Fanny Crosby’s gift to the Church shines anew in Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns Of Fanny Crosby from Integrity Music. The project features unfinished and never-before-published Crosby hymns respectfully crafted with help from Paul Baloche, Michael Farren, All Sons & Daughters, Jon Egan (New Life, Desperation Band), Bart Millard (MercyMe), Stu G (Delirious?, One Sonic Society), Michael W. Smith, Matt Redman, Krissy Nordhoff (“Your Great Name”), Greg Sykes, Dustin Smith and more.Complete with vocal performances from Baloche, Egan, All Sons & Daughters, Blind Boys of Alabama, Elias Dummer (The City Harmonic), Ricky Skaggs & The Whites, Darlene Zschech, Israel Houghton with Seth & Nirva, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and Meredith Andrews, among others, Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns Of Fanny Crosby stands as an original, new-heritage collection from this blind composer that has inspired generations of Christians around the world with hymns like “To God Be the Glory,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “Blessed Assurance” and “Redeemed.”
I Am Future are the youth worship team from Life Church in Bradford. Last year, they released a single, “Burn” to quite an excited media. Now, here’s their brand new 4 track EP that features three brand new songs that have brought so much life and hope to the church and the young people, plus a remix of the aforementioned single. Now, I may be a little long in the tooth to really appreciate this type of music but, comparing it to current chart music, this is just as good. The title track especially tantalises the listener, with its electro sounds and samples. Vocally exciting, with lyrics that include; “I’ve never seen me so alive, your love makes the best of me”. “Heart” is in similar mode, with great, driving beats and soaring sounds. The third track, “You Reign” is a little more atmospheric. The music builds, drops, and then builds again, worshipping our God as the only one who “Deserves my heart”. Finally, it’s “Burn”. Experimental in sound, I didn’t like this remix as much as the original but, then, I’ve never been a great lover of remixes. Overall, the EP’s sound is Calvin Harris meets the Swedish House Mafia and if that’s your thing, you’ll love this. 8/10.
This is a CD of live worship, recorded in Melbourne. My first impression of this CD was that it appeared to be a very well rehearsed worship event, without much in the way of spontaneity. The music is very much high energy dance music, and the arrangements are very “in your face”. There isn’t much let up in pace throughout the whole thing. Given the style of music it’s no surprise to find that all the life has been compressed out of every track, everything is at the same level, and personally I found it hard work. There is a lot going on in the songs. I looked at a video clip of them playing, and there seemed to be about fifteen of them onstage, so no quiet contemplative songs here. The lyrics to the songs are all quite straightforward and simple, and do indeed get their message over fairly well. This CD is aimed at a younger audience than me to be fair, and I would imagine it would be much more popular with younger Christians than it is with me, so I don’t want to sound as though I’m just giving it a bad review. Indeed there are a large body of people in the congregation, who are obviously worshipping God quite happily to these songs. So In summary, this would probably be a popular CD with the youth of the church, probably not going to do much for their parents though. Some excellent musicianship on display, although I’m not convinced by the actual production.
7/10 Andy Sayner.
Well, better late than never, I finally received a copy of Mercy Me’s 8th studio album. It was originally released last year but, for whatever, reason, my copy went AWOL. For those of you who didn’t catch up with it either, then it’s a little bit of a change in style for one of CCM’s most popular bands. Yes, there’s still some guitar led moves, as on “Gotta Let It Go”, but there’s also some electronic synth’s being used too. “Burn Baby Burn” for instance almost goes into Europe and “Final Countdown” territory. I had to smile at the title track because both the rhythm and beat reminded me of the theme tune from the TV series Friends! I must admit that I liked the lighter sounds on the album the best. “Greater” and “Flawless” are both easy on the ears, looking at God living inside you, and the power of the cross, respectively. “Wishful Thinking” has a touch of soul about it, while I really liked “Dear Younger Me”. Have you ever thought about what you would say to your younger self? I’ve been doing just that recently, and this song really pulled my heartstrings. It goes without saying that this album has already been well received by fans and media alike. Although not a big fan myself, this album certainly didn’t disappoint. 8/10.
Hebron comes from a Hebrew root meaning friendship, companionship, unity and fellowship. The singing trio called Hebron, consist of Simon Elman, Chrissy Rodgers and 60’s recording star, Helen Shapiro. This group Messianic believers have put together this 16 track acoustic album that is, in general, a folk music collection. Taken from Isaiah 60, “Arise, Shine” is a lively song with lovely harmonies and a ukulele accompaniment. “Adon Olam” has that unmistakable Jewish sound, while Shapiro’s vocals really stand out on the gentle rendition of “Psalm 23”. The whole album has a calming effect, with only the foot tappin’ “Little Bit of Heaven” and the bluesy “If That Don’t Make You Wanna Go” getting just a little energetic. In between, the threesome provide the listener with Bible truths and verses, put to simple musical backing. Other highlights include “They Overcame” and the prayerful “Song From Isiah 53”. You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the songs here, and the unassuming production makes a welcome change. 8/10.
Good Job 42:10 describe themselves as a “Gospel Bluegrass Worship & Ministry team from South Wales”. There’s certainly that good time feeling from their sound. The album entitled For the Record is a collection of 9 well known and loved worship favourites. The songs have been given the bluegrass treatment and as far as I’m aware is quite a rarity in this country. If you like down home country and bluegrass you’ll enjoy this album. Their reasonably strong vocals and harmonies blend well and it’s obvious in their delivery that they have a passion for who they sing about. My only observation is that there are a lot of songs that sound the same and have the same groove. I personally would’ve liked to hear more variation. I particularly enjoyed the track His Eye Is on the Sparrow which was a refreshingly stripped back version of the song. Although I was uncertain about the add on at the end of a scratchy old time record player version of Our God Reigns. For myself, I would have liked to hear the full version of this song as the sound of full harmonies and strong vocals gave a taste of the potential of this group. All in all a good first effort and I look forward to hearing them develop as a band. 6/10 Angie Lendon.
This is Jimmy Needham’s 6th studio album. He says that his musical influences include Lauryn Hill, Jason Mraz, and particularly Keith Green. Indeed, he goes on to say; “”When I listen to him it’s cool because I feel the Lord has given us the same spirit in what we’re singing about”. His style is a cross between alternative rock and a little bit of soul, and I feel that, sometimes, the marriage between the two doesn’t quite work. He’s also not scared to shock with his lyrics. On the title track he asks the question “Which is good and which is bad. Crystal Meth or a Bible tract”? That song, along with “Thank You” and “Mama Didn’t Raise a Fool” all have a funky feel about them but none of them really got me hooked. “All We Need is Need” raised my hopes but it was only when I listened to the smooth sound of “Betterman” that I really appreciated Needham’s voice. It’s a slow number, and his silky vocals are golden. The last track, “The Story” is a spoken word, which tells the story of creation, with a modern slant. I can’t say that it appealed to me, but it may prick up the ears of younger listeners. After a deluge of press releases about this album, listening to it left me rather disappointed. I can’t say that I’ll be rushing to hear it again. 5/10.