Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
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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
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New and Upcoming Albums I’m Excited About

I love music in a number of different genres, including contemporary Christian music, Christian hip-hop/rap, worship and classic rock. Here are 8 new and upcoming albums that I’m excited about.

 

A Great Adventure – Steven Curtis Chapman  
The latest project from Steven Curtis Chapman, arriving less than two months after his Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows album, comes in both a DVD and audio recording format, filmed and recorded at the Gaither Studios in Alexandria, Indiana. The album chronicles Chapman’s life in song through live solo acoustic performances of some of his most popular songs, but no between song comments. Chapman has toured extensively performing solo concerts the past few years, and is very comfortable performing his songs backed only with his acoustic guitar. Listening to these songs, originally released between 1987 and 2018, reminds the listener of the blessing his music has been for more than thirty years now. Continue reading


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My Review of Springsteen on Broadway

Springsteen on Broadway, not rated (would be rated R for language)
****

The film Springsteen on Broadway, showing on Netflix, is a powerful and emotional mostly one man show, featuring the storytelling and music of Bruce Springsteen. The audio version album of the same name debuted at #1 on the iTunes top albums chart. The two-and-a-half-hour show was a part of his Tony Award winning sold-out run at the Walter Kerr Theatre, that began in October 2017 and wrapped up December 15, with its 236th and final performance. Springsteen on Broadway is Springsteen telling us about key moments and people in his life through extended song introductions and sixteen of his songs. If you have read his excellent autobiography Born to Run (see my review here), you’ll be familiar with some of the stories he tells. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

My Devotional Books for 2017

voices-from-the-pastVoices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings. Edited by Richard Rushing. Banner of Truth. 428 pages. 2009
****

The author writes that over the past fifty years there has been a great resurgence of interest in the writings of the Puritans.  I was personally introduced to the Puritans about twenty years ago by my pastor through the wonderful Puritan reprints of Dr. Don Kistler and also via The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. Richard Rushing has developed this book of daily readings extracted from some of his favorite Puritan authors (a second volume was recently published). His prayer is that these readings will stimulate the reader to explore further the writings of these spiritual giants.

Each of the short readings (approximately 350 words), begins with a Scripture verse. The author selected the verse according to the theme of the reading. While some of the devotions appear almost as written, others have been condensed by the author so that several pages form a single devotional reading. At the end of each reading is the Puritan author and a citation from where Richard Rushing pulled the reading.  I plan to use this wonderful resource as a part of my devotional reading for 2017.

60-days-of-happiness60 Days of Happiness: Discover God’s Promise of Relentless Joy by Randy Alcorn. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 304 pages. 2017
****

Respected author Randy Alcorn states that our problem isn’t that we want to be happy. Rather, our problem is that we keep looking for happiness in all of the wrong places. He writes that this new book, drawn from selected portions of his acclaimed 2016 book Happiness, will take you to God, the primary source of happiness in the universe. The book then connects the secondary sources of happiness back to the God who created them and graciously gives them to us.

The author has reworked the material from Happiness to present it here in a fresh and different way. I have not yet read Happiness, which is nearly 500 pages in length, though have read his small God’s Promise of Happiness, which encouraged me to read this medium sized book. For this book, the author and editor have selected subjects that most lend themselves to personal growth and worshipful meditation on God and his Word, which will be an excellent way to start 2017. Each of the 60 daily readings begin with a scripture verse and an inspirational quote (Tim Keller, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, etc.), and end with a prayer. I am using the book for daily devotional reading, though it can certainly be read straight through as you would a regular book. Whether you have read the larger Happiness and would like to return to the subject in a devotional format, or whether you haven’t read Happiness but want to learn what God and his people have said about the subject of happiness throughout the centuries, I think you will enjoy and be blessed by this new book. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

acoustic-christmasAcoustic Christmas –Neil Diamond
****

I’ve loved Neil Diamond’s Christmas music since his The Christmas Album in 1992. But I have to admit that when I saw the title of this album I wasn’t excited. I generally don’t like stripped down releases. However, I’m happy to admit that I really loved this mostly folk-styled new release!

First of all, the 75 year-old Diamond’s voice sounds great on this Don Was and Jacknife Lee produced record. The pair produced Diamond’s 2014 album Melody Road. It was during those sessions that the idea for this project took shape. Diamond recorded the record with a handful of musicians sitting around a circle of microphones and Christmas lights.

The album features traditional well-known Christmas songs, two new songs and some lesser known songs. For the most part, the songs features piano, acoustic guitar and no backing vocals. The album starts out with “O Holy Night” (my favorite Christmas song), “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and the new Diamond penned “Christmas Prayers”. The latter is a bittersweet song about remembering those close to him who are no longer here to celebrate Christmas with him.

The album continues with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Mary’s Boy Child” and “Silent Night”, before going into a higher gear with my two favorite songs on the album “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “Children Go Where I Tell Thee”, which both feature backing vocals from The Blind Boys of Alabama.

The upbeat Irish-inflected “Christmas in Killarney”, best known for Bing Crosby’s version, follows. The album closes with a the joyful three-song “Christmas Medley”, including the upbeat “Almost Day” (written by Pete Seeger and others), the Diamond-penned “Make a Happy Song” and concluding with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

If I had one critique it would be that the standard ten-song edition goes too quickly. Perhaps a few more songs could have been included. Otherwise, I loved this new Neil Diamond Christmas album. Continue reading