Monday, October 24, 2011


     In a press release regarding Downhere's latest project ON THE ALTAR OF LOVE (2011, Centricity Music), the following words are written: "As students of history, Jeremy, Jason, Marc and Glenn have come to recognize and appreciate the fact that their faith is not simply their own-but that it's part of a much larger communion of believers that stretches across cultures and thousands of years."  This album is an examination of that faith.
     'Only the Beginning' sounds like it could be the theme song of a movie and presents life as a passionate pursuit: "This is only the beginning/Press ahead forget what's behind, forget what's behind/And the good work He is still perfecting/A new name, a new dream, a new life/And this is only the beginning/This is only the beginning."  'Rest' is a radio friendly invitation to find peace in the person of Christ: "Come to Me, you tired and heavy-laden/Come to Me with all your weariness/Here with Me is where you'll find your haven/And I will give you rest/Yes, I will give you rest."  'Let me Rediscover You' is powerful and marvels at God's greatness: "How can I say I know You/When what I know is still so small?/Let me cry 'Holy, Holy, Holy'/Let me awaken to Your majesty/And see a glimmer of Your glory/Let me abide in You/Let me rediscover You."  'For Life' is a poetic song that reflects on things to be thankful for: "For a pretty girl and for falling in love, oh love/For spring ice churning the driftwood shore/For birdsong air and windswept hair/For fiddle head strings and flower bows" and "For everything revealed to see/For what's kept in mystery, oh Lord/From the finer things to the shirt on my back/The less I have the less I lack."
     'Living the Dream' has a circus type feel to it and highlights the importance of having a positive attitude: "As for me, I'm singing a new song/I'm not gonna dwell inside some alternate reality/I feel free-I'm making the best of it/Seeing with eyes that find the heart and soul of true beauty" and "Every day Love makes the promise/That we can be great if we want it/And we are living the dream/Highs and lows we'll take on together/Choosing joy whatever the weather."  'Seek' is a pop/rock song that offers this advice to humanity: "The call left unanswered/Will quickly take its toll/Seek while He may be found/Delight in Him in these times/This is the invitation/We've been waiting for/Seek while He may be found/Call on Him while He's near/Don't you fear, He won't hide."  'Glory by the Way of Shame' is a ballad about the power of forgiveness: "She cheated on him twice but for fear she never told/She finally confessed before her heart ran cold/With pain in his eyes, he walked out of the house and drove to town/Bought her a white wedding dress/Came home to her and danced."  'Holy' is a worshipful modern hymn: "You bore my shame/And in death carried my sin/Worthy Lamb, who gave Your life/Now, I can live again/Who was and is and is to come/The Father, Spirit, and the Son/Holy, holy, holy One/Holy, holy God."
     'For the Heartbreak' has a happy sound to it and shows evidence of a mature faith: "Thank You for the heartbreak/Thank You for the pain/Thank You for the sadness/On the gloomy days of rain/Thank You that the hard times/Have a reason and rhyme/Thank You that the healing makes the beauty shine/Thank You for the heartbreak."  'Turn this Around' is a midtempo request for divine intervention in one's life: "I feel the toxins in my veins/And deeper routed through my heart/I don't want to stay the same/If there's healing for the broken/Save me from me/I'm calling on the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief/Can You make a change in me?"  'The Altar of Love' is a magnificent song of true surrender to God that features the fiddle: "Lay down your idols/Lay down your possessions/Lay down your shrines and/Your worldly obsessions/Love will ask of you more than treasure/When you're willing to trust/Blessing far outweighs the loss when you lay it all/You lay it all on the Altar of Love/In the holiest room/Where the curtain was torn/By the ultimate wound/Oh, the Altar of Love/Where the glory resides."  'Reveal the Kingdom' has a laid back feel to it and reveals a desire to live life with an eternal perspective: "Be Thou our strength, to carry through/The hope of grace and bear the truth/As we wait for You to.../Reveal the unseen Kingdom/The glory of the new Son/Where ever more His love imparts/The kingdom in our hearts/Reveal the Kingdom."
     The black and white photography of the four bearded bandmates in period costuming on the album cover and in the booklet are a nice artistic touch.  ON THE ALTAR OF LOVE is a very strong Christian rock record produced by Mark Heimermann. I'm rating it 90% and recommending it to fans of Sanctus Real, Kevin Max, and Mercy Me.  For more info visit or

Monday, October 17, 2011


     In the liner notes of her major label debut, NOT MYSELF ANYMORE (2011, BEC Recordings), Jessa Anderson lays out the purpose of her music: "It is my deepest desire that Your love for humanity be spread through these songs and that Your glory be known."  'Not What I Thought' begins the album on an upbeat, victorious note: "And You're not what I thought when I saw You/I had been running for so long/But now I've got something else, something more/That I know will fill the empty up/Cause You're not what I thought/No You're not what I thought."  'Fireflies' is a delightful pop song about the light of God: "You're breaking through the darkness/I'm like a child/Standing in amazement/Here in the night/You shine brighter than fireflies/Caught up in the mystery/I can't deny everything around me reflects Your light/You shine brighter than fireflies."  'Everybody has those Days' is bouncy and about having a lousy day and feeling down on yourself: "I'm feeling alone and I'm feeling like sort of a mess/Can't make sense of anything" and "You know I'm really more the clumsy type/Always making mistakes/The harder I try to be careful the bigger the break."  'Worship the Lamb' is a Sunday morning friendly song of praise: "There is nothing I could say/I could sing/To give an adequate description of my glorious King/For You are indescribable" and "All I am at my best/I am merely a breath/All I am at my best/I am merely a breath for You."
     'The Same Place' is about someone finding themself in a difficult position: "Trade your problems for the pain/Of knowing that you walked away/No longer participate/You made another big mistake/Didn't anybody ever say/We all lie in the bed we make?"  'Not Myself Anymore' is a piano ballad showcasing Jessa's vocals.  It explores the pain involved in a relationship ending: "I can't seem to figure out why/I'm not myself anymore/And I cry all the time/And you, you're unaccountably gone/You've got no explanation for leaving me alone/Well maybe we shouldn't have let it go on for so long."  'I Won't Break' is a guitar and percussion driven rocker.  The flavour in Jessa's voice really shows here in this song about a relationship gone sour: "And I've been wondering when it all fell apart on me/And how I didn't see it coming/In the least baby/I gather miles and put them up on display/Pretend I'm shiny, new and tell the world I've changed."  'Moving On' is a song of encouragement I could hear Taylor Swift doing: "Stop your worry now/Just be strong/Be strong/Leave your fear behind/We're moving on/Moving on."
     'Offering' is a mid tempo song of gratitude to God: "I believe in a purpose intended for the life You breathe only in me/I needed someone to fight and defend me/And salvage what's buried beneath" and "You alone are perfect by nature/Passionate lover, redeemer, and friend/Who am I to inherit this treasure?/A place in Your infinite rest."  'Don't Know' is a song of self-examination and is about a desire to hide one's real self from others: "So why do I feel the need to hide myself behind/A veil that doesn't show/Who I am inside?" and "Does anybody see me here?/Does anybody, anybody care?/Does anybody hear me now?"  The album closes with 'Return' which is a prescription for a fulfilling life and has a poetic feel to it: "We have been running away/We have been hiding/We have been making mistakes/And then denying/All of the things that make us who we are/Fallen from grace and then restored" and "We are unwilling and we are cold/For fear the darkness will be exposed/But if we hold on to all our secrets/We only forfeit/Our chance at freedom."
     NOT MYSELF ANYMORE is a strong pop debut from Jessa Anderson.  I recommend it to fans of Ke$ha, ZOEgirl, Everlife, and Cheri Keaggy.  I'm rating it an 85%.  The album cover is a gorgeous portrait of Jessa.  For more info visit and

Friday, October 14, 2011


     Listening to an album by Sara Groves is always a pleasant, thought provoking experience.  Her tenth album INVISIBLE EMPIRES (2011, Fair Trade Services) is no exception.  'Miracle' is soothing and piano based: "Lay down your arms/Give up the fight/Quiet our hearts for a little while" and "Let's heal where we couldn't heal/Oh it's a miracle/Love is a miracle."  'Obsolete' is mellow and about struggling with insecurities and finding identity in God: "And you don't know where you stand/And you feel so small and thin/And if you are dismissed/Will another take you in?" and "Are we walking through the streets of invisible empires?/And I know I shouldn't care if I'm out or if I'm in/Cause if I am dismissed You always take me in."  'I'll Wait' is a radio friendly pop song about the importance of seeking the Lord's direction: "I'll wait for You now more than ever/I see it's true now more than ever/I'll wait for You/I don't want to do this by myself/I know I need Your help/And so I'm waiting for You."  'Scientists in Japan' reflects on the power of science and offers a word of caution before proceeding to the next advancement: "Eyes wide open and our jaw on the floor/We see science fiction ain't fiction no more" and "Who's gonna stay here and think about it?/Who's gonna stay, who's gonna stay?"
     'Open my Hands' features acoustic guitar and speaks of a deep trust in God: "I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain/The broken find healing in love/Pain is no measure of His faithfulness/He withholds no good thing from us" and "I am nodding my head an emphatic yes to all that You have for me."  'Precious Again' is a plea for spiritual revival: "Where is the wonder?/Oh sing me the song that's never old/Oh tell me the story never told/Promise that just when love grows cold/You'll make it precious again."  'Eyes on the Prize' is an inspirational song about perserverance that starts off sounding like a black gospel number: "Got my hand on the gospel plow/Won't take nothin' for my journey now/Keep your eyes on the prize/Hold on" and "The way is slow and we've so far to go/Keep your eyes on the prize/Hold on."  'Without Love' is slow and mesmerizing and references 1Corinthians 13: "You can fall on the blade of the martyr/You can give all your possessions to the poor...Without love I have not."
     'Right Now' is less than a minute long is about taking personal responsibility: "I'm tired of blaming everybody else/I'm sorry if I blamed you/I have everything I need to be myself/I have what I need to love you."  'Mystery' finds Sara relinquishing self-effort: "My body's tired from trying to bring You here/And my brow is furrowed tryin' to see things clear/So I'll turn my back to the black and fall/And wait for the mystery to rise up and meet me."  'Finite' concludes the album.  With this song Sara explores womanhood: "What God meant by woman I'm hard pressed to find" and "I'm finite/I come to an end/I'm finite/I cannot pretend." 
     INVISIBLE EMPIRES is a thoughtful, introspective album that encourages the kind of spiritual growth in believers that will cause them to positively impact the world in which they live.  Sara's voice is in top form and is pleasing to the ears.  I'm rating INVISIBLE EMPIRES 90%. For more info visit: or The album drops in stores Tues, Oct 18, 2011.

Friday, October 07, 2011


     It's hard to believe that it's been a decade since Paige Lewis released her self-titled debut on Word Records at the age of sixteen.  Guess what?  She's still making music.  Her latest album is ONE GOOD DAY (2011, Cry Holy Music).  Now, rather than sounding like Alanis Morissette, she fits in nicely with other female singer-songwriters such as Sheryl Crow, Jann Arden, and Shawn Colvin.  Her sound is more mature and refined.  The album begins with the title track which is a mid-tempo number that talks of the unsure nature of life: "Every story begins with the worry that nothing's gonna go your way" and "All it takes is one good day and you're on your way."  'Other Side' is a pop song about personal discovery: "How's it feel, how's it feel, tell me how it feels/Safe on the other side?" and "Everybody's waitin' for somethin' to change them/Everybody's waitin' for somethin' to save them."  'You Will be the Last' finds Paige in love: "You may not be the first one that's ever crossed my path/Others worked at first but they disappeared so fast/If ever you should wonder or if anyone should ask/You may not be the first one/But you will be the last."  'Who You Are' is a song for the discouraged: "You're gonna be just fine/Take your sweet time/'Cause you're about to go on the ride of your life/Oh, you're gonna run through the dark/You're gonna say it's too hard/Right before you lose your heart/You're gonna find who you are." 'I Belong with You Now' speaks of the gladness of rediscovering a lost love: "Somehow I've always known that we'd be back together someday/Well babe, that day has come/I don't know how we survived for all this time."
     'Turning on the Light' is plodding, and is about conquering depression: "Silence has become the worst of friends/Darkness overruns all happiness" and "There's nothing worse than giving in and fading out and out of sight/We all deserve a second chance/So I'm taking it and I'm turning on the light."  'Much to Learn' is a rock song of personal growth: "Clinging to the only hope I know/Will I know when to let go?/I don't know/All I know, all I know, all I know/Is I've much to learn."  'It Goes On' features beautiful piano and instrumentation and portrays life as a complex journey: "I don't wanna turn back time/I don't wanna change my mind/I just wanna go where I belong/You do the best with what you have/You try to take the good from bad/All I know is after life goes wrong/It goes on."  'Sycamore' is pensive: "Lyin' in my bed/I think I've had enough/I empty my head just to fill it back up."  'Where You Left Me" is a song many will relate to: "I don't understand it why you disappeared/And I'm still stuck here standing where you left me."
     ONE GOOD DAY was an important album for Paige Lewis to make.  She writes in the liner notes: "This is a record I never thought I'd make, filled with songs I never thought I'd write, inspired by a hope I never thought I'd have."  Those fans who are willing to follow Paige from the Christian market to the mainstream market will appreciate her familiar voice and shared insights.  I'm rating ONE GOOD DAY 80%.  For more info visit