Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Resurrection Letters, Volume 1 – Andrew Peterson
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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.
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Reviews
Hard Cuts: Songs from the H A R D L O V E Sessions (EP) – NEEDTOBREATHE
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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     
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Andy Mineo and Wordsplayed Present Magic & Bird
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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
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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

music-reviews-tape

Where the Light Shines Through (Deluxe Edition) – Switchfoot
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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”.

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CONCERT REVIEW and MUSIC NEWS

Jim GaffiganConcert Review ~ Jim Gaffigan at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis (August 2, 2015)
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On a hot Sunday evening in downtown St. Louis, comedian Jim Gaffigan played two shows on his Contagious tour at the beautifully renovated Peabody Opera House, which is located next to the Scottrade Center (located on the site of the old Kiel Auditorium, which was part of the facility that included the Opera House, which opened in 1934), and near the historic Union Station. We attended the second show at 8:00 pm, which was played to a packed house of all ages in the 3,500 seat venue.

Opener Ted Alexandro opened with a 15 minute funny set and Gaffigan performed for about 65 minutes. Known for jokes about himself and his five kids, his being fat and his love of food,   Gaffigan gave us all of that and more in a performance of mostly all new material. I sat in my seat with a big smile on my face the entire evening.

A few of the jokes I remember were:

  • Guys with pick-up trucks who never seem to be picking up anything.
  • He’s not a man’s man because he doesn’t know anything about cars or how to fix anything.
  • His hometown in Indiana in the winter resembles Siberia.
  • How he uses a belt to make himself look less fat, kinda like Santa.
  • “Fatting out” of clothes and keeping all of them in your closet.
  • Speaking in English, like Jesus did.
  • Jesus’ miraculous multiplying of the bread, though at times he created unpopular flavors like pumpernickel.
  • Binge watching television programs.
  • And some new jokes about Hot Pockets.

Gaffigan is sometimes referred to as the “clean comedian”. He is funny without resorting to adult language, a rarity today. Check out his new television show on the TV Land network, The Jim Gaffigan Show.

 Song of the Week

Brother by NEEDTOBREATHE

This week’s song of the week is from one of my favorite bands NEEDTOBREATHE. “Brother” was originally included on their excellent 2014 album Rivers in the Wasteland. This version features guest Gavin Degraw.

Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need
Get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes
Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were
Now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am strong, but
It’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

And when you call and need me near
Sayin’ where’d you go?
Brother I’m right here
And on those days when the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

Brother let me be your shelterBrother by NEEDTOBREATHE
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re feelin’ low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

musicnewsSweet Victory. Trip Lee has released a new video for his song “Sweet Victory” from his Rise album.

  • This is Not a Test. Toby Mac performed the title song from his forthcoming (August 7) album at Alive 2015.
  • Angel of Harlem. Jimmy Fallon and the Roots Join U2 on stage at Madison Square Garden on July 22.
  • Shed a Little Light. On July 29 at his Columbia, South Carolina concert, James Taylor was joined onstage by the Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support. Watch this moving video.
  • Lip-Sync Battle. Did you see Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon in this epic lip sync battle recently on The Tonight Show?


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Music News and Reviews

Into the Woods - NEEDTOBREATHELive from the Woods – NEEDTOBREATHE
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This high energy live album, featuring seventeen songs, was recorded on the band’s Rivers in the Wasteland tour at the Woods at Fontanel Amphitheatre in Nashville on September 13, 2014. NEEDTOBREATHE has become one of my favorite bands over the past few years, and is a band that I really hope to see in concert soon as this recording demonstrates that they are an excellent live band, bringing new energy to their excellent studio recordings.

The album features the South Carolina band playing extended versions of some of their best songs from four of their five full-length studio albums (no songs from their 2006 debut Daylight are included), with the strong lead vocals of Bear Rinehart. Thirteen of the seventeen songs are from the band’s last two albums, 2014’s chart-topping Rivers in the Wasteland and 2011’s The Reckoning. The only exceptions are “Something Beautiful”, “Girl from Tennessee”, “Washed in the Water” and “The Outsiders”. Nine of the eleven songs from Rivers in the Wasteland are included here. Seven songs were released in advance for those who pre-ordered the set, so I’ve been enjoying those songs for the past few weeks.

Highly recommended for NEEDTOBREATHE fans, and a good introduction for those not familiar with the band.Record Player

Song of the Week
This is a wonderful song that I listened to Easter morning written by Matt Redman. Here are the lyrics to “Once Again”:

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times I’ve wondered at Your gift of life
And I’m in that place once again
I’m in that place once again

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I lay down my life

Now You are exalted to the highest place
King of the heavens, where one day I’ll bow
But for now I marvel at Your saving grace
And I’m full of praise once again
I’m full of praise once again

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my friend