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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
****

Rough and Rowdy Ways is 79-year-old Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album, and his first of original material since 2012’s Tempest. The title of the album comes from the 1929 song “My Rough and Rowdy Ways” by Jimmie Rodgers. Between Tempest and the new album, Dylan released three albums (one of them being a triple album), of traditional pop standards covers, many of which had been recorded by Frank Sinatra, as well as seven volumes in his ongoing Bootleg Series. The ten new songs here, which cover nearly 71 minutes, have themes of love, mortality, menace, and doom, and make allusions to many historical figures and works of art. Dylan is backed by his touring band, he wrote all songs, and it is assumed that it was self-produced, though there are no producer credits given.
The album, his first album of new material since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, is one of my favorite releases of 2020 thus far. Below are a few comments about each song:
I Contain Multitudes – This was the second song released prior to album’s release. The title comes from Song of Myself, 51 from Walt Whitman. Dylan sings the song beautifully in a low register over an acoustic guitar and cello. He’s a man of contradictions, a man of many moods, he contains multitudes
Key lyric:
I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones
And them British bad boys, the Rolling Stones

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Go – John Schlitt
****

I first heard the incredible voice of John Schlitt in 1975 when I was a freshman in college and he was the lead singer of Head East. Their album Flat as a Pancake had two singles that were getting a lot of play on the radio – “Never Been Any Reason” and “Love Me Tonight”. I was excited when I heard that Schlitt had joined the Christian band Petra as lead singer in 1986. During his tenure with the band, Petra earned 10 Dove Awards and four Grammys. Schlitt has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as the lead singer of Petra. Now, 45 years after Flat as a Pancake, and at age 70, he has released Go, his sixth solo album, and his voice still sounds amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed this new album, mostly made up of rockers.

Here are a few comments about each song:

Go – This up-tempo song was written by Schlitt and Mark Lee Townsend, with Townsend producing. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar and drums. Petra’s John Lawry is among those adding backing vocals. The song addresses the question of what our path is. There is no time to stop. Take your shot and keep moving on. An excellent opener.

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    • United: Live – Newsboys
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Hymns in the Round – Shane and Shane
****

The latest project from the duo Shane and Shane is an album of ten hymns and worship songs from acoustic studio sessions held in Dallas in November, 2019. Most (eight of ten) songs included here were also included on their 2019 Hymns Vol. 2 album. The difference here is that the songs are performed “unplugged”.

Below are a few comments about each song:

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§  More of this review and a review of The Lost Demos by TobyMac
§  Music News
§  Song of the Week Lyrics- Forever Jesus by Stuart Townend with Keith and Kristyn Getty Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Resurrection – Sing! The Life of Christ Quintology – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.
The new album is being released in five separate EPs over a period of several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.
The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.
The third EP to be released is on the Resurrection. Below are a few comments about each song:

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Illumination – Phil Keaggy and Rex Paul
****

Phil Keaggy is one of the most respected guitarists of this generation, and has been a long-time favorite of mine. His last vocal album, 2016’s All at Once, was one of my top albums of that year. He returns with a new vocal album collaboration with Rex Paul Schnelle. The two first met in the mid-1980’s. They collaborated on the song “I Love the Way You Love Me” on All at Once, which led to this collaboration.
The album features five songs that Keaggy and Paul wrote together, four new versions of Keaggy classics, and one song that each artist collaborated on with others. The album was recorded at the artist’s home studios. The two-guitar approach, strong vocals, and fresh production by Paul, makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Keaggy’s vocals are outstanding, and he sounds as good as he did in the 1980’s.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Reviews

Sing! The Life of Christ Quintology: Passion (EP)
****

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.

The new album will be released in five separate EPs over the next several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.
The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.

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 More of this review and a review of Let There Be Wonder by Matt Redman
 Music News
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Alive & Breathing, Vol. 1 – Matt Maher
****

This is the first of four Alive & Breathing releases from Matt Maher. Each EP will feature three songs – a new song, a live version of a song that Maher has written for other artists but hasn’t recorded himself, and a live version of some of Maher’s previous songs. Here are a few comments on each song on Vol. 1.

Run to the Father – This song was written by Maher with Cody Carnes and Ran Jackson and produced by Bernie Herms. The powerful song of surrender features piano, strings, drums, and backing choir vocals.

Key lyric:
I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So, I’ll run to the Father, again and again

Lord, I Need You (Señor, Te Necesito) – This is a live version of Maher’s worship song “Lord, I Need You”, which Maher recorded with Bianca, who sings in Spanish. Maher wrote the song with Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, Jesse Reeves and Kristian Stanfill. The song features piano, bass, guitar, drums, and the audience singing along. The voices of Maher and Bianca blend well.

White Flag – This is a live version of a song that Chris Tomlin originally recorded at the Passion Conference. Maher wrote the song with Tomlin, Jason Ingram and Matt Redman. The song features synth, drums, guitar, bass and the audience singing along.

Key lyric:
We raise our white flag
We surrender all to you, all for you
We raise our white flag, the war is over
Love has come, your love has won

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

United – Newsboys (Deluxe Edition)
****

In the spring of 2018, former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler and former bassist Phil Joel joined the then current Newsboy lineup of Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein and Jody Davis for a Newsboys reunion tour. Since then the Newsboys United have played more than 150 concerts. As a result, this new studio album has been highly anticipated. And the album, which is comprised of praise and worship songs, does not disappoint. The album, co-produced by Furler and Duncan Sparks and featuring a number of different writers, has a clean and energetic sound, as it merges the former members and current members together for a satisfying result.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Greatness of Our God – This worship song about the greatness of God, was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. This was the first song released from the album. Furler and Tait share lead vocals on an excellent opening song.

Symphony – This song was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. The voices of Furler and Tait blend well on this prayer, and Phillips’ drums particularly stand out.

Key lyrics:
So, let my life be, let my life be
A symphony, a symphony
Every breath that I breathe
Lord I wanna bring You glory, glory


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~ Believe by Russ Taff
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology: Incarnation – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

Sing! The Life of Christ: Quintology is the fourth album to be released from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! worship music conferences, following 2018’s Sing! Live at The Getty Music Worship Conference and 2019’s Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) and Sing! An Irish Christmas – Live At The Grand Ole Opry House.
The new album will be released in five separate EPs over the next several months. The project will follow the five main themes of the 2019 Sing! conference – Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, Commission, and Ascension of Jesus Christ, and include 30 songs. To find out more about my takeaways from the 2019 conference, held in Nashville, read my article “Reflections From the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference here.
The album was recorded at the Gaylord Hotel Convention Center, the Grand Ole Opry House and the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Everything that the Gettys and their musical friends do is with excellence. Throughout, the songwriting, singing and musical performances are of a very high quality, especially noteworthy for a live recording.
The first EP is on the Incarnation. Below are a few comments about each song:

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§  More of this review
§  Music News
§  Song of the Week Lyrics

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Christmas – Sandra McCracken
****

I love Christmas music and each year add new albums to my collection. Christmas by Sandra McCracken is a new album that I can recommend to you. I became aware of McCracken’s music at a few conferences that my wife Tammy and I have attended recently.
The album was recorded over three days in a studio just outside of Nashville. McCracken wrote that she joined up with Gabe Dixon, Will Sayles, Anthony LaMarca, Joey Bradshaw, Cindy Morgan, Matt Pierson, Don Chaffer and Tim Nicholson to make the record. Russ Long mixed the recordings together with orchestration from Isaac Wardell and friends in Charlottesville, VA, vocals from Josh Garrels in Indiana, and cello from Cara Fox and B3 from Phil Madeira.
McCracken has had the desire to record a Christmas album for years. It was on a trip to Israel two years ago when she visited the birthplace of Jesus and the shepherd’s field near Bethany that pushed her to make Christmas. The eleven songs include both originals and Christmas classics. Here are a few comments on each song:

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