Contemporary Christian Music

Sandra McCracken – Patient Kingdom

Sandra McCracken Patient Kingdom Integrity Music (release date: October 9, 2020) www.sandramccracken.com By Robert M. Marovich Whether or not Sandra McCracken penned the ten songs on Patient Kingdom before or during the pandemic, they certainly express well the disquiet of the times. But the world-weariness welling from deep within the Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s throat expresses not helplessness but hopefulness, as if giving testimony to the cyclicality and potentiality of life. And that is what, I believe, the new album is all about. Songs on Patient Kingdom that are particularly attuned to the times include the gentle and tuneful “You Are With ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 13, 2020

“Your Love Is” People of the Earth WeArePOTE Records (release date: September 18, 2020) www.wearepote.com By Bob Marovich The pop-flavored “Your Love Is” draws on metaphors from nature to describe the beauty and the promises of the Lord. The five-piece ensemble People of the Earth demonstrates its eclectic musical inspirations in abundance, as the song could easily air on American Top 40 and nobody would bat an eye. The music and melody are as sunny and optimistic as the message. If ever there was a Christian song that could also be categorized as a summer anthem, it’s “Your Love Is.” ...

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Nashville Life Music – Here for Jesus

Nashville Life Music Here for Jesus Integrity Music (release date: July 17, 2020) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich Nashville Life Music follows up last year’s Taylor House Sessions EP with even more delightful selections on its debut full-length album, Here for Jesus. Nashville Life Music is a young multicultural choir/group out of Nashville Life Church, a congregation led by husband-and-wife team Alvin Love and multi award-winning gospel singer CeCe Winans Love. In its diversity and musical architecture, the troupe reflects the church’s mission. It offers hope that amity is not only preferable and possible, but is actually happening. This polished group ...

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Frye Family Band – Things Unseen

Frye Family Band Things Unseen Oubache Music (release date: 2020) www.FryeFamilyBand.com By Bob Marovich Family bands in Christian music are ubiquitous and have been since the beginning of the genre. Think of the Rambos, the Gaithers, the Goodmans, the Whites, the Crabbs, and on and on. Another is the Frye Family Band. The group is a fresh-faced ensemble hailing from New Corydon, Indiana, a rural community located on the banks of the Wabash River and just west of the Ohio state line. Their new release, Things Unseen, is a fine sampler of their multi-instrumental skills, earnest lyrics, and harmonies that ...

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Reba Rambo – Confessions

Reba Rambo Confessions Entertainment One (original release date: 1980; digital release: May 1, 2020) www.rebarambo.com By Bob Marovich Originally released forty years ago, Reba Rambo’s solo album Confessions is getting a redux courtesy of Entertainment One. It’s the latest Rambo album to be re-introduced since her 1977 disc, Lady, was digitally remastered last year. Like Tramaine Hawkins and Andrae Crouch, Rambo wasn’t afraid to set Christian lyrics and sentiments to present-day pop sounds, even though the “worldly” sound rocked some church folk at the time. Even Confessions’ sexy and stylish album cover telegraphed that this wasn’t business as usual. The ...

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We Are Heirs – Awaken Me (EP)

We Are Heirs Awaken Me (EP) (release date: January 22, 2020) https://weareheirsmusic.com/ By Bob Marovich Not to be confused with the Irish group We Are Messengers, We Are Heirs is comprised of American songwriter Eric Defend and vocalist Ben Bylsma. Nevertheless, the two Christian pop groups share a musical foundation of dramatic rock with electro-symphonic overtones. We Are Heirs demonstrates its Coldplay-meets-Hillsong United vibe on an earnest three-track EP titled Awaken Me. Featuring a liquidy electronic backdrop fronted by a persistent piano riff, the title track is a melodic prayer of thanksgiving for being rescued from a metaphoric sleep and ...

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Reba Rambo – Lady

Reba Rambo Lady Provident Label Group / Sony Music (re-release date: December 13, 2019) By Bob Marovich Provident Label Group / Sony Music has just made a beloved recording by Christian singer Reba Rambo available once again, digitally remastered. By 1977, when she released her fifth solo recording, Lady, on Greentree Records, Reba Rambo, the daughter of gospel singers Buck and Dottie Rambo and a member of the Singing Rambos, had been in and out of recording studios for the better part of a decade. Despite initial hesitancy by Reba’s record company to put her solo album out, Lady earned ...

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The Many – Love > Fear

The Many Love > Fear Plural Guild (release date: November 15, 2019) www.themanyarehere.com By Bob Marovich The Many is a multicultural vocal group based in Chicago and comprised of the talents of Darren Calhoun, Hannah Rand, and Leslie Michele. On their latest release, Love > Fear, they offer their distinctive brand of relaxed Christian pop, complete with warbling organ, tinkling electric piano, a solid rhythm section, and sugary sweet harmonies. As on the group’s 2017 album, All Belong Here, love is the focus of this collection. In “Extravagant Love,” for example, love is abundant and changes everything. On the title ...

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New Heart Band – Forever Yours

New Heart Band Forever Yours (2019) www.newheartband.com By Bob Marovich The New Heart Band’s latest release, Forever Yours, is a collection of breezy, folksy love and worship songs to the Most High sung by husband and wife team Gregg Christenson and Elaine Carter Christenson. Gregg, whose voice has a craggy fragility (think Keith Carradine of “I’m Easy” fame), handles most of the lead spots. Exceptions are when he and Elaine duet on the Latin-tinged “I Love Your Presence,” and when Elaine’s conventionally pretty soprano takes over on “Every Day.” Most of the songs, such as “Only You” and the melodic ...

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Melanie Penn – Immanuel: The Folk Sessions

Melanie Penn Immanuel: the Folk Sessions (EP) Equally Well Music, LLC (release date: October 25, 2019) www.melaniepenn.com By Bob Marovich A different kind of Christmas album, Immanuel: the Folk Sessions tells the story of the Nativity from the perspective of several Biblical personae. It is an acoustic version of some songs originally available on Melanie Penn’s 2017 release, Immanuel. “All Things are Possible” reflects on the miracle of a virgin woman giving birth, while “Great Things” finds Mary praising God for this inexplicable miracle. On the sprightly “Gift of Love,” the angels tell Mary not to be afraid, to go ...

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