Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Worship Forever – Michael W. Smith
***

Michael W. Smith’s best-selling album is Worship, which was released on September 11, 2001, the day our nation was attacked. As a way to honor the tragic September 11 anniversary, Smith has released a reimagined version of the album. Worship Forever was recorded in front of a live audience in Nashville in July with a full symphony orchestra, choir and guest appearances by Amy Grant, Matt Redman, and Tauren Wells.
Smith adds a few newer songs to the track list including “Surrounded/Waymaker” and the new studio recording, the piano and orchestra driven “Sing Again.” Below is the chorus for “Sing Again”:

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


What Are We Waiting For? for KING & COUNTRY
***

The Australian duo for KING & COUNTRY, comprised of brothers Joel Smallbone and Luke Smallbone, follow up their 2018 album Burn the Ships and their 2020 Christmas album A Drummer Boy Christmas with What Are We Waiting For? Their fifth studio album features their distinctive sound of bass, drums and strong vocals. Themes on the album include being the same in different ways, letting go of mistakes we’ve made, God loving us as we are, racial unity, holding on till the pain ends, parents, commitment in marriage, differences, and worship.

Below are a few brief comments about each song:

Relate – This song was the first single from the album and was written by Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Josh Kerr and Tayla Parx, and produced by Kerr, Tedd T and for KING & COUNTRY. The song, which reached number one on Christian radio, features keys, bass, drums, and backing vocals, and tells us that we don’t know what it’s like to be one another but by the grace of God we’ll see each other’s heart.
Key lyric:
I don’t know what it’s like to be you
You don’t know what it’s like to be me
What if we’re all the same in different kinds of ways
Can you, can you relate?

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  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith and Kristyn Getty & Michael W. Smith

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


What’s It Gonna Take? by Van Morrison
*** ½

This is Van Morrison’s 43rd studio album, following 2021’s Latest Record Project Vol. 1. See my review of that album here. With the fourteen new songs here, Morrison has now released an amazing forty-two songs over the past year.
The album cover features a couple running away from the city on puppet strings with “Wake Up” in the background. Many of the songs on the album are about Morrison’s reaction to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. I write this review from the perspective of living in a state that had some of the strongest COVID restrictions in the U.S. I’m also writing from the perspective of someone who nearly lost his brother to the virus.
My wife and I saw Morrison in concert two weeks before this album’s release. His voice is still an incredible instrument at age 76, as he leads his incredible band, showcased on this album. Morrison did not perform any of the songs on this new album in the concert.
Although some may disagree with some of the lyrics on the album, few will disagree that Morrison and his band deliver excellent performances here. Themes on the album are the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions (depression, misery and strife), the need to fight back, freedom, government lies, the media/fake news, free speech and celebrity.
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ The Goodness by TobyMac, featuring Blessing Offor

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4 Upcoming Albums of Interest

Here are four upcoming albums that you might be interested in:

Life After Death – TobyMac

To be released August 19, this will be TobyMac’s first album since 2018’s The Elements, and the death of his son Truett in October, 2019. Six of the fifteen songs on the album have been released in advance of the album – “21 Years”, “I’m Sorry (a lament)”, “Help is on the Way”, “The Promised Land” (with Sheryl Crow), “The Goodness” (with Blessing Offor), and “Everything About You” (with Marlee). There are several collaborations on the album including “Space” with former DC Talk members Michael Tait and Kevin Max.

Always – Chris Tomlin

To be released September 9, Chris Tomlin returns with thirteen new songs, four of which have been released in advance of the album – “I See You” (featuring Brandon Lake), “Yahweh (No One)” with Elevation Worship, “Always” and “Holy Forever”.

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith & Kristyn Getty

To be released in September, the album will

include three songs released in advance – “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” (with Michael W. Smith), “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” and a song to be released in August.

There is One Gospel – CityAlight

This will be CityAlight’s first collections of songs since their 2018 EP Yet Not I. I haven’t seen a tracklist for the album yet, but it may include some of the singles they have released in the past few years such as “It Was Finished Upon That Cross” and “This is the Day”.

What new music are you looking forward to?


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


New Creation – Mac Powell
****

I’ve long enjoyed Mac Powell’s music, mostly from his time as lead singer of four-time Grammy winners Third Day. I also enjoyed his 2019 album Back Again with Mac Powell and the Family Reunion. In fact, my wife Tammy and I saw Powell with his band the Family Reunion in November 2019, which was the last concert we saw before concerts were shut down due to the pandemic.

Me and Mac

Powell has also released two country music solo albums, but this is his first solo album of Christian music, and it’s a good one. He brings his distinctive baritone voice – one of the best in music – to these songs with a bit of a country/southern flavor. The album is produced by Jonathan Smith, Hank Bentley, Jeff Pardo, Seth Mosely, Colby Wedgeworth, and Ed Cash. Powell co-wrote each song, collaborating with Jonathan Smith, Ethan Hulse, Seth Mosley, Jeff Pardo, Brenton Brown, Hank Bentley, Matt Maher, Benji Cowart, Casey Beathard and Tommy Iceland.
Below are a few comments about each song:

 

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Sing! In Christ Alone. Live at the Getty Music Worship Conference – Keith & Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

This is the fifth live album that Keith & Kristyn Getty have released from their annual Sing! conferences (one for each conference). I always enjoy these albums as they bring back special memories from attending the conference. Sing! In Christ Alone was recorded at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in September 2021. The sixteen songs on the album feature artists such as Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, Dana Masters, Laura Story, Chris Tomlin, Sandra McCracken, Jubilant Sykes, Bill Gaither, Buddy Greene, CityAlight and more.
Below is the album track list:
Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord) – This song was written and performed by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa.
Come Thou Almighty King – This song was written by Felice De Giardini, and arranged by Tommy Bailey, Sarah Gehri, Nathan Mickle and Tom Yarbrough. The lead vocal is performed by Tommy Bailey.
Amazing Grace – The lyrics of this song were written by John Newton. The lead vocals are performed by Kristyn Getty and Dana Masters, with saxophone from Kirk Whalum.
Christ is All in All. This new song, which debuted at the conference, was written by Kristyn Getty, Ben Shive and Dwan Hill. The lead vocal is performed by Kristyn Getty.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Stomping Ground – Dion
****

I first became interested in Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dion (DiMucci), now 82, when he recorded five Contemporary Christian Music albums between 1980 and 1986. I’ve enjoyed his music ever since.
Dion follows up his 2020 album Blues with Friends (one of my favorites that year), with Stomping Ground, a blues album that again finds him collaborating with music greats with whom he shares mutual admiration. Most of the album’s fourteen songs were written by Dion and his songwriting partner Mike Aquilina. The sole non-original is “Red House,” the Jimi Hendrix song that has become a blues standard.
The album was produced by Wayne Hood with Dion, and features guests Boz Scaggs, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Patti Scialfa, Bruce Springsteen, Billy F Gibbons, Keb’ Mo’, Sonny Landreth, Joe Menza, Mike Menza, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Vivino, Rickie Lee Jones, Wayne Wood, Joe Bonamassa, and G.E. Smith. The liner notes were written by Pete Townshend.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


The End – Trip Lee
**** 

The End is the multi-talented (pastor, conference speaker, author, rapper), Trip Lee’s first new album since 2016’s The Waiting Room. Lee has said that the title symbolizes coming to the end of ourselves, where one door closes so another can open. Themes on the album include Lee’s return to music after six years, dealing with illness for fifteen years, Christ being better than riches, Heaven, divisions in our society, fame, things he wishes were different in the world, having nothing left to prove, love for his wife and new life in Christ.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:
Let Go – This song was written and produced by Lee. Most of the vocals on this song are handled by Chastity (Chazz). Lee sings only the fourth verse.
Key lyric:
Lord, grab my soul
Lose my hold on things that hold me back

Right Out the Gate – This hard-hitting song was written and produced by Mashell and Lee. Some thought he had left music, but he’s back, still on his game.
Key lyric:
Thought he was gone, I think He back
He ain’t wait long, on the attack
Still unashamed, you know it’s facts

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Dreamland – Amos Lee
*** ½

I’ve been a fan of Amos Lee’s music since seeing him open for Bob Dylan in 2007. Dreamland is Lee’s eighth album and the follow-up to 2018’s My New Moon. The album sound quality is great, thanks to producer Leggy Langdon. The eleven songs feature Lee’s excellent vocals, and a variety of musical styles, including acoustic ballads, gospel and R&B.
Lee has said “I’ve had a lot of episodes with anxiety in my life and now I feel much more equipped to handle them, partly because my family and friends have always been so supportive of me. Over the course of my life, I’ve come to understand that music is my bridge to other people. I have no idea what the waters are like below that bridge—it might be lava for all I know—but music allows me to float over the whole thing and connect.”

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Get Back: The Rooftop Performance
****

Over Thanksgiving weekend 2021, Disney+ released Peter Jackson’s The Beatles Get Back. See my review here. In addition, there were special remix editions of the Beatles 1970 album Let It Be. Now, for the first time, the complete recording of the Beatles final concert appearance, recorded January 30, 1969 on top of the band’s Apple Corps headquarters in Central London, has been released on streaming sites as Get Back: The Rooftop Performance. Running a little more than thirty-eight minutes, the concert includes new stereo and Dolby Atmos mixes by Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin), and Sam Okell, consists of ten tracks – “Get Back” (three versions), “Don’t Let Me Down” (two versions), “I’ve Got a Feeling” (two versions), “Dig a Pony”, “One After 909”, and a brief instrumental “God Save the Queen”. Three of the songs from the rooftop performance made it on to the original Let It Be album – “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “Dig a Pony,” and “One After 909.”
A film version of the rooftop concert was shown in select IMAX theatres January 30, and will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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  • A review of Stand by the Newsboys
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics – “Stand” by the Newsboys, featuring TobyMac

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