Sunday, April 11, 2010
Artist – Meredith Andrews
Album – The Invitation
Label – Word Records
Street Date – April 29, 2008
Album Length – 11 tracks. 45 Minutes, 9 Seconds.
Genre – Praise and Worship/Pop
IPod Pick – New Song We Sing
The first time I saw Meredith Andrews live (on TV) was on Praise the lord via TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) with Donnie McClurkin, Paul Baloche and Michael W. Smith. After I saw perform a number of worship songs live, I was left with an impression that day that this lady knows the lord intimately and earnestly desires him. She does not fail to deliver songs that reflect a thirst for the almighty God on her latest effort.
With very contemporary pop tunes that do not water down the power behind the lyrics, Meredith conveys truths about God’s love and dwelling in his presence to listeners. The albums starts off with a mellow worship tune ‘You invite me’ that talks about approaching God’s throne of mercy with boldness and how God is eagerly expecting with arms open wide no matter where we’ve been.
‘Lift up your head’ follows in the same vein with a similar theme but musically more rocky. ‘ You’re not alone’ is that song infused with enough power to wipe away tears of pain. The piano driven ballad would draw you in with its sincere lyrics. ‘Treasure’ musically sounds like something Bjork would place on an album of hers, but the words of the song is an acknowledgement of Christ as the only eternal treasure. ‘Show me what it means’ paces up the album with a fast rocky feel. ‘New song we sing’ is a power pop worship tune with an anthem feel.
“I never want to write songs just to write songs” says Meredith.” I always want them to be about conveying the heart of God to people, whether they are people who walk with the Lord or people who don’t walk with the Lord. I think the best way to do that is to do it through His word. I always want my songs to be infused with the word of God because if it’s my words, it’s null and void. What do I have to say to people that is going to change their lives? Nothing! But if it comes from the Lord, it’s that’s what’s going to change them.” Keeping to her words, this young woman of God does not deliver anything less. Want worship that would draw into God’s presence still not brushing aside good tunes? Meredith Andrews’ ‘The Invitation’ album is a sure invitation that would welcome you into His courts of mercy.
Author- Ted Dekker
Title- Boneman’s Daughters
Genre- Fiction/ Thriller
Publisher- Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Street date- 14 April, 2009
Really I’m beginning to think Ted Dekker needs to slow down in his writing and give his fans more books in the styling and quality of the likes of ‘Blink’ and ‘A man called blessed’ . I was so excited about the release of ‘Boneman’s daughters’. I couldn’t wait to get it till I got it and started reading it. My dilemma started when I heard that Ted wouldn’t be publishing this one from Thomas Nelson. I don’t mean to be a critic or unappreciative. Ted Dekker is a skilled and innovative writer. He has a way of bringing the truth to life via fiction. The problem I had with ‘Boneman’s daughters’ was the inconsistency of the story and lack of character depths (even the main characters). Still, even with this ruffles, the novel has a powerful and profound theme, a father’s love for a child, which Ted uses to depict our heavenly father’s love for us.
The book starts s off with Intelligence officer, Ryan Evans captured by terrorist in a desert somewhere in the Middle East. Ryan is asked to make a decision between the survival of his family and the survival of various children who are to suffer death by breaking of bones. The novel takes a sharp turn with Ryan’s arrival in the United States some weeks later seeking the approval of his ‘neglected’ wife and daughter. A serial killer known for breaking bones of teenage girls without shedding blood also comes back on the scene at the same time of Ryan’s arrival.
For edge of the seat suspense, ‘Boneman’s Daughters’ got it. Let also bear in mind that this is Dekker’s first work from this particular publishing company (Center Street). Though Dekker could have delivered more on this project, long time fans and also new ones would be thrilled to read one of Ted’s latest addition to his expanding library of writings. Ted’s latest work might not read like what we are use to, but one truth shines through the whole novel, and that is ‘God loves us with an unconditional love that goes way beyond our sin’ and that does it.
Author- Angela Hunt
Genre- Fiction/ Historical.
Street date- March 21, 2006.
The woman from whom seven demons where cast out, One of the Supporter and financier of the three year earthly ministry of Jesus, One of the first to witness the risen Christ. That’s the Mary Magdalene you and I may have discovered from turning the pages of scriptures. But in ‘Magdalene’, Veteran Author Angela Hunt paints an astonishing yet realistic and believable Mary with words that would keep you turning till the last page. Home maker and trader of fine fabrics, Wife of Yaakov and mother of Binyamin, Native of a small town by the sea called Magdala. Meet the Mary we always knew. Meet the Mary we thought we knew. Meet the Mary we never knew.
What wows me about ‘Magdalene’ is the unique plot and uncommon style with which it is written. The book starts off with Miryam of Magdala facing a trial in Rome. She begins the story by telling the court how she got there. A listener and Roman centurion named Atticus present is intrigued by Mary’s story and finds the story drawing him in only to discover that he is a pivotal part of the story.
Another strong point of this novel is the depiction of biblical characters as the real persons whom they are. People with emotions, with family issues, some even faced rejection from loved ones and still how some chose to stay authentic to the call of God upon their lives. Through the pages of ‘Magdalene’ you would discover that the difference between the biblical times and now is little next to no difference (lets neglect the fact that Apples and Blackberries are more than just mere fruits in the age we live in now).
The research carried out before this novel was bore is so evident. Hunt takes us on clear ride through the streets of Palestine in the times of Jesus and she does a good job. The lessons to be learnt are numerous and the major theme of the novel which is forgiveness is so relevant even to a world where the world power isn’t held by the Romans. ‘Magdalene’ would open up a window in your soul with the words of Yeshua flowing in like a cool breeze like you never heard before. An ancient character with so much controversy, with so many stories, some derogatory, some heroic. Angela Hunt not neglecting valid facts of history and biblical truths helps us see this woman of time past but still with modern relevance in a new light and you would be glad you did.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Artist – Mandisa
Album – Freedom
Label – EMI CMG
Street Date – March 24, 2009.
Album Length – 11 tracks. 43 minutes, 47 second.
Genre – Pop/ R n B / Gospel/ Urban
IPod Pick – How Much
Achievements –Nominated for 2010 Grammy Award for Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year
After bitter-sweet moments on American Idols, a successful debut, a struggle with food addiction, and an ongoing promising weight loss program, American Sweet heart, author,Plus size model and season 5 top ten American Idol finalist Mandisa Hundley is back again to declare a freedom that can be found nowhere else but in Christ.
The Album starts with the mellow beaty but strong ‘My deliverer’ on which the singer declares praises singing ‘My deliverer you rescued me from all that held me captive’. ‘How much’ would set your mind on God’s love. The song asks the question how much we are loved by our heavenly father. ’Victorious’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Freedom song’ declare the mighty saving power of our God.
Gospel Rapper Blanca (from Group 1 Crew) is featured on the bouncy and lyrically bold ‘Definition of me’. Mandisa’s voice stands out passionately on ‘Not Guilty’ with lyrics that would keep you meditating on what Jesus did on the cross even after the music stops. ‘He is with you’ is an encouragement through hard times of trials, loneliness and pain. ‘Leave it in the valley’ is an encouragement to a friend having a supposed hard day. The poppy tune alone would brighten up anyone’s day. The album ends on a very mellow note with ‘You wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s song),a song that deals with loss, grief and the realities of heaven. I love it so much cause the song is from the perspective of the deceased in heaven telling those on earth that He’s in a better place and that if they could only see where he is they wouldn’t even cry for him.
One thing I admire about Mandisa is that while contemporaries of hers hide their faith behind pop culture, she is so bold to declare it and that’s so encouraging. With ‘Freedom’ she doesn’t fail to declare the Gospel in its ability to make one free. Thanks Mandisa. You rock!
The Grammy Awards which was broadcast live by CBS at 8 P.M ET/PT from the Staples center in L.A. wowed lovers of Gospel Music on the 31st of January. The amazement started off in December when the Nomination list was released. It’s the norm for the Expected to be overlooked. Now I don’t mean to undermine the nominated artist (in the Gospel section) but some albums which also did very well last year didn’t even see the Grammy’s break light. Since the nomination in December, we were already expecting the unexpected. Even the Nominations weren’t expected. See for yourself what I mean.
Best Gospel Performance
• "Wait On The Lord" - Donnie McClurkin Featuring Karen Clark Sheard - WINNER
• "Free To Be Me" - Francesca Battistelli
• "Jesus Is Love" - Heather Headley Featuring Smokie Norful
• "I Believe" - Jonny Lang With Fisk Jubilee Singers
• "Born Again" - Third Day
Best Gospel Song
• "God In Me" - Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters
Performed by Mary Mary featuring Kierra "KiKi" Sheard - Track from: The Sound - WINNER
• "Born Again" - Tai Anderson, David Carr, Mark Lee & Mac Powell, songwriters
Performed by Third Day - Track from: Revelation
• "City On Our Knees" - Cary Barlowe, Toby McKeehan & Jaime Moore, songwriters
Performed by TobyMac
• "Every Prayer" - Dayna Caddell, Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey & Ricardo Sanchez, songwriters
Performed by Israel Houghton & Mary Mary - Track from: The Power Of One
• "The Motions” - Jason Houser, Sam Mizell & Matthew West, songwriters
Performed by Matthew West - Track from: Something To Say
Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album
• Live Revelations - Third Day - WINNER
• The Big Picture - Da' T.R.U.T.H.
• Crash - Decyfer Down
• Innocence & Instinct - Red
• The Dash - John Wells-The Tonic
Now you tell me, how do you compare Da’ T.R.U.T.H. with Red. Worlds apart! Totally different genres and both do lovable music. I really think the Grammy committee should consider splitting this category.
Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
• The Power Of One - Israel Houghton - WINNER!
• Speaking Louder Than Before - Jeremy Camp
• The Long Fall Back To Earth - Jars Of Clay
• Love Is On The Move - Leeland
• Freedom - Mandisa
Now this is cruel and funny and I’m laughing out loud. Calling Israel Houghton’s Music Pop? I guess I have to listen again.
Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album
• Jason Crabb - Jason Crabb - WINNER
• Dream On - Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
• The Rock - Tracy Lawrence
• In God's Time - Barry Scott & Second Wind
• Everyday - Triumphant Quartet
Now, I’m really not to familiar with this genre but what happened to Bart Milliard’s Hymned Again and Patty Loveless’ latest Album?
Best Traditional Gospel Album
• Oh Happy Day - Various Artists - EMI Gospel/Vector Recordings - WINNER
• God Don't Never Change - Ashley Cleveland
• The Law Of Confession, Part I - Donald Lawrence & Co.
• The Journey Continues - The Williams Brothers
• How I Got Over - Vickie Winans
Yeah yeah, the Oh Happy day album was good but the album featured some mainstream artist also. And I really don’t know what Vickie Winans latest effort is doing in this category. The album is so contemporary and upbeat. It should have been placed in Contemporary Gospel.
Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album
• Audience Of One - Heather Headley - WINNER
• Renewed - Sheri Jones-Moffett
• Just James - J Moss
• Smokie Norful: Live - Smokie Norful
• Bold Right Life - Kierra Sheard
Now don’t get me wrong, J Moss’s Just James and Kierra Kiki Sheard’s Bold Right Life are two amazing albums and really that’s the type of R&B this generation is familiar with. I have the other albums mentioned in this category and I really had a great time listening to them (especially Sheri Jones-Moffett’s Renewed. Her voice is amazing. You should get the album) but apart from Kierra’s and J Moss’s the rest are basically church music. Anyway it’s all well and it ends well.
Really I had my heart desires concerning this past Grammys. Like seeing Britt Nicole picking up a Grammy for ‘The Lost Get Found’ album ( but sorry she wasn’t even nominated). Also would have loved to have Addison Road, Skillet, Cadia, Switchfoot, Hillsong, Michael W. Smith, Casting crowns, Damita and many more others on the nomination list ( Now don’t say I’m biased cause this guys are really good too, but it’s only a wish any way).
Lastly,I recently gave a friend of mine who listens to strictly Mainstream Music a copy of Skillet’s new CD ‘Awake’ and he was like ‘Oh my, that’s like the best rock album I’ve listened to in a while’. I believe a lot of our CCM and Gospel musicians have what it takes to compete with the mainstream guys so why on earth are they kept in a box in the Grammys (and their category don’t even get TV time. Can you imagine that? ) Dear Grammy Committee, Please set them free and let them soar. That is nominate them with the main category, let Leeland compete against The Dave Mathews band, Let Britt Nicole Compete against Pink, T-pain with Lecrae and Mandisa Maybe against Beyonce. They’ve got what it takes and if they don’t let them soar, their wings would get stronger.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Artist – Hillsong
Album – Faith+Hope+Love
Label – Integrity
Street Date – August 4, 2009.
Album Length – 13 tracks. 1 hour, 15 minutes, 23 seconds.
Genre – Praise and Worship/ Acoustic Rock
IPod Pick – Yahweh
For Music that is all and strictly worship, all roads leads to Hillsong church Australia (Pastor Brian Houston). For the past decade and more, Hillsong has not failed to drop a full length album of worship songs each year ( including Hillsong United and Hillsong Kids who do the same). Their worship music has created a standard for church music all over the world. The latest addition to their worship collection is ‘Faith+Hope+Love’.
The amazing thing about Hillsong is that it consists a collection of gifted Musician and songwriters who have a heart for God. The album opener is a ‘tum- tum’ upbeat praise song (‘First and the last’). Jad Gillies smooth voice comes in next leading ‘For your name’ also upbeat. David Ware’s soulful voice comes in next on ‘Glow’. The album highlights are ‘It’s your love’ (written by Mia Fieldes and lead by her and Darlene Zschech),and ‘I will Exalt You’ (Written and lead by Brooke Fraser Ligertwood). The latter would lead you to worship in tears with Brooke’s ad lib reaching towards the heaven. The song sure has a story behind it. It’s a church ready tune for worship. Simple Psalmic lines that are easy to learn with first listen. Reuben Morgan comes in next leading ‘Yahweh’, my favorite on this project. The song lyrics are so sincere, true and directed towards God. You would be worshiping deeply before the track comes to an end, even after the last guitar string fades out.
The album picks two tracks from Hillsong United’s latest project ‘Tear down the walls’ (‘No reason to hide’ and ’You Hold Me Now’).But really this songs sound much better on this project. Jill McCloughtry’s Voice shines on ‘We the redeemed’ which is also written by her. Brooke Fraser Ligertwood appears again ‘His Glory Appears’ which is actually penned by Darlene Zschech. A mellow lovely worship song and the shortest track on the album. Darlene’s sweet voice shines on ‘The Wonder of Your Love’ a co-write between Leeland and Marty Sampson.
A fresh collection of worship and praise song is what we have all through on Hillsong latest project. For lovers of worship that leads to the courts of bliss of our God even helping us touch the hem of his garment, Faith+Hope+Love is a must listen.
Artist – Switchfoot
Album – Hello Hurricane
Label – Atlantic Records/Lowercase People Records
Street Date – November 10, 2009.
Album Length – 12 tracks. 49 Minutes, 2 seconds.
Genre – Rock
IPod Pick – Enough to Let Me Go
Veteran rockers from San Diego, California are back again. The members of Switchfoot have established themselves over the years with unique rock tunes incomparable to other contemporaries. Let’s say over the years with the release of seven studio albums,the members of Switchfoot have carved a niche for themselves in mainstream rock music.
Hello Hurricane opens with a head nodding and melodious tune (‘Needle and Haystack life’) that would do any day for a drive downtown. ‘Mess of Me’ follows up sounding like a tune never heard before, the singer cries out to a power greater than his saying ‘ have made a mess of me . . . I wanna spend the rest of my live alive’. Mellow Love song for our savior ‘Your Love is A Song’ follows next. ‘Enough to Let Me Go’ would soon be a favorite after the first play. It’s soothing and very melodic with insightful lyrics to sing along.'Free' sounds a bit like something off a Keane Album.
The title track ‘Hello Hurricane’ is an ‘anthemic’ song that declares that nothing can stop the power of love.’ Hello Hurricane/ You’re not enough/Hello Hurricane/ You can’t silence my love’ Jon foreman lead vocalist of the band sings on this track. On a part the song deals with materialism.
All in all, there’s never been a dull moment with Switchfoot and on ‘Hello Hurricane’ they fail not to deliver the usual unusual. Looking for good rock with inspiring lyrics to rock on to? For now ‘Hello Hurricane’ is your best bet. And who knows it might be knocking on the next Grammy nomination doors for best rock of the year.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Artist – Plumb
Album – Beautiful History: A Hits Collection
Label – Curb
Street Date – November 3, 2009.
Album Length – 20 Tracks. 1 Hour, 32 Minutes, 33 Seconds.
Genre – Pop/Electronica /Rock
IPod Pick – Stranded (2010)
Achievements - The first single off Beautiful History, "Hang On" reached number one in US Billboard Hot Dance Cub Play in 2009 and additionally became the first single of 2010 to reach the top spot in Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart.
Maybe what catches me about Plumb is her life journey that everyone can relate to. In early 2000's, Plumb almost gave up recording and doing music when she got a note from a young female fan before her supposed last concert saying that Plumb’s music had really influenced her life and really helped her through a very hard time. That in itself was a miracle. It made Tiffany Arkbuckle lee (a.k.a. Plumb) to embrace her career once again and start over again.
Plumb has a way of writing lyrics that reflects that we live in a world of people not just a ‘me, myself and I’ world. Her lyrics would start you thinking in a new direction. ‘Real’ a song inspired by the controversy caused by Jennifer Lopez’s low Versace gown which she wore to the 2000 Grammys, would help you see the lifestyle of the Rich and the famous in a new perspective. ‘Stranded’ is that Love song that sings silently in the heart of every lovebird in love but not wanting to make the first approach. The harmonies and guitars of the Plumb’s 2010 recording of this hit would make you fall in love with it in a new way. ‘God Shaped Hole ’, famous for its appearance on the soundtrack list of blockbuster movie ‘Bruce Almighty’ also has a new recording on this hit collection. ‘There’s a God shaped hole in all of us and the restless soul is searching’, Plumb sings anew on this recording. Two brand new song appear on this project (‘Hang on’ and ‘Beautiful History’). Trust me, its vintage Plumb style.
The other half of this album is filled with new remixes. You would love them and if you are the dancing type, it’s all the way. Plumb who is known for ambient sounds of the likes of Enya,Amy lee of Evanessence, Lara Landon, Dido and generation next diva, Leona Lewis is back with freshly recorded old tunes with some brand new stuff alongside. The thing about hit collections are that they could be monotonous and give you the ‘headache’ of having multiple tracks of the same title in your library but Plumb breaks that jinx beautifully with a ‘beautiful history’. For new fans of Plumb, ‘Beautiful History’ is a must have. For old fans it’s indeed a beautiful history and you don’t want to miss out on this.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Artist - Tammy Trent
Album – Stronger
Street Date – July 29, 2008.
Label – September Day Records
Album Length – 11 Tracks, 45 Minutes 12 Seconds.
Genre - Pop
IPod Pick – Rain On Me
The thing about Tammy’s new collection of songs is that it’s just so sincere and tangible. Praise oriented albums are known for clichéd forms over used words which are use to describe our heavenly king, and you begin to wonder ‘ I thought they always said God was indescribable and there weren’t enough words to qualify who he is’, but sorry Tammy breaks the procedure on this new effort.
The praise and worship tracks (‘Rain on me’, ‘Humbled’, ‘Edge of the water’) plays like Tammy on her knees offering heartfelt and realistic prayers to our God in heaven. She also gives us a beautiful cover of ‘Somehow you are’ (already done by Avalon on their ‘Stand’ album).
Tammy tells a friend on ‘Beautiful’ that she’s one of a kind and a shinning star. ‘Shine’ is a mellow upbeat track that calls out to believers to be a light where ever there are.
Apart from this album being upbeat all through, Tammy’s beautiful and strong voice with which she declares the power of God would definitely sweep you off your feet.
Miss Trent who lost her husband in a Scuba diving accident on September 11 2001 is back to tell us how she’s grown ‘stronger’ over the years. With this effort you definitely will be convinced she’s made it through the storm stronger.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Album- City On Our Knees (Single)
Street date- November 17, 2009
Album length- 4 tracks. 27 Minutes 32 seconds.
Genre- Urban/ Pop/Hip Pop
IPod pick- City on our knees
Tobymac’s new album comes forth February 9 but a little foretaste isn’t a bad idea at all and that’s what this single offers us.
All in all, the single album contains two remixes (‘Boomin remix’ and ’lose my soul remix’) of songs featured on earlier project ‘Portable Sounds’. It also has a 15 minutes interview with the main man, no one other than Toby himself. The interview gives us a peak into the making of the record and a snippet of a song from the full album (‘Tonight’). ‘Boomin remix’ features Diverse city’s own Shonlock who gives a rap interlude on it.
The Center point of this single is ‘City on our knees’. This radio ready vibe would amaze you with the new direction Toby’s music has taken. ‘Tonight Tonight’s the night’ Toby sings ’for the sinners and the saints/ two worlds collide in a beautiful display/It’s all love tonight/ when we step across the line/ we can sail across the sea/to a city with one king’. The song is a call for a reviving revolution; a call for all to come as one and acknowledge the King of the earth. I can boldly assure you, its Tobymac’s most contemplative song till date.
The thing about foretastes are that they leave you longing for the main dish. This has done the same and the good thing is that it promises a beautiful surprise in the box on February 9 for us. Can’t wait? Then City on our Knees single is indeed worth jiving to in the time being.
ARTIST- JONNY DIAZ
MUSIC VIDEO- MORE BEAUTIFUL YOU
LENGTH- 3 minutes,41 seconds.
And here is our first music video! It’s spanking new! It’s by former indie artist Jonny Diaz whose musical styling follows the likes of Bebo Norman, Jason Mraz, Jon foreman, David barnes, Brandon heath and John Mayer. Wow! So many? I know. Jonny Diaz is a fusion these and music more. His latest album from INO hit the stores in May 2009 ( A review coming your way soon). Without much ado, I present to you a ‘More beautiful you’.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Artist- Mary Mary
Album- The sound
Label- Columbia Records
Street date- October 21, 2008.
Album length- 12 tracks. 44.9 minutes.
Genre- Urban/R n B/Gospel
Ipod Pick- Seattle
Producer- Warryn Campbell
Welcome ‘The Sound’,Mary Mary’s fifth studio project (counting a former Christmas release), or rather should I say Mary Mary’s first radio station. The relevant and innovative record is styled like a play-list hour on a radio station and I tell you that’s way so cool.
The coolest thing about this effort is these God driven ladies being able to deliver a press play album (you won’t be reaching for your skip button anywhere on this album, no exaggerations, I mean it) that is soaked with words of hope and faith with beats to soothe the fans of artist like T-pain and Ludacris.
The album starts off with a spoken word intro done by Deborah Joy Imani Winans which flows into the 80’s styled ‘The Sound’. ‘Get Up’ would get you up your seat doing all dance and break moves you have learnt your entire life. All time sweet heart Kierra Kiki Sheard is feautured on the club ready ‘God in me’ which is soon to become your next ringtone once you’ve heard it. Mainstream rapper David Banner appears on ‘Superfriend’ telling us how God never left him lonely in lonely times. Worshipful and ‘beaty’ moments are not left out on tracks like ‘Forgiven me’ (soon to be your all time favorite), ‘I’m running’, ‘Seattle’, ‘I worship you’. The later (‘Seattle’) is co-written with former Winans phase 2 members Juan Winans and Marvin Winans.
From the Pop driven ‘ dirt’ to the Hands raised ‘Seattle’, The Sound is filled with infectious, radio ready, epic songs that would be heard generations to come and no doubt it not a waste of precious time, it’s THE SOUND! Listen to the sound.
Author- Angela Hunt
Title- The Justice
Genre- Fiction/ Contemporary/Political/Legal/Thriller
Street date- January, 2002.
Achievements- Winner of the Silver Medallion in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award.
The year 2009 American elections almost saw a ray of something that has never occurred before, a woman ruling the free world. What if a woman was the ruler of the free world? What if? Would she try to beat the men who have gone by at their game. Would she have more fiends than friends? Or would she as a ruler let her emotions rule her? Hillary Clinton almost answered these questions in 2009 but was certainly not given the chance to. A few years before then Angela Hunt answered these rather speculative questions in edge of the sit legal thriller, John Grisham styled, ‘The Justice’.
The novel starts off with the death of the present American president (President Parker) and his vice (Daryn Austin) instantly sworn in. The story basically revolves around Daryn Austin daughter of former Georgia governor, who is driven by her father’s approval amongst many other things to be the most powerful woman in the United States. Daryn later learns as the story unfolds where true power lies.
One strong point of this work of fiction is the realness of the characters. Unlike most books, the characters are not portrayed as entirely good or bad. They are painted as real people. Another one is the rich information delivered in the pages of this novel. It should be noted that the set for the novel is the white house and the Capitol Hill. Hunt shows us well that she’s done her home work by detailing the modus operandi of the American government.
The central theme of the story is found in proverbs 17:1 which tells us that the kings heart in the hands of God and like streams of water he turns it anyway he pleases. If above asking ‘what would it be like to have a female American president’ you are asking ‘How does God work out great good out of great wickedness’ then the next time you visit the bookstore, you should be picking up ‘The Justice’. But never say I didn’t warn you, you might find yourself dreaming about life in the white house for months’.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Artist – Group 1 Crew
Album- Ordinary Dreamers
Label- Fervent records
Street date- September 18, 2008.
Album length- 14 tracks. 53.2 minutes
Genre-Rap/Urban/Pop/R n B/Hip hop
IPod pick- Change
Don’t let the hip hop rap fool you, Blanca, Pablo and Manwell have something to deliver beyond the good beats and the fast said lyrics. They can rap as well as sing so well.
This album ranges from jazz (‘I see you’) to pop( ‘change’) to rock (‘keys to the kingdom’ and ‘closer’) where Blanca’s vocals are reminiscent of Amy lee of Evanessence. Any kanye west fan would be swept away by the musical style of ‘living the life’. Fans of Outkast and Wyclef jean wouldn’t be left out on tracks like ‘tonight’ and ‘live out loud’. Fans of Fergie and the black eyed peas would embrace the amazing ‘Gimme that funk’.
What really matters here is that Group 1 crew has a message and they don’t even try to sacrifice it for good beats. The album is full of the Gospel and still as ‘beaty’ as ever. It’s a double giveaway and even after the last notes fades, their message of hope and sanctification would still linger on our hearts. Good one from these guys who know how to groove in holiness!
Genre- Urban / Rap/ R n B
IPod pick- Take You Away
Big girl B.O.U.Q.U.I is back, this time with something big and better. One of the reasons why I admire B.O.U.Q.U.I so much is because of her display of a sound theology in her music with the groovy beats and the rhymes still not lacking. On her new album she gives us an expose rap on Romans 7 on ‘Oluwa feat. Cobhams’. You would be moved by this young lady’s honesty about the struggles of life on this track.
The album opens with an intro which is titled ‘Core mission’ calling out soldiers for Christ. This is followed by the grooviest song about heaven I have ever heard ‘take you away’ where B.O.U.Q.U.I encourages a friend singing ‘and to everybody going astray, put your hands in mine and let me take you away’. The song is followed by the popular first single from the album ‘Mo’rile’. ‘Luv u 4eva’ is a song that would have you dancing as soon as it starts featuring Mike Aremu on the Sax. It’s a song that talks about marriage in the light of God’s word and it also suggests that this lady rapper would be visiting the church altar soon. B.O.U.Q.U.I gives us the shock on the skit called ‘condescending skit’ where she is skipping through the radio in a car and exclaims ‘who on earth is making sense’ and later tells us she is not condescending to the general nonsense. The skit is a must listen as B.O.U.Q.U.I comes out boldly to tell us that she’s not out there to sing the normal trash that we have plenty of already.
‘Redefinition’ is not just your normal 16 tracked Cd of ‘general nonsense’. LOL. B.O.U.Q.U.I proves that by giving us more than good beats to groove to but also words of wisdom that would linger on long after the music stops. Go B.O.U.Q.U.I. You rock!
Album- No looking back
Street date- July 22, 2008
Album length- 14 tracks. 57 minutes.
Genre- Urban/R n B/Reggae/Pop
IPod Pick- Best thing
Meet Damita. Youth pastor at the Without walls church, Tampa, Florida (Pastor Paula white’s church) and wife of all time gospel sweetheart Deitrick haddon. With her second release after eight years of long wait from her fans she establishes herself as a gospel diva.
The album opens with a groovy tune that would get you off your seat dancing (‘plain and simple’). Damita tells us her strong voice can do all things by doing the reggae hit (‘Best thing’). The album goes soft but still with beats that would steal your heart away on ‘Midnite’. The worshipful ‘I will trust’ is a proclamation of faith in Christ and his faithfulness. Radio ready ‘No looking back’ is that song you wouldn’t mind listening to on a drive in the car. Damita goes ‘political’ on ‘pray’ encouraging the people to pray to God so He can heal the land.
Eight years is a long time and surely Damita doesn’t disappoint us after this long wait with fresh messages from the heart of God. Fans of Beyonce need not look further, Damita is the real thing!
Artist - Britt Nicole
Album- The Lost Get Found
Label- Sparrow records
Album length- 11 tracks. 38.4 minutes.
Genre- Electronic Pop/ Pop
IPod Pick- Hanging On
A number of times we forget what we’ve been called for in God’s vineyard as Christians. That’s the message that was so heavy on Britt’s mind while recording the first single from this album. ‘don’t be afraid to stand out. . . that’s how the lost get found’ she sings on the title track. Britt has a way of combining sweet melodies with messages from the heart of God without sounding too corny. On her latest release (lost get found) she does that and more, this time no rock but pop.
She reminds us of the surety of God’s word on ‘hanging on’ and also the providence and faithfulness of our heavenly father on ‘have your way’. She also sings to a lonely friend ‘every time you feel alone put on your headphones . . . on’ headphones’. ‘Walk on water’ is a song that encourages us to take hold of the provision we have in Christ to overcome our struggles. ‘Feel the light’ would soon be that cool song you long to listen every now and then, an all time favorite.
One thing is sure , there is no dull moment on this 30 something minute Cd. if you have a flair for the breathy vocals of Britney spears and the head nodding beat of Lady Gaga, a better option with a message of hope and salvation is Britt’s latest, The lost get found.
Artist- Jason Allen Rich
Album- A Beautiful Life
Street date- April 07, 2009.
Album length- 6 tracks. 22.7 minutes.
Genre- Pop rock /Worship
IPod Pick- Taste and see
Season 7 American idols' contestant, Jason rich, doesn’t just have a knack to produce strong and firm vocals of the likes of David Cook and Jeremy camp but also knows how to lead us into the courts of God in worshipful moments.
This 6 tracked EP is a must listen. With songs declaring gratitude and praise to our God ( ‘a million angels’ and ‘ lamb of glory’ ) and songs reaffirming the faithfulness of our God(‘taste and see’) reminding us he will never leave or forsake us and that he has gone to prepare a place for us beyond(‘Take us away’). For soft rock lovers and worship moments that would take you away Jason allen rich’s debut is the beautiful option.
Artist- Jade Harrell
Album- Class Reject
Label- Revolution art
Street date- June 02, 2009.
Album length- 13 tracks. 39.9 Minutes.
Genre- R n B/Hip hop/Dancehall/Rock/Pop
IPod pick- Me and My Radio
The church choir all over the world has been known to produce great vocalist (Brandy Norwood, Whitney Houston, Corrine Bailey Rae, Jessica Simpson) that have made an impact on mainstream music over the years. Choir divas are known for something in common, a strong and passionate voice and a high display of their knowledge of music in their work. New comer Jade Harrell, who was ‘hijacked’ after the members of G.R.I.T.S (Coffee and Bonafide) discovered her talent while singing in her home church some years back, doesn’t fail to deliver that and more.
‘I see the world as a big class room’ says 19 years old Jade. ‘and because I am a Christian, as well as a strong advocate for abstinence until marriage, I’m automatically rejected by most of the world. That’s not how the world does it’. One thing that stands this album out are the electrifying beats. Radio ready tracks (‘into the music’ , ‘addicted’, and ‘me and my radio’) would get you on your feet with enough grooves to make you sweat. ‘Beaty’ Worship moments (‘king of my heart’) aren’t left out. The album features rich alto vocalist Ayiesha woods on the Kylie Minogue styled ‘who you are’. You wouldn’t know when you would start your break dance on this track. And finally, the album shocker is the retro styled ‘don’t leave’. Which would make you double check your music player to make sure you haven’t mistakenly switched to a radio station in the 80’s. Jade delivers classic Motown style on this track.
After all ‘class reject’ wouldn’t be rejected by music lovers who are fascinated by good beats and a message that lingers on long after you’ve pressed the stop button. Jade Harrell has come to stay and would be around for a very long time. Be rest assured about that!
Artist- Jaci Velasquez
Album- Love out Loud
Label- Apostrophe records
Release date- March 18, 2008.
Album length- 11 tracks. 37.9 Minutes.
Genre- Pop Latino
IPod Pick- A likely story
All time favorite Jaci comes back after a failed marriage, parent divorce and hollywood indulgence to tell a story of God’s restoration and finding strength to break through the night. This time her story shaped into the lyrics of this album would move you into a deeper relationship with our God and surely set you on fire for Him.
The theme of the album is unconditional love. Giving love to people (‘love out loud’), sticking with relationships even when it seems not to be our fault (‘it’s not you, it’s me’). Worship moments are not left out with songs like ‘my alleluia(when words fail)’ and ‘Jesus (the way)’. The height of the album is a Cinderella story song written for Jaci’s new husband (Nicolas Gonzalez of Salvador). Jaci tells us in the foot note of the album how she felt so undeserving of his love. The song also relates to how we are so undeserving of God’s love yet he fails not to lavish it on us. You would hear Jaci’s new hubby singing along on the latino track titled ‘por escrito’.
All in all, jaci’s new album is a bold declaration of how imperfect people are perfected in God’s love and that’s why it will be staying in our Cd tray for a long time.
Street date- March 18, 2008
Album length- 10 tracks. 39.5 Minutes
Genre- Power pop/rock
IPod pick- Hope now
The definition of good music is in it being able translate you from one state(emotionally, mentally, spiritually etc) to a better state with safe landing. Addison road debut does this so well. Avoiding cliché pitfalls most Christian albums are used to. Trust me you wouldn’t be hearing your normal lyrics this times. After six years of recording independently, this soft rockers land a recording deal with INO (tree 63, mercy me, The fray). Six years is a long time coming and the members of this group have a story to tell about their walk with God and how the mighty savior has showed up in various ways on life’s journey. With Jenny Simmons on lead vocals, Addison road delivers their lessons learnt on love, life, self esteem, heaven, Modern culture and God with beautiful music on their debut.
‘this could be our day’ is a catchy beat that would get you moving along from the intro. The song is a reminder that we are ambassadors in this world and that we are here to cause a change and not just waste every passing minute. ‘Start over again’ follows in the same vein encouraging us that every moment is a second chance to start all over again. ‘Casualties’ is a bold anthem against materialism. ’Always love’ and ‘sticking with you’ are a healing balm to any relationship. In the latter, the vocalist tells a friend ‘Even if you try and shut me out. I’m staying here cause that’s what love’s about . . . I might let you down but I won’t let you go‘. ‘What do I know of Holy’ would get you on your knees before the last line. ’hope now’ is that song you want to hear when things aren’t going your way and even when they are. The lyrics are striking ‘I’m not my own I’ve been carried by you all my life’. All in all, Addison road’s debut is a joy ride to behold. These Texan rockers know how to carry us on a jolly ride with safe landing. I bet you don’t want to miss out. Why don’t you get on the road with Addison road!
Author- Ted Dekker
Genre- Fiction/Suspence/ Thriller
Publisher- Thomas Nelson
Street Date- September 2, 2008.
I wouldn’t say this is my best Dekker novel ever, neither would I say it’s my worst but I would just place it on its own pedestal of uniqueness. Till date I would say ‘Sinner’ is Ted’s most proclamative novel. It combines good allegory (the usual Dekker style) with real life events. For instance, we read of characters being born again. The book starts off with a prologue followed by a chapter zero (now that’s very unique cause I haven’t seen any novel in my reading years having a chapter zero!). It starts with Marsuvees black (you know him if you’ve read ‘Saint’ and ‘Showdown’) finding a letter from David Abraham actually addressed to one of the survivors of Project Showdown, Johnny Drake to be précised.
The whole story unfolds around the two characters who Survived Project Showdown (Darcy and Billy), how they reunite, their fight against the evil around them and how they find the light. Like you would guess, there’s never a dull moment with Ted Dekker who knows how to portray a good story with the actions of a blockbuster movie. Be rest assured, no long prose. Fast and interesting conversation between various characters would keep you turning pages and by the time you finish or rather before the last page, the theme of the novel (which has to do with religious freedom) would get you on your knees praying for the divine intervention on behalf of God’s people (Christians).
With the styling of Dean Koontz and the fast paced action of Sidney Sheldon, Sinner delivers the gospel of Christ like you’ve never heard it before, a gospel of love yet hated by many. Beware! The sinner might just be right beside you.
Artist- Darwin Hobbs
Street date- August 26, 2008.
Album length- 12 tracks. 58.4 Minutes
Genre- Gospel RnB/Praise and Worship
IPod pick- The Name of the LORD
Church music has had its share of revolution over the years with the influence of various music genre. This is a good thing especially for our generation, easily attracted by good beats in a song and considering lyrics second. Darwin Hobbs( popularly known for his hit ‘ We worship you today’) doesn’t fail to deliver good church music that would grab your attention (with the vocals similar to that of Luther Vandross) at first listen leaving you to consider the lyrics at second listen.
The album centers lyrically on the album title. Yes, freedom is the central theme. Getting help to be free from sin(‘Heal the land’), Genuine repentance (‘I repent’), the reality of freedom from sin (‘free’), staying free ('crosswalk’) and worship and adoration to the God who has made us free (‘the name of the LORD’,’I praise you’, and ‘sacrifice of praise’) are various topics explored lyrically in this album. The album borrows a closer from the Deitrick Haddon’s album 'worship together' on which Darwin himself features on (He’s able) reminding us all that that which God has begun in us he is faithful and able to complete it. Hobbs latest release is a powerful declaration of the Freedom we have in Christ. I assure you ‘Free’ wouldn’t be leaving your music players for a long time.
Artist- Francesca Battistelli
Album- My paper heart
Label- Fervent Records
Album length- 11 tracks. 38 minutes.
Genre- Jazz/ pop/ rock
IPod pick- It’s your Life
Teen pop is usually known for fantasy lyrics and catchy beats that remind you of your days in nursery class. The Disney kids are here and there always having something to say about high school, teenage love affairs, first kiss and first dates. You just name it. They never fail to deliver the usual. Welcome twenty years old Francesca , who doesn’t fail to deliver the unusual. Daughter of two New York theater film makers and also a skilled pianist and guitarist as well, Francesca knows how to get the music going.
Her debut is a fusion of a wide genre of music ranging from Jazz(‘ I’m letting go) to Gospel soul (‘blue sky’) to pop( ‘free to be me’) to Praise and worship(‘Forever love’) to rock (‘it’s your life’) to ballad(‘time in between’ and ‘behind the scenes’). One thing is sure, this young woman of God knows her music and she knows it well. The whole album reflects Battistelli’s strong relationship with our heavenly father and is covered with lyrics that would draw your heart closer to Him.
Are you star struck with the likes of ‘High school musicals’ or the husky vocals of Miley cyrus or Vanessa Hudgens but still want something refreshing and deeper still? Miss Battistelli is your best bet!
Album- The winner in me
Street date- July 14, 2009.
Album length- 12 Tracks. 57.4 minutes.
Genre- RnB / Pop.
IPod pick- Make a way.
The year 1990 saw the birth of soul R n B trio, SWV (Sisters with voices). The platinum recording group hit the chart then with a duet with late music veteran Michael Jackson. SWV parted ways in 1998 after 6 top selling albums. Now comes (should we say) new comer or old timer lead singer of SWV Coko , who is back to deliver more in the power of the gospel.
The album starts with a funk/rap rocky anthem ‘make a way’ declaring that God is able to make a way even when there seems to be no way (featuring Gospel rapper Canton Jones). ‘Rescue me’ could be titled the ‘drive’ song of the album, that cool rhythmic track that would put you in the good mood for a walk or a long drive. Coko goes straight back to church on the title track ‘winner in me’ testifying that Jesus is the one who has made all these come to pass and that He is sure the winner in her. ’joy of the lord’ is that song you wouldn’t mind grooving to at your next birthday party. ‘ I surrender’ and ‘renew my mind’ are smooth (let’s say) ballads that would put you in the mood for worship.
All round and round, if you are fans of strong and breathy vocals of the likes of mainstream’s Rihanna, Keisha Cole and Keri Hilson, you would soon be switching places cause Coko has come to stay this time.