Everything Is Different Now
Stellar Kart Stellar Kart’s third studio release “Expect the Impossible” was definitely a warning for what was going to happen with “Everything is Different Now.” With their new album Stellar Kart returns to their...
Joy Although Joy isn’t new to music, her face is new to the music world. After releasing two indie projects, and winning best pop song at GMA in the Rockies, Joy released her self-titled record in February...
Tall Tree EP
Tall Tree Rock trio Tall Tree has roots that run deep into music, not only in music, but also in family. This rock trio is made up of sisters Allison and Angela Gilland, along with brother David Gilland. Music has...
Everything is Different Now for Stellar Kart | Posted February-18-2010
Stellar Kart’s third studio release “Expect the Impossible” was definitely a warning for what was going to happen with “Everything is Different Now.” With their new album Stellar Kart returns to their original roots: worship. Although it is a worship album, don’t immediately diss it. They combine their own pumping sound to give an energetic, yet worshipful, atmospheric record. To make a change in style, along with a new band member jumping on board and the band changing record labels, definitely makes the name of the new record stand out more.
The album kicks off with the high octane “All My Heart,” which immediately tells you who’s performing the song. The project continues along the same musical lines with their cover of Fee’s “We Shine.” The musical aspect of the song is good, but the chorus doesn’t really seem to be produced out quite as well. While on the topic of cover songs, it does seem that the band decided to shake things up (er….make “everything different now”) by making four of the songs on the album, cover songs. The songs include the ‘60s song “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum; the previously mentioned Fee song “We Shine”; Audio Adrenaline’s “Until My Heart Caves In”; and Matt Redman’s “You Never Let Go.” While all the covers were done to a job of excellence, the standout to me of all the covers is “You Never Let Go.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody do a better cover song than this! It truly releases a passionate sound that was heard in the original, but it’s done to an even broader scale here.
The sound of the third track “Something Holy” immediately brought to mind Britt Nicole. It has a poppy sound that just makes you want to move with the bumping beat. But the message is a standout. It’s amazing to see that a song like this can move you two different ways! The entire message is simply stated in the chorus “We were born to be a part of something holy/All of us are restless til we find/We were born to be a part of something holy… ” Simply said, but true.
The title track is a song that we can relate to, because it addresses the subject of change. Changes happen every day whether they be good or bad, and although our circumstances change, God never does. “Everything is Different Now” relates to our hearts when they’re given to God. We were living “all alone/In confusion/” with “all the guilt/And all the blame” but “that was yesterday.”
“Everything is different now/You’re the love I’ve finally found/Everything is different now/Because of You”
Stellar Kart’s front man Adam Agee says he wrote “It’s Not Over” in response to the economic crisis. “The lyrics are meant to encourage people who are going through tough times” and that “this life is not the end of the story.” My favorite line of the song says, “The best is yet to come for us.” The best is yet to come, and I can’t wait for it!
“Rescue” is an amazing song that really booms up the message of freedom.
“My God/My hope/My rescue/The cross has set me free/No power can stand against You/I’ll shout it out/Shout it out”
The album ends with “Like the Sun,” which I think would be one of my favorites, which combines so many different styles backing up to the 40s then going through each decade of music up to the present day. The entire message of the song is a song of hope telling us to “hold on” because God will “be there to pick you up anytime you call.”
Stellar Kart did a phenomenal job with their new project. The message of God’s amazing power and hope is something the world really needs to hear right now. The message of God’s unchanging ways in a world where “everything is different now” is something we all need to take to heart everyday of our lives. With the album, I think that there was a huge step not only musically, but also a
feeling of a big step spiritually.
The future for Stellar Kart is bright because….well, “everything is different now.”
Say "Hey There Stranger" to Joy Lippard! | Posted October-13-2009
Although Joy isn’t new to music, her face is new to the music world. After releasing two indie projects, and winning best pop song at GMA in the Rockies, Joy released her self-titled record in February 2009. Along with her unusual vocals and music, Joy is already making a name for herself after touring with Dove award winning artist Rush of Fools and newcomer Sarah Reeves. Joy’s self-titled project deals with many emotions including relationships, self-image struggles, and love, just to name off a few. The album will definitely need a few listens, if you’re like me, to actually like it.
THE ALBUM REVIEW
The album kicks off with “Hey There Stranger” an unusual song, along musical lines, that matches up with Joy’s voice. While there is no real “message” in the song, she wrote it mainly about her first dating relationship, but she also says that in this song, “I was trying to convey that in relationships, whether it is a dating relationship, or just a friendship, we need to go beyond that basic surface level.”
The album continues with “Miracle” a song that began with her “super big obsession” of the TV show “Prison Break.” The entire song is about needing a miracle from God to free us from what’s been holding us down. This is one of the more notable songs off the album. The down side of the song is that it begins with the overly used “nah-nah-nah,” and the chorus is also practically made up of the line “you need a miracle.” The song has a very weak ending with her aimless singing like what happens on “She’s a Diamond.” While these aren’t bad things, it just made the song much less appealing than it would have been if something else might have been done.
Joy spoke in an interview about the song “I Will Write You Letters” saying that it was about her kind of missing writing letters in a world of e-mailing and texting, but the song really seems to be talking about her writing letters to someone she misses very much. Either way it’s a good song, just need a bit more clarification on the song. =)
Some of the self-image struggles she and her sister have gone through are also portrayed in the project with songs like “She’s a Diamond” and “Stronger.” It’s kind of sketchy to tell that either song is actually talking about self-image struggles unless you actually knew the background of the songs. It seems that “She’s a Diamond” would be more along the lines of a guy waiting to marry a girl. It’s a beautiful song; the only mess-up is what messes up the second track “Miracle”: the instrumental part where she’s just singing aimlessly. Also, the transition from the instrumental to the chorus again doesn’t flow well. Musically speaking, “Stronger” is the heaviest song off the album; however, the song does not match well with her voice. If this song was listened to by a person who wasn’t familiar with Joy’s music they would think that this track would be talking about a person who tried to have a relationship with her but it failed because of what she saw what the person was really like. Although the song ends with her saying “God help me break away,” it then could be interpreted a sin held her life.
“Hole in My Pocket” is, in my opinion, the most notable track off the record. Although the song kicks off with a weak start, the song gets stronger musically. The lyrics are what really stand out though. The entire song concept is not new, but the way it’s conveyed really hits home. The entire song is letting go of what we’ve held onto, every bit of it, it’s not our own; it’s God’s. So even though we’re “left here empty handed” all we “ever needed was in You.”
The least notable tracks are “It’s Your Life,” “Too Much to Ask For,” and “The Other Side.” Musically speaking these tracks are good, but unfortunately her voice downplays the songs very much because her voice stands out above the music. The voice should of course is what stands out, and the music should be a support. However, the music you have to look beyond her voice and really focus on the beauty of the music. The lyrics of one of the songs has a message, but it just loses it in not portraying who she found trust in.
The song ends with a song that serves well as an album ending track. The song name is “Walk Me Home.” The beat is catchy and so are the lyrics. The song describes walking with Jesus in His mercy and grace.
While not the strongest project I’ve heard, the lyrics stand out from many experienced artists clichés. The music also is a stand out because it’s not your everyday style that you hear. Miss Lippard’s definitely got a good start and a lot going for her, but it all might need just a little bit more polishing.
Debut "Strong" but Maybe Not "Strong" Enough | Posted August-15-2009
Rock trio Tall Tree has roots that run deep into music, not only in music, but also in family. This rock trio is made up of sisters Allison and Angela Gilland, along with brother David Gilland. Music has always been second nature to them considering their dad is a music pastor at their church. With the encouragement of their dad, and eventual producer Steve Cook, they finally hit the studio. Later the band entered the HearItFirst.com Battle of the Bands….and won! The release of their self-titled EP combines all the siblings musical tastes into one, resulting in a slightly diverse debut project. While many new bands either tend to have a strong message of God, or lack in this area, Tall Tree with their roots in ministry obviously get the point across with Who and what they stand for.
THE REVIEW OF THE EP
The EP kicks out with a strong song called….well “Strong.” The bass belts out hard throughout this alt-rock song, while Allison’s vocals, though soft, completely bring the message of the song across. The name of the song also perfectly fits the message- we’re weak, God is strong. And although the message isn’t new, it’s something that we need to be reminded of everyday of our lives.
“Cause I'm weak in my own self/But through You I'm strong/You fill me with unchanging grace/I can't overcome/So in Your arms I fall/I rest in Your unfailing strength”
“Sing of the Savior” is one of the acoustic tracks off the record. With the different styles of music combined, Allison carries herself very well in leading the vocals despite what style it may be, whether it’s rock, pop, etc. This piece is a gorgeous song with harmony that makes your heart soar. The drums tend to keep the same beat, which after a while gets a bit monotonous, but still the song is great. The violin adds great dynamics making up for what was lost with the drums.
The saying “it’s an oldie, but a goodie” seems to be ruling in music now days, as many artists are going back and picking up hymns to record. Tall Tree is no different as they perform the middle track on the album, “Be My Vision, Be My Song.” David leads the song in vocals with no help from his two sisters, but he may have needed their assistance. While the song is very good, harmony would have taken the song to the next step, as well as a build-up with the music also.
“Calling to You” holds a show down rock beat, sort of like the beginning track “Strong.” The harmony on the chorus adds an extra dynamic experience to the song. And it seems we hear songs that have a certain message from some artists and the message just doesn’t seem to “connect” well with you. For me “Calling to You” “connected” with my heart. Maybe it’s because of the season I’m going through in life, but whatever it was, the song made its point. The message shoots out with a beat of surrender. The song is an obvious song of a desperate cry out to God telling Him we need Him, and we will answer His call to “lay it down”.
“Your Spirit, oh Lord/You’re the One I’m desperate for/Hear me calling/Calling to You/For Your Spirit on my soul/ ‘Til my life overflows/With Your presence/I’m calling out to You”
The EP ends with “Your Blood.” The song begins with great acoustics, keyboard and light vocals, then builds up and ends with a strong rock outlet. The song aptly describes what Jesus blood did for us- He’s made us “clean because of [His] blood”
And I can see because of Your love/And I am clean because of Your blood/And I believe because of what You’ve done for me
Tall Tree’s debut takes a new step in the right direction and although not quite as strong as other debut projects, it still stands at a level with many new artists projects. Even though they’re not “popular” their stance is what makes them have music that stands out. From their humble beginning, God has called them and brought them to where they are now, and as they continue to keep their minds and hearts humbled before Him, He will take them to heights in their music that they’ve never experienced.
California Here We Come! | Posted May-11-2009
All you can say for this EP is the band’s name, Attaboy!!! After self-recording, and producing, a full-length project, and one or two other EPs, the four song “California” EP is the best effort so far given out by this band. The EP focuses mainly on going places God tells us to go, and trusting that His ways are much higher than ours. The infectious pop/rock sound of this EP, according to CD Baby, “…incorporates the energy of Relient K and the early Jimmy Eat World with the innovation of Mae and The Killers, while employing a bold lyrical honesty that hearkens to Switchfoot but with a progressive energy all their own.” Front man Amos Caley says, “Today, with all the junk filling the minds of people, young and old, we feel a strong conviction to take our various influences and produce fun, quality music with authentic messages of hope and healing."” That statement pretty much sums up their “California” EP.
Kicking out with the namesake of the EP, “California” infects your mind immediately with the piano driving home the beginning of the song, and the poppy sounding drums. As the tune hits the chorus, your heart just feels the beat fluxing out of the speakers and flowing into your ears. The message of the song itself is not new, but the way Attaboy puts it, puts it in new light. The message that shoots out is, “God I’ll go anywhere you lead me, even if it’s a million miles away to somewhere I don’t know.”
“California far from me/Across the desert to the sea/A million miles away to somewhere I don’t know/Lift my feet from where I stand/Down the street to foreign land/Anywhere You lead me I will go”
Piano seems to be the word (or instrument) for the beginning of three of the four tracks off the EP, “Ready to Run”, and “Wait On You” are no exception. “Ready to Run” draws on the board of a Francesca Battistelli piano sound at the beginning of the song, then builds into a harder pop, but lyrically repetitive chorus, having only two other lines that say something other than, “ready to run.” The verses aren’t lyrically, or musically dry, but the music on the bridge just doesn’t pull the right strings. “Wait On You” carries a lot of the same sound as “Ready to Run,” but for some reason carries a different feel. The song speaks about a situation each of us go through all the time- feeling dry, and crying out to God wanting an answer for our situation. But one thing that we tend not to do is do what the chorus cries out, “I will wait/Wait on You/All my days if You want me to/Time is cheap/It’s not mine to keep/So I will wait on You.”
“Dangerous” keeps together the sound of the previous songs, and incorporates the same theme of doing what God is telling us to do.
Attaboy has covered ground in maturity much more quickly than other bands like them. Lyrically, and musically, they have grown so much over the past year or so. All I can say is keep it up, and keep exploring those places no one else goes, and take your music to higher heights!
Sparrow Records Debuts...Danyew! | Posted March-25-2009
Based from San Diego, California, Danyew brings us a short, but passionate six track album. From the opening rock strains of “Closer We Are”, to the off sounding end track, “Turnstile”, and the points he highlights on his self- titled debut, Danyew has obviously had several factors influencing his debut project. Danyew also brings his musical talent to the front, playing every single instrument on the project. But don’t let the latter fool you, he’s got a sound that will strike the strings of your soul like any other artist.
The prelude EP to this full-length project, which carries the same name, included two songs which are also on this project, “Beautiful King,” and “Streetlight.” The EP was probably more than likely just for promotional purposes, but gave the music world a small taste of what Danyew would be like.
The full-length kicks off strong with the rocky/pop “Closer We Are.” The song speaks about the more we get closer to God, He gets closer to us. But could be taken as a love song like on the chorus, “The closer we are/You know we can’t hide it/The closer we are/You know we can’t fight it”. While love songs are necessarily bad, you would need God in it to be able to see it through.
“Streetlight” is an upbeat pop song, with the song describing how God first loved us. “I saw love deeper the Pacific/I saw love burning brighter than stars.” The song just pours out how God has loved us, and that His love shines “like a streetlight” into our lives. Raw, open, and passionate, is the best way to describe this song. “Beautiful King,” the fourth song on the full-length project, is a direct worship song to God, which touches the heart of the listener in an unexplainable way. Whether it’s the acoustic/pop sound, the light vibrato in the vocals, the lyrics, or just the presence of God, this song is a definite mover, and in my eyes, more than likely, the best song off the entire project.
“Every word that you say/Wields the beauty of the angels/Every smile’s arrayed/With a joy like wedding bells/It’s my heart You hold/Of Your mystery I sing/I will stand and behold/My Beautiful King”
“Nothing Without You” is a kicking, country-sounding song, with light pop infused. The song name pretty much says it all, we’re nothing without God. “Life is beautiful/But I think it’d be nothing without You/Life is wonderful/It moves my soul/But I know it’d be nothing without You.” “Close Your Eyes,” and “Turnstile” carry on an off sounding musical style, like going from a major chord to some type of weird seventh minor chord. “Close Your Eyes” is different in the light that it has a very creepy sounding chorus, with the vocals almost whispering the music in your ears. “Turnstile” almost has a 60s-80s pop sounding style, and seems to be a love song. The one thing that throws the entire song off, if it isn’t already off sounding enough, is the tin-panny sounding piano after the second chorus. It throws everything off, and is a horrible way to end the album.
Phil Danyew (his full name) gives us a great debut to let sink into our hearts. While having its times of off sounding tunes, Phil is still new, and I’m sure he’s given this album all he’s got. Another factor is that overtime we all get better and better by God’s grace. So all in all, the album far surpasses the maturity level of most new artists, but could stand a little polishing in a few areas.
Mandisa Shouts Out | Posted February-26-2009
After kicking off a stellar debut in 2006 on American Idol, Mandisa’s voice has floated on the wind all across the nation. She hit high chart sales with her debut album “True Beauty”, and now Disa is back with her sophomore project, “Freedom.” Infectious hooks and melodious tunes fill this project. She has returned with many of the song writers that wrote for “True Beauty”, including Matthew West, and Sam Mizell. She has also added a new set of writers, although they aren’t at all new to the music scene, Group 1 Crew. Mandisa says that she “chose to call this CD Freedom because it’s an area God has been working on in my life.”
THE REVIEW OF THE CD
The album kicks off with the first single off the project, “My Deliverer.” The song is upbeat, carrying a pop/rock sound, flavored with the black gospel genre. The song speaks about how we have been bound by whatever binds us, but we have hope knowing that our “Deliverer will set us free.”
Do you know “How Much” you are loved? This is the question this song asks. If anyone has told you that you aren’t loved, let this song tell you how much you are. This pop song just immediately brings you into the message it wants to shoot out. God loves you!
“Take the depths of the deepest ocean and go deeper/Take the heights of the highest tower and go higher/Take the best day that you’ve ever had/And try to imagine better than that/And it still don’t come close to how much you are loved”
“He is With You” is more of an inspo/pop song that is starts out good, and acts like it’s building up to a big all out chorus; however, it keeps the same pace. It’s still a good song though. This song speaks about different, and real circumstances in our lives, like, when “your faith feels dead”, and “being in the ICU” and the “doctors don’t know what to do,” “He is with you.” Jesus is with you through every circumstance, no matter where you are in life. Your joy will come in the morning, because Jesus is with you!
Mandisa pulls in some new friends on “Definition of Me”- Group 1 Crew. As soon as the song starts out you immediately wonder whether this is Mandisa, or Group 1 Crew you’re hearing. “Definition of Me” has an infectious sound that is almost like a rock/hip-hop sound. Leave it up to Mandisa, and Group 1 Crew to rock the joint, and they definitely will, because they do with this song! This song talks about how we shouldn’t let what people say about us be the definition of us. God should be the definition of us living inside of us, and making inside of us the beauty that truly matters.
“Not Guilty” is another one of those beautiful, melodious songs that she uses to pull on the strings of your heart. We “stand accused/with a list a mile long/of all my sins.” The song goes on to speak about our “fate” being “in the Judge’s hands/But then He turns to me and says.” God is calling each and every one of us to come to Him. So He can wrap His arms around us, and tell us that we’re “not guilty.”
”I know you/I love you/I gave My life to save you/Love paid the price for mercy/My verdict not guilty”
“Leave it in the Valley” and “Victorious” are probably my least favorite’s off the project. They both have about the same sound. They’ve both got great messages, but the music falls a bit short in my eyes. “Leave it in the Valley” talks about her talking on the phone to one of her friends who has been having some troubled times, and she tells them to “leave it in the valley tonight.”
“Broken Hallelujah” is a piano driven song that is immersed in the beauty of it all. The entire song describes us “coming before the Lord,” with “our hearts in a thousand pieces,” and even though all we bring is “a broken hallelujah,” we will still praise and worship Him, despite what we’re going through. This is a very beautiful song.
“When all that I can sing is a broken hallelujah/When my only offering is shattered prayers/Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins/And I will worship You and give You thanks/Even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah”
“Freedom Song” is described by Mandisa as “praise-party song.” Don’t be fooled by how the song starts out! Kicking off with a black choir, and an organ, you could easily be thrown off, but wait till the song really kicks in. With a syncopated beat that drives home a beat that you can’t shake off, Disa definitely hit the nail on the head in the way that she described it.
“Lift your hands up in the air/Shout hallelujah/Lift your hands up in the air/I have been set free”
If you remember “Shackles (Praise You)”, you might find a common ground with “Dance, Dance, Dance.” Why you might find common ground is because it’s by the same group that originally did “Shackles (Praise You)”- MaryMary. Mandisa has turned this song into a definite song that makes you want to get up and “dance, dance, dance.” Perfectly placed name, and music to the song. Mandisa presents another beat that drives home a message. We’ve been set free so “dance,dance,dance.”
“You Wouldn’t Cry” is the best way to end this project, as it is Mandisa’s favorite songs off the project. The song was inspired by a woman who Mandisa met at one of her concerts. This lady was pregnant and would be having a child the next week. Mandisa received a message three days after meeting this woman. The message said the baby had been birthed, but it was stillborn. So with that in mind Mandisa thought what could I do to give this woman encouragement? So Disa wrote it from this child’s perspective and what this child might say to his mother. Mandisa also said that it is also for anyone who has had a loved one die. This song is what they might be saying to their family, in describing heaven to them.
“Blue has never been bluer/True has never been truer/Honey never tasted so sweet/There’s a song in the breeze/A million voices in praise/A rose has never smelled redder/The sun has never been brighter/If I could find the right words to say/If you could look at my face/If you could just see this place/You wouldn’t cry for me today”
If this project doesn’t catch a fire in the hearts of the listeners, then I don’t know what will. Mandisa has such a way of conveying things that not very many other artists can do. So get ready for March 24, it’s going to be a blast when this project is released!
"Oh Snap" We Didn't Make It! | Posted January-28-2009
While I can say I wasn’t that impressed with Philmont’s first effort lyrically on an EP, I can say that I was a little surprised on “Oh Snap”. Lyrically, and somewhat musically, “Oh Snap” was pretty good, and a small step in the right direction. I would liken Philmont to the sounds of groups like Relient K,Eleventyseven, and Hawk Nelson but come nowhere near the growing maturity the latter bands have. While “Oh Snap” is a good step into the world of music, they may need to bring up the bar just a little more all the way around.
With songs like “I Can’t Stand to Fall”, “The Difference”, and “Another Name” Philmont stands to make good music lyrically, but musically they may need to come a little further. But coming to the end of the album they make a turn with “Hippocratic Oath”, and “Photosynthetic”.
The beginning song “I Can’t Stand to Fall” introduces the EP well. The lyrics set the stage for the deeper lyrics on into the album. The music isn’t the most original (a synth-punk sound, somewhat like Eleventyseven), but good for a starting band. “Tear down these walls/ I'd climb but I can't stand to fall without You/ Tear down these walls that separate us now/ I can't make them fall without You”. “The Difference” goes deeper lyrically, but with an all around sound that doesn’t sound that much different from “I Can’t Stand to Fall”. “There's gotta be a difference/ It's gotta be significant/ If You're really inside changing my life/ You would shine, You would be evident/ If there's a difference/ There's a difference” The deepest song on the project is “Another Name”. “Another Name” is a melodious pop song, speaking about Jesus talking to us telling us to “breathe in now” the new life He is holding out to us. All the junk we’ve held in that has held us down we can “breathe in now”, and “live without the blame” through Him. We are free through Him, and even though we’ve fallen, and even though we’ve been thinking we can never be forgiven, through His blood He has freed us. “Breathe in now/Receive another name/Breathe in now/Live without the blame” The “turn” that I was talking about that began with “Hippocratic Oath” was not a good “turn”. “Hippocratic Oath”- The song while having a good start-out sound, Philmont makes it fall away in the chorus completely (shall I say?) destroying the song. They could definitely done a better job musically on this project. The lyrics also were a poor excuse for…well…lyrics! (In the light of making no meaning.) While the song is definitely about Jesus “operating on us” and us just needing to say we accept Him. While the song says “you’ll never make it out alive without Me”, it also says “this operation is your last chance to live, so just close your eyes, as I’m putting you under”. Ok you want to save this person, but then you say you’re going to put him under? How contradictory and unlike Jesus! “Photosynthetic”- This song made it onto their first EP, “Photosynthetic”, but under a different name- “Murder and Photography”. Maybe this could possibly suggest they’re running out of new ideas?
Philmont has got a good start, but need to find their own original sound in this vast world of music. They've definitely got it judging by this album. They've just got to keep it up,and they'll make it!
Mending the Meaning of Brokeness | Posted December-12-2008
While I had heard of Esterlyn, I had never heard their music. When I heard this EP, my heart was blown away! While most of it was acoustic, and not their regular pop sound, they offered great vocals, lyrics, and music. It was a thorough enjoyment to hear this EP from beginning to end.
The name of the EP “Mending the Meaning” relates so well to the album! The entire project is about our futileness to become what we want to be without God in our lives; the brokenness we have that He can only mend; and how He can truly “mend” our hearts and lives, and shape them into what we have always wanted to become.
REVIEW OF THE EP
“Sweet Love” almost has a country sound musically wise. The song targets the sweet, sweet love of Jesus despite the messes we’ve made. Despite our mistakes, His sweet, sweet love is still abundant. While not really pointing out what this “sweet love” is lyrically, the lyrics still strongly point in the direction of Jesus. The song speaks about “climbing through the mess we’re in”, and thinking about “our past regret”, but “in this valley we see Your grace”. The only point I found I didn’t really like is the bit of repetition in the chorus where the song derives its name. It continuously goes on and on in the chorus with “You’re my sweet, sweet love/You’re my sweet, sweet love/ Yeah”. The verses, however, are profoundly amazing compared to the somewhat simple and repetitive chorus.
“Esther” is a beautiful piano driven song with light acoustic guitar. While not making much sense at first hearing the first verse, the pieces to the puzzle were sorted out and pieced on the chorus. The song seems to parallel “Sweet Love” in meaning. This song is to the brokenhearted telling them God still knows your name, He is Father to the brokenhearted, and He will pick up all the shattered pieces. He is there to love on you through your pain and hurt. The combined lyrics, vocals, and music were great, soothing, and compelling. While you may think that a piano driven song is slow and boring, this song was far from it! The song ministers to your heart and makes you think about the people you know that are like this, God can heal them, God can touch them.
“A Father to the fatherless/ A Healer of the brokenness you made/ Beauty from the ashes/ A Helper to the helpless/ A Fighter for the hopeless/ You love those who are unloved/ Those who are unloved”
“Still Beauty To Be Found” has great vocals, melody, and music. The message this song holds is telling us to look past our view of what the world has, and look beyond to the beauty we can find in God. Just like the chorus says, “And you don’t know what you want/ But you know it’s not this”. We know this life wasn’t meant to be this way. There are a ton of people out there that truly “don’t know what they want” and they certainly know “it’s not this”. They search and search to find something to fill this hole they can never fill with what this world has offered them. But the beauty, and the hunger they’re experiencing can come from the One who died to fill them up to the top with Living Water- Jesus Christ.
“You never get what you want/If you don’t know what it is/If you don’t know what it is/And you don’t know what you want/But you know it’s not this”
“How Great is Your Love” having a light bass, acoustics, and some type of other tingly sounding instrument, this song is good, but I found it to be one of the more slower ones, and made me almost fall asleep. Luke Cadwell’s voice is an echoy, far-back sound, and he does a lot of falsetto on the chorus and bridge which make it all the more, somewhat non-appealing, and sometimes you can’t understand what he’s exactly singing on the chorus. While the music and melody may not be appealing the lyrics had great depth to them. The song talks about the “vast great love of Jesus”, and “how great” His love, and us who are desperately trying to make ourselves “something” of worth, while what we need is what the bridge says most in our lives to make our souls feel and be what we’ve always wanted.
“’Bridge- It’s Your love/It’s what I need/What I need”
How true those lyrics are!
“Free the Light” acoustic guitar driven, with echoing background sounds, “Free the Light” speaks about us fighting the Light to keep it out of our lives, brought on by our sin nature. How our pride and stubbornness get in the way of us truly seeing what we can truly be with Jesus, and how “unbelief has sheltered us from the truth”. This is beautiful masterpiece about letting go of our lives and fully surrendering it to God, and that He alone can give the purpose in life that we’ve been lacking.
“Pre-Chorus-This life has a purpose/This life could be more for you”
“Chorus- Won’t you free the Light/Let It come inside/Fall to your knees/Surrender your life”
I’m glad I came across Esterlyn in this way, I don’t know if I might have warmed up to them as quickly if the EP had been vague in lyrics like many newer bands like to do. I also liked how Esterlyn portrayed brokenness and hurt, but still gave the Hope that can be the answer to all of it, unlike many bands today are doing lyrically giving out lyrics about hurt and pain but giving no anecdote. Overall a good project, while the EP is acoustic and not their real sound, it gives new and old listeners alike a taste of what Esterlyn is like musically, lyrically, and their passion nailed hard into it all.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thank you Nathan for helping me out on this review! I needed that help! I hope you like the review! :D
WOOKIEE- For helping me find the music to this project! Thanks for the b-day comments! I LOVED THEM!
"Sing" We Now of Christmas | Posted December-10-2008
Until this year I had no idea who Josh Wilson was. I had never even heard of him. Then I heard “Savior, Please” and was blown away! With so many Christmas albums and EPs being released, Josh’s is one of the most anticipated by me. Although there are only three songs on the EP, Josh has laid the foundation for creating Christmas music that will speak the Christmas message into the lives of the listeners.
REVIEW OF THE EP
“Sing”, the namesake of the EP and the only original song on the EP, is a beautiful masterpiece that shows Josh’s creativity in writing songs. While the verses and melody are great, the chorus can get a bit repetitious, but obviously the name of the song, “Sing”, was aptly derived seeing how many times it is repeated in the chorus.
“So sing/God is with us/Sing/He has come to save us/Sing/He will never leave us/Glory in the highest/Everybody sing/To the Child who is our King/He has come to bring redemption to us/God is with us/Glory in the highest/Sing ”
“Angels We Have Heard on High” is one of many favorite Christmas traditional. While the music starts out with light acoustics from the first verse into the first chorus, the music becomes a bit to quick sounding for a Christmas song like this one. While everyone has their own style in Christmas music, this song could be taken down a little notch in the music area. The song could have just a little bit of background vocals to add to it or something. It needs something to make it more “angelic” sounding. Besides that the song is absolutely awesome!
“The First Noel (Instrumental)”, while the song is instrumental, I myself would want to know details about projects. So here’s the jist of the song. While having no vocals on the song Josh made this instrumental into one of the best I’ve heard. The song is mainly made up of acoustic guitar and some type of other guitar in the background. The song while only covering a verse, a chorus, then ending on something that seemed to be the beginning of a verse, was very beautiful indeed! It left you with a warm feeling after finishing it.
While this is good for a beginning Christmas project from Josh, he might want to consider blending more styles besides so much acoustic and pop to keep the sound coming fresh. I know these latter two are his main style,and probably what comes best for him, but it just might be good though to make more styles appear on a full length Christmas album if he releases one in the future. And I hope he will release one in the future.
"It's Christmas" Alright! | Posted December-07-2008
When Mandisa blasted onto the American Idol scene back in 2006, she made immediate fans with her powerhouse vocals and her big smile. And after releasing her much acclaimed debut project “True Beauty” in 2007 Mandisa is here to share the joy and happiness of Christmas. Mandisa incorporates traditional, originals, duets, and even some old original favorites. So get ready to turn up the dial of Christmas music for “It’s Christmas” with Mandisa!
THE REVIEW OF THE ALBUM
The album kicks off with “What Christmas Means to Me”, an upbeat, makes you wanna’ dance type of song; however, the message is a bit off key lyrically with what “Christmas might really mean” to her. The song talks about “running wild, like a little child” about her “baby”, and “this is what Christmas means to me, my love”, although the song has a great beat she might want to take a second glance at these lyrics again.
“Feliz Navidad (with Joy to the World)” was a bit of a disappointment. The disappointment had to more with the music than her vocals, her vocals were great, but the music? Please! Then the flute (or whatever it was) didn’t help in the middle of the song. Then “Joy to the World” came next, it was the unexpected, then it made it out to be a big building up then it fell back into “Feliz Navidad”. I’m sorry I couldn’t put in better recommendations on this song. The almost one and only thing I liked was when at the end of the song they did “cha-cha-cha”. That was pretty cool.
“Christmas Makes Me Cry” is one of the only songs that has actually made it into my book as “better than most traditional Christmas carols”. This beautiful song made it onto the “Christmas Joy EP” back in 2007, and I’m glad she decided to place it on “It’s Christmas”, it definitely deserved being placed on here. Also, after working with Matthew West with writing songs, going on tours with each other, I guess she said, “It’s time to sing a duet together.” She made the right choice too! This song is so beautiful, lyrically, vocally, and musically.
“Verse 1I think of loved ones/That have passed away/And I pray they’re resting in a better place/I think of memories of years gone by/And sometimes Christmas makes me cry/I think of soldiers across the sea/Sometimes I wonder why it’s them instead of me/That for freedom they give their lives/And sometimes Christmas makes me cry/ ChorusTears of happiness/Tears of hope/I cry tears of joy at Christmas because I know/There is peace on earth for every heart to find/And sometimes Christmas makes me cry”
“Bell Medley (Silver Bells, Carol of the Bells, Caroling, Caroling)” has that old Christmasy sound of songs by people like Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. The song kicks off with “Silver Bells”, of course, and has that same warm Christmas feeling that those Bing Crosby songs give to you. “Carol of the Bells”, one of my all-time favorites, has all the background vocals rising, falling, building, then falling down again, giving you that chilly, but happy feeling you get when you hear the song. Then the latter song bursts into “Caroling, Caroling” not minor sounding, but joyous! This entire medley transitions perfectly from song to song, and is a song that definitely puts you in the Christmas spirit!
“Silent Night” is one of the many favorite traditional carols across the world, and rightly so. However, “Silent Night” was not written in the most silent of nights. This song was written during a war in Austria. There was the stifling smoke filling the country, cannonballs demolishing houses, and the ever present gift from war- death. It was written during early in the 19th century by a curate, Joseph Mohr, and a teacher and organist, Franz Gruber. Even though it was winter time and many people were hungry and cold, this song seemed to give a new hope to these citizens of Austria and may it do the same for us.
“Silent night/Holy night/All is come/All is bright/’Round yon virgin mother and child/Holy Infant so tender and mild/Sleep in heavenly peace/Sleep in heavenly peace”
Mandisa did another incredible job on this song, her soothing vocals, and the strings for the only provision of music, makes the lyrics stand out all the more and give fresh meaning. If this is one of your favorite Christmas songs, don’t miss out on Mandisa’s version of “Silent Night”
“Angels We Have Heard on High” definitely surprised me! It didn’t have the strings and warming backup vocals I was expecting. It had a black gospel feel to it, and while the background vocals were there, they were more of a African-American choir singing. All of this being good though! Just a surprising song, though, musically, of course.
“Little Drummer Boy” starts off with cool drum rolls, and sets the mood that the name of the song lives up to today- “Little Drummer Boy”. The humming of bass vocals in the background, and Mandisa’s vocals placed the song together very well at the beginning. Then after the second verse, the drum rolls and jumps into a beat that makes you want to jump up out of your seat to it and start dancing.
“Christmas Day” originally placed on Michael W. Smith’s Christmas project “It’s a Wonderful Christmas”, made it on “It’s Christmas”, this is another song that was well deserving of being on this project. Mandisa and Michael made a perfect duet on this song. While Mandisa seemed to “rule the roost” vocally on the song, Michael still lent a great deal to this song. If it might have been Mandisa alone then I don’t think the song might have made it. The light drums, beautiful strings, children’s background vocals, and piano blended perfectly to make the meaning of the song stand out! It’s Christmas Day!
“O Holy Night”- When this song started out it sounded like it might have been a beautiful masterpiece IF it weren’t for the bluesy, jazzy sound that sometimes popped into the song. I expected a piano and strings song with vocals being belted out when it hit the high notes. I got a completely different result. I did get a piano and strings, but it had more of a jazzy sound than anything. Not what I was really wanting. While not overly disappointing, I still was a bit disappointed.
“Mary’s Little Boy Child” is not a disappointment. While I’ve heard faster versions of the song and the song was a little bit slower than those versions, I was not that disappointed. I was quite pleased with how Mandisa presented the song in her own special way of doing it. The music was an amazing combination and one you don’t hear often, jingle bells with the accompaniment of African bongos.
“Children Go Where I Send Thee” has a big black gospel sound to it. The song is one of those “older originals” originally performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary (a music group way before me). While it starts out a little slow, it gets a slight bit better into the song when the music and her big bold vocals. However the musical interlude in the middle of the song with the saxophone and the trumpet didn’t sound too good. But the background vocals at the end of the song and the catchy beat should’ve made the beginning of the song it might have made it sound better.
END OF ALBUM REVIEW
While many said at the beginning of Mandisa’s career she didn’t define her style of music at the beginning of her career, she seems to define it on “It’s Christmas”. She seems to have slipped into a definite category with this project- black gospel. However, as good as she is she might just surprise us! “It’s Christmas” is on my list of “Christmas music to get”. Mandisa did an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what 2009 holds for her!