Sunday, April 23, 2017



The multi-artist album MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST came out in 1995.  Its sequel, THE COVENANT, followed the next year (Word/Epic).  The liner notes tell us: “Oswald Chambers had depth of insight into God’s Word few people possess.  He was a young man with a heart bent toward God and wisdom beyond his years...With the exception of the Bible, no book has had such a profound effect on so many lives as Oswald Chamber’s beloved classic ‘My Utmost For His Highest’”.  Producers of THE COVENANT are: Shane Keister, Tommy Sims, Brown Bannister, and John and Dino Elefante, while executive producers are Loren Balman and Brown Bannister.

Starting things off is a lovely vocal performance by Be Be Winans on ‘All of Me’.  Michael W. Smith and Cindy Morgan wrote this adult contemporary ballad that includes these words of testimony: “Blue like the sea/Tears have flowed/So deep through me/Sweet release, precious peace/You have seen all of me.../Time leading on through the storm/Raging strong/I am weak/But You heal and You shield/All of me”.  ‘Reprise (All of Me)’ features The London Session Orchestra and is an instrumental that sounds like a majestic movie score.

Tommy Sims and David Mullen wrote the next song, the title track, ‘The Covenant’.  Anointed sings this calming light R & B song that finds God lovingly speaking to us: “I color life like a painting on your heart and soul/I made the wonder and the mystery you dream of/And if that is not enough/I’ll never leave you/Of all the things I’ve promised you/Remember that love is for always and I will never change/For I have made a promise and so it will be/This is a promise everlasting/I belong to you and you to Me”.  Michael W. Smith, seven backing vocalists, and the Kids Connection Choir sing ‘Someday (Set the Children Free)’.  It’s a beautiful adult contemporary song of optimism: “Someday you’ll find your place in the sun/Someday when all hearts beat as one/You’ll sing with the heart of a child/Someday when the river runs wild/My Father comes to set His children free/Some say it’s a vision/Some say it’s just a dream/I say it’s a promise, a covenant, a destiny/And I will come to set My children free”.

Jerry McPherson and Dann Huff play electric guitars on ‘Through all the Years’.  Greg Long and Joanna Carlson sing this inspirational chorus: “How could I live without You?/Through the years You have been faithful/How could I breathe without You?/It seems so clear that even in the shadowed moments/You were there (2X)/Through the years/All my life”.  Next up is 'Psalm 121' with Susan Ashton on lead vocals.  Shane Keister plays piano, Phil Madeira the B-3 organ, and Blair Masters the keyboards.  It’s a soft praise and worship number: “Oh, the Lord is my keeper/The Lord is the shade on my right hand/The sun shall not hurt me by day, nor the moon by night/The Lord is my keeper/The Lord is the shade on my right hand/Oh, the Lord is my keeper from this time forth and forevermore/The Lord will keep me from all evil/Oh, He will keep my life/The Lord will keep my going out and my coming in”.

Bob Farrell and Robbie Buchanan wrote ‘Make it a Promise’.  Clay Crosse sings this standout adult contemporary ballad of spiritual dedication: “I promise, Lord, that I’ll seek You/I’ll promise all of my ways/I promise I’ll keep standing to the end of my days/I’ll follow Your light and make a home close to Your heart”.  On ‘I Will Follow You’, John Elefante and Lisa Bevill sing these beautiful words: “And we will follow You/Knowing You’ll lead us through/From darkness to Your everlasting light/And we will never walk alone as long as the path is not our own/Like a shadow behind You we’ll be/And the way will be clear as long as we follow You”.

Carl Marsh wrote ‘Reprise (My Utmost for His Highest)’, a creative, contemplative instrumental selection that runs over six minutes long.  It features The London Session Orchestra and builds in intensity.  Last up is ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee’, which here is given the upbeat pop treatment by Michael W. Smith and Anointed, backed by The Born Again Church Choir.  These words speak of God’s marvelous creation: “All Thy works with joy surround Thee/Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays/Stars and angels sing around Thee/Center of unbroken praise/Field and forest, vale and mountain/Flowery meadow, flashing sea/Chanting bird and flowing fountain/Call us to rejoice in Thee”.

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST: THE COVENANT is mostly a soft adult contemporary record.  God’s love and goodness towards us is a common theme, as are His faithfulness and protection.  Our fitting response to these qualities of our Maker, as laid out in other songs, is to seek after Him and give Him our entire lives.  There are several strong songs here and a few more forgettable ones.  It’s sort of a mixed bag, which is the case with many multi-artist projects.  If you enjoy laid back songs about the Christian life, this album’s for you.  I’m rating it 85%.  For more info connect with the artists on Facebook.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Kari Brooke Jobe was born on April 6, 1981 in Waco, Texas.  She released her self-titled major label debut in 2009 which included the now popular ‘Revelation Song’.  Fast forward to 2017 and she released her fourth album, THE GARDEN (Capitol CMG).  It was produced by Jeremy Edwardson.  Half of the album was recorded in Redding, California, and half in Nashville.  In February of 2016 Kari and her husband had Canyon Carnes.  A few months before this, Kari’s sister gave birth to a stillborn daughter.  Kari’s bio states: “Most of THE GARDEN’s 14 tracks speak to hope in the midst of loss, peace in the midst of uncertainty, and God’s presence in the midst of pain”.  In the liner notes Kari writes: “I pray that these songs would help you find the strength to lift your voice and worship again just like they did for me.  God is kind, strong, loving, compassionate, and He will draw near to you as you draw close to Him”.  Here, I am reviewing the Deluxe Edition of THE GARDEN.

First up is the title track, ‘The Garden’, penned by Kari, her husband Cody Carnes, and Amanda and Jacob Cook of Bethel Music.  It’s a sweeping worship anthem of testimony: “I can see the ivy reaching through the wall/’Cause You will stop at nothing/To heal my broken soul/Faith is rising up like ivy, reaching for the light/Hope is stirring deep inside me/Making all things right/Love is lifting me from sorrow/Catching every tear/Dispelling every lie and torment/Crushing all my fears”.  ‘Let Your Glory Fall’ is an adult pop song with these prayerful words: “Oh, let it rain/Let Your glory fall/Overwhelm my soul/Let Your presence flood my life, O Lord/Break upon me now/Let Your love crash down/Let Your glory fall”.

‘Heal our Land’ was the album’s second single and was written by Kari, Cody, and Brooke and Scott Ligertwood.  It’s a wonderful adult contemporary song that asks God to move amongst us: “Redeem, revive/Spirit of God, breathe on Your church/Pour out Your presence/Speak through You Word/We pray in every nation, Christ be known/Our hope and salvation, Christ alone”.  Martin Smith is a co-writer on ‘Lover of my Soul’, which contains these words addressed to God: “You’re my one true love/Every breath is Yours/Hear my greatest song/I love You, Lord (2X)/Jesus, all my heart belongs to You/Jesus, every heartbeat longs for You/Lover of my soul/Hold me in Your arms forever/It’s You and You alone/Burning in my heart”.

‘Speak to Me’ is the longest track at over seven and a half minutes.  This one has an atmospheric sound to it and cries out to God: “I’m in awe that You would come to me/In awe that I can hear You speak/Speak to me (2X)/I’m listening.../I hang on to every word You say/I live to hear You say my name”.  ‘Fall Afresh’ includes these wonderful words: “Let these hands be clean and this heart be pure/Blameless as the bride You’re coming for/It’s the power of Your presence that changes us/Your glory all around us and we’re undone/You open up the heavens and fall afresh on us”.

‘I Will Sing’ was the first song written for this album.  It was written by Kari while she was still pregnant.  Her co-writers are Jason Ingram and Ben Fielding.  It’s a passionate song of spiritual maturity: “I need to hear Your voice/Speaking to silence all my doubts/Your Word won’t return empty/You will break through every darkness/Even when my breath is weak/I will sing, I will sing/Even in my suffering/I will sing, I will sing”.  ‘Miracles’ is a cover of a Jesus Culture song.  It’s a pop song about God’s power: “The One who put death in its place/His life is flowing through my veins (2X)/I believe in You (2X)/You’re the God of miracles”.

‘Closer to Your Heart’ features Kari’s husband Cody Carnes and is a soothing song: “At every facet of Your beauty/My heart responds with ‘Holy, Holy’/Oh, You never cease to amaze me/And it’s only just the start/Oh, it’s only just the start.../Holy, I get lost in Your love/I get lost in Your love/Holy, full of awe and wonder/Full of awe and wonder”.  Kari, Cody, Mia Fieldes, and Josh Silverberg wrote ‘Oh the Power’, a modern Easter hymn: “There on the hill/You surrendered Your will/’For they know not what they do’/Grief in Your heart/Your hands bear the scars/Of a love that led You to the tomb/Calvary, where Heaven met me.../Oh, the power of the cross/Oh, the power of Your blood”.

Kari, Benjamin Hastings, and Bryan Fowler wrote the album’s first single, ‘The Cause of Christ’.  This adult contemporary song concludes the standard edition of the album.  Kari lets us know what she wants her legacy to be: “For this cause I live/For this cause I’d die/I surrender all/For the cause of Christ/All I once held dear/I will leave behind/For my joy is this/Oh, the cause of Christ/It is not fame that I desire/Nor stature in my brother’s eye/I pray it’s said about my life/That I lived more to build Your Name than mine”.  The Deluxe Edition of the album includes three bonus cuts, the first of which is ‘Here as in Heaven’, a cover of an Elevation Church song, featuring Cody Carnes.  It includes these optimistic words: “A miracle can happen now/For the Spirit of the Lord is here/The evidence is all around/That the Spirit of the Lord is here”.

‘Come Alive’ testifies: “You are great yet You let us see Your face/You are strong yet Your eyes are full of kindness/You are wise/But like a child You let us come/You are great, yet You let us see Your face/I come alive, I come alive/In Your presence (2X)”.  Finishing things off is ‘On the Throne’, a song of spiritual determination: “I will walk through the trial/Walk through the valley of fear/I will walk through the storm/I won’t be overcome (2X)/For the Lord is/He is able, He is faithful/Higher than the mountains that I face/Every season I will press on/For God alone is on the throne”.

I can’t find much fault with the lyrics on THE GARDEN.  They exalt God and show gratitude for who He is and what He has so selflessly done for us.  They also speak of the joy, peace, and strength God provides us.  Kari has a pleasant voice to listen to and you can tell that she is really feeling the songs.  My beef with THE GARDEN is that there are so many slow songs on it, that they end up sounding too similar to each other.  More fast-paced songs should have been included to add some variety.  This album will either usher you into the presence of the Lord or put you to sleep.  I’m rating it 84% and recommending it to fans of Lauren Daigle.  For more info visit:

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Formed in Oregon, Kutless released their self-titled debut album in 2002.  In 2005 they released their first worship album, STRONG TOWER.  It reached #4 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart.  In 2009 they released their second worship album, IT IS WELL (BEC Recordings).  It debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Albums chart and at #42 on the Billboard Top 200.  It was nominated for a Dove Award for ‘Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year’.  Here, I am reviewing the standard edition of the album.  At the time Kutless was: Jon Micah Sumrall (vocals), James Mead (guitar), Nick De Partee (guitar), Dave Luetkenhoelter (bass), and Jeff Gilbert (drums).  In the liner notes the band shares: “During the recording process we met as a band every morning and dug into the Word and prayed.  God was there.  We worked with purpose-everybody deferring to each other’s strengths.  There was freedom, laughter and unity”.

Horatio Gates Spafford wrote the classic title track, ‘It is Well’.  This rock version here begins with church bells and footsteps and features the Westside Christian High School Choir.  It’s a strong personal testimony: “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!/My sin, not in part but the whole/Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more/Praise the Lord/Praise the Lord, O my soul!/It is well, with my soul/It is well with my soul”.  ‘Amazed’ is one of several originals on the album and one of three penned by the trio of Nick De Partee, Phil Wickham, and Pete Kipley.  It’s an adult contemporary song of wonder: “How amazed I am/Your glory fills the sky/A great and holy light/Shining like a million stars/I’m amazed by Who You are.../The universe is at Your feet and angels bow when You speak/So high above our greatest song but still You call and we will come”.

A rocked up version of Kathryn Scott’s ‘Hungry’ follows.  It declares spiritual need: “Hungry I come to You/For I know You satisfy/I am empty but I know/Your love does not run dry/So I wait for You (2X)/I’m falling on my knees/Offering all of me/Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for”.  Jon Micah Sumrall and Dave Lubben wrote ‘Taken By Love’, a ballad of gratitude: “You’ve taken me by love/You’ve taken me by grace/You’ve taken me away/I can’t resist because You’ve taken my heart/All creation will bow to the risen King”.

Scott Davis and Scott Krippayne wrote the album’s successful lead single, ‘What Faith Can Do’, while Luke Brown is a backing vocalist on it.  It’s a terrific adult contemporary ballad of inspiration: “Don’t you give up now/The sun will soon be shining/You gotta face the clouds to find the silver lining/I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains/Hope that doesn’t ever end/Even when the sky is falling/I’ve seen miracles just happen/Silent prayers get answered/Broken hearts become brand new/That’s what faith can do”.  ‘Remember Me’ is a great rock song from the perspective of one of the criminals Christ was crucified with: “Take what I have left my Saviour/Take me with You from this cross/When I leave this life completely/Remember me.../Left heaven to save/Liars and thieves/Sinners like me/Your blood sets us free”.

Mark Byrd and Steve Hindalong wrote ‘God of Wonders’.  It was the first song on the multi-artist praise and worship album CITY ON A HILL (2000).  Kutless does a decent, but not groundbreaking, cover of it here.  Some of the now familiar congregational words are: “God of wonders beyond our galaxy/You are holy, holy/The universe declares Your majesty/You are holy, holy/Lord of heaven and earth (2X).../You’re wonderful, so wonderful Lord/So wonderful Lord”.  On ‘Everything I Need’ the band pours out their hearts: “You are strength in my weakness and You are the refuge I seek/You are everything in my time of need/You are everything/You are everything I need/I need You/You are everything I need/I love everything about You”.

Charlie Hall’s ‘Give us Clean Hands’ is next.  This modern worship song is one of prayer: “Give us clean hands/Give us pure hearts/Let us not lift our souls to another/And God let us be a generation that seeks/Seeks Your face, oh God of Jacob”.  Kutless really brings the song to life!  Born again Christians will surely relate to the rock song ‘You Save Me’ and these words from it: “I’ll never be the same/Your love is changing everything/You pulled me from the grave/Wrapped me in Your arms/Jesus, You have won my heart/You save me/You set me free/Forever, Savior You will rescue me”.

‘Redeemer’ is a medley of ‘Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful’ and ‘There is a Redeemer’ both penned by Melody Green and popularized by her late husband and Christian music legend Keith Green.  I think I would rather Kutless had just done a full cover of ‘There is a Redeemer’.  Last up is ‘I’m Still Yours’, a soft song worthy of reflection: “If I lost it all would my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away?/If You take it all/This life You’ve given/Still my heart will sing to You/Even if You take it all away/You’ll never let me go/Take it all away/But I still know that I’m Yours”.

IT IS WELL is a well executed modern praise and worship record.  There are songs of testimony that speak of the salvation and eternal life God has provided us, songs that point to God as our strength and refuge, and songs that tell of the works God can do when we have faith.  Other songs speak of spiritual surrender and desiring all God wants for us, including purity.  Still other songs marvel at God’s creation, His glory, majesty, joy, peace, and love and grace that He gives to us.  This is, stylistically, a laid back rock album firstly, and secondly an adult contemporary album.  Fans of Chris Tomlin, Third Day, and Petra should buy this one, which I’m rating 93%.  For more info visit:

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Brittany Nicole Waddell was born on August 2, 1984.  Best known as Britt Nicole, she released her major label debut SAY IT (Sparrow) in 2007.  The debut single ‘You’ peaked at #6 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart.  Her next studio album THE LOST GET FOUND came out in 2009.  The song ‘Walk on Water’ from it, was used by NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser’.  Her third album, GOLD, came out in 2012 in the Christian market, and in 2013 in the mainstream market (Capitol).  In 2016 she released her self-titled fourth studio album.  Reflecting on it, she says: “There was no box..., no rules.  I just wrote from my heart and had fun.  I titled this record BRITT NICOLE because there is a part of me in every song.  I felt a lot of freedom in the writing.  There are songs about my husband, my kids, my friends, my struggles and my faith.  It is a true representation of who I am”.  Here, I am reviewing the Deluxe Edition of the album (Capitol CMG Label Group).  Twelve producers are used on the album.  They include: David Garcia, Joshua Crosby, Jason Ingram, Paul Mabury, Z. Will, and Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins.

Starting things off is the album’s lead single, ‘Through Your Eyes’.  It’s an upbeat pop music testimonial penned by Britt and Ben Glover: “You’re lifting my head up/I was keeping my head down/I didn’t know love/But I do now/Cause You stood right there and then You broke apart the lies/You told me I had something beautiful inside/You brought to life the part of me I thought had died/Cause You stood right there until I saw, I saw me/I saw me through Your eyes”.  Jonathan Crone plays guitars on the catchy pop tune ‘All the Money’.  It’s about puppy love: “No house in Bel Air could ever compare to the way you’re good to me/No ‘round the world cruise could rock me like you/You knock me right off my feet/It’s hard to describe/But I’m feeling like I won the lottery/It’s not your car, boy it’s your heart/That makes me feel like a queen/Cause a car can’t kiss goodnight/And a diamond can’t hold me tight”.

Britt, David Arthur Garcia, and Julia Michaels wrote ‘Better’, a pretty ballad of encouragement: “Hey girl in the back of the classroom/Just be strong/Some days feel like forever/But it won’t be long/Until you’re sittin’ on top of the world/Baby, believe it/Like a paper plane in the sky, you’ll fly, oh/I’ve been there/I’ve seen it all before/Baby, I was you/Hoping for something more”.  ‘Work of Art’ is a confidence booster for girls and ladies: “You were made for greatness/Beautifully created/By the One who made the stars/Baby, that’s just who we are/Take back what was taken/All those lies are vacant/We’re gonna tear them all apart/Let the truth invade our heart/Every freckle, every scar/You’re a work of art”.

Britt, her husband Joshua Crosby, Elley Duhe, and Robert Nix wrote ‘Fallin’ In Love’, a happy pop/dance track about a male-female relationship: “I’ve got this feeling and I can’t explain it/Can’t explain it/You got me feeling something so amazing, so amazing/There’s no denying that my heart is racing/This is crazy/I don’t wanna run this time/I just wanna stay this time/I just wanna keep on fallin’ in love with you/Ooh, over and over”.  ‘Be the Change’ is a single from the album.  This pop song inspires us to make a positive difference in our world: “So many hearts around the world, breaking/If I only got one chance, I’ll take it/Let my voice be a trumpet that can say that/Someone gotta be the hope and someone gotta be the love.../And don’t you know it starts today?/And baby, no, it’s not too late/It begins with you and I, you and I/Together we can be the change”.

‘All Day’ is an R & B ballad directed at Britt’s children: “Sometimes I gotta go to work/I be thinking ‘bout you all day/I be thinking ‘bout you in the studio/Be thinking ‘bout you on the stage/I was wishing I was holdin’ you/Wishing I was singing you to sleep/Thinking about you all the time, everyday, all night, all my life/I don’t wanna miss nothin’.../I will be there for you/When I can’t I know God will be holdin’ you!”  Patrick ‘Petey’ Martin and Alys Ffion wrote ‘Pave’, a sultry love song: “Say you wanna get outta here/Somewhere where the skies are clear/I know just the place to go/If we never make it there/I don’t care if you don’t care.../Me and you baby/We can go wherever/I can pave the road”.

‘No Filter’ is a marvelous adult contemporary piano based ballad about the facades we oft put on: “And what we let the whole world see/Isn’t really you and me/So tell me, what’s a picture worth if we can’t say a single word?/We always put a filter on to try to cover up the flaws/And if we do it all for show/I think it’s time we let it go/Cause I can picture us, picture us.../I can picture us with no filter on”.  Gary Lunn plays bass on ‘Girls Night Out’, which also uses a horn section.  It’s a playful, carefree dance number: “No worries, no drama and no broken hearts/Don’t know where we’re goin’/Just get in the car/We’re perfectly perfect/The way that we are, we are/Cause we ain’t got nothing to prove, ooh/We’ll let our hair down/And do what we wanna do, ooh/There ain’t no boys allowed”.

Britt, Joshua Crosby, and Jason Ingram penned ‘After You’ which includes strings by Matt Butler.  It’s an intimate praise and worship song: “There’s nothing sweeter than Your love/It’s all I want, it’s all I need/There’s nothing sweeter than Your love/You gave it all, poured out for me/So I’m not after the world/I’m after You”.  The Deluxe Edition of the album includes three bonus cuts, the first of which is ‘Concrete’.  Julia Michaels, Chris Sernel, and Mitch Allen wrote this song about a durable relationship: “You and me are concrete/Even if the demons try and get you/I’ll be standing there right by your side/Everytime/There’s no mistake that you can make/That’s ever gonna make me walk away”.

‘Heart of Stone’ is a groovy R & B song that cries out to God: “They say that the armor makes you strong/I might be safe but I’m all alone/Been hiding from the light for way too long/Tell me You can break this heart of stone.../Only You can break it.../I’m never going back to the chains I wore before”.  Last up is ‘Electric Love’ written by Britt, her husband, and Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins.  Frederik Halland plays guitar on this happy tune: “So tell me where you wanna, tell me where you wanna go/We can fly to the moon and watch the world down below/We can sail into the open/We can sail into the open seas/Boy, if I got you I got all I need/Yeah, cause we got electric, we got electric love”.

BRITT NICOLE is an absolutely terrific pop/dance album with R & B influences.  Her vocals are top notch.  She holds her own with mainstream counterparts Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. To top it off she’s a pretty good rapper too as evidenced on a couple of the tracks!  Love songs about male-female relationships are the most common theme, but a close second is God’s love for us-out of which our self-esteem should spring.  There are also songs about having a good time, her love for her children, and making a positive difference in the world.  Britt is a beautiful lady who is a great role model for young folks.  She does not promote promiscuity.  I’m rating this fourth studio album of hers (and my favourite), a perfect 100% and recommending it to fans of Miley Cyrus, V. Rose, and Rihanna.  The Deluxe Edition clocks in at 55 minutes and 24 seconds.  For more info visit: and

Thursday, April 06, 2017


Thousand Foot Krutch’s origins can be traced back to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  They released their Tooth & Nail Records debut PHENOMENON in 2003.  Over the years they put out such memorable songs as: ‘Rawkfist’, ‘Move’, ‘The Flame in All of Us’, and ‘Already Home’.  In 2014 they independently released OXYGEN: INHALE, with its first single ‘Born this Way’.  Fast forward to June 2016 and the band released the sequel EXHALE (The Fuel Music).  Thousand Foot Krutch is: Trevor McNevan (lead vocals, guitar), Joel Bruyere (bass guitar), and Steve Augustine (drums, percussion).  The group’s music has been used by WWE, Nascar, and MLB among others.  EXHALE debuted at #34 on the US Billboard 200.

‘Running with Giants’ is a rock song of empowerment: “I am not alone here/I’m not on my own here/I am not alone/I’m not on my own/Cause I am running with giants everywhere I go/It’s an unspoken alliance/So I can just let go/I’ve been running with giants everywhere I go/It’s an unspoken alliance/So I can just let go”.  ‘Incomplete’ is about perseverance: “No one ever said there wouldn’t be waves/Sometimes shovels have to dig graves/And I’ve burned a lot of matches tryin’ to make flames/And lips can sink ships/But prayers create change.../I have a lot of ‘friends’ who want what we’ve made but don’t know the pain/The beasts that we’ve slain”.

‘Give up the Ghost’ rocks hard and testifies: “I’ve seen the devil and I’ve met fear/Met them both on the road that led me here/I’ve met God and I’ve saw life/And He saved mine a million times/I’ve met trouble and I’ve met rain/Laughed with joy and cried with pain/But now I see and I believe/That the ghosts that haunt me have been outhaunted”.  ‘A Different Kind of Dynamite’ speaks of the power God can give us: “Don’t underestimate me/I run with giants and no safeties/You can call me crazy/But keep hating, it don’t phase me/Bring it on/Your whole empire versus my Messiah/Facin’ different types of Goliath’s, takin’ it higher/Like shots fired in the middle of Vegas/Roll tide in the middle of the streets/Like a dog fight in a clear blue sky/We fight with a different kind of dynamite”.

‘The River’ is a rocker about purification: “Follow me down to the river, hey/Follow me out of the woods/Follow me in, to wash away my sins/The view up here’s no good.../I’m goin’ in where the water lives/Couldn’t stop me if you could.../Follow me down to the river, hey/Take a drink, it’s good”.  ‘Push’ is a battle cry: “If we just keep running away we’ll never make it alive/Til we stand and we fight/Aim, fire, and blow it away/We’re storming enemy lines/Leaving no one behind”.

‘Off the Rails’ is a journal entry of sorts addressed to God: “Am I the fire or the spark?/Or am I here to be the room You heat?/Am I everything You hoped?/Or was my channel way too hard to reach?/Is it more than I can take?/Or is it everything I’ll ever need?/What if I don’t know what to say?/What if I’m not who I’m supposed to be?”  ‘Adrenaline’ is a heavy rap/rock song about having fun: “If you want it, then we got it/We won’t let up ‘till we get enough/Adrenaline overload/If you need it, then we bleed it/Make some room, here comes the boom!/Adrenaline overload/And we won’t let it off/There’s nothin’ that can stop it/Until we’re in the coffin”.

‘Lifeline’ has a chorus that is melodic and cries out for help: “When I get angry I feel weak/And hear these voices in my head telling me to fall beneath/Cause they’ll make everything okay/How did I get here?/Everything’s unclear/I never meant to cause you pain/Give me a reason I can believe in/I need it all this time/Send me a lifeline”.  ‘Can’t Stop This’ could be about spiritual warfare and includes the sounds of sirens and these words: “You shouldn’t have done it/Now there’s blood in the water/You can’t stop this thing we’ve started/Word of mouth, there’s a snake in the garden/You can’t stop this thing we started”.

‘Born Again’ rocks and includes this confession of faith: “I’m just a man that by grace was given a second chance/I feel like I’ve been born again”.  Last up is ‘Honest’, the only ballad to be found here.  It’s a good one though!  It’s a song of spiritual reflection: “They say heaven is a place where our pain is washed away/With no room for all the torment of choices that we’ve made/I’m a broken man saved by grace/Tossed alone inside this maze.../You give us life and meaning/You give us hope”.

I believe EXHALE is a great album!  People who may say the album doesn’t break new ground musically or lyrically are correct in their assessment.  That being said, if you’ve liked what Krutch has presented over the past several years, you’ll like EXHALE and see it as a continuation of their artistry.  Lyrically, Krutch shares their Christian faith in a way that will appeal more to the younger than the older crowd, but that is their fan base after all.  The band is not setting out to write a theological textbook but rather to encourage, inspire, and motivate their listeners with energetic rock music as the vehicle.  Fans of Skillet will like EXHALE, which I’m rating 95%.  For more info visit: and

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


In 1995 a multi-artist Contemporary Christian Music album was released entitled MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST (Word/Epic).  Now for some background on this album produced by Brown Bannister and with Loren Balman as executive producer.  Oswald Chambers was born on July 24, 1874 in Aberdeen, Scotland.  The album’s liner notes tell us: “Chambers, a Scottish preacher, died at the age of 43 in 1917 while serving as a British chaplain in the Suez during the Great War”.  They go on to tell us: “A collection of his sermons was compiled and edited by his widow, published posthumously in 1927”.  By the time this album came out, this devotional of devotionals, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’, had been updated and released in modern language.

4 Him starts things off with an inspirational praise and worship ballad called ‘You Are Holy’.  The London Session Orchestra is used and the following are some of the words: “You are holy (2X)/You’re wonderful in all Your ways/Holy, You are holy, Lord/Unto the One Who sits on the throne/And unto the Lamb/Be all blessing and honor/Glory and power and praise”.  Amy Grant gives a great vocal performance on the adult contemporary song ‘Lover of My Soul’ that speaks of intimacy with the Father: “And maybe my eyes can’t see/But You are surrounding me/Here in the wind and the rain/The things that I know/Tender and sweet, and strong as my need/I know the voice, I know the touch/Lover of my soul”.  Next up is Gary Chapman with ‘Man After Your Own Heart’, a ballad that is prayerful: “Deep in my soul there’s a craving/To please the One who has saved me/O God, though I have fallen so far/You know that I’m still/A man after Your own heart.../Lead me by the still waters again/Use me in spite of the prodigal child that You know I am”.

Cindy Morgan wrote and performs ‘You’ll Be There’, an easy listening number addressed to Christ: “Oh shadow the lightning/When we are frightened/Oh heavenly light keep shining on me/Shining on me, oh everywhere/Sweetest Savior who cares/Angels dance in the air/And tell us You’ll be there”.  Steven Curtis Chapman sings the adult contemporary ballad ‘Sometimes He Comes In the Clouds’.  We could all learn from these words : “I’ve looked in the pages and I’ve looked down on my knees/I’ve lifted my eyes in expectation/To see the sun still refusing to shine/But sometimes He comes in the clouds/Sometimes His face cannot be found/Sometimes the sky is dark and grey.../And sometimes our faith can only grow/When we can’t see/So sometimes He comes in the clouds”.

Sandi Patty performs ‘God of All of Me’, written by Michael W. Smith and Bob Farrell.  This inspirational gem is one of spiritual surrender: “Father take my heart/Hold it in Your hand/Be the God of all of me/Father take my life/Everything I am/Keeper of my soul/God of all of me”.  Michael W. Smith follows with ‘Move In Me’ a beautiful adult contemporary testimonial: “When You move in me, it’s like a symphony/A timeless melody that soothes my soul/Though silent I can tell that You’re alive and well/Cause I can feel You move in me”.

Point of Grace sings ‘Hold On To Me’, a song of deep gratitude to the Father: “I could never offer You the praise that You deserve/The thanks for all You’ve given me/And with nothing in return/But I will give my life to You/My moments and my days/If only for the peace I find/Every time I hear You say/’I love you so, won’t let you go/Hold on to Me’”.  Bryan Duncan lends his soulful vocals to ‘A Heart Like Mine’ which speaks of our redemption: “You stopped the world to recover me/Oh Lamb of God, the price You’ve paid for a heart like mine/How could it be worthy that You’d find a way to redeem this hardened clay/Twisted and broken?/Oh Father God above/The wonder that You’d love a heart like mine”.

Twila Paris wrote and sings ‘Where He Leads Me’.  Michael Mellett sings background vocals on this gentle song about following Christ: “There is a great, broad road to nowhere/And so many travel there/But I have a gentle Shepherd I would follow anywhere/Though the journey take me far away/From the place I call my home/To be ever in His presence/Where He leads me I will go”.  Last up is a song penned by Michael W. Smith and his wife Debbie.  Phillips, Craig & Dean perform ‘Shine on Us’, a moving ballad that is a prayer: “Lord, let Your light/Light of Your face/Shine on us/Lord, let Your light/Light of Your face/Shine on us/That we may be saved/That we may have life/To find our way in the darkest night/Let Your light shine on us”.

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST is on the mellow side musically.  It’s made up of inspirational, easy listening, and adult contemporary ballads.  It has a calming lullaby-like effect.  Despite featuring eleven different artists, the songs flow nicely together to make a complete whole.  The album’s main themes are: inviting and celebrating God’s presence in our lives, and declaring the love God has for us.  This album will inspire in you holiness and a desire to be more Christ-like.  The album won a Dove Award for ‘Recorded Music Packaging of the Year’.  The CD booklet is lovely and contains many thought provoking quotes.  I’m rating this multi-artist album 100%.  For more information connect with the artists on Facebook.

Sunday, April 02, 2017


Jacquelyn ‘Jaci’ Davette Velasquez was born on October 15, 1979 in Houston, Texas.  She released her label debut, HEAVENLY PLACE, in 1996.  Over the years three of her albums have been certified Platinum and three Gold.  She’s had sixteen #1 singles, won 7 Dove Awards, had 2 Latin Grammy nominations, and 3 Grammy nominations.  In addition, she’s been on over 50 magazine covers.  Jaci’s newest album TRUST (2017, Integrity Music) is her first in over five years.  It was produced by David Leonard and Chris Bevins and executive produced by C. Ryan Dunham.  Jaci shares: “Trust is an underlying theme for me as a wife and a mom.  You can’t have a relationship without trust.  Like my husband and I, there are no secrets and we trust each other no matter what.  The same is true with my relationship with Jesus”.  TRUST also comes with a Spanish version of the album called CONFIO.

First up is ‘Trust You’ penned by Jaci, Aruna Abrams, James Slater, and Bobby Hamrick.  It’s a marvelous pop song of personal testimony: “When there are storms, You make me stronger/When I am drowning, You walk on water/I know You’re by my side and I trust You/When my body’s shaking, my faith won’t be broken/You lift me up, my heart is wide open/I know You are my light and I trust You”.  ‘I Will Call’ places full confidence in God: “When the world around me crumbles and falls/I’m not shaken because You hold it all/Let the glory of Your power/Here be shown in my weakness, in my weakness.../I will rest here in Your unchanging love/There will always be enough/At Your table You fill my cup”.

‘God Who Moves the Mountains’ is the album’s first single.   It’s an adult contemporary anthem about God’s power: “The rocks are falling, the broken calling/To the God who moves the mountains/The earth is shaking, the weary waking/To the God who moves the mountains.../You say speak, we say move/And You say watch what you can do/You say trust and then You prove/You’re the God who moves the mountains”.  Martin Smith and Matt Redman co-wrote ‘Great is Your Faithfulness’, a memorable modern worship song: “So great is Your kindness, God/You are our shelter, our dwelling place/Your presence like a fire/Hope for tomorrow, strength for today/When shadows fall/You never change from age to age/You never change/Great is Your faithfulness/Your faithfulness/Through the years You’ve always been there”.

‘It’s Never as Dark as it Seems to Be’ is a great adult contemporary song of encouragement: “Here in this world there’s trouble and pain/But through it all this promise remains/We have a hope that can’t be undone/Our Savior’s alive and we overcome/It’s never as dark as it seems to be/Lift up your head and you will see/The cross still stands, there’s victory/It’s never as dark as it seems to be”.  ‘Great are You Lord’ was penned by Leslie Jordan, David Leonard, and Jason Ingram.  Jaci’s husband Nic Gonzales joins her for a duet on this terrific modern worship tune: “You give life, You are love/You bring light to the darkness/You give hope/You restore every heart that is broken/And great are You, Lord/It’s Your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise/We pour out our praise.../So we pour out our praise to You only”.

‘Lay it at the Cross’ is a pop song of spiritual invitation: “Bring your heartbreak, bring your tears/Bring your grieving/Lay it at the cross/Bring your questions, bring your fear/Bring your anger/Lay it at the cross/Bring your battles, bring your loss/Bring your trials/Lay them at the cross/Bring your future, bring your past/Every moment/Lay it at the cross”.  Jaci co-wrote ‘Rest’ with her husband Nic and new artist Greg Sykes.  This sweet ballad begins with these prayerful words: “Slow me down enough to hear Your voice/Speak Your words of mercy over all the noise/Quiet the lies that blind me from the truth/I am Yours (2X)/Lord, I will rest in You (2X)/Trusting in all You do/Lord, I will rest in You”.

‘Praise the King’ proclaims Jesus Christ as the ultimate Victor: “There’s a reason why our hearts can be courageous/There’s a reason why the dead are made alive/There’s a reason why we share His resurrection/Jesus is alive/Praise the King, He is risen/Praise the King, He’s alive/Praise the King, death’s defeated/Hallelujah, He’s alive (2X)”.  Last up is ‘Sound of Your Kingdom’ on which Jaci’s sons Zealand and Soren contribute additional vocals.  It’s actually a danceable song of celebration: “We are sons, we are daughters/We belong to the Father/May our lives, may our hearts/Be Your Kingdom/Paint the streets gold/You got us cheering from the rafters/Let ourselves go/Be the joy and be the laughter/Our hearts are spilling over because of what You’ve done/This is the sound of Your Kingdom (2X)”.

TRUST is an album made up of soft pop songs and modern praise and worship ones for the most part.  Jaci’s vocals are as wonderful as ever!  Talented musicians used include: Mike Payne, Nick Mayer, David Leonard, Brent Milligan, and Toby Friesen.  The album’s main theme, in keeping with its title, is trusting in God.  He expresses unchanging love and kindness towards us.  He is faithful to us even in the hard times.  He is our strength and can move mountains in our lives.  Not only that, He can give us strength to move mountains.  At Calvary, through Christ, He provided us with life and healing.  It is evident that Jaci is grateful for this and so too should we be.  Fans of Kari Jobe and Lauren Daigle should buy TRUST which I’m rating 93%.  For more info visit: and