Scripture Snacks, Vol. 2
Beckah In December of 2011, Beckah Shae released her first Scripture Snacks album, a ten-track album that featured totally accepella songs with lyrics that are 100% Scripture. After that CD became a hot hit (pun...
321 Penguins Season One
3-2-1 Penguins I remember when BigIdea first created 321 Penguins back in 2002. Being a youngster myself at the time, I was enthralled with this new dimension the creators of Veggietales had come up with. A flying...
A Warm, Delicious Album! | Posted February-05-2013
In December of 2011, Beckah Shae released her first Scripture Snacks album, a ten-track album that featured totally accepella songs with lyrics that are 100% Scripture. After that CD became a hot hit (pun intended), Beckah released one more "snack" early last year, titled "Do Not Give Up." Already the best of all the Scripture Snacks yet, being more upbeat and powerful than her previous ones, Beckah and her husband/producer Jack ("Shoc") decided to release Scripture Snacks Volume 2 this winter, with ten new Scripture Snacks. Their vision, faith, and motivation are clearly displayed in this album, as the entire album was completely finished in just three weeks after their starting date.
Immediately starting with Beckah Shae's angelic vocals that sound like they come straight from heaven, "Stand" is the first of the battle-anthem tracks on this album that encourage the listener to fight the good fight of faith and never give up. This first one is based on Luke 21:36 and Ephesians 6:13, encouraging the listener to "stay awake at all times" and "put on the full armor of God" so that you can stand against the wiles of the devil.
"Ask" follows as my favorite off the album, and definitely one of my favorite Beckah Shae songs thusfar. It is full of Shoc's beatboxing percussion, which makes this snack both emphatic and light at the same time. As one of two Scripture Snacks from this album that are based on three different verses, it speaks about asking and never giving up, because the Lord rewards faithful seeking. "Do Not Give Up," the early-released single off this album, follows along the same battle-march rhythm, stating that "in due time we'll reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). These two tracks are definitely the best set off the album.
For those who need comfort, "Comfort Me" slows things down a bit, borrowing encouraging verses from Psalm 23 and Isaiah 43, reminding us that there is nowhere we can go that God is not there. "Like A Child" and "Choose Life" both follow with very sobering Scripture verses, speaking of the importance of choosing to humble ourselves before God and to choose His life that we may live. In the latter track, I loved Beckah's combination of Deuteronomy 30:19 with Romans 6:23, that "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah." This was definitely a combination that stuck with me after listening through the album a few times.
Showing Beckah Shae's love for Israel and reminding the listener to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem, "Peace of Jerusalem" is a ridiculously catchy track, followed by "Like A Tree." This is the only Scripture Snack based on only one passage of Scripture, but since it is the first three verses of Psalm 1, it is definitely "food for thought." It has a powerful, totally Scriptural message of meditating on the Word of God and being immovable in time of drought or storm.
"Boast" is my second favorite track off the album, being very harmonic and almost sounding like a Beach Boys song (and I mean that in a good way, since I'm honestly not a fan of that group ;)). It summarizes Paul's message of boasting in the Lord, and brings the album's upbeatness down a bit. The closing track "Armor of Light" is the slowest track off the record, but leaves the listener going away with a wonderful message of exposing the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light -- that is, if the listener doesn't hit repeat like I have done nearly every time I have popped this album in my player.
Scripture Snacks Vol. 2 is definitely several times better than Vol. 1. The songs sound much more passionate, even more polished; and though accepella, they feel almost as professionally done as a regular Beckah Shae album. And, of course, you can't go wrong with 100% Scripture for your lyrics, right? I highly recommend this Beckah Shae album. In my opinion, Beckah is one of the most inspiring artists in the Christian music world, and this album proves that all the more.
Over 5 Hours of Penguin-Packed Fun on One DVD! | Posted October-16-2012
I remember when BigIdea first created 321 Penguins back in 2002. Being a youngster myself at the time, I was enthralled with this new dimension the creators of Veggietales had come up with. A flying spaceship and four penguins that take their friends Jason T. and Michelle F. Conrad on space missions was very enthralling to me. BigIdea released six of these films on VHS, before taking a short hiatus from this series. Many of us thought the series was officially over.
In 2008 and 2009, Veggietales returned with nine more episodes featured as sets of three on DVD. It wasn't too long afterwards that NBC got a hold of the 321 Penguins set and began playing these films on their station. The show was a huge success, being rated #1! Now, BigIdea has released the station's thirteen 321 Penguins shows on one DVD.
Because the DVD features the episodes from the NBC show, it does not feature every single 321 Penguins episode created as I first thought. Three of the original six and three of the newer episodes are not included on the DVD. However, fans of 321 Penguins who have not yet seen the newer 321 Penguins films (as I had not) will enjoy this set.
The newer half of the Penguins films are voiced by an entirely different cast and many are produced by someone else as well. They have a different feel than the "classic" set of six, yet the creators did a really good job of picking voices that sound remarkably similar to the original. The only major difference is Jason's voice, which sounds much younger. Add to that the fact that Jason and Michelle are constantly bickering, and you get the feel that they aren't as smart and helpful as the original set portrayed them.
I love that these films portray the Proverbs in a very understandable way. Neither Jason nor Michelle totally understand the significance of the verses they have learned until they run into a real-life adventure where they must apply these Scripture verses. It is really creative how their problems are always Bible-related. If they choose to ignore the Scripture verses they have been taught, then their nemesis Cavitus might get away, or the island of Wiki Tiki might be overtaken by the erupting volcano's lava.
The 321 Penguins' choice of characters is humorous and welcoming as well. One of my favorite characters from the 13-shows I watched on this DVD was Saul, who runs the lounge that the Penguins' often stop at for refreshments. He is a good example of what Godly counsel looks like -- being very compassionate but careful to correct Jason or Michelle when their behavior is totally out of line. He saves them many times with his words of advice, too, as that word is what they need to solve the planet's problems. All the episodes include characters from previous episodes, making the series progress well.
One of my disappointments with the DVD is that the final three episodes in the DVD collections are missing. It wasn't too big of a problem at first, until I realized that many questions that were supposed to be answered in later episodes were never answered. The main one is who this mysterious Cavitus, whose evil plans the Penguins have been busy thwarting, really is. It becomes obvious to the viewer of the DVD, but neither Michelle nor Fidgel, who are hot on his tail, get close enough to find the answer in the end. But who knows, maybe these episodes will be featured in NBC's season #2 of the Penguins?
And of course, one of the best elements of any of BigIdea's films is the humor scattered throughout the series. This isn't missing, though I would say that the "classic" three episodes featured on the DVD are still the funniest. Several of the wonderful humorous aspects of these 321 Penguins episodes are Captian Zidgel's egotism, Fidgel's scientic terms that nobody understands, and Kevin's absent-mindedness. Midgel isn't the funniest penguin of the bunch, but he is my personal favorite.
Is this DVD worth it? Absolutely! It's about 5 hours of Penguin-packed fun. And because the episodes are only about 25 minutes each, it is easy to watch episode after episode, or just save one at a time for a treat each night before bed. They each teach a valuable lesson from the book of Proverbs while the Penguins save the galaxy from greed, gluttony, impatience, jealousy, and more. This is definitely a great compilation, and one that fans of the earlier Penguins films must have.
The Leage of Incredible Vegetables Is Unstoppable!!! | Posted October-02-2012
At last, Veggietales is back with their fourth film featuring LarryBoy! But for this new episode, the job at hand is too big for LarryBoy alone, so Alfred calls on the League of Incredible Vegetables for their assistance.
All is well in Bumblyburg until Junior Asparagus and his friends at the town's science museum notice that the museum's fear dart has been stolen! Having just learned that this weapon was designed by a mad scientist and that it has the capibilities to paralyze a victim through their worst fear, the kids become terrified. Before they know it, LarryBoy arrives on the scene to stop the minion penguins from existing the museum with the tool, but the penguins are too powerful for him alone. When neither LarryBoy nor police officer Scooter are able to stop the penguins by themselves, LarryBoy calls for extra help. The job is not too hard for the League of Incredible Vegetables!
When Junior Asparagus is on the scene watching the battle between good versus evil, he wonders at how their super suits keep the super veggies from harm. But when it becomes apparent that his throw of a snowball could save the entire league, Junior suddenly becomes a hero and is asked to be the team's first-ever junior member. At first daunted by the prospect, he accepts after he hears that he will get his own super suit.
The League of Incredible Vegetables DVD explores the tiny and big fears that we all have, but how we do not have to give in to that fear. Junior Asparagus -- or shall I say Ricochet -- learns that first hand, when his super suit fails him and he must rely on God to avoid fear and Dr Fluery's freeze rays. I loved how Veggietales tackled fear like this for their young audience. It makes it very plain and simple -- all you need to resist fear is to remember that God is always with you and that He is your protector. They emphasize Psalm 56:3 ("When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You") several times throughout. Along with this, they make it obvious that each of the super veggies' superpowers is needed to help the others; thus, helping one another becomes the second lesson very evident from the film.
There are plenty of "incredible" aspects about The League of Incredible Vegetables film. For one, there are practically all-new scenes and locations, which is very cool. The LarryBoy cave, super vehicles, super suits, badguys, and more make the film very captivating. And a Veggietales film would not be a Veggietales film without good ol' humor, and they add plenty of that throughout. One of my favorite scenes is when Ricochet is trying out the super suits to see which one he likes best. Most of the results are disastrous until Petunia Rhubarb (AKA "Vogue") takes the wheel from Alfred! Another hilarious aspect would be Dr. Fluery's absent-mindedness a few times. Things such as this helps keep the film interesting throughout.
Another fantastic element of this show is the outstanding music! First, the Newsboys performance of the theme song is a great outro for the show during the credits (the music video is an extra feature on the DVD) but it is also featured throughout the film whenever the veggies use a superpower or arrive to combat the evil villain. The silly song, "Supper Hero" is humorous as well, though I wouldn't call it one of the funniest ever. It portrays Jimmy Gourd wanting to join the League of Incredible Vegetables as the "Supper Hero," the one who eats the others' food.
All in all, The League of Incredible of Vegetables is faith-based as always, and has a great message of combating your fears with the Word of God. Add to that the fascination of the unconquerable League of Incredible Vegetables and you have another fantastic film from Veggietales! Who knows what they will come up with next? Hopefully a sequil to this film will be in the works soon!
Focus | Posted October-01-2012
Early last year I found out about Holly Starr and her album Tapestry. That album featured her upbeat radio single "Undertow" as well as the song that garnered the young artist a Dove-award nomination, "Psalm 23." The whole ten-track album was a mix of hard-hitting, deeply encouraging, and fun tracks. I instantly became a fan of hers after just one listen to her album.
Now, Holly Starr's new album Focus is here for fans of her Tapestry album to enjoy. Another ten-track, the album tells of Holly's experiences this past year with letting go and learning to trust God. But she doesn't stop there -- she shares the hope she has found in God with her listeners through irresistably catchy and hopeful songs.
The first single off Focus, released at the beginning of this year, "Let Go" opens the album with an upbeat acoustic guitar pop sound. This single speaks of how God chips away the obstacles in our lives to make us one who is all open for His leading in our lives: "I know that I've held on too long to everything keeping me from learning to let go/ I'm learning to let You move me closer to a heart that's open..." In addition, wonderful harmonies and backing vocals make it in an immediate sensation. However, the album only gets better from there!
"This Love" follows, slightly less upbeat, but with a very nice piano sound to it. At first, I thought the track was slightly redundant, but by the nice melody and the simple lyrics, it serves as a wonderful reminder of the unending love of Christ, and is especially for times of discouragement. "No one could ever do what Jesus did/ now there is nothing that could ever separate us from this love..." Holly sings gracefully.
My favorite two tracks off the record Focus, the second single "Don't Have Love" and "My Father's Eyes" follow excellently. "Don't Have a Love," first introduced through the awesome music video, is based on 1 Corinthians 13, stating that you can have all the world has to offer, but if you don't have love, it'll never be enough. The piano pop track builds nicely, especially after the first chorus, and the poetic lyrics make it one that you just HAVE to sing-along with! "Father's Eyes" is the most upbeat track on the record, offering hope to those who look in the mirror and see someone they don't like. The drums begin pounding in the chorus, making for Holly Starr's best track yet! Here is where Holly uses her expertise in taking her own experiences and sharing what she has discovered with her listeners: "He changed my life by changing my mind/ He healed all that was broken inside...I'm finding beauty for the first time looking through My Father's Eyes." The powerful bridge states, "I can see your freedom coming/ you'll be a slave to nothing when you see through My Father's eyes." Indeed, this track is very freeing and fun simultaneously.
"Me and You," plus the album's title track, "Stop and Focus" seem to be the centerpieces of the album, speaking of how we absolutely need our time with the Lord -- not just our devotional times, but that we need to "make Him the one and only one for Me" as "Me and You" states; or that we need to "stop right now and focus on You." Both songs have awesome melodies, that even though they are a bit slower, they are still very enjoyable and heavenly.
Based on a jazzy piano sound, "Satsfied" remembers how only God can fill our deepest desires, while "Constant" contemplates how God not only satisfies us, but His love never changes. The album closes with two slower songs, sounding like they are straight from her Tapestry album. "I Believe" has an emotional ring to it, speaking of the times of doubt and discouragement, but knowing that Jesus is the Truth and that His Word never fails. Holly Starr nails this message, along with her passionate and angelic vocals. "Grace For All," with a light piano pop tempo, ends the album Focus with a Gospel message looking back to the cross and the grace that Jesus gave us all through His sacrifice.
As with Tapestry, I was thrilled with the album Focus upon my first listen though even more so. Through this album, Holly Starr offers solid tracks full of excellent melodies, encouraging lyrics, and simply awesome beats. This album is more on the pop side than her previous album, and that is a really good thing. It fits Holly Starr's message wonderfully and will most likely enable her to bring her message to even more listeners in the coming years. Great job, Holly!
Great Christmas album! | Posted September-24-2012
I love Christmas projects overall, but one of my annoyances when it comes to them is the lack of originality. What do you hear when you pop a Christmas CD into your player but renditions of the same old carols we’ve already heard a hundred times? Unless the artist adds a handful of Christmas songs they’ve written themselves or makes an ear-grabbing rendition of the carols, all Christmas albums pretty much sound the same. It isn’t to say that all are bad, but when you get an album like Jeremy Camp’s Christmas CD Christmas: God With Us, there’s something different and attractive about it.
Jeremy Camp has recently sprung up to be one of Christmas music’s top artists. Celebrating ten years of music and ministry, 32 #1 hits, as well as a Platinum and several Gold-certified albums, Jeremy Camp is certainly an artist that is talented enough to put his hands to Christmas songs. Christmas: God With Us is a wonderful collection of nine Christmas carols that Jeremy revamped nicely, as well as his one original – the title track, “God With Us.”
The most upbeat version I've heard yet of “Jingle Bell Rock,” opens the album. I’ve always loved this carol, and Jeremy obviously had a ton of fun recording it, not to mention his jolly talking at the end of it. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is slightly less upbeat, but these two upbeat opening tracks definitely set the Christmas mood of the album nicely.
Next comes a set of slower songs, led by “Joy to the World.” Jeremy, however adds a worshipful chorus of timeless “Hallelujah!” as well as adds his own chorus of various Scriptures on Christ’s birth. It almost sounds adlib and therefore very peaceful and original. “Little Town of Bethlehem” also sounds like a perfect part two. In both tracks, Jeremy’s vocals sound very soft and deep, which is very refreshing.
With little more than acoustic guitar and soft piano, Jeremy manages to make “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sound angelic, while “Let It Snow” brings back the more rocky renditions Jeremy Camp has to offer. I just don’t think I’ve ever heard a better rendition than this one from Jeremy. It’s plain awesome!
“Mary Did You Know?” is my personal favorite Christmas carol of all times, so I was very happy that, not only did Jeremy Camp cover the song, he did so very well. Also, he did what I’ve always wanted to hear in a rendition this song – a buildup after the powerful bridge. This track definitely gets put up at the top of my list of favorite renditions of carols! His original track, “God With Us” follows very simply, but it is nicely done with cellos and breathtaking strings.
Sounding like it came straight out of a ‘30’s movie, “O Come O Come Emmanuel” has a stunning arrangement of strings, and even comes back in for a short string instrumental, bringing the album to the closing track, “Away In A Manger.” This closing carol is more contemporary in sound than all the others on the album, but it is nice and very serene, as Jeremy Camp focuses on the “be near me Lord” section of the carol.
In all, Jeremy Camp has done a great job with his Christmas album. He managed to make a Christmas album that is more worshipful than it is jolly and fun, although he did pop in a few radio-worthy tracks in the opening of the album. Fans of Jeremy’s will love his renditions of these tracks, no doubt, as Christmas albums are mostly for fans of the artist anyways. If you’re looking for new Christmas tunes this season, I highly recommend Jeremy Camp’s versions of “Hark! The Harold Angels Sing” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” though the rest of the tracks on the album are not to be forgotten either.
Christmas: God With Us is a great Christmas album!
Beckah Shae: Rest review | Posted September-17-2012
Ever since 2010 when Beckah Shae released her forth album LIFE, I have been a big supporter of her music. I quickly collected the rest of her albums and have been following her ever since. I can't quite decide if its her awesome taste of music or the Holy Spirit's anointing over her music that makes me enjoy it more (definitely both); but I never cease to be encouraged, inspired, and blessed through listening to her music.
It hasn't been much over a year since Beckah Shae released her album Destiny that featured her amazing single "#putyourloveglasseson," and companion music video. Plus, she soon after released an updated version of her Christmas album and a Scripture Snacks album. Seeming to come together rather quickly is Beckah Shae's seventh album, Rest. What better thing to do with a seventh album than release a worship project? Beckah Shae didn't do it intentionally; she again followed the Lord's leading in this.
Beckah Shae and her husband Jack "Shoc" Shocklee released a few singles earlier this year to sample what fans should expect from the new album. It became clear that the album wouldn't be so upbeat nor would it be the dance/pop we came to know and love from Life and Destiny. However, with the release of "Overflow" as a single, it immediately became one of my most-played and favorite worship songs of all times. "Rest" took a little growing on me, but is a fantastic foundation for the album, and "Your Presence," with its music video was my favorite of all three. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new Beckah Shae album and I am very glad I did.
The album opens with the soaking worship title track. This, as a beginning to the album, is very inviting, as the listener can hear what God has to say about us spending time in His presence. As always, Beckah Shae's lyrics are very Scriptural, stating "As you wait, I will renew your strength/ And as you wait, I will carry you on My wings." It's very restoring and restful, as Beckah's goal through this song/album is. Though it is probably the slowest track Beckah Shae has released yet, it is not to be lesser-played, as her music definitely ushers in the presence and peace of God.
"You & I," a very deep prayer, speaks of abiding in God and craving His presence. It only takes one listen before you will be singing along. That's the very cool thing about this album -- all the songs are twice as melodic as her usual style, and still contain the catchy beats (though slower) that have always characterized her music.
"Without You," "Everlasting," and "Have Your Way" follow nicely, sounding much like the slower tracks off Destiny and Life. For this reason, they will probably be the fan-favorites off the album. "Without You" speaks of pausing to think of God when life gives us too much trouble, while "Everlasting" is my personal favorite of the three. In this melodic track, Beckah puts Psalm 103 to a great beat in a poetic way, as well as combines it with Jeremiah 31:3. I love how her music is a great way to meditate on Scripture! "Have Your Way" is the most upbeat track on the record, reminding me of "Show Me" from Destiny. It has a slight Latino beat, welcoming the Holy Spirit to bring His glory and love into our midst.
Not coincidentally, "Overflow" and "Your Presence" seem to match each other, both being in the very same key. Since they aren't mellow with their light beats, they are very serene and deeply worshipful. "Overflow" is a prayer for God to take what we've known of Him and fill it even more ("Fill my weak with strength/ fill my full with more") while both tracks express a hunger for more of His presence in our lives. These two tracks are worship music at its best. I highly recommend that the reader of this review at least purchase these two singles for their depth and restoring melodies.
Another soaking worship track, "Forever Yours" is next in line on the album. Combining passages from John 14, Romans 8, and several others, this track depicts Jesus forcefully getting across to His child, reiterating that He will never leave or forsake us: "Please hear My cry, you're what I'm desperate for/ despite what you feel, I'll always be here." Beckah Shae's vocals echo herself, giving a very heavenly and passionate twist to the song. And through "Unique," even though it is again for the listener to hear what God would say to them, it describes Beckah Shae's ministry very well. It sums up the love of God excellently, stating that "I made you with My own hands/ I made you with a plan, and there will never be another one like you."
"You Conquer" acts perfectly as a story-book closing, seeming to recap everything in one track – we can rest in God's love because He has conquered the enemy and won our own hearts. Beckah's angelic vocals powerfully celebrate this truth with vocals that just beg the listener to sing along from the bottom of their hearts: "You conquer! (You reign victoriously!) You conquer! (You save and set us free!) You conquer! (Your glory will never cease!) You conquer! You've conquered me!" I could easily repeat this track all day.
I've lost count of how many times I've listened to Beckah Shae's new album Rest (though one day I unintentionally listened to it seven times!). Through this astonishingly beautiful and heavenly album, Beckah has succeeded at her mission to bring a soaking worship album that restores, heals, encourages, and inspires. It's what her music has always been about, but Rest is more geared toward your quiet time with God. It doesn't have to end there, though – Rest is an album I will carry around with me to continue to bask in God's presence.
For those of you who are fans of Beckah Shae's previous albums, there are tracks on this album for you as well. I would encourage you to check out the album in its entirety and give it an honest listen. You will be greatly blessed! Thank you, Beckah Shae, for continuing to follow God's calling on your life and inspire us listeners in the process.
Remedy Drive: Resuscitate review | Posted September-17-2012
I remember the very first time I heard Remedy Drive's radio single "All Along." I learned that the at-the-time Word Records band had previously released six independent projects in ten years, but they had just begun to receive the recognition they deserved in 2008. Daylight is Coming was the band's only full-length project with Word Records, but it also featured two other popular radio singles. Together, Remedy Drive released a few singles and EPs here and there before becoming independent again in 2010, when their contract with Word Records ended. During this time, three of the Zach brothers decided to leave the band, and three new amazing members joined soon after.
As a big fan of Centricity Music, I was very excited to read of Remedy Drive's sign to Centricity's artist roster earlier this year. The band began sharing sneak peeks, lyric videos, and press photos that led me to believe that their label debut, Resuscitate would be their best project to date. It turns out, I was correct in my assumption.
The radio single from Resuscitate, "Better Than Life" is a fantastic opening for the band's rebirthing album. Remedy Drive immerses the listener into their piano rock that makes their music a hit, along with the powerful Christ-centered message that we simply cannot live a moment without God's power in our lives. The vocal repetition and choppy lyrics (something that I am very fond of), helps make the single into a great sing-along as well.
Though "Better Than Life" is one of the best tracks off the album, the rest of the album is not any less awesome. "Lost Cause," a little more upbeat than the opening track, features chanting vocals from the rest of the band members, stating that: "I might be lost, I might be broken, but I'm not a lost cause," and reminding us that even though we feel lost and broken sometimes, Jesus sees us for who He created us to be.
The rocking title track of sorts, "Resuscitate Me" follows, being apt for the band's reformation. The band's lead singer, David Zach screams a bit through the chorus and his vocals are muffled, which sound fantastic. Add to this the grunge guitars, guitar screams, and lead guitar and you get a superb track, one that I can only imagine how it must sound live in concert! Another cool aspect of the track is the bridge, which refers to the previous track, "Lost Cause." They definitely make a point to reiterate the message of this new album. "Resuscitate Me" is, all-around, an awesome rock track!
The first mellow track on the record is "God, I Hope So," which has an emotional feature to it. David Zach's vocals are very soft, speaking of when his three brothers announced their leave of the band: "Maybe this is just the way it had to be/ maybe there's a beauty in this tragedy/ I don't know, but I hope so..." The beautiful piano really helps this track to shine through on the album.
Contemporary in sound, "What Are We Waiting For" addresses the fight against complacency. Though the track is nice and soft, the bridge is the real highlight, while deep, soft vocals sing "We don't look back, we don't look back." Similar in message, "Don't Forget" challenges the listener to never forget how special they are in the eyes of God. It's something we all forget from time to time, so this is a great reminder in rocky form.
"Make It Bright" is the other track that Remedy Drive previewed early, and it is easily my very favorite track off the Resuscitate album. The piano rock track has a haunting beginning to it with shredding guitars and David's amazing vocals, a prayer that God would "light a spark in the dark and make it bright in me!" There is a lead-guitar/haunting piano instrumental for the bridge, which always helps to spice things up in a rock track like this. Definitely, "Make it Bright" is the best track off the album!
Based on Revelation 21 and 22, "Crystal Sea" contemplates the wonderful day when we will sing around the throne in heaven and encourages the listener to forget about their problems here on earth and take a few minutes to think about that glorious day. "Glory," second to the closing track, has a dance atmosphere to it, with its electronic backing. Its lyrics, however, are highly worshipful, making for a very fun but Christ-centered track. The album then closes with "Hold On," from their 2011 independent release Light Makes A Way. It's so good to hear this track again on this new album Remedy Drive.
Remedy Drive has been together for many years, but now as a new-old band, their future is very bright. Their Resuscitate album is definitely their greatest release to date, and I see many accolades and awards in store for this band and this new album, which gets better with every listen.
Color of Love | Posted September-05-2012
DREAM Records has recently signed numerous awesome artists including Evan Craft, Marlene Brehm, and Nicole Croteau. And now, meet Steven Welch, releasing his debut project with Dream Records, titled Color of Love.
Though Steven Welch’s project is very worshipful, I admire that Steven’s music is unique and no two songs are exactly the same. There are many modern worship bands, including Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Gateway Worship, and more, but Steven’s music stands out in that it is eclectic. Some songs have a country feel to them, while others have a foggy futuristic feel to them. It’s an unfolding album, each song holding a new and exciting aspect to it.
The album immediately kicks off with the title track and its message of “resting in the love/ in the love that You have shown.” Steven’s music sounds similar to the organic bands we’ve been hearing about lately, such as David Crowder Band, Bellarive, Rend Collective, and others, though he definitely has his own sound – it’s a little hard to put a label on for that reason. “You See Hope In Me” follows nicely, stating that “You see hope in me that no one else could see.” There are two aspects of this particular track that are rather cool: Number one, there are nice fill-ins throughout the whole track, especially in the chorus; and second, Steven’s vocals sound comparable to Marc Martel from Downhere’s. That means he sounds amazing. :)
On a mellow note comes “Waiting,” a prodigal son track with a different perspective – that no matter what kind of life we live, God still sees us the same: “I’m a child of the king/ I’m nothing in this world/ to you I’m everything.” Through this bridge, things slow down, becoming very peaceful and enabling the listener to really let the lyrics soak in.
“I Want to Love You” is my personal favorite track off Steven Welch’s Color of Love CD. Its music could almost be a movie score with its absolutely stunning strings that are a bit haunting. After the wonderful intro, the piano takes over and, mixed with Steven’s flexible vocals, is a powerful love song to God. Hands down, this is the very best track off the album.
Track five on the album, titled “Waves” reminds me of Rebecca St. James’ older radio hits, especially for the bassy drums and the low melody. Additionally, the message is refreshing, reminding us of the fresh grace of God that flows over us like an ocean and washes us clean. Part two of the album begins with “Love Reaches Me,” a more upbeat track with strong electric guitars. This is a very celebratory track of the unending love of God and contemplates that there is no greater love that this.
With an irregular (and cool) pop tempo, “House of Secrets” speaks straight to the heart of someone who has been creating a façade of who they really are, encouraging them to look into the eyes of Jesus and see that He is waiting there with open arms to welcome them back home. Slowing things down again, “More” is a simple prayer for God’s power to overflow in our lives and make us more like Him, as well as teach us to hear His voice – very relatable and personal.
An awesome song to see live, I’m sure, “Send Your Light” is moderately upbeat but has really good electric guitars and is a modern-day Psalm. The album then closes with “The Day,” a piano-based, serene track that builds throughout celebrates the day we first met Jesus, as well as the days when we feel very close to Him.
Steven Welch’s music is hard to describe, since it is unlike any other type of worship I have heard before. It is clear that Steven is a talented songwriter, and Color of Love is a wonderful worship project that speaks of desiring an intimacy with God, and it also offers hope to the lost and broken. With just ten songs on his debut CD, I say that Steven Welch did a great job selecting his songs for this project. They are very personal and yet can easily apply to the average listener.
Reach the Sky! | Posted September-05-2012
Marlene Brehm has enjoyed much success prior to her signing with DREAM Records. Though originally from Texas, Marlene moved to California a few years back, where her dreams of acting and singing were largely fulfilled. From talent shows, to popular television programs and magazines, Marlene had it all – but not really. Marlene especially wanted to sing for the Lord the songs He had given her. Once she surrendered her desires the Lord, God gave her the desire of her heart. She became the worship leader at a church in California, where DREAM Records found her and signed her. Now, Marlene offers her debut project Reach the Sky, full of ten songs of worship, encouragement, challenges, and fun.
Half of the songs off Reach the Sky were co-written by the polished producer Rusty Varenkamp, including the opening track “Who You Are.” At first, it is a little on the mellow side, and though it is a slower contemporary track, it has a powerful message of intense hunger to know God for who He is. It also builds as it goes, especially by the chorus: “Show me the things I need to know, cause I want to see more of who You are…” The title track follows, slow, but powerful. Marlene’s angelic vocals push her right up to the top of my list of Christian female vocalists, along the likes of Darlene Zschech, Francesca Battistelli, or Britt Nicole, and some of her songs certainly take on that pop sound. With “Reach the Sky,” Marlene taps into her poetic lyrics, encouraging the listener to never give up: “But the storm can never keep you down/ if you hold on, you can overcome it now/ on your knees is where it turns around/ cause a shell must break before a bird can fly/ you can reach the sky!” Both of these two opening tracks are very worshipful and beautiful.
With “Second Chances,” Marlene focuses more on her soaring vocals that drive the track home, as she offers a powerful track of forgiveness and redemption, in the perspective of human trafficking: “Right now, say goodbye to yesterday/ and let love lead our hearts away/ it’s not too late for us tonight.” I’m really glad that Marlene tackled such a topic on her album. “Only You” follows as the first contagious pop track, and definitely my personal favorite off the Reach the Sky album, next to the title track. Marlene’s vocals sound so happy, complimented perfectly by the nice bass and lyrics that remind us of God’s faithfulness. It’s not surprising that a music video for this single is in the works!
Along the lines of the opening two tracks, “Faithful To You” speaks of the choice to remain faithful to God throughout all the hard times of life. I love Marlene’s vocal repetition in this track as well, as it makes for a great sing-along! “Love Like You” follows, a slower pop track still, but very melodious with pounding drums, as it contemplates how we are ambassadors for Christ while we are here on this earth.
“Forever Yours” is the kind of song you want to wake up to in the morning! It’s another happy song like “Only You,” where Marlene expresses thankfulness for the beautiful days and many things that God has given us to enjoy – friends, the sun, music, and His never-ending love. In addition, her background fill-ins are very catchy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Be There For Me” is a very emotional song, telling the story of a solider and a single mom who cannot get by any longer and must rely on the support of the Lord. The song is heavenly for this aspect of surrender, but I do wish there had been more of a remedy – more of a buildup or something. It is a fantastic song, nevertheless.
In the powerful “Right Here, Right Now,” Marlene speaks of our wonderful God and never wanting to leave His presence, while the album closes with “Beautiful Life,” another reminder that God has given us many things to be thankful for and to enjoy in life.
Marlene Brehm’s Reach the Sky is a solid release. It’s melodic, beautiful, sometimes fun and sometimes emotional – but altogether an amazing effort. Marlene definitely deserves to be classified with Christian music’s up and rising female vocalists for this project!
So Much For Love... | Posted September-05-2012
The Wrecking has been releasing music for several years now. Their debut album A New Abolition was released all the way back in 2008, followed by The Catalyst EP in 2009. It was this EP that featured their successful radio single and its companion music video, “Sound of the Resistance.” The band released a fantastic Christmas EP last year and has been throwing around previews of their new album out this summer. So Much For Love, their fourteen-track sophomore project is finally here after several years of waiting. Fans of The Wrecking will definitely enjoy this “new beginning,” and I’m sure the project will bring in new fans, as well, for its encouraging message of God’s faithfulness and its purely awesome rock sound.
“Fire” kicks off the album on an energetic note, speaking of starting something new: ”Are we gonna set this thing on fire?” Fill-ins toward the end will mesmerize the listener, but things get better! “Let Everything Sing” follows, and despite its rocking melody, it has a Psalm-feel to it: “Let everything sing/ speak to me, be my melody.” The deep guitars add a slightly haunting, good-feeling sound to the track as well.
Expect something great from “Electricity,” and that’s exactly what you get! The track begins with escalading pianos and is adrenaline-packed. Though it doesn’t explode as much as I would have expected by the name “Electricity,” it does have a powerful message of being the spark that lights up the darkness, a very positive message. “Tidal Wave,” featured on Jesus Freak Hideout’s free compilation, is a more contemporary track that celebrates the grace of God that washes all our sins away. I love the descriptive element of this track that is really refreshing.
In “Gravity,” Doug Elder’s higher vocals are very accentuated, speaking of how gravity always seems to pull us closer to God and gives us a hunger for more of Him, while the keys really come out in “The Antidote,” speaking of how Jesus is all our soul really needs. “Glorious” follows, actually from their Christmas EP, but it is cool to hear this absolutely beautiful track in a non-Christmas setting, since it is purely worshipful and just begs the listener to sing along at the top of their lungs!
“View From the Top,” which The Wrecking released as a music video last November, is a rocker with a fantastic message of seeing our life from God’s eyes, while “Life In Reverse” has booming drums and contemplates how we are living our lives backward. The radio single “About to Fall” follows next, actually sounding very much like Remedy Drive. Even though it was released nearly two years ago, it is great to hear it again on the So Much For Love album. It’s definitely one of The Wrecking’s best works yet.
Speaking of regret, “Fighting For Something” has a gloomy tune to it, stating: “We’ll always be searching for something/ why can’t we let it be love?” Following, “Symphony of the Broken Hearted” has beautiful strings, speaking of the healing that we can find in Jesus’ arms, while “The Reason” contemplates the pure impossibility of living without Jesus Christ’s love. The melody of this track is grand, paving the way for the album’s closing track “Our Feet Don’t Touch the Ground.” A little more on the mellow side of things, the album closes on a futuristic, fairy-tale type of ending.
There aren’t many albums that are my favorite at first listen, but The Wrecking’s So Much For Love is one of those albums! For one, it’s not often you hear a totally Christ-centered rock band such as you will hear in this band. Secondly, their melodies are captivating and their rock is inspiring. It’s a perfect balance between worship and energetic, hard rock. I hope to see The Wrecking take home an award for this fantastic project!