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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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Restoration – Lecrae
****

This long-awaited album, Lecrae’s ninth studio album, is his follow-up to 2018’s collaboration album with Zaytoven Let the Trap Say Amen, and is his first solo album since 2017’s All Things Work Together. The album doesn’t disappoint.

Four songs were released prior to the full album. Restoration is the companion release to his upcoming book I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith. The album has Lecrae partnering with a large number of guest artists, songwriters and producers. The theme of Lecrae’s restoration from life’s difficulties weaves throughout the album. As expected, the production is crystal clear and the performances are all of a high quality.  The Road to Restoration, a behind the scenes look about the making of the album was released in three parts shortly before the album’s release.
Below are a few comments about each song.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and reviews of Chris Tomlin and Friends
  • Music News
  • Song of the Week Lyrics – Sunday Morning by Lecrae, featuring Kirk Franklin

Restore Me – This song, which is 1 minute and 16 seconds long (a nod to Romans 1:16 and Reach Records), was written by Ray Castro, Ace Harris, Alex Medina, Dave James, Lecrae and Taylor Hill. The song was produced by Ray Castro, Ace Harris, Alex Medina, Dave James and Taylor Hill, and features Hill. The brief song sets the tone for the album, addressing the difficulties in Lecrae’s life – trauma, losing his faith, loss of fans when he spoke out about racial injustice, etc. It ends with a prayer to God to restore him.
Key lyric:
Use all this pain, use all this hurt
To grow me
If that’s what it takes to know what I’m worth
Restore me

Set Me Free – This was the first song released from the album, and was written by Erica Campbell, GAWVI, Hulvey, Lecrae, Torey D’Shaun, Trecina Atkins-Campbell, Warryn Campbell, WHATUPRG and YK Osiris. The song was produced by GAWVI, and features Osiris. Lecrae has said that “set free” is a triple entendre in the song – industry, society and spiritually. The song samples Warren Mary Mary’s song “Shackles (Praise You)”.
Key lyric:
Shackles on my feet, You broke the hold and now I’m free

Even in the darkest times You kept Your light on me
Wheel’s Up – This song was written by S1, Epikh Pro, Kelvin Wooten, Marc E. Bassy, Abe Parker and Lecrae. It was produced by Inc. no world, Epikh Pro, Kelvin Wooten and S1. The song features Marc E. Bassy on the chorus. Lecrae handles the verses with a fast rap style. The chorus has his problems fading away as he sits back in a plane that is taking off and he gets to experience God’s eye view on everything.
Key lyric:
Some days I can’t believe how far we made it
I thank God for the fans and pray for patience 

Over the Top – This trap influenced song was written by Tray Haggerty, Torey D’Shaun, Hulvey 30 Roc and Lecrae. It was produced by 30 Roc. This song is about how success in life (number one album, awards, money, fame), will fade away. All of that perishes, but you are left with the best, God and your family.
Key lyric:
You can have the percs, I’d rather have a purpose 

Self Discovery – This song was written by Mez, Kelvin Wooten, S1 and Lecrae. It was produced by Kelvin Wooten and S1. The song features Trip Lee, Michelle Campbell and a sample from James Williams.  On this song, Lecrae talks about his growing up days. He stated that this was his favorite track on the album, where he realized that God is relational, not transactional. The song features some nice keys throughout.
Key lyric:
It’s obvious, I’m highly blessed
I finally get to understand what a man is when he at his godliest
To get there I was highly stretched and I was highly stressed

Deep End – This was the second song released from the album and was written by Khari Alamin, Anthony Gardner, Foushee, John Summit and Lecrae. It was produced by Anthony Gardner. The song features Summit. Lecrae is transparent about the pain and trauma he has experienced as a black man when he has seen black people gunned down in the street.
Key lyric:
I’ve been doin’ better than I was before
I walk with a limp ‘cause I’ve been wrestlin’ with the Holy Ghost
Deep end of this pit, but still somehow I keep floating on
Thought I lost my grip, but God reminded me He’s holding on

Drown – This was the third song released from the album and was written by Jim Lavigne, Micah Premnath, Alex Stacey, Danny Majic, DJ Frank E, Ace Harris, John Legend and Lecrae. It was produced by Danny Majic, DJ Frank E and Ace Harris. The song features John Legend on the chorus. Darkness, drama, shame and heartache has him down and in over his head. God is his last resort. Only He can take the pain away.
Key lyric:
If I had one call, would You answer it?
Or would You take back all of Your promises?

‘Cause I don’t know who to turn to or who to trust
I don’t know who to turn to or who to trust 

Saturday Night – This song was written by Mez, Lecrae, Joshua Brennan and Jozzy.
It was produced by Oshi. The song features Jozzy and Khari Alamin. This song finds Lecrae in the club again on a Saturday night. But is it real, or was he dreaming all this time? The song ends with a voice telling him to wake up and get his church clothes on.
Key lyric:
Measures of success
They hate you and admire you too
   

Sunday Morning – The companion song to “Saturday Night”, this song was written by Blu June, Nathanael Saint-Fleur, Terrence Antonio Jones, Ace Harris, Epikh Pro, SAK PASE, Saint Bodhi, Brittany Coney, Kirk Franklin and Lecrae. It was produced by The Crate League, Ace Harris, Epikh Pro and SAK PASE. The song features Kirk Franklin and a church choir (Melanie Rose, Emerald Campbell, Blu June and Ariel Campbell). He’s thankful for every day he gets to wake up. The last night was a mess, but God just hit “refresh”. The song ends with this from Kirk Franklin:
My life and your life is just a vapor
And if what you see is all you see
Then you do not see all there is to be seen
We leave
Quickly
We leave  

Zombie – This was the fourth and final song released before the album was released and written by Tommie Walker, Fred Hammond, Epikh Pro, Taylor Hill and Lecrae. It was produced by Epikh Pro and Taylor Hill. The song features Tedashii and Taylor Hill, and samples Fred Hammond’s song “We’re Blessed”.  The song features some nice keys. He was in the dark, but then Jesus called him.
Key lyric:
I was in the dark, I swear you couldn’t tell me nothing
I was after flesh, I guess I was some type of zombie
Demons used to haunt me
Then I heard the voice of God, I’m grateful Jesus called me 

Keep Going – This song was written by Ace Harris, Carvello, Quay Global, Lecrae and Fletcher Redd. It was produced by Quay Global, Carvello and Ace Harris. He’s come too far to let it go; he can’t quit. He’s got to keep going.
Key lyric:
I was down, at the bottom, got it out the mud
Kept it goin’, even when they never showed me love
Momma said it would come a time I would struggle
Keep your hands to the ceiling when you see the troubles  

Still – This song was written by Mike Woods, Brittany Coney, Blu June, DaniLeigh and Lecrae. It was produced by NOVA WAV and Mike Woods, and features DaniLeigh on the chorus. This is a song to Lecrae’s wife.  He wasn’t acting the way his momma raised him. He did her bad, but now he really needs her.
Key lyric:
Let me come through, I can do what nobody else do for you
Let me prove everything I gotta prove 

Only Human – This song was written by Kenneth Deron-Anderson, Ace Harris, Ty Brasel, Dave James, John McNeil, Joel McNeil, John Smythe, BJ the Chicago Kid and Lecrae. It was produced by Dave James, Ace Harris, and 42 North, and features BJ the Chicago Kid on the chorus. In a fast rap style Lecrae shares the difficulties in his life and how God restored him.
Key lyric:
But God said “Hol’ up, I got it, I do this”
He lifted my head up then helped me get to it
He gave me the beauty for ashes, I blew it
I thought I was ruined, He started renewin’  

Nothing Left to Hide – This song was written by S1, Gwen Bunn and Lecrae. It was produced by S1, and features Gwen Bunn. Lecrae ends the album, and “maybe the end of a long run”, with a confident and hard-hitting vocal, admitting that he had lost his direction, but he didn’t forget the resurrection. He asks us what’s the point of each day if there is isn’t a God. What’s the purpose of waking up? He says we love to beat each other up instead of praying and working to heal each other. He’s not finger pointing, but if the shoe fits, go ahead and wear it.
Key lyric:
Never good enough to get the love of Christ
But He’s good enough to get the love of me

Best songs
Wheel’s Up
Drown
Zombie
Sunday Morning
Only Human
Nothing Left to Hide


Chris Tomlin and Friends
****

Chris Tomlin has been one of my favorite artists for several years. His thirteenth studio album is unlike anything he’s ever done before. It’s his attempt to break down the walls of the Christian music genre and allow the music to be accessible to a wider audience. I give him credit for trying something new and different, bridging country music with his worship music genre. It’s not an album in which guest artists merely join Tomlin, but it’s a true collaboration. Tomlin has talked of the album as being created entirely through friendships. On the downside, there is so much collaboration that on some songs Tomlin can barely be heard.

Florida Georgia Line’s Corey Crowder produced 12 out of the 13 songs, with David Garcia producing one track and Ed Cash co-producing one. The album is also different in that Tomlin is known for writing songs for the church to sing, but most of these songs don’t fall into that category.

The album grew on me with each repeated listen. Below are a few comments about each song:

Thank You Lord (Intro) – This brief song features a gospel choir led by Shannon Sanders that was brought in for the song “Power”.

Thank You Lord – This song was written by Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Hubbard, Corey Crowder and David Garcia, and features Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett. Tomlin has said that to have a life of gratitude and thank God for all things – good and hard – that are around us is a major theme of the album. The verses have a country music feel, and the bridge is more worship music, featuring Tomlin. This is a feel-good, sing along song that features hand claps, backing vocals, guitar and drums.
Key lyric:
Praise up, eyes closed
One thing I know
I just wanna thank You Lord, thank You Lord

Reaching For You – This song was written by Tomlin, Shay Mooney and Ed Cash, and features We The Kingdom. This song is probably closest to a traditional Tomlin worship song, featuring keys, synth, backing vocals, drums and guitar.
Key lyric:
And I don’t have to wonder where
My hope is coming from
I lift my hands for who You are
And everything You’ve done

Who You Are To Me – This song was written by Tomlin, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood and features Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum). The song features keys, drums, guitar and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
Some people think You’re distant, just some words on a page
That You’re nothing more than fables, handed down along the way
But I’ve seen You part the waters
When no one else could pull me from, the deep
That’s who You are to me

God Who Listens – This song was written by Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, Ashley Gorley and David Garcia, and features Thomas Rhett. The song features guitar, bass, drums, and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
I’m not just hoping
I’m not just wishing
I know I’m praying
To a God who listens
I know He hears me
I know He’s living
Yes, I am praying
To a God who listens

Power – This song was written by Tomlin, Pat Barrett and Ed Cash and features Bear Rinehart, lead singer of NEEDTOBREATHE.  This gospel flavored song, based on Psalms 20 and 121, is one that Tomlin has had for a while, and he teams up well with Rinehart and the gospel choir. This is another song that sounds like a traditional Tomlin worship song.
Key lyric:
There is wonder working power
Holy Spirit power
Great redeeming power
Power in the name
Resurrection power
Bondage breaking power
Power in the name of Jesus

Be The Moon – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder and Tyler Hubbard, and features Brett Young and Cassadee Pope. Tomlin has said that this song represents the heart of the album. God calls us to be a light in the darkness, and that is what the moon does, reflects the light of the sun amidst night. The easy-going song features backing vocals, drums, guitar and a memorable chorus.
Key lyric:
I wanna be the moon
Up among the stars
Fly around the world
Lighting up the dark at night
I’m nothing without the Son’s amazing grace
On everything I do
If You’re shining on me
I’m shining right back for You
I wanna be the moon

Sing – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard and Cary Barlowe and features Russell Dickerson (who was formerly Tomlin’s guitar tech on the road for three years), and Florida Georgia Line. The easy-going song features guitar, hand claps, backing vocals, drums and a memorable chorus.
Key lyric:
You make me wanna sing all about Your love
Make me wanna tell the whole world what You’ve done
How You’ve turned my life around, I was lost but now I’m found
You’re the song stuck inside my head all day
Yeah, You make me wanna sing, sing
Sing all about You
Yeah, You make me wanna sing

Chase Me Down – This song was written by Racheal Lynn David, Josh Kerr and Hannah Ellis, and features RaeLynn on lead vocals as Tomlin sings harmony. The song is about how God pursues us, and features keys, synth, guitar, bass, and drums.
Key lyric:
You chase me down when I don’t deserve it
You show me love, You don’t make me earn it
I make a mess and I just start running
Hoping that You won’t know
Oh, when I’m lost and I’m low
In a place that I think You won’t go
You chase me down
You chase me down

Gifts From God – This song was written by Tomlin, Corey Crowder and Tyler Hubbard and features Chris Lane. This was the first song written for the album. It’s about thanking God for those gifts that are the ones money can’t buy. The song features guitar, hand claps, drums, backing vocals, and a memorable chorus and a worshipful bridge.
Key lyric:
The best things in life are straight from His hands
Like the raising kids on a piece of land
A little peace of mind when the day is done
Where you think that comes from? That’s gifts from God

Forever Home – This song was written by Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, Ashley Gorley, Corey Crowder and features Florida Georgia Line. This song features guitar, organ, drums, backing vocals, and a memorable chorus.
Key lyric:
When we get to our forever home
We’ll see beauty like we’ve never known
Angels singing Hallelujah songs
Hard to imagine one day

Together – This song was written by Tomlin, Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard, Russell Dickerson and Corey Crowder and features Russell Dickerson. Tomlin has said that the song is about through everything, through the ups and the downs, through the bends in the road, through the valleys and the highs and the lows, God holds us together. The song, which touches on Romans 8:28, features guitar, piano, percussion and a gospel choir.
Key lyric:
Together, together
Your mighty hands are holding me
Together, together
You’re the God that never leaves
When life gets hard, the only Jesus
We fall apart and You’re putting the pieces
Together, together
Thank You, Lord, You hold all things together

Tin Roof – This song was written by Blessing Offor and Natalie Hemby and features Blessing Offor. On an album of superstars, Offor is an unknown blind singer, songwriter and musician from Nigeria, who now lives in Nashville. Offor says about the song “In Nigeria where I grew up, I would lay at night and those African rains would hit the roof. That rain on a tin roof reminds me of home and I think of heaven. That’s what heaven is, home.” The song features Offor and Tomlin singing beautifully over piano and organ.
Key lyric:
They tell me in the promise land
There are mansions to choose
Oh, but I pray Heaven is like rain on a tin roof

Best songs:
Thank You Lord
Who You Are to Me
God Who Listens
Power
Sing
Forever Home
Tin Roof


  • You Are With Me. Enjoy the lyric video for “You Are With Me”, a new song from Sandra McCracken.
  • Thank You Lord. Watch “Thank You Lord” on the Late Late Show performed by Chris Tomlin, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett.
  • Over the Top. Check out the video for Lecrae’s song “Over the Top” from his new album Restoration.
  • Mercies (New Every Morning). Watch Matt Redman perform “Mercies (New Every Morning)” in Trafalgar Square, London, from his new album Let There Be Wonder.

– Sunday Morning by Lecrae, featuring Kirk Franklin

This week’s song of the week is “Sunday Morning” by Lecrae, featuring Kirk Franklin. The song is from Lecrae’s new album Restoration, and was written by Blu June, Nathanael Saint-Fleur, Terrence Antonio Jones, Ace Harris, Epikh Pro, SAK PASE, Saint Bodhi, Brittany Coney, Kirk Franklin and Lecrae. Check out the lyric video here.

I been messed up (Yeah)
Stressed out with no luck (Yeah)
But every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Thank God I got a chance to wake up
Wake up, another day to get my cake up, cake up (Yeah)
‘Cause every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Wake up, wake up

[Lecrae]
Wake up lil’ slick, get up outta bed
You was like a couple steps away from being out of here
Thank you from my Granny prayers
Thank you for my potna ‘n ‘dem
I thought I was finished here
Jesus told me, “Start again”
I would party sundown ’til days end
Makin’ money that I can’t spend
I had a failing marriage and some fake friends
I had to doubt my doubts and let faith in
I was broken, God done brought me out like I was Moses
I’m chosen, woke up Sunday morning feeling focused
Funny actin’, swipe left, that’s on momma’s
Always cappin’, swipe left, yeah, no more drama
Mhm-mhm-mhm-mhm-mhm-mhm, boy, you know you blessed
Last night was a mess, God just hit refresh

I been messed up (Yeah)
Stressed out with no luck (Yeah)
But every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Thank God I got a chance to wake up
Wake up, another day to get my cake up, cake up (Yeah)
‘Cause every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Wake up, wake up

[Lecrae]
Woke up in the new diablo
Father stretch me like I’m Pablo (Preach)
Sunday service on the front stoop
With a cup of tea in the condo
Tony Evans kicking convo’
Walking me through my storm
And I ain’t grow up hearin’ gospel
But I got it playing this morn’
I done been through this a time or two
I keep going back but now I’m finally through
I’m like “If I was God, I’d be tired of you”
But He be open arms like He desire you
I’m like wow, smokin’, sippin’, slippin’, thought I lost my grip in, wow
Pulled me back and told me I’m forgiven

I woke up Sunday morning weight up on my chest (Yeah)
Had to remind myself that every day I’m blessed (Yeah)
‘Cause every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Thank God I got a chance to wake up
Wake up, another day to get my cake up, cake up (Yeah)
‘Cause every time I wake up (Yeah)
I get a chance to wake up (Yeah)
Wake up, wake up (Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

[Kirk Franklin]
Yeah, yeah, yeah (Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh)
Seasons change the colors so quickly
It’s hard to keep up with the leaves
‘Cause everybody leaves
On my birthday, Kobe, Gigi and seven souls remind me
That the tree of life is so uncertain
And tomorrow has unpredictabilities as colorful as the smiles that took off that day
May that Sunday morning resonate past trophies and trinkets and the ongoing pursuit of more
To sober us but the humbling truth
My life and your life, is just a vapor
And if what you see is all you see
Then you do not see all there is to be seen
Quickly
We leave

 

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 40 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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