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  • 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

  • We Will Not Be Shaken
    On any given Sunday, chances are your church worship set includes at least one Hillsong, a Tomlin, and a Matt Redman. Known for hits such as "Blessed Be Your Name" and "The Heart of Worship", Redman has been around for a long time and recently released a new project, We Shall Not Be Shaken. Maybe it's the fact that I spent some time in the UK during his proverbial glory days, but listening to his music is like pulling on a snuggie and sipping cocoa: it's familiar, it's comforting, and it doesn't disappoint. Well, maybe the only disappointing thing is that there are plenty of good songs on this album, but not anything completely amazing. The long and short of it is that if you like Matt Redman's music, you will like this album, its solid lyrics, and signature style. - rebekah wilson

Album Highlights: "This Is How We Know", "You Alone Can Rescue", and "How Great Is Your Faithfulness"

  • 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

  • Forget and Not Slow Down
    This Relient K punk-loving fan (with favorites being "Sadie Hawkins Dance", "Maybe Its Maybeline") is slowly but surely coming to enjoy this new album. Opting to go the rock route this time around, Relient K's stretching their musical boundaries for the better. It sounds like the band has matured a bit, transforming their teen punk beats into a solid rock style. Frontman Matt Thiessen spent months in rural Tennessee penning these original songs, offering listeners radio hits with substantial lyrics. Not a track-focused project, Forget and Not Slow Down is an album experience, with each song leading into the next.. - hannah goodwyn

Album Highlights: "Forget and Not Slow Down", "Candlelight", and "Sahara"

  • 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
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