Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Vol. 1 – Shane and Shane
****

I was introduced to the worship duo Shane and Shane (Shane Barnard and Shane Everett) at the 2018 Getty worship conference Sing! For the entire time that I have followed them, the duo has released projects covering hymns and modern worship songs. Their last album of original material was 2015’s Psalms Vol. 2. Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Vol. 1 is a welcome return to original material, and it’s one of my favorite releases of 2021 thus far. The thirteen modern hymns are consistently excellent. It was hard to pick my favorites.
The album’s title comes from Colossians 3:16:  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Sing! Global (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) [Deluxe Edition] by Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Live in Denver – TobyMac
*** ½

TobyMac, who is currently charting with his single “Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)” has released a new live album Live in Denver.  The project features 15 songs from his Hits Deep early 2020 Tour, and includes collaborations with Terrian, Aaron Cole, Cochren & Co. and Ryan Stevenson. This follows his 2016 live album Hits Deep Live. Live in Denver is currently only available in a digital format. A CD/DVD version will be released September 10.
The track list focuses heavily on later career songs, including “21 Years”, the 2020 song he wrote after son Truett died, 8 from 2018’s The Elements, 3 from 2015’s This is Not a Test, and 2 from 2012’s Eye on It. He also includes “Lose My Soul” from Portable Sounds.
The complete track list and the album the song was originally on, is below:

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  • More of this review and a review of The Work Tapes EP by Wilder Woods
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics:  Almost Home by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Canyon – Ellie Holcomb
**** 

I first heard Ellie Holcomb on the song “Elizabeth”, a song she wrote with Kristyn Getty and included on the 2017 album Sing! – An Irish Christmas: Live at the Grand Ole Opry House. Watch a live performance of the song here.
I was attracted to this album by a tweet from NEEDTOBREATHE indicating that lead singer Bear Rinehart had teamed up with Holcomb for “Sweet Ever After”. I’m glad I checked out the album, as it’s one of my favorites of 2021.
The album was inspired by a trip Holcomb took to the Grand Canyon last summer. She has said that the songs, born out of a season of a lot of personal and global (COVID-19, racial tension, tornado, etc.) loss, feel like a soundtrack to healing and hope.  Canyon, produced by Cason Colley, is Holcomb’s follow-up to her 2017 Red Sea Road album. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Her father, Christian music veteran Brown Bannister served as executive producer.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Chris Tomlin & Friends: Summer EP
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Sing! Global: Live at the Getty Music Conference – Keith and Kristyn Getty and Friends
****

The latest album from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Sing! Getty Music Conferences was recorded live at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville and around the world. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held online, rather than live in Nashville as in past years. The nineteen tracks feature a mix of new and old songs, and artists including Keith and Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, CityAlight, Steven Curtis Chapman, Shane & Shane, Matt Redman, Sandra McCracken and others. I most enjoyed the new songs “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”, “Lovingkindness”, “Psalm 150”, “The Everlasting Love of God”, “Christ the True and Better” as well as Sandra McCracken’s “We Will Feast in the House of Zion”, featuring H.B. Charles Jr.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Zoom In (EP) by Ringo Starr
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics – Psalm 42 (Loudest Praise) by Shane and Shane

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Milk & Honey by Crowder
****

Milk & Honey is Crowder’s fourth studio album, and his follow-up to 2018’s I Know a Ghost. Crowder has written that the title Milk & Honey is about promise. The album is a celebration of the future we are marching towards together and a prayer that each of us can live in this promise in the here and now. It features a variety of musical genres, though less of the swamp rock and bluegrass that his previous albums have included. Several of the songs are about Jesus and will soon find themselves into worship services. This is one of my top albums of 2020 thus far.

Below are a few comments about each song:
Good God Almighty – This song was written by Jeff Sojka, Ben Glover and Crowder, and produced by Sojka and Glover. The song has charted high on Christian radio. Crowder describes this song as some good old-fashioned group singing, people singing in harmony. An excellent opening song.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Leftover Feelings – John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band
****

I’m been a fan of the now 68-year-old singer-songwriter John Hiatt’s music since his 1987 album Bring the Family. Leftover Feelings is his follow-up to 2018’s The Eclipse Sessions. The new album, one of my favorites of 2021, is a collaboration with the Jerry Douglas Band. It was produced by Douglas and recorded at the historic RCA Studio B in Nashville. Hiatt is joined by multi-instrumentalist Douglas (dobro, lap steel guitar, etc.), Daniel Kimbro on bass, Mike Seal on guitar, Christian Sedelmeyer on violin and Carmela Ramsey on vocals. They chose to record without drums to keep expressive Hiatt’s voice and lyrics in the spotlight. The album features a bluegrass and country rock sound and features a number of Hiatt’s story songs along with a few introspective songs.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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    • Fogerty’s Factory (Expanded Edition) by John Fogerty
  • Song of the Week Lyrics ~ I Wanna Remember by NEEDTOBREATHE, featuring Carrie Underwood

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Reviews

Departures – Jon Forman
****This is the first solo album for the multi-talented leader of Switchfoot, after releasing multiple EPs, the latest being 2015’s four EP collection The Wonderlands. The album features 12 new songs all of which were written or co-written by Foreman. He also produced or co-produced each song. The mostly acoustic songs feature excellent musicianship, and I particularly liked his use of strings.
Foreman has said that this is an album “born out of the turmoil and desperation of the last year, (and this year, too). It’s an album that’s born from the journey, not the destination.” This is an excellent album with themes such as doubt, fears, lessons learned, thanksgiving, love, loss, and those things that really matter. I’ve always enjoyed Foreman’s solo work, and feel that this is his strongest release to date.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Evensong (Deluxe/An Evening at Hidden Trace Farm) by Keith and Kristyn Getty
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

All That You Can’t Leave Behind – U2 (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)
****

I have a long, and complicated, relationship with U2. From the Christian content on War the brilliance of The Joshua Tree and through Achtung Baby, U2 was my favorite band. I saw them in concert for the first time on their Zoo TV tour – a concert that I really looked forward to – and was completely turned off. I skipped their Zooropa and Pop albums, and was pretty much done with them. In October 2000, they released All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Pete, a team member of mine, ran over and bought the album over lunch. I didn’t plan to purchase it, but he let me borrow it that night. The U2 I loved was back.
I saw two shows on their tour supporting the album – one before the 9/11 tragedy and one after, two very different shows. The album would go on to win seven Grammy Awards, including record of the year and best rock album.
U2 has released four studio albums in the past 20 years, all good but not great. This was their last great album. Some of their political views (pro-abortion, for example), of the past few years has again soured me on the band. Like I said, my relationship with the band is complicated.
Twenty years to the day of its original release, the band released a 20th Anniversary Edition of the album in multiple formats. The “Super Deluxe” audio edition includes 51 songs, including the unreleased “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”, a previously released (on video) Boston concert, B-sides, outtakes and remixes. The original album has been remastered and sounds great. I’m generally not a fan of remixes, and four dances remixes of “Elevation” seems excessive. Still, I would recommend this for fans off U2’s music.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Freedom (EP) – Justin Bieber
*** ½

Justin Bieber released this surprise six-song EP on Easter, just two weeks after he had released his latest album, the chart-topping Justice. The project, which includes several collaborations, features lyrics clearly affirming Bieber’s faith and trust in Jesus as his savior. My only criticism, and it’s a minor one, is that the energy falls off a bit with the final three songs, after opening with three upbeat songs.
Here are a few brief comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Live from the Woods, Vol. 2 by NEEDTOBREATHE
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