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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More of this review and a review of
Fogerty’s Factory (Expanded Edition) by John Fogerty
Song of the Week Lyrics ~ I Wanna Remember by NEEDTOBREATHE, featuring Carrie Underwood
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
This is KB’s fourth studio album, his first album since 2017’s Today We Rebel (see my review here), and also his first since leaving Reach Records. The new album features God-centered lyrics, samples from several worship songs, and contains themes including praise and worship, being a father, and race.
Below are a few comments about each song:
Let it Reign – This song was written by Tee-Wyla, Michael Farren, Cardec Drums, Bizzle and KB. It was produced by Tee-Wyla and Drums. The song features Bizzle, and begins with a sample of Michael W. Smith’s song “Let it Rain”. The song then moves into a hard-driving beat as he calls for Yahweh to reign over all.
Key lyric: Your throne won’t end, Your crown won’t move
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.
Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions) – NEEDTOBREATHE *** ½
This EP contains four songs that the band recorded over a few weeks while they were in Fort Worth, Texas with the producer trio Niles City Sound. The EP gives us a good idea where the constantly evolving band is now. Below are a few comments about each of the new songs:
Bridges Burn – This was the first song released from the EP. It opens with piano and hand-clap. Bear Rinehart sings that it’s time for moving on as there are some things you can’t forget. He wants to watch all his bridges burn and dance in the light of a lesson learned. He wants to leave everything that hurts and never go back to the way they were. The mid-tempo song builds gradually over a passionate vocal.
Key lyric: I need to find somewhere I can believe. I need to know there’s a chance we can be.
Darling – This beautiful song has Bear singing over acoustic guitar. He is singing to his wife, wanting to talk to her on the phone while he’s on the road and she’s at home. He just wants to be home with her, the only thing that carries him through. He acknowledges that it’s hard for her to be at home, taking care of the house on her own. As the song builds, light instrumentation, including some horns and backing vocals supplement Bear’s vocals. Key lyric: I don’t wanna do this alone.
Bullets – This song opens with guitar, and then moves into a rock beat, with drum, organ, horns, keys and backing vocals. The song is about how you can’t put the bullets back into a gun, can’t undo what we have done or said, which is a tough lesson we have to learn. Musically, it’s the most interesting song on the collection.
Key lyric: Don’t let your heart be stone, don’t be the bitter one.
Forever On Your Side – The closing song was the only song that hadn’t been released prior to the full EP being released, and it’s my favorite song on the EP. It features husband and wife duo Johnnyswim (Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez) on backing vocals. The band has indicated that this song was written for their fans who have been with them since the very beginning. The song begins with guitar and then builds with drums and banjo. The lyrics are uplifting and encouraging. We don’t know what’s around the bend but love knows no end and he’ll be forever on her side. Like Jesus, he will carry her every time because he’s forever on her side. With Johnnyswim joining the band on tour, this song will sound amazing live.
Key lyric: Take my hand when you can’t see the light, ‘cause I’m forever on your side.
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Reviews of Nobody Loves Me Like You by Chris Tomlin and My New Moon by Amos Lee
Music Quotes from Keith Getty
Song of the Week Lyrics Continue reading →
Below are a few new and upcoming albums that I’m looking forward to:
Forever On Your Side Niles City Sound Sessions – NEEDTOBREATHE
This four-song EP will be released on July 13. The band has already released three of the songs – “Bridges Burn”, “Darling” and “Bullets”.
Noble Ape – Jim Gaffigan
This album will be released on July 13. The film will be available on that date in select cities. I’m looking forward to this release as I saw a concert on this tour that this album was recorded on.
From the artist’s website: “In his all new Noble Ape stand up special, Jim Gaffigan gets personal as he discusses the medical crisis that befell his wife and family this year, which almost led to his retirement”.
My New Moon – Amos Lee
This album will be released August 31. It is Lee’s follow-up to 2016’s Spirit.
From the Amazon description: “Singer/songwriter Amos Lee says his seventh studio album My New Moon is “a dedication…it’s an offering – an altar of sorts to those who have shared their sorrows with me.” It is a product of profound human experiences; loss, grief, hope, healing, love, sorrow, and rejuvenation. Each track on My New Moon takes a journey through these intense and personal experiences. Opening track “No More Darkness, No More Light” was rewritten entirely after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and speaks to the hope for change that lies in amongst tragic situations and challenges. “Little Light,” written for a young girl who beat cancer, is a positive message of spreading light for the world to see, even if you’re facing hardship. “Hang On, Hang On” reflects the helplessness that comes after the loss of a loved one, “Crooked” brings to light the difficult and confusing times we’ve faced throughout history in America, and “I Get Weak” is a beautifully dark love song to something that might kill you, but you need it to go on living. The album as a whole reflects the darkness and the light that we all both experience and bring into the world, and how through these personal experiences and hard times, we grow more connected to one another.” Continue reading →
Resurrection Letters, Volume 1 – Andrew Peterson ****
Ten years ago, Andrew Peterson, one of our most respected singer/songwriters, was working on an album that he says was more or less on the resurrection of Jesus. As he started working on the songs, he realized that they actually were more about the way Jesus’ resurrection plays out in our lives rather than the resurrection itself. So, the album was creatively titled Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2.
This year, Peterson finally began work on Vol. 1 with producer Ben Shive, who also produced Vol. 2, ten years ago. But Peterson felt it would be odd to write about Jesus’s victory over death without spending time writing about his death itself. That led to an EP, Resurrection Letters: Prologue. See my review here.
Now it is time for Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1. And it has been worth the wait. A Deluxe Edition version includes Resurrection Letters: Prologue. Below are a few brief comments about each song on this wonderful collection from one of our best songwriters.
His Heart Beats – This joyful song is about our Lord waking up, coming back to life in the grave. It begins with a drum beat that sounds like a heartbeat. It includes piano, drum, acoustic guitar and backing vocals. The Lamb of God slain for us is a lion ready to roar. His work is already done, he has defeated death, the final enemy, and the grave. Death no long has dominion over him. He took one breath and put death to death. The song includes the chorus of the much-loved Matthew Bridges 1851 hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns”.
Key lyric: The blood that brought us peace with God is racing through his veins. Risen Indeed – This is a song that Peterson wrote in 2009 on the Resurrection Letters Volume 2 tour and was saving to record for Resurrection Letters Vol. 1. The song begins with piano and builds with base and drum. He sings of Peter racing to the tomb and then of Jesus speaking Mary’s name. Abraham could not have dreamed of how all of those promises would be fulfilled in Jesus.
Key lyric: He is not dead; he is risen, risen indeed. Continue reading →
Hard Cuts: Songs from the H A R D L O V E Sessions (EP) – NEEDTOBREATHE ****
NEEDTOBREATHE has stated that one of the hardest parts about finishing their chart-topping 2016 album H A R D L O V E was determining which songs had to be cut to get down to the twelve songs for the album. This new EP contains six songs, two of them alternate versions of “Hard Love”, along with four songs that were cut from the original album.
The EP contains two new versions of “Hard Love”, one featuring Serena Ryder and one featuring Andra Day. Along with the version featuring Lauren Daigle from The Shack: Music From and Inspired By, this makes three versions of the song released since the album was released last year, which seems to be a bit of an overkill.
Below are brief comments on the other four songs: Waiting – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It is a keyboard driven song with a strong drum beat, backing vocals and a good guitar solo. He is haunted by a woman, who keeps him waiting, shaking, trembling, and chasing mistakes that he made. It’s my least favorite of the new songs. Count on Me – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Tozer, Bear and Bo Rinehart. This song features a strong drum beat, keys and some backing vocals. Thematically it is similar to “Brother” from their excellent Rivers in the Wasteland album. It features encouraging lyrics. Everybody needs a pick me up
You can count on me Walking on Water – The last two songs of the four new ones were my favorites, starting with “Walking on Water”. This song will appeal to the band’s Christian fan base as it will remind them of Peter walking on the water to Jesus in Matthew 14. It starts slowly and then builds powerfully and joyfully on the chorus with a with a strong drum beat and backing vocals. There’s no turning back. Can’t see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water Cages – This song was produced by Ed Cash and NEEDTOBREATHE and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It’s another song that the band’s Christian fan base will resonate with. It starts as a piano-driven song, with light drums. He was looking for attention, was needing redemption but all he got was cages. It then builds powerfully with drums and guitar. They reference their 2009 album The Outsiders, stating that they’re a band of outsiders. I’m in a prison for a man gone wrong
But I’ve found a future, this is not my home Continue reading →
Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird ****
Andy Mineo returns with his first new album (mixtape) since 2015’s excellent Uncomfortable. The album debuted at #2 on iTunes Albums chart and #1 on their Hip-Hop/Rap chart. On this release, he teams up with good friend Wordsplayed (as Magic and Bird), the son of Nigerian immigrants who came to the United States in the early 1980’s and met Mineo in 2008. This playful and basketball themed release is a perfect summer listen, and builds on their 2015 single “Lay Up”, which is included here as a bonus track. Along with BEAM, the release includes production from GAWVI and !llmind, who also produced Uncomfortable.
Below are a few brief comments on each song: Hi-Five – A short introductory track, mostly speaking. KIDZ – The song was produced by Tyshane and Daniel Jordan. It was written by Tyshane, Jordan, Wordsplayed and Mineo. This was the first release from the new album. The bridge contains a brief piece reminiscent of the Doxology.
Key lyric: I’m in the pocket like Brady, Magic and Bird like the 80’s Kobe, I might put up eighty Look only Jesus can save me
Dunk Contest – This song was produced by Young Sidechain and Beam, and was written by Wordsplayed and Mineo. It was the second single to be released from the album. The two trade lines about basketball, cities, single moms, etc.
Key lyric: Yeah, so shout out all the single mothers 2 jobs, 3 kids, I call that a triple double Continue reading →
Where the Light Shines Through (Deluxe Edition) – Switchfoot ****
Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands, second only to U2. This is their first full-length album since their chart-topping 2014 album Fading West. An EP of songs from the Fading West sessions The Edge of the Earth, was also released in 2014. Lead singer/songwriter Jon Foreman also released four solo Wonderlands EPs in 2015.
This is the band’s 10th album in their 20-year career. It is also the first time in ten years that the band has worked with producer John Fields, who worked with them on their 2003 breakthrough album The Beautiful Letdown, as well as 2005’s Nothing is Sound and 2006’s Oh! Gravity. Bassist Tim Foreman has said that the band went through a dark season and the record become a source of light in the middle of that dark season. He stated that the album rose organically out of the ashes of adversity.
This is an excellent new release from the band that always sounds fresh. Jon Foreman’s vocals are excellent and Chad Butler’s drums really stand out. I would have liked a few more rockers, but still love the album.
Below are a few comments on each of the songs on the deluxe edition, which debuted on iTunes Top Albums chart at #2:
Holy Water – a strong opener with grungy drums and guitars that reminded me of the band’s raw Oh! Gravity sound. Jon sings that he has fought the fire with fire and he wants to taste the Lord’s love again.
Float – features an infectious funky beat. I liked this song instantly. Jon sings “Turn it up so I can feel it. Loud enough so I can get near it.” He sings don’t let them tell you what to feel like, and that money’s going to leave you broken-hearted. It can’t finish what we started. A favorite.
Where the Light Shines Through – opens with guitar, then quickly goes into drums and the full band. Jon sings encouragingly that we can’t run away from ourselves. He sings that our scars shine like dark stars and that our wounds are where the light shines through, it’s where the light finds us. The band describes it as “a gospel song – an open palms altar call – bring your scars and abuse and bruises with you”.
I Won’t Let You Go – opens with acoustic guitar. Jon offers a vulnerable Bono-like vocal as the song builds. This song works on different levels, including being a song in which the Lord is speaking to us about trusting Him.
If you could only let go your doubts
If you could just believe in me now
I swear, that I won’t let you go
Another line that was powerful was “pain gives birth to the promise ahead”.