Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
***

Bruce Springsteen returns with his 19th studio album, and first of all new, original material since his 2012’s Wrecking Ball. The 69-year-old Springsteen wrote all of the songs and co-produced the album with Ron Aniello, who produced 2014’s High Hopes and Wrecking Ball. The album, which draws inspiration from the Southern California pop music of the late ’60s and early ’70s, features guest appearances by more than 20 players, including multi-instrumentalist and composer Jon Brion, violinist and singer Soozie Tyrell and former E Street Band member David Sancious. Springsteen has said that the album is a return to his solo recordings, and features character-driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements.
This album grew on me, sounding better with each repeated listening. The music is laid back and the lyrics are relatively simple. Here are a few brief comments about each song:

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and reviews of I Know a Ghost by Crowder, and Into the Night by Social Club Misfits
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Hitch Hikin’ – This song opens with banjo and acoustic guitar and then builds with synth and piano. He’s hitch-hiking all day long with what he can carry and his song. We hear about a few people who stop and give him a ride.
The Wayfarer – This song opens with guitar and synth, and builds with percussion, synth, piano, strings, horns, organ and backing vocals. He’s a wayfarer who drifts from town to town. While others are inspired be living comfortably at home, when he goes to sleep, he can’t count sheep for the white lines of the highway in his head.
Tucson Train – The song opens and closes with train sounds. The song has a very Springsteen sounding synth sound, drums, guitar and memorable chorus. He was down and out in San Francisco, so he headed for the sunshine in Tucson where he got his operator’s license and spends his day running a crane. He thought he had left his love behind but now his baby is coming on the 5:15 Tucson train.
Western Stars – This song begins with guitar and builds with bass, slide guitar, drums and synth. He was an actor who once did a scene with John Wayne. That one scene has bought him a thousand drinks. These days he does commercials for Viagra and credit cards companies.
Sleepy Joe’s Café – This upbeat song begins with drums and acoustic guitar and then builds with synth, piano and accordion. Joe came home from the war in 1945 and bought a place out on the highway across the San Bernardino line where the truckers and the bikers gather every night at the same time. The band comes on at seven and the locals dance the night away. He comes on the weekend and Monday morning feels a million miles away.
Drive Fast (The Stuntman) – This song opens with acoustic guitar and builds with guitar, piano, synth and percussion. At 19 he was king of the dirt down at the Remington draw. He liked the pedal and didn’t mind the wall. Now he has two pins in his ankle, a busted collarbone, and a steel rod in his leg, but it walks him home.
Chasin’ Wild Horses – This song begins with acoustic guitar and synth, and builds beautifully with slide guitar and banjo. He does work with the Bureau of Land Management in Montana chasing wild horses.  It’s the only thing he’s found to get her off his mind.
Sundown – This song begins with piano, guitar, synth, and drums. He’s in Sundown, 2,500 miles away from his girl. He drifts from bar to bar in the lonely town, wishing she were there with him in Sundown, where the cafés are filled with lovers passing time. The voice in his head tells him that when summer’s over, she’ll come around. That’s all he has to keep him from sinking down.
Somewhere North of Nashville – This song begins with acoustic guitar and then builds with slide guitar and piano. He came into Nashville with his songs. He made the rounds but didn’t last long. Now he’s out on the highway somewhere north of Nashville. He’s got a long list of things he didn’t do right, with putting his music ahead of her at the top of the list.
Stones – The song features synths, drums, acoustic guitar, piano, strings and backing vocals. He woke up in the morning with stones in his mouth. The stones were only the lies she told him.
There Goes My Miracle – This song begins with synth and drums and builds, and features a memorable chorus. As the song begins, he’s searching for his love. But there goes his miracle, walking away from him.
Hello Sunshine – This song was the first single released from the album. It begins with a nice soft drum that drives the beat and bass. The song then builds with synth, piano, and slide guitar. He’s had enough of heartbreak and pain and would like the sunshine to stay. He’s always loved a lonely town, but if you fall in love with lonely, you end up that way. He’s also always liked that empty road. He has no place to be and miles to go.
Moonlight Motel – The closing song features acoustic guitar, synth, bass and piano. He is looking back at an affair he had with a lover at the now boarded up desert Moonlight Motel. She had told him that it’s better to have loved. Years later, he pulls a bottle of Jack Daniels out of a paper bag, and pours one for him and one for her.

I Know a Ghost – Crowder
****

This is Crowder’s third solo album, and his follow-up to 2016’s American Prodigal. The sixteen songs include a diverse blend of musical styles – modern bluegrass, hip-hop, swamp rock, pop and EDM (electric dance music). Crowder worked with a number of producers and songwriters on the album. A recurring theme on the album is the Holy Ghost, also known as the Holy Spirit. It is a strong album, though it is short on songs that will translate well to worship services.
Below are a few comments about each song on the album:

I Know A Ghost – The opening song was written by Crowder and he produced it with Tommee Profitt (NF). This song begins with guitar and then builds with drums, synth and a foot stomping beat. He knows the Holy Spirit, but he still feels darkness and heaviness.  But he knows that God paid the debt for him.
Wildfire – This song was written by Crowder, Lauren Olds and Solomon Olds. It was produced by Tommee Profitt. The song was released as a two-sided single ahead of the album and features a swamp rock sound, complete with sounds of crickets and frogs, drum machine and banjo. He sings of the joy of experiencing the Holy Ghost in revival. 
Golgotha Hill (King Of Love)
– This song was written by Crowder, Ed Cash and Tommee Profitt, with Cash and Profitt producing. The powerful song tells the story of Jesus’ death on the cross on Golgotha Hill and his rising on resurrection Sunday. The song features guitar, drum machine, strings, backing vocals, and foot-stomping beats.
Key lyric: There ain’t no stopping love 
Crushing Snakes – This song was written by Crowder, Ed Cash, Martin Cash and Cole Dye. It was produced by Ed Cash and features vocals from Taya Gaukrodger. The song opens with piano and quickly moves to drum machine and foot-stomping beat. We’re not afraid. A promise of God can never be torn away. The song ends powerfully with a vision of the resurrected Christ from Revelation.
Key lyric:
We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve come 

Red Letters – This song was written by Crowder and Ed Cash, and produced by Cash and Tommee Profitt. The song was released as a two-sided single ahead of the album and has the sound of a great Crowder radio song. The joyful song tells of him reading Jesus words in the Bible (“red letters”), and being awakened by the Holy Ghost. The song begins with piano, light guitar and then builds, with drums and backing vocals. A highlight.
Key lyric:
When I read the red letters
And the ground began to shake
The prison walls started falling
And I became a free man that day

Let It Rain (Is There Anybody)
– This song was written by Crowder and Ed Cash and produced by Cash. It features vocals from Mandisa. It was the third and final song released ahead of the album. The song begins with piano, drums, and then goes into a foot tapping beat that is a prayer to the Lord. He is able.
Key lyric:
So let it rain, let it pour
Lord, I need You more and more
Let it rain, rain down on me
Every day, whatever You want
Not my will but Yours, Lord
Let it rain, rain down on me

Everyday I’m Blessed – This song was written by Crowder and Solomon Olds and produced by Olds. This song has an instantly likeable swamp rock sound, featuring banjo and backing vocals. A highlight.
Key lyric:
My God is able, my God is good
My God is able, He’ll pull me through
My God is able, my God is good
He’ll pull me through, yeah, that’s what He do

I’m Leaning On You
– This song was written by Brenton Brown, Chris McClarney, Hank Bentley and Crowder. It was produced by Tommee Profitt and features vocals from Riley Clemmons. This R&B flavored song begins with piano and then light drum machine. It is a prayer to the Lord about leaning on Him. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8: 38-39).
No Rival – This song was written by Chad Mattson, Hank Bentley, Jonathan Lowry and JR Collins. It was produced by Tommee Profitt. It features a rap, and call and response vocals from JR Collins. It also features drum machine and is about the all sufficiency of Jesus. There is a no one like Jesus. He has no equal.
Key lyric:
He is gentle
But you can’t tame Him
Child Of God
– This song was written by Crowder, Ed Cash and Solomon Olds and produced by Olds. It is an upbeat foot-stomping joyful song featuring fiddle, drums and banjo about being a child of God.
Happy Day – This was written by Crowder, Ed Cash and Solomon Olds and produced by Cash. This is a foot-stomping song, featuring banjo, fiddle and backing vocals about the joy of being saved, having our sins washed away by the sacrifice of Christ.
Night Like This
– This song was written by Crowder and produced by Solomon Olds. The song has a joyful foot-stomping country sound with hand claps and background crowd noises. There ain’t nothing better than a night like this with his friends.
Key lyric:
And it’s only gonna get better than this
I can only imagine what comes next

La Luz
– This song was written by written by Crowder, Ed Cash, B-Coe, Fern and Marty. It was produced by Ed Cash and B-Coe and features the Social Club Misfits.
“La Luz” is Spanish for “The Light”. This “Holy Ghost party song” opens with banjo, drum machine, harmonica and a foot-stomping beat. The song includes some hip-hop and Latin beats.
Key lyric:
Break the bread, pour the wine
The Father’s arms are open wide
Break the bread, pour the wine
Ain’t nobody gonna sleep tonight, come on

The Sinner’s Cure – This song was written by Crowder and produced by Tommee Profitt. It opens with keys and drum machine.  The song asks probing questions. The answer, the sinner’s cure, is the blood and sacrifice of Christ.
Hundred Miles – This was the only song on the album not written, or co-written, by Crowder. The song was written by Brian MacDonald, Judah Akers and Nathan Zuercher and produced by Hank Bentley. The first line of this worship song is from Psalm 103.  The song opens with acoustic guitar, then builds with full band (drums, guitar, piano, banjo and backing vocals).
Key lyric:
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Sing praise to Him and Him alone
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Sing praise with me, you heavenly hosts
Ghost – This song was first released on the 2018 Passion album Whole Heart. The song was written by Crowder and Ed Cash and produced by Cash. The song opens with some EDM and then builds to a powerful chorus. We’re ready like a waiting bride.
Key lyric:
Get ready, there’s an empty tomb
Get ready, there’s a Ghost in the room
Get ready, even mountains move
Get ready, all the stories are true
Get ready, there’s an empty tomb

Into the Night – Social Club Misfits
****

Into the Night is the long-awaited and strong follow-up to Social Club Misfits 2017 major label debut The Misadventures of Fern and Marty and is their tenth overall project. Marty and Fern have stated that the album is about being a light no matter where you are in life. The diverse, confident and Christ-centered album is well written, performed and produced, as they work with multiple producers and guest artists.
Below are a few comments about each song:

Nightmare – This song was produced by Daniel Steel and Wit. It is written by Fern and Marty. The album starts out by Marty indicating that SCM are the Devil’s worst nightmare. This album is the moment we’ve been waiting for. They are back in town and they are going into the night to reach Misfits that nobody believes in, fighting for what is right.
Dive – This was the first single released from the album. It is produced by Young Sidechain and Beam and features Beam. It is written by Young Sidechain, Jordan Douglas, Beam, Marty and Fern. Key lyric: I go fishing for the hope
War Cry – This was the fourth single released in advance of the album’s release. It is produced by Tauren Wells and Tommee Profitt.  It is written by Wells, Profitt, JT Roach, David Frank, Fern and Marty. The song features Wells, and is powerful song about now being the time to rise up and share the Gospel that will sound great on radio.
Into The Night – This song is produced by Wit and Daniel Steele and features Chris Batson. It is written by Batson, Fern and Marty. Baston handles the chorus with Fern and Marty taking the verses. They were doubted, but every year is their year. They are taking it to the max.
Tuyo – This was the fifth and final song released in advance of the album’s release. The song features Jordin Sparks and Danny Gokey and is written by Sparks, Gokey, Fern and Marty. It has a Latin vibe to it, with much of it sung in Spanish.  Key lyric: Every race, every color, every nation, Come together, there’s no more separation. It’s time to rise up and make a statement
Happy Accident – This song is produced by Alex Medina and written by              Fern and Marty. The song features a good drum beat throughout. For them, it’s not about making it up to the top, but about making a difference. Key lyric: Why do you think that I’m here. I came for the Man who’s in charge.
Lucky – This song is produced by John Smythe, Wit and Daniel Steele. It is written by Smythe, Wit, Steel, Fern and Marty. Additional vocals are provided by Ian Everson. The song is not about being lucky, but about working hard. Key lyric: Maybe we got lucky or maybe we chosen.
Say Goodbye – This song was the second single released from the album. It is produced by Wit and 42 North. It is written by Joel McNeil, John McNeil, B. Reith, Fern and Marty. This song has a slower vibe to it. Key lyric: This is the part where you leave without saying goodbye.
Number One (A Song For You) – This song is produced by Rugah Rahi. It is written by Rahi, Fern and Marty. Rahi opens the song. This song is about making the Lord number one and that’s why they are on top. It features a good drum beat throughout. Key lyric: Game over, yes, over the breaks, over, witness the takeover, and God gets the praise for it.
Sinatra / Ca$h – This song is produced by Al Cres and written by Ben Lopez, Cres, Fern and Marty. This intense song has a good drum beat throughout. Things slow down after the bridge. Ten projects in and they are just starting.
Key lyric: The feeling that I bring through a verse such detail and doctrine, but I tell you myself you need a church and a pastor.
Clear – This song is produced by produced by Young Sidechain, and features Foggieraw, who takes verse three. It is written by Young Sidechain, Foggieraw, Fern and Marty. The song is driven by a good beat throughout. There’s no pride, just honesty. No hate, just truth.  Key lyric: I was chosen it’s not random.
The One Of A Kind One – This song is produced by Daniel Steel and Wit. It is written by John Smythe, Steele, Wit, Fern and Marty. It features some excellent horns throughout. SCM tells their story about being courted by labels and going from underground to sold out crowds. They were told it wouldn’t last with this God thing. As far as other rappers, they aren’t looking at them, they are looking past them. Key lyric: I feel like I’m in my zone, bringing the best vibes that’s Christ alone.
Solo – This song is produced by Israel Steven Mercedes. It features Evan Craft and is written by Rey King, Mercedes, Craft, Fern and Marty. Like “Tuyo”, the song has a Latin beat and sung in both Spanish and English.
Key lyric:
You never left me alone, I could always feel Your heart
Your plan has always been perfect, I just had to play my part
You always wanted to use me, I just had to let You start

  • Egypt Station Explorer’s Edition. Paul McCartney recently released an expanded edition of his chart-topping 2018 album Egypt Station. The new two-CD edition, titled Egypt Station Explorer’s Edition, features the original album along with a second disc includes five songs not included on the original album, including the excellent “Nothing for Free” , an extended version of “Who Cares”, and four songs from the album that were recorded live in various locations. Unfortunately, the dreadful “Fuh You” is one of those songs. Overall, this is a pretty good expanded edition of Egypt Station.
  • Check Your Heart. Check out the video for comedian John Crist’s first single, “Check Your Heart”, featuring DJ Mykael V, nobigdyl. & 1K Phew.
  • CCM ALL STAR Review. Kevin Max (dcTalk), John Schlitt (Petra), Billy Smiley (Whiteheart) and Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) have united to form the CCM ALL STAR REVIEW. With sales exceeding 30 million records between them, the members have collectively generated more than 45 #1 songs and earned more than 15 GRAMMY and 60 Dove Award wins and nominations.
  • Take My Fire. Watch this video of Switchfoot performing “Take My Fire” in Atlanta, from their new EP Live from The NATIVE TONGUE tour.
  • Wilder Woods. Wilder Woods is the new solo venture of NEEDTOBREATHE lead singer Bear Rinehart. His debut album will be released August 9.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  Horatio Spafford

Come behold the wondrous mystery
Slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain Him
Praise the Lord; He is alive! 
Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Michael Bleecker

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever. 
Martin Luther

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within. 
R.C. Sproul

Let it Happen – Switchfoot

Our song of the week comes from Switchfoot, long one of my favorite bands. It is “Let it Happen” from their new EP Live from the NATIVE TONGUE Tour, recorded live at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.
Listen to the song here.
Here are the lyrics to the song, written by Jon Foreman:

This life feels hollow and mostly borrowed
The voices are screaming but where is the meaning?
Noisy crescendos behind closed windows
The floor is a ceiling, I can’t find the feeling
Oh, tell me, love, tell me
Am I dreaming, and where is the meaning?
Oh, tell me, love

Let it happen, let it happen
Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows
You can’t make it get here sooner
Let it happen, let it happen
I don’t hold what the future holds
But I know You’re my future

The fever is breaking, my body is aching
What’s worth defending if everything’s ending?
The current is endless, the river relentless
Love, tell me, love
Oh, am I dreaming, and what is the meaning?
Love, tell me, love, tell me

Let it happen, let it happen
Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows
You can’t make it get here sooner
Let it happen, let it happen
I don’t hold what the future holds
But I know You hold my future

Let it happen, let it happen
Tomorrow knows what tomorrow knows
You can’t make it get here sooner
Let it happen, let it happen
I don’t hold what the future holds
But I know you’re my future

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 39 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm 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 2 Corinthians 5:21 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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