Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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This is Not a Test - Toby MacThis is Not a Test (Deluxe Edition) – Toby Mac
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This is Toby Mac’s first album of new material since Eye on It debuted at the top of the charts three years ago, and it’s a good one, sitting at #2 on Amazon’s top CD and digital music charts, second only to Kill the Lights from Luke Bryan as I write this review. When I saw him in concert last December, we got to hear two of the new songs – the first single “Beyond Me” and “Undeniable”.

While you’re not always going to get the deepest of lyrics from Toby, you know you’re going to get great beats and let’s just say it – the man knows how to write a great hook. Four of the songs here were released in advance of the album dropping on August 7. Here are a few thoughts on each of the songs after several listens:

Like a Match – Contains upbeat vibes. I liked the use of horns and piano. This gets the album off to a great start.

Burning for the world to see
You and me, we’ve gotta love
Strike it up, like a match

Backseat Driver – Features Gotee Records artist Hollyn on the chorus as Toby’s son Tru and Toby take the verses.  Was one of the songs released in advance so I’ve been listening to it for several weeks already. Toby wants the Lord to take control of his life.

Show me the way
Light it up Lord, just like You do
No second guessin’, Imma move with You

This is Not a Test (featuring Capital Kings) – This is a hard-driving, high energy dance tune that will sound great in concert.

This is not a, this is not a test
This is the real thing
We’re gonna go til we got nothing left

Lights Shine Bright (featuring Hollyn) – This duet with Hollyn has a Jamaican flavor. I liked the bass and hand snap/clap. It is a catchy, lyrically simple, easy-going song that will stick in your head throughout the day.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul

 Till the Day I Die (featuring NF) – Another of the songs that was released early. Toby and the 24 year-old rapper NF (Nathan John “Nate” Feuerstein) trade verses. NF has a harder style, and his voice reminded me a bit of Trip Lee.

Til the wheels fall off
Til the spotlight fades
I will lift your banner high
I will lift your banner high
And til the walls crash in
For the rest of my days
I’ll lay it all on the line
Til the day I die

Feel It (featuring Mr. TalkBox) – This is my favorite song on the album and one of my top songs of the year thus far. It is instantly likeable, and features a great dance beat (horns, guitars, bass), that may remind you a bit of the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit “Uptown Funk”.  Here’s the fun video for the song.  I think this song could become a mainstream hit for Toby.

Oh, I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know
You take our brokenness and make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know (can’t take that from me

Move (Keep Walkin’) – This song features excellent background vocals and horns. Toby encourages the listener to hold on, the Lord isn’t finished yet.

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet.

Love Broke Thru – This song again has some strong background vocals and a good use of drums. Toby displays some high range vocals here as he recounts his salvation experience.  He was a hopeless fool and now he is hopelessly devoted to Christ.

When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
 

Beyond Me – This was the first single released, and has a pop sound similar to the hit “Me Without You” from Eye on It. The song contains a good hook and reflects Toby’s utter dependence on the Lord.

That You gave me the stars put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see

It’s way beyond me

Love Feels Like (featuring DC Talk) – This is the highly anticipated first DC Talk reunion song since Kevin Max’s 2007 “The Cross”. Michael Tait takes the first verse, Toby the chorus and Kevin Max the second verse. This song meets the incredibly high expectations that a DC Talk reunion song brings, and leaves the listener longing for a full-length reunion album and tour.

Poured out, used up, still givin’,
stretching me out to the end of my limits
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what real love
Feels like

Undeniable –  This song, like “Beyond Me”, has more of a pop sound as Toby combines a slow rap on the verses with the worshipful chorus, which will stay with you long after the song  is over:

Undeniable, You are, You are, You are
Unmistakable, You are, You are
You’re the bright and morning star
But still You speak to my heart
Undeniable, You are, You are
 

A favorite line is:

Which is harder to believe that You don’t exist
Or that You orchestrated all of this

The Deluxe Edition contains four additional songs:

Lift You Up (with Ryan Stevenson) – Stevenson opened the December concert I attended, which also featured Matt Maher. I liked the use of the handclaps on this catchy song about lifting up the Lord, who will never let us down.

Fall – This is a love song for Toby’s wife Amanda. They were married in 1994. In this acoustic song, he sings that he would fall for her again every time just like the first time.

The Deluxe Edition also includes two remixes. “Beyond Me” by former Family Force 5 frontman Soul Glow Activatur and “Like a Match” (Garcia’s remix).

Toby doesn’t show any signs of letting up at age 50. In fact, just the opposite is the case, as he reaches new heights on this new release. The album features several diverse guests and Christ-centered lyrics throughout, with themes such as depending on the Lord, serving Him, and giving Him the glory. The music is high energy and a combination of pop, dance, soul, funk and hip-hop/rap.  This is one of my favorite releases of the year.

Music News:

  • Feel It. Here’s the video for Toby Mac’s new single “Feel It” featuring Mr. TalkBox. You’ll want to get up and dance!
  • Upcoming music releases of note are:
  • September 18: Uncomfortable by Andy Mineo.
  • October 9: The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson; Christmas Hymns by Steven Curtis Chapman; Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • October 23: Christmas (title note available) by Chris Tomlin
  • November 20: Floodplain by Sara Groves
  • Uncomfortable - Andy MineoAndy Mineo’s new album Uncomfortable, one of the most anticipated of the year will be released on September 18. You can now pre-order the album on iTunes and get the title song as an instant download. Listen to the single here. On the first day of the pre-order, the album checked in at #8 on the overall iTunes charts and #4 on the Hip-Hop/Rap charts.
  • For the Church: Singing Amen. Randall Van Meggelen writes about the hymn “Amen” from the excellent new album Glory to the Holy One from Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul. An audio clip of the song and the lyrics are also included.
  • Land of Hope and Dreams. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band closed out Jon Stewart’s time on The Daily Show with a performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams”.
  • Get Back. Paul McCartney brings out Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard to join him on the Beatles’ “Get Back,” at Lollapalooza in Chicago on July 31

 Song of the Week

Before You I Kneel (A Worker’s Prayer) recorded by Keith and Kristyn Getty
(written by the Gettys, Jeff Taylor and Stuart Townend)

This is a wonderful modern hymn about our faith and work. Watch the lyric video here.

Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe,
For each skill Your grace has given me,
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify Your great name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodnessGettys Tour Photo
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.

 

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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