Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Roll with the Punches – Van Morrison
****

Anytime you have the great Van Morrison covering strong material with excellent musicians you know you’re in for a treat. Morrison follows up 2016’s strong release Keep Me Singing with his 37th studio album, which he self-produced. The album contains ten covers of old blues and soul classics along with five songs written by Morrison.  Van’s voice is still an incredible instrument, and he brings passion to these blues songs, whether cover or original. Morrison has stated that from a very early age he connected with the blues. A strong group of collaborators join him on the album including Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, Jeff Beck (who contributes to seven of the songs), Paul Jones and Jason Rebello.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album. Below are a few comments about each song:

Roll with the Punches – This song was written by Morrison and Don Black. While an original, this sounds like a classic blues song.  It features some excellent piano, guitar, keyboard. It’s an excellent opener.
Transformation – This ballad was written by Morrison. It features organ, an excellent guitar solo by Jeff Beck and backing vocals by Chris Farlowe. Key lyric: Get used to righteousness ’cause it makes you feel whole, gonna be a transformation right down in your soul
I Can Tell – This song was written by Bo Diddley and Samuel Bernard Smith in 1962. It has an instantly infectious beat, featuring keys, backing vocals, guitar solo and harmonica solo from Morrison.
Stormy Monday/Lonely Avenue – These songs were written by T-Bone Walker (in 1947), and Doc Pomus, the latter of which was a hit for Ray Charles in 1956. The songs previously had appeared on Morrison’s 1994 live album A Night in San Francisco. The song features vocals from Chris Farlowe, a guitar and harmonica solo from Morrison along with backing vocals.
Goin’ To Chicago – This song was written by Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing in 1941. It’s a slow blues number featuring a duet with Georgie Fame, harmonica by Morrison, and Chris Hill on double bass.
Fame – This song was written by Morrison. It had originally been included on Morrison’s 2002 What’s Wrong with this Picture? album. This version features backing vocals, a great blues beat, guitar and harmonica from Morrison. Key lyric: Oh no don’t believe all that old Andy Warhol guff. It takes a lot more than 10 or 15 minutes.  
Too Much Trouble – This song was written by Morrison.  The band really shines on this breezy blues song featuring guitar, horns, piano and Morrison on sax. He wants the trouble in his life stopped.
Bring It on Home to Me – This song was written by Sam Cooke in 1962. It appeared earlier on Morrison’s live album “…It’s Too Late to Stop Now…” Volume 1.  The new version features a strong vocal from Morrison, organ, piano, backing vocals and a great guitar solo by Jeff Beck.
Ordinary People – This song was written by Morrison and originally appeared on his 1998 album Philosopher’s Stone. It features some excellent guitar by Jeff Beck, piano, keys, and backing vocals. Key lyric: Ordinary people, they just don’t seem to comprehend.   
How Far From God – This song was written by Sister Rosetta Tharpe in 1946. The toe-tapping arrangement is led by some excellent piano, along with organ, guitar and a passionate vocal from Morrison. A highlight.
Teardrops From My Eyes – This song was written by Rudy Toombs in 1950. This breezy arrangement features piano, guitar, keys, backing vocals, and a great sax solo from Morrison.
Automobile Blues – This song was written by Lightnin’ Hopkins in 1949. Morrison’s sax playing is the highlight of this song, which also features piano and guitar.
Benediction –  This song was written by Mose Allison in 1971. It was originally included on Morrison’s 1996 collaborative album Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison. It features piano, backing vocals, organ and sax from Morrison. Key lyric: Wherever you wander, whatever your breed, there’s just one thing baby, that comes from above. When push comes to shove, thank God for self-love.   
Mean Old World – This song was written by Little Walter in 1951. It’s a slow blues number featuring, some excellent piano, a guitar solo, and harmonica solo by Morrison.
Ride On Josephine – This song was written by Bo Diddley in 1960. This upbeat track features Morrison on harmonica, along with good backing vocals and guitar. It would be a great song for Morrison and band to tackle in concert. A highlight. Continue reading

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Music News, Reviews and More

Tomorrow We Live – KB

Tomorrow We Live – KB
****
Lecrae’s Reach Records continues its run of strong releases with KB’s (Kevin Burgess) second full-length album, and the follow-up to his 2014’s EP 100. The album was recorded in various location (Tampa, Atlanta, South Africa). It features strong production, powerful lyrics which ultimately offer a message of hope, and varied styles.

In interviews KB has said that he drew inspiration for the album from a trip to South Africa and that the album is a story that goes through the emotions of the day. Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:

Rich Forever – features piano and acoustic guitar, this is a smooth jazzy/R&B song with an infectious beat. KB tells of growing up poor and that we will have riches in Heaven, which are better than riches in this world.

Sideways (featuring Lecrae) – this features a great beat as label owner Lecrae joins him on this excellent track, which looks at the way Christians are often seen by the world. My favorite track on the album.

They don’t know what to do with us
Degree in theology raps for a livin’
Black man in first class that is reading the scriptures
I put my tray table up
Smile why they lookin’ sideways?

And lately I’ve been hangin’ in the hood
Everybody lookin’ like what
You for the people, you pushin’ back evil
Not just in the steeple, you out in the woods
Where the lions and the wolves at?

I Believe (featuring Mattie of For Today) – features a chanting crowd screaming “I believe we will win.” KB addresses subjects from breast cancer and racism to the hope of Heaven. Features a joyful African chorus with drums.

9 AM – a short interlude with wife and baby and a reference to Lecrae’s “Dirty Water” from Anomaly.

Fall in Love with You – features a ukulele and some muted brass. The song is written to his son. It has a pop sound that demonstrates his versatility. It’s similar in theme to Trip Lee’s song about his children “Beautiful Life 2” from Rise.

Always & Forever – soul and funk with a 70’s/80’s sound. Upbeat and joyful, featuring female vocals. A love songs written to his wife. Could be a commercial success such as Lecrae’s “All I Need is You”.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

Ima Just Do It (featuring Bubba Watson) – featuring two-time Masters golf tournament champion and one of my favorite golfers Bubba Watson. Has a great beat which will sound good live.

Bubba Wats on the mic now.
Can a golfer spit a rhyme?
Not a gangsta rapper, but my caddie got a knife.
KB need a verse,
Told him ain’t nothin’ to it.
Everybody ask me why, I just look ’em in the eye and say
I’m a just do it
Country boy from the panhandle
No golf lessons, just God’s blessin’s
Ain’t nothin’ He can’t handle,
Left-handed, funny swing,
Driver’s pink, ain’t nothin’ to me.
Got two Masters, a double major
But just one Master, our Savior.

Cruising – a short smooth track in which KB raps about Tampa, shrimp, garlic sauce, riding his bike and breaking bones in an accident.

Calling You – KB tells the heartbreaking story about an Iraq War veteran’s attempted suicide. Features some female vocals.

Save Me – short song that serves to bridge us from “Calling You” to “Drowning”.

Drowning – a laid-back beat with autobiographical content from KB.

Pull me up now before I drown
Save me before I drown.

Lights Go Out (featuring Bianca and Justin Ebach) – Could be another song about his wife. Features vocals from solo artist Bianca and composer/producer Justin Ebach. Has an excellent hook that sounds familiar.

When the lights go out it’s going to be me and you.

Crowns & Thorns (Oceans) – samples the popular worship song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United. The song mixes hip-hop beats with violins and keyboard, and verses of despair and upbeat chorus:

My idols are mimickin’ Jesus
I bury my sin in 3 days, its back up again

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Find Your Way – a bonus track. KB tells women to look at their value in Christ, not in their looks or in the eyes of men. Features some effective drums.

This is a very strong release in which KB shows his flexibility, not only as a hip-hop artists but also incorporating funk and pop influences.

Song of the Week
This week’s song is my second favorite hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, written by the great Reformer Martin Luther.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, 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.

Music speaks quote Music Quotes:
• Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Bob Dylan
• My God’s good, but He’s not safe. Andy Mineo
• God wants worshippers before workers. Indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the art of worship. A.W. Tozer

Record PlayerIn Praise of Hymns. Hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty were recently profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.
Before Tomorrow. Check out this seven minute film from KB.
“Jesus Loves Me” from Chris Tomlin. Watch the video of the acoustic version of this song from his Love Ran Red album.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings. Marshall Segal tells the story of the famous hymn and includes a new recording.
Preview Video for New James Taylor Album. Check out this two minute video in which James Taylor talks about a few songs from his first album of all new material in 13 years, Before This World, which will be released June 16. I’m really looking forward to this new album.