Contemporary Christian Music

Swingin Hammers – s/t

Swingin Hammers (self-titled) (release date: November 10, 2017) www.swinginhammers.com By Bob Marovich When one of the titles on an album is “Hangman,” you know the artist has experienced some kind of something. Confessional is the overall mood of Swingin Hammers, the self-titled debut album of singer-songwriter Benjamin Rupe, who performs under the rubric of Swingin Hammers. The ten songs are raw, stark, not at all sugar coated. It is the catharsis of a man who can’t believe the Savior still cares for him, flaws and all. One aspect of Swingin Hammers that distinguishes it from other sacred fare is its brutal honesty. Many ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: November 6, 2017

“Wood and Nails” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad From Work Songs: The Porter’s Gate Worship Project, Volume 1 (Live) (release date: October 6, 2017) www.portersgateworship.com By Bob Marovich “Wood and Nails,” Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad’s feather-light and stunningly gorgeous duet, has its foundation in contemporary Christian music but its simplicity seems to come straight from a Shaker hymnbook. Assad’s vulnerable soprano is otherworldly, whether solo or in two-part harmony with Garrels. The spare acoustic arrangement is ideal for this prayerful meditation on how Jesus, the carpenter, built our home with the wood and nails of the Cross. The single is part of ...

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Higher Vision – For Your Kingdom

Higher Vision For Your Kingdom Syntax Distribution (release date: October 6, 2017) www.highervisionworship.com By Bob Marovich For Your Kingdom is the debut offering from the worship team of the 3,000+ member multigenerational Higher Vision Church, located in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. The album is an hour-plus of high energy stadium-sized performances of praise songs wrapped in Christian rock and electronic pop music. As with many live P&W projects, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For Your Kingdom’s anthemic songs float along on melodies and themes that blend together, creating not an album of individually distinctive tracks ...

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Camille Nelson – Lead Me Home

Camille Nelson Lead Me Home Stone Angel Music (release date: August 18, 2017) www.camillenelson.com By Bob Marovich You can almost smell the spice-scented candles and warmly fragrant aromatherapy oils while listening to Camille Nelson’s second studio album, Lead Me Home. This CD of instrumentals of classic and original hymns evokes the gentle, acoustic music you hear wafting from the speakers in a floral shop or greeting card store. Nelson, a Utah-based guitarist and violinist, gathered together a string ensemble to assist her on this collection. Featured instrumentalists are cellist (and Camille’s brother) Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys (“Come, Come, Ye Saints”) and ...

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Debbie Cochran – Born Again Wildflower

Debbie Cochran Born Again Wildflower Independent Release (release date: June 16, 2017) www.debbiecochran.com By Bob Marovich Debbie Cochran, the Arkansas singer whose “Faith Can” was a JGM Pick of the Week in September 2016, scores big by landing Dolly Parton as a duet partner on the title track of her new album, Born Again Wildflower. Cochran, a self-described “classic country” singer, has a voice that is wizened, expressive, and passionate. Her rich, low warble evokes another classic country singer, Kitty Wells, and her aggressive vocal projection reminds me of Opry stars. Her street-level lyrics are like country poetry, not unlike Dolly ...

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World Church Unites – Maker of the Heavens

World Church Unites Maker of the Heavens Third World Vision (2017) www.worldchurchunites.org By Bob Marovich Gospel music has a higher purpose, and in the case of Maker of the Heavens, the purpose is more than spiritual. It’s about the very sustenance of life itself: water. World Church Unites, the Lincolnton, North Carolina-based music ministry team for Third World Vision, released a CD of original music as a fundraiser to provide clean water technologies to parts of the world that suffer from a lack of clean water. Anyone who donates to the cause gets a copy of the CD in gratitude ...

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Jennifer McGill – Unbreakable

Jennifer McGill Unbreakable Lifetime Impact Music (release date: August 11, 2017) www.jennifermcgill.com By Bob Marovich If the original Mickey Mouse Club gave us Annette Funicello (okay, and Jimmy Dodd), the All-New Mickey Mouse Club produced a passing parade of pop singers. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Ryan Gosling, are just a few. Jennifer McGill is another Mouseketeer alumna who has broken out on her own. But rather than try to top the pop charts, McGill set her sights as high as Heaven: she is a worship leader and Christian singer. She released her debut solo album, Unbreakable, last month. ...

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Above Board – Job Well Done (EP)

Above Board Job Well Done (EP) https://www.facebook.com/aboveboardmusic/ By Bob Marovich I had guessed that Ed Vangelisti and Amanda Picart, the engaged couple who performs as Above Board, were from California before I looked it up and saw that, in fact, they are in Fort Bragg, California. Their effervescent singing, bright melodies, two part harmony, and mostly acoustic accompaniment are like a spring breeze off the northern coast of the Golden State. The duo’s three-track EP, Job Well Done, is brief but indeed a job well done. Evoking alt-folk groups such as the Decemberists and Fleet Foxes, Above Board puts three praise ...

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Nichole Nordeman – Every Mile Mattered

Nichole Nordeman Every Mile Mattered Sparrow Records / Capitol CMG Label Group www.sparrowrecords.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman has a lot to say in her new album, Every Mile Mattered, and we need to hear it. In a hauntingly beautiful voice that evokes contemporary folk artists Beth Nielsen Chapman and Alice Peacock, Nordeman offers a theology stripped of fiats and thou shalts. For her, it’s simple. Jesus is everywhere, at all times, and in every moment of our lives.  For example, in “You’re Here,” Nordeman hears God saying that “the only invitation that you need, is the very ...

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Devin Williams – We Are Forever Yours (EP)

Devin Williams We Are Forever Yours (EP) Independent: (release date: August 4, 2017) www.devinw.com By Bob Marovich The power of love, both given and received, is at the center of We Are Forever Yours, the latest release by worship leader and six-time Billboard Top 30-charting Christian artist Devin Williams. Nowhere is this negotiation more explicit than on the current single, “Hear Our Hearts Sing.” Interceding on behalf of an inferred congregation on this vibrant song of corporate worship, Williams offers God the congregation’s (and his) collective hearts. But this is not a one-way proposition; in return, God will bestow peace, ...

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