Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Here are reviews from four brand-new albums:

Jesus is King – Kanye West
***

Jesus is King is the highly anticipated and publicized new album, and the first gospel music album, from the controversial Kanye West. I’ll admit that I’ve not previously heard any music from West, who has won an amazing 21 Grammy Awards.
This year, West began attending Placerita Bible Church in Newhall, California. The church is a non-denominational congregation, led by senior pastor, Adam Tyson, a graduate of the respected Master’s Seminary, which was founded by John MacArthur. Tyson has been instrumental in guiding Kanye West’s spiritual journey, including consulting on the lyrics of this album.
West uses a lot of collaborators on the writing and producing of these songs. This album, his ninth studio project, clocks in at only 27 minutes, and topped the charts upon release.
My overall assessment is that while inconsistent, this is a solid effort and worth consideration from those who enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music. Here are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and reviews of~
  • Three Cords & The Truth – Van Morrison
  • Western Stars – Songs from the Film – Bruce Springsteen
  • What’s My Name – Ringo Starr
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Hymns Vol. 2 – Shane and Shane
****

Shane and Shane follow Hymns Vol. 1 and Hymns Live with more classic and modern hymns done in their distinctive worshipful style. The hymns are creatively arranged in a way that they can be used for congregational singing in church worship services, as well as enjoyed for individual worship. The album starts with four classic hymns, then moves to four modern hymns, before ending with two more classic hymns.
Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
Be Thou My Vision (Lord You Are) – “Be Thou My Vision” is an 8th century Irish hymn that was translated by Eleanor Hull in 1912. “Lord You Are (More Precious Than Silver)” was written by Lynn DeShazo. The song features acoustic guitar, strings, backing vocals and some good drum work. 

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  • More of this review and reviews of ~
    • The St. Nemele Collab Sessions – TobyMac
    • Okie – Vince Gill
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MUSIC REVIEWS

His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa
****

This is the first time hymnwriters Matt Boswell and Matt Papa have recorded an album together. Recorded live with a full band and the voices of the audience worshipping with them, His Mercy is More: The Hymns of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa is a gift to the church. The album includes some well-known hymns that are sung in churches such as “His Mercy is More”, “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor” and “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery”, as well as some hymns that have not been previously recorded. The two have been writing together for the past 10-12 years. This album will be on my list of top albums for the year.
Below are a few comments about each song:
His Mercy is More – This song was written by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa and inspired from one of John Newton’s letters.
Key lyric:
Praise the Lord!
His mercy is more.
Stronger than darkness; new every morn;
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more.

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  • More of this review and Reviews of The Search by NF, and Wilder Wood by Wilder Woods
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Live at Woodstock – Creedence Clearwater Revival
****

On Sunday, August 17, 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), arguably the hottest band on the planet at the time (their album Green River had just been released and their single “Bad Moon Rising” was on the radio), played the Woodstock Festival. The band had appeared on the Andy Williams television program in Los Angeles the night before. They then took a flight to Boston, a private jet to upstate New York, a helicopter ride to a nearby Holiday Inn and another one to the rainy and muddy festival site. They were scheduled to play in front of the crowd of 500,000 at 10:00pm that evening. But the Grateful Dead set went long, and they didn’t get on until about 1:00pm, when most of the crowd was asleep.  The band chose not to be included in the film or the soundtrack recording (rumors were that John Fogerty wasn’t happy with the set), but on the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, the entire eleven song set is finally being released for the first time.

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  • More of this review and reviews of
    • Acoustic Live, Vol. 1 by NEEDTOBREATHE
    • Back Again by Mac Powell and the Family Reunion
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen
***

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:

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  • 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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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Untitled Hymn: A Collection of Hymns – Chris Rice
****

Chris Rice returned to the music scene in January after twelve years with Songs We Wrote On Tuesdays, a collaborative duo side project he completed with Andrew Ripp. Untitled Hymn: A Collection of Hymns is Rice’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2006 best-seller Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project. That record has been streamed an incredible 72 million times to date. Similar to that album, Untitled Hymn is very simple musically, with Rice’s voice usually accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar and light backing vocals. The album, which was produced by Ken Lewis, features a new recording of his classic “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)”, eleven other hymns and one new song “Too Much I Love”. I absolutely love this new recording.
Here are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Mood by Social Club Misfits
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows – Steven Curtis Chapman
***

In 2013, five-time Grammy winner Steven Curtis Chapman released Deep Roots, an album which featured 12 songs, 5 of which are available on the new Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows, released on Chapman’s own New Day distributed-SCSee label. Both albums represent a return to bluegrass, Chapman’s musical roots.
In addition to the 5 songs from Deep Roots, the new album contains eight other songs. The album is comprised of a mixture of well-loved hymns, new versions of Chapman favorites and two new songs. Chapman is joined by Ricky Skaggs, Rascal Flatt’s Gary LeVox and family members on the album, which was produced by Chapman and Brent Milligan.
Below are a few comments about each of the songs:

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  • More of this review and reviews of The Eclipse Sessions by John Hiatt, and In the Blue Light by Paul Simon
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics

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