Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Songs of Experience – U2 (Deluxe Edition)
****

U2 has always been more than just a band. With Songs of Experience, they show their maturity, while still taking chances. The band’s 14th studio album – incredibly with no band member changes – is their follow-up to 2014’s companion Songs of Innocence. Thematically, the album is a collection of letters written by Bono to people and places closest to his heart. The album is influenced by Bono’s “recent brush with death”, and inspired by the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly’s advice to him to “write as if you’re dead”. The band worked with nine different producers and 15 engineers on the album. There is much to digest here, and it will best be appreciated after multiple listenings.

The album was ready to be released in late 2016, but after the shift of global politics in a conservative direction, the band decided to delay it and reassess the tone of the album. The album included nine different producers and 15 engineers, so there is a lot of variety included. The album cover features a photo of Bono’s son Eli and the Edge’s daughter Sian holding hands, taken by the band’s long-time photographer Anton Corbijn.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:

Love Is All We Have LeftThis song was produced by Andy Barlow. It’s a slow, quiet song, with Bono singing with synth backing. Bono uses some falsetto, as he duets with his own electronically modified voice. A rather underwhelming track to start the album, which repeats the song title often.

Lights Of HomeThis song was produced by Brent Kutzle, Ryan Tedder, Jacknife Lee and Jolyon Thomas, and co-written by the Haim sisters from the alternative pop-rock band HAIM, who sing back-up vocals. This song references Bono’s brush with death “Shouldn’t be here ’cause I should be dead”, and has him looking toward Heaven (the lights of home). The song features a nice guitar solo from the Edge.

You’re The Best Thing About MeThis song was produced by Ryan Tedder, Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee. It was the first single released from the album. It opens with some excellent guitar from the Edge and continues with a driving beat led by drummer Larry Mullen. The song could very well be about Bono’s wife Ali. It includes some humor “Shooting off my mouth, that’s another great thing about me”. Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

hits-deep-liveHits Deep Live – Toby Mac
****

Eight years after his Grammy winning live album Alive and Transported, Toby Mac returns with another high energy live album Hits Deep Live recorded at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. The 16 songs (64 minutes of music), are pulled primarily from his last two albums 2015’s This is Not a Test (9 songs), and 2012’s Eye on It (4 songs). There are also 2 songs from 2010’s Tonight and one song from 2007’s Portable Sounds.

Having seen Toby play many of these songs live, I’m convinced that his music is best experienced live in concert, and the sound quality here is excellent. He is backed by his Diverse City band and joined by several special guests – Colton Dixon, Britt Nicole and Hollyn. For “Love Feels Like”, former D.C. Talk bandmates Michael Tait and Kevin Max are not present, but their voices from the recording of the song are included, giving the feel of a live reunion.

With Hits Deep Live you get excellent songs performed well in a live setting, which adds to the energy. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I always thought that “Feel It” would sound great live and it doesn’t disappoint here.

This will be appreciated by Toby Mac fans and would also serve as a good introduction to the artist for those wanting to check out his music.

trip-leeThe Waiting Room – Trip Lee
****

This 10-song mixtape is the multi-gifted (musician, author, pastor) Trip Lee’s follow-up to 2014’s excellent Rise, and it gives us some new music until his next full-length studio album, which he has said will be coming soon. The mixtape features excellent writing and musicianship, weighty topics, and some familiar friends (GAWVI, Tedashii, Alex Medina, etc.).

As far as the title, Lee has said that he wanted to give us music, a soundtrack that feels like the world we live in. One of the themes that kept coming up for him was how much waiting we have to do in this life. Themes of waiting, longing for God to heal him, what’s it’s like to be a Black man at this time in our country, and longing for Heaven come through in these ten excellent songs.

Below are a few comments about each of the new songs:

Continue reading


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

This is Not a Test - Toby MacThis is Not a Test (Deluxe Edition) – Toby Mac
****

This is Toby Mac’s first album of new material since Eye on It debuted at the top of the charts three years ago, and it’s a good one, sitting at #2 on Amazon’s top CD and digital music charts, second only to Kill the Lights from Luke Bryan as I write this review. When I saw him in concert last December, we got to hear two of the new songs – the first single “Beyond Me” and “Undeniable”.

While you’re not always going to get the deepest of lyrics from Toby, you know you’re going to get great beats and let’s just say it – the man knows how to write a great hook. Four of the songs here were released in advance of the album dropping on August 7. Here are a few thoughts on each of the songs after several listens:

Like a Match – Contains upbeat vibes. I liked the use of horns and piano. This gets the album off to a great start.

Burning for the world to see
You and me, we’ve gotta love
Strike it up, like a match

Backseat Driver – Features Gotee Records artist Hollyn on the chorus as Toby’s son Tru and Toby take the verses.  Was one of the songs released in advance so I’ve been listening to it for several weeks already. Toby wants the Lord to take control of his life.

Show me the way
Light it up Lord, just like You do
No second guessin’, Imma move with You

This is Not a Test (featuring Capital Kings) – This is a hard-driving, high energy dance tune that will sound great in concert.

This is not a, this is not a test
This is the real thing
We’re gonna go til we got nothing left

Lights Shine Bright (featuring Hollyn) – This duet with Hollyn has a Jamaican flavor. I liked the bass and hand snap/clap. It is a catchy, lyrically simple, easy-going song that will stick in your head throughout the day.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul

 Till the Day I Die (featuring NF) – Another of the songs that was released early. Toby and the 24 year-old rapper NF (Nathan John “Nate” Feuerstein) trade verses. NF has a harder style, and his voice reminded me a bit of Trip Lee.

Til the wheels fall off
Til the spotlight fades
I will lift your banner high
I will lift your banner high
And til the walls crash in
For the rest of my days
I’ll lay it all on the line
Til the day I die

Feel It (featuring Mr. TalkBox) – This is my favorite song on the album and one of my top songs of the year thus far. It is instantly likeable, and features a great dance beat (horns, guitars, bass), that may remind you a bit of the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit “Uptown Funk”.  Here’s the fun video for the song.  I think this song could become a mainstream hit for Toby.

Oh, I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know
You take our brokenness and make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know (can’t take that from me

Move (Keep Walkin’) – This song features excellent background vocals and horns. Toby encourages the listener to hold on, the Lord isn’t finished yet.

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet.

Love Broke Thru – This song again has some strong background vocals and a good use of drums. Toby displays some high range vocals here as he recounts his salvation experience.  He was a hopeless fool and now he is hopelessly devoted to Christ.

When love broke thru
You found me in the darkness
Wanderin’ thru the desert
I was a hopeless fool
Now I’m hopelessly devoted
My chains are broken
 

Beyond Me – This was the first single released, and has a pop sound similar to the hit “Me Without You” from Eye on It. The song contains a good hook and reflects Toby’s utter dependence on the Lord.

That You gave me the stars put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see

It’s way beyond me

Love Feels Like (featuring DC Talk) – This is the highly anticipated first DC Talk reunion song since Kevin Max’s 2007 “The Cross”. Michael Tait takes the first verse, Toby the chorus and Kevin Max the second verse. This song meets the incredibly high expectations that a DC Talk reunion song brings, and leaves the listener longing for a full-length reunion album and tour.

Poured out, used up, still givin’,
stretching me out to the end of my limits
This is what love (this is what love)
This is what real love
Feels like

Undeniable –  This song, like “Beyond Me”, has more of a pop sound as Toby combines a slow rap on the verses with the worshipful chorus, which will stay with you long after the song  is over:

Undeniable, You are, You are, You are
Unmistakable, You are, You are
You’re the bright and morning star
But still You speak to my heart
Undeniable, You are, You are
 

A favorite line is:

Which is harder to believe that You don’t exist
Or that You orchestrated all of this

The Deluxe Edition contains four additional songs:

Lift You Up (with Ryan Stevenson) – Stevenson opened the December concert I attended, which also featured Matt Maher. I liked the use of the handclaps on this catchy song about lifting up the Lord, who will never let us down.

Fall – This is a love song for Toby’s wife Amanda. They were married in 1994. In this acoustic song, he sings that he would fall for her again every time just like the first time.

The Deluxe Edition also includes two remixes. “Beyond Me” by former Family Force 5 frontman Soul Glow Activatur and “Like a Match” (Garcia’s remix).

Toby doesn’t show any signs of letting up at age 50. In fact, just the opposite is the case, as he reaches new heights on this new release. The album features several diverse guests and Christ-centered lyrics throughout, with themes such as depending on the Lord, serving Him, and giving Him the glory. The music is high energy and a combination of pop, dance, soul, funk and hip-hop/rap.  This is one of my favorite releases of the year.

Music News:

  • Feel It. Here’s the video for Toby Mac’s new single “Feel It” featuring Mr. TalkBox. You’ll want to get up and dance!
  • Upcoming music releases of note are:
  • September 18: Uncomfortable by Andy Mineo.
  • October 9: The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson; Christmas Hymns by Steven Curtis Chapman; Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE by Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • October 23: Christmas (title note available) by Chris Tomlin
  • November 20: Floodplain by Sara Groves
  • Uncomfortable - Andy MineoAndy Mineo’s new album Uncomfortable, one of the most anticipated of the year will be released on September 18. You can now pre-order the album on iTunes and get the title song as an instant download. Listen to the single here. On the first day of the pre-order, the album checked in at #8 on the overall iTunes charts and #4 on the Hip-Hop/Rap charts.
  • For the Church: Singing Amen. Randall Van Meggelen writes about the hymn “Amen” from the excellent new album Glory to the Holy One from Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul. An audio clip of the song and the lyrics are also included.
  • Land of Hope and Dreams. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band closed out Jon Stewart’s time on The Daily Show with a performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams”.
  • Get Back. Paul McCartney brings out Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard to join him on the Beatles’ “Get Back,” at Lollapalooza in Chicago on July 31

 Song of the Week

Before You I Kneel (A Worker’s Prayer) recorded by Keith and Kristyn Getty
(written by the Gettys, Jeff Taylor and Stuart Townend)

This is a wonderful modern hymn about our faith and work. Watch the lyric video here.

Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe,
For each skill Your grace has given me,
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify Your great name.

Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodnessGettys Tour Photo
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.

Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.

 


Leave a comment

MUSIC NEWS and QUOTES

Music News:

  • This is Not a Test - Toby MacNew Toby Mac Album. This Is Not A Test, Toby Mac’s first album since Eye on It debuted at the top of the charts three years ago, will be released August 7. Four songs have been released thus far, and this looks to be one of the top releases of the year.
  • Andy Mineo Uncomfortable Tour. For those of you in the Midwest, you might want to check out Andy Mineo at the House of Blues in Chicago on October 17.
  • My Worth is Not in What I Own. Keith Getty writes “’My Worth Is Not in What I Own’ is a song that speaks to the subject of worth by reminding us that true significance is found in our identity in Christ.
  • All I Have is Christ. Tony Reinke interviews Bob and Jordan Kauflin about their hymn “All I Have is Christ”, which is one that we sing regularly in our church.

Music Quotes:music quote

  • Nothing will happen today that hasn’t first ran through the good intentions of the Sovereign God. So why worry? KB
  • Let’s be honest. No one is ever truly “just saying”.  Propaganda

Song of the Week

He’s All You Need by Steve Camp

This week we look at Steve Camp’s “He’s All You Need”, a song that was a blessing to me during Tammy’s serious illness early in our marriage. You can listen to the song here.

When you’re alone, your heart is torn, He is all you need.
When you’re confused, your soul is bruised, He is all you need.
He’s the rock of your soul, He’s the anchor that holds
Through your desperate time.
When your way is unsure His love will endure, a peace you will find
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you needSteve Camp

When you give in to that familiar sin, He is all you need
Guilt as you’re paralyzed, it slowly it eats you alive,
He is all you need
He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, it’ll comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Well, God loves you so, He’ll never let you go
He is all you need.

He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, to comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you need.

speak-life


Leave a comment

Naughty or Nice?

Our Son is God cartoon

UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG:Ordinary

 Book Review: Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton

 I’m Currently Reading

 toby mac 2Concert Review: Toby Mac, Matt Maher and Ryan Stevenson at Braden Auditorium – Dec. 11

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Favorite Quotes of the Week

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

THEOLOGY

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

MUSIC:

  • FREE! Tenth Avenue North Concerts in Peoria. The group behind the hit songs “By Your Side” and “Hold My Heart” will perform three free concert services at Northwoods December 27 & 28.
  • The Modern Hymnal: An interview with Keith Getty.I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Keith Getty, perhaps today’s best modern hymn writer.
  • Carrie Underwood sings “Something in the Water” on The Tonight Show – one of my top songs of the year.
  • New Paul McCartney Song “Hope for the Future”. Watch the video here which turns the former Beatles into a singing hologram and plunges him into the video game ‘Destiny.’
  • Bob Dylan Shadows in the NightNew Dylan Album. 73 year-old Bob Dylan will release Shadows of the Night on February 3. You can pre-order it now on iTunes, and receive the song “Full Moon and Empty Arms”. The album is expected to be an album of cover songs, many of them recorded by Frank Sinatra. Go figure. Another song that is included on the album is “Stay with Me”. Dylan never fails to surprise. Here’s a live recording from October 26 of “Stay with Me”, another song from the album which Dylan has been closing his live sets with recently. Dylan commented, “It was a real privilege to make this album. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.15.2014

  • By definition, the big difference between mercy and justice is that mercy is never ever obligatory. -RC Sproul
  • Good people don’t go to Heaven, forgiven people do. -Lecrae
  • Grace does not make sin safe. But grace does make sinners safe. -Matt Chandler
  • Forgetfulness of God’s grace is one of the greatest tools in the enemy’s war against our souls. -Mark Dever
  • Christianity is not “Jesus is our example.” Christianity is “Jesus is our substitute.” – Tullian Tchividjian
  • The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. -C.H. Spurgeon
  • You pursue excellence when you care about something other than your own excellence. -Michael Horton
  • Are you living to justify yourself, or are you living because you are justified? -Tim Keller
  • When you look at the Cross, what do you see? You see God’s awesome faithfulness. -Sinclair Ferguson
  • When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone. -John Owen
  • The utter destruction of our culture isn’t just around the corner. It has been here for some time. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you? -John Piper
  •  We don’t merely need the money from work to survive. We need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives more than money. -Tim Keller
  • The cross is the place where the Judge takes the Judgment.Tim Keller
  • The desperate addict is closer to the heart of grace than the devout moralist. – Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus may ask of you far more than you planned to give, but He can give to you infinitely more than you dared ask or think. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

  • Everything you need to know about leadership in a single verse. Dave Kraft shares leadership principles from Exodus 32:34.
  • Characteristics of an Antiquated Leader. Ron Edmundson writes “Leadership principles and practices have had to change because organizations and people have changed.”
  • New Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Episode. This month Andy continues to explore the idea of Keystone Habits through an interview conducted with Charles Duhigg.
  • 5 Surefire Ways to Sharpen Your Skills. John Maxwell provides five suggestions on how to sharpen our skills in a strength area. He also mentions his new book JumpStart Your Leadership, a 90-Day Improvement Plan, which releases on December 16.
  • Proactive. Check out what John Maxwell has to say about this word in this “Minute with Maxwell” video. http://johnmaxwellteam.com/proactive/
  • Interview with Joy, Inc. Author Richard Sheridan. He recently appeared on the EntreLeadership podcast. https://www.entreleadership.com/
  • Seven virtues of Christian managers: Lessons from Romans 12-16. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce writes “There are many Christian virtues that managers can practice. I define a Christian virtue as “a habit based on a long-standing belief that God is love.” Here are seven such virtues, with a quote for each from the Letter to the Romans as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message.
  • The Fitting Job for You. An excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.
  • Visiting with Mary and Martha: What about the work? Ann Boyd writes “Mary “chose the better part,” and I do appreciate that — but what about the work Martha was doing? Even after sitting with Jesus, the dishes are still there. How can we resolve this tension?”
  • When Hope is Gone. Dan Miller writes about a time a few years ago when he and his wife did a presentation at the Tennessee Prison for Women: “It gave me a new perspective on how easily we can complain about our “circumstances.” It also reminded me that often when fewer options are available, hope seems to be more present. Believing that all hope is gone is a personal choice. Circumstances do not dictate that – only we can choose to believe that.”
  • Serving a Generation in Search of Meaningful Work. Bethany Jenkins interviews Gregory W. Carmer, who among his other responsibilities directs the Christian Vocation Institute, a collection of programs, including the Elijah Project, which helps students explore the theological underpinnings and practical out-workings of vocation.
  • 7 Ways to Thrive with a Bad Boss. Dan Rockwell writes “If you don’t have a bad boss now, you’ll have one soon.” He gives us seven ways to thrive under that bad boss.
  • The heart behind “Why you hate work”. Brian Gray writes “Christians must embrace the biblical vision of work which claims that all work which is not sinful can be sacred. In God’s economy of spirituality, what we do is far less important than why we do it, how we do it, and who we are and are becoming as we engage our work.”
  • We Were Made to Work. Chris Armstrong writes “At the very beginning of Genesis, God shows himself as a working God, who creates valuable things. And then right away we see that we ourselves as made in his image, also to work.”

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we conclude the book.

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 7: Your Calling as a Citizen.

Linus