Yohe, Vicki

  • He's Been Faithful 
    A blonde singing black gospel? I was skeptical. But Dove Award-nominated singer Vicki Yohe, whose rendition of Martha Munizzi’s “Because of Who You Are” became a radio sensation in 2004, pulls it off with great flair and sensitivity, exhibiting her wide vocal dynamics from gentle sweetness to husky power. This 11-song set isn’t just a beautiful example of vocal virtuoso, however. More than anything, Yohe’s Holy Spirit-driven He’s Been Faithful testifies to her rich relationship with the Lord. What comes through is God’s power to energize, soothe, and heal. Whether she is “raising the roof” with the accompanying choir or speaking solo from the depths of her soul, Yohe will minister to both praise & worship and gospel lovers alike. Album Highlights: “Highest Praise,” “In the Sanctuary,” “In the Presence of Jehovah,” “He’s Been Faithful.” - laura j. bagby


Zschech, Darlene

  • Change Your World 

    Darlene Zschech is an ambassador for creating harmony that exemplifies God. If you’re looking for music that will help you enter into a greater level and realm of worship, Change Your World is the CD for you. It offers a combination of blissful and upbeat tunes that will cause you to enter a journey of self-discovery. Simply, passionate worship tracks such as “Where Would I Be” and “Change Your World” have the potential to impact your life. It takes three words to sum up this album: Passionate, expressive and eloquent. Go get it! Album Highlights: “You Are Holy” and “Agnus Dei” - terri l. simmons

  • Translate
  • Print Page

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.