Archives For cd review

bensbutter

I have this rule when it comes to “reviews” of friends Albums that I have stuck to since I started blogging in 2006. It is simple DO NOT REVIEW A FRIENDS ALBUM.

Here is the exception to the rule… THIS CHRISTMAS EP from my friends Ben AbuSaada and Chris Olson and other people I don’t know but I will call friends by default.

Let me go track by track:

1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Starts off with a dope slide guitar on a resonator. A nice acoustic comes in… Most likely a Breedlove because I know Ben and the holy spirit and God works best through a Breedlove. [UPDATE: the breedlove was Chris Olsons and I have been told it needed new strings which also concerns me because It seems that it may have been malicious and Chris was trying to give Ben tetanus. Possibly a conspiracy, but worth investigating.] All of a sudden out of nowhere comes this… well.. I’m not sure how best to say it… other than I am just baffled how God crammed such an amazing voice into a flannel wearing star wars geek!

The arrangement on this song is really great. It has a swamp blues feel in the middle is really cool. love the cajon on it.. if I can be honest though I would have loved to had heard the gtrs get nasty at the end with slide go all white stripes and DRUMS come in.. that would have put me over the edge..

2. No Other King: An original song… I may or may not have had this song ahead of time and then within about 40 seconds requested the chord chart. It is very hard to find a GOOD advent song and I love this track. We will be doing this at my church this year. Has a really cool St. Theresa/Joan Osborn Mando part in it that I just love! Lyrically for me the central theme of emanuel god with us and the juxtaposition of the cross is really nice… advent songs deal more with the coming of the king, longing, and are almost somber… This one achieves that and instead of focusing on “christmas theme” it takes advent and jumps to Atonement which I really love as a guy who loves liturgy. Fantastic lyrics From Chris Olson, Josh Canady, Ben York, Emily Sibala, and Taylor Sibala

3. The first Noel: A great version… the banjo is a great addition to the track. and I love the break into the chorus. I love the background vocals a TON at the last verse.. Its understated and has a folk feel, but the banjo is played like a bela fleck track which is super cool. I would love to hear what it would sound like with that banjo going like that, a stand up bass, no guitar and a violin.

Final Thoughts: It is clear the ben’s voice was born out of the fires of MORDOR. It is just so rich and has a perfect grit to it. It’s the kind of voice where I actually think “this guy believes what he is singing”. That is so refreshing! The musicality and arrangements of the band are top notch and the production is really professional. This is the Christmas EP to own. They are my friends, but you know I’m not blowing smoke because I broke a personal blog rule!

GO GRAB IT NOW!!! ITS FREE, BUT LEAVE THEM A “YOU ARE AWESOME TIP” 

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review financially or with any star wars figures. However if anybody does want to bribe me with either of those options I can be swayed.

paul-baloche-live-feature

Paul “THE MAN” Baloche has a new album which releases April 1st. If you are in the church or in ministry at all and don’t know who Paul is I will be praying for you. The reality is if you have heard ANY song in the church, most likely he either wrote it, co-wrote it, or the author was thinking about how awesome Paul is when they wrote it. So that being said, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Paul is one of the most prolific writers/worship leaders we have out there. What sets him a part is his humility. I have had the pleasure of working with Paul at a worship conference I co-created which was amazing. I saw Paul strip away the “fame” and walk in without pride and just show people how to seek the heart of God.

This same man, with 5 bazillion twitter followers, when he saw there were bad storms in my area sent me messages to see if my family was ok and let us know he was praying for us. Now… why am I prefacing this review with all that? Is it to name drop? Not even in the least… The truth is…I want everybody who reads this to know that Paul is a man who cares about people. He loves the “C”hurch and is a man after God’s heart. It is even more amazing that on top of all that he is a brilliant writer.

I have had no qualms in the past to say that, while I am a huge Baloche fan, I am not big on most of his studio albums. [edit] LET ME CLARIFY: I love everything Paul does, but every time a friend says to me they are not a fan my reply is “you should see him LIVE”. When they do they become a fan. There always seemed to be a disconnect there. – “The same love” was the exception and it was the studio album that that blew the doors off his other ones. IT was SO GOOD, But I craved a live album…I begged Integrity via email, twitter, my reviews and in my brain to make a Live Baloche album. This isn’t meant to sound hyper-spiritual, but somehow the studio stuff seems to sterilize the worship for me. Paul is amazing live because you can hear him leading worship and not just laying down a track. In essence, LIVE puts the “groan” of the holy spirit back into the track for me.

Then the email came to check out the pre-release of the Paul Baloche LIVE album and I was ecstatic. I never blow smoke on reviews, even if I know the person because I think it is important that the church puts out quality stuff. This album is not only amazing, but it is EXACTLY the album I have been waiting for Paul to make. There are new songs, familiar songs, and retakes on hymns. It offers singable corporate worship songs that are well crafted and not drivel. More importantly it offers a worship experience for the listener. This is not just a bunch of tracks mashed together. This is an experience where the listener can feel like they were at this event and be led into worship of the King by one of the best leaders we have in the church today.

I give this a full 5/5 stars and think this a must CD/DVD for every collection, home, and personal worship.
DO NOT PASS THIS ONE UP!

The full Paul Baloche – LIVE CD/DVD song list follows:
1.   Our God Saves
2.   God My Rock
3.   You Lift Us Up
4.   The Same Love
5.   Jesus Be My Savior
6.   Mighty Fortress
7.   My Hope
8.   Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
9.   Today Is The Day
10. He Is Risen
11. Glorious / Holy Holy Holy

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this CD free from Integrity and Hoganson to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

elevation

So I just want to start off with a confession. I have not been a huge fan of any of the albums that have come out of Elevation. Part of that is because I am in a different place in my own journey in worship. I have done the “huge band” and “is this a coldplay concert” thing before and after a while for me personally it gets old. I have read all of Pastor Furtick’s books. Years ago I had conversations with worship pastor Wade Joye and Prayed fervently for his children while in the hospital. Over the years I have been so excited to see God move in this church and the people in it. GOD grew this church to close to 12,000 people in 7 years and He is daily doing an amazing work through them.

With all of that said I just could not get into the albums. A friend of mine asked me if I would review this new “nothing is wasted” double disk and I accepted. Why not… Lets see how this goes.

I turned it on and not only was I pleasantly surprised but I feel like THIS is the album that I was waiting for. My guess is based on content and lyrics that as God spoke to pastor Furtick on “Greater”. That God is greater that this vision seeped into the hearts of the worship and mantra of the church and that is very evident in the lyrics.

I am a sucker for the Live disk because I feel like it is more RAW. The studio version just feels a little too buttoned up for me and “over-polished”. I don’t know what it is, but it always feels like the heart and passion behind the song is intact in a LIVE recording and sucked out in a studio track.

I have been through this CD 3-4 times since getting a pre-release a few weeks ago. The only track I am not a huge fan of is “Let Go”. Stylistically that song just doesn’t want to resonate with me. I am letting the rest of the album ruminate in my spirit. The Lyrics are filled with truth declaring the Character of God. I was the guy who did not like the song “give me faith”. I know feel free to send me hate mail. I don’t exactly know what the difference is here, but something about this “new” declaration from elevation rings out for me. I believe there is power in the word and our declaring of the GREATNESS of God and this album is chock full of that.

“Lay down my rights.
Lay down my life
I will abandon All of my pride
Focus my eyes Away from myself
You become greater I become less”

There is a “space” on the live album. It is something I will be teaching in a class im doing actually. It is the idea of waiting on the Lord. Not the kind of waiting where we wait for an answer, but instead of waiting where we rest in the presence of the King and let Him renew our strength. This “space” is here. There is an expression of victory here that has been born out of experience and encounter with Christ.

This is the first Elevation Album that has made it to my “must listen to” rotation on my iphone and I think you need to buy it as well!

“You have overcome the world
Took the keys from death and hell
Joining heaven we declare
You’re greater, greater”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Elevation Worship to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

invisible

“I dont want just another touch. I’m just looking for the real Jesus and only You will do….
It’s all just meaningless and empty songs at best unless You respond”

I have been holding out on this review for a long time now. I think I have had this album for 3 months now, but I just kept looking for the right words to describe this…art.

Lets start with the production: It is produced by Jonny Macintosh and J.T. Daly (Paper Route). So basically for all those playing at home it means that it is impeccable.

“[The Invisible] is a deep record for me,” Daniel says. “I’ve been moved from this John the Baptist cry, from waking hearts of this generation to an unknown place. When I became a dad, God poured out this brand new anointing over my life, gave me this father’s heart, and for me that’s massive, epic…. The church needs more fathers, more pastors… There’s so much hurt happening all around us and not enough nurturing fathers among us to reach out.”

With each new song that emerged, he says, “I was completely wrecked with this idea that it’s not enough to wake dead people up. We’re here to help steer their lives, to show them the real Jesus, to represent the journey we’re all on. Our personal worship should come out of that.”

I know some people who LOVED his last CD and others who didn’t care for it at all. If you have been paying attention to me on social media you should be aware by now that I Love what Bashta is doing. The passion that oozed out of his first album amazed me and I walked away after my first listen thinking:
“wow…this guy actually believes what he is singing.”

I have listened to this new album over and over and I now consider this almost a double disc set. It seems to me that this album is the side B of “The Sounds of Daniel Bashta”.  I love that I can listen to each and hear the journey God is taking him and his family.

I hear a prophetic move of God and not a selfish attempt at a radio single.

Bashta went from calling down the fire of heaven to unleash miracles, signs and wonders to an album that just calls on the miracle of Christ that we already have. There is a sense of longing coupled with a feeling of contentment that He has found the REAL thing.

“I speak to barrenness, I command life within, open up your walls, hope conquers all, let hope in.” – from “Let Hope In”

I am in awe of His lyrical and spiritual journey. I am challenged and encouraged by his prophetic invocation. I am glad to be able to have in my ears, heart and mouth a song of praise written by Bashta that God is using even in my own worship leading to set the captives free.

GO BUY THIS ALBUM… and if you don’t have his first I suggest you listen to them in order.
You can’t watch “return of the jedi” without first watching “empire strikes back”.

Sidenote because it needs to be said: dear newsboys… roaring lions that have power over death do NOT whisper!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Integrity Records to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

worth_it_allThe Year was 2009. I was at a conference in Nashville called Re:create. One of the nights we were going to a Night of song and story and Meredith was one of the artists that was being featured. It was that night that I was introduced to small petite woman with a huge voice. I was blown away by her writing and the nuance in her voice.

I was really excited when Word Records asked me to give my “opinion” on her new CD because this would be Meredith’s first full worship album.

“I never felt like I could write corporate worship songs, but that‟s what I always wanted to do because I am a worship leader,” Andrews states. “So I just started asking the Lord for songs and I was like, „God I don‟t just want songs to fill a record. I want to hear from heaven. I want to write your heart‟ and I was just overwhelmed with the way the Lord answered and the songs that are on this record. This album, I feel, is the most authentic to who I am. I can‟t believe the songs that we have and the way that God met us at every turn and the moments that we captured on this record.”

Honestly that quote says it all. There is nothing better than a selection of songs born out of worship and not out of an agenda of making a great hit.

It opens with the fist pumping song “Open the Heavens”. It is a great song that I will most likely trying to introduce in my own Worship Leading.

I am not personally nor historically a fan of doing song by song reviews because I know nobody reads them. So because of this let me lay it on the line for anybody that trusts my opinion… and you should.

This CD is heartfelt, inspired and holy spirit driven. It has many great songs on it and I am pretty sure many churches will be using them on Sunday mornings soon. The Production is top notch and not over-produced.

My favorite track after 4 listens is “Burn Away”. It is a great song about asking God to burn away the things that separate us from Him.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet I think this CD is a must listen if you like modern worship with a pop twist to it. I also have a test with every worship CD I listen to which is “Can these songs be done if the power goes out”. What I mean by that is can a worship leader grab the charts and just lead with a guitar or a piano and not have all the additional additives. In short I believe this album has many songs on it that would translate very well to a stripped down or small worship team.

If you have heard of meredith you will love it. If you haven’t then take a chance on it because I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this album free from Word Records to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”