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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
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