REVIEW: John Mark McMillan – “ECONOMY”

I remember the first time I heard John Mark McMillian’s debut indie CD, HOPE ANTHOLOGY vol.1 (you can buy it for a reasonable price HERE).  It was later Summer ’02, & I was coming off of a multi-month Wilco-induced musical high brought on by the brilliance of YANKEE FOXTROT HOTEL and John Mark’s artsy indie-folk was just what the doctor ordered.  A couple years later I was one of the early-adopters who introduced “How He Loves” as a corporate worship song (thanks in part to the encouragement of Kelanie Gloeckler) years before the “sloppy wet kiss” controversy burned like wildfire through the church, much to my surprise: my only concern was the song’s wordiness, but it moved me to tears every single time I led it – even listened to it – so I didn’t really much concern myself with the debate. [Read more…]

Double Review: Aaron Keyes & David Walker

For the sake of honesty, I’m reviewing these two CDs because I am friends with their creators.  I admit that – to a degree – I may be biased by the fact that I personally love the hearts behind these songs.  That said, I truly believe that – whether or not I knew either one – I would still consider these two of my favorite worship CDs of 2011. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Sojourn – The Water and the Blood

ARTIST: Sojourn
RELEASE: The Water and the Blood: the Hymns of Isaac Watts Vol. II
LABEL: Independent

I’ve been listening to Sojourn Community Church’s music since 2006, when they were still mostly unknown outside their home-base of Louisville, KY.  Upon first listen I was struck by a number of things: these folks are creating music missionally, in a style that connects directly with their community, not following fads or fashions to get radio play or label attention.  Secondly, they care about doctrine, and history, crafting songs that express and pay homage to not only where the church may be headed, but where it’s been.  Lastly, their music consistently manages to be modern, paradoxically,  by being so faithful to crafting genuinely timeless songs. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Elevation Worship – “Kingdom Come”

ARTIST: Elevation Worship
RELEASE: “Kingdom Come
Independent

I’ll admit it: I’m not familiar with Elevation Church’s past worship CDs – I’ve never heard anything they’ve written or released prior to “Kingdom Come”.  I can’t say that it’s a step forward or back.  So, from this fairly limited perspective, I will give my rather one-sided opinion.

If you are tired of the Coldplay-inspired, Hillsong United sound (well, until their new CD – they abandoned that sound themselves!), then you may want to pass on this, as well-produced as it is (and it sounds GREAT – open, expansive – plenty of breathing room for the instruments), it fits firmly within the Hillsong United/Planet Shakers/Generation Unleashed/Alm UK territory, and doesn’t pull any surprises there. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Brian Wurzell – GRACE OCEAN

Artist: Brian Wurzell
Release: Grace Ocean
Highlights: “Grace Ocean”, “Great Redeemer” – other notables included “Sing”, & “Floodgates

Brian Wurzell, the Worship Arts Director at Hillside Community Church inRancho Cucamonga, CA (formerly at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler, AZ), has delivered to us a refreshingly unique, modern rock worship album.  GRACE OCEAN subtly tips its hat to indie-rock bands like Pedro the Lion and Starfler 59, while never becoming inaccessible.

Obvious corporate highlights  (take note, fellow worship leaders) are the hook-laden title track, which is pure ear candy (Can a “worship song” also be “ear candy”?  I guess so.  See exhibit A: “Grace Ocean”), and the mid-tempo ballad “Great Redeemer” – a prayer that God would “take our weakness and show Yourself strong”.  [Read more…]