Contemporary Christian Music

New Heart Band – A Spirit Journey

New Heart Band A Spirit Journey First Love Publishing (2017) www.newheartband.com By Bob Marovich A Spirit Journey, the independently-produced album by the New Heart Band, evokes the folk music I used to listen to on the Ozarks-based radio program Sing Out! It contains confident, laidback string band interpretations of Christian themes. The style is sometimes referred to as country gospel, a style that goes back, at least commercially, to the earliest recordings of the Carter Family. Hailing from the State of Washington, the New Heart Band consists of singer-songwriters Gregg and Elaine Christenson, producer and multi-instrumentalist Gary Ballard, singer Tina Jones, and fiddler Paul Elliott. Gregg ...

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2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Award Nominees Announced

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (January 18, 2018) – The administrators and staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com are proud to announce the nominees for the 2018 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. As in years past, the nominees were chosen by the staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com and select media representatives. Starting on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the fans will get a chance to vote for their favorites in several categories. “It’s hard to imagine that we’ve been doing this awards program for 17 years,” mentioned Deon Unthank, President/CEO of AbsolutelyGospel.com. “We believe that our staff does such a fantastic job of choosing nominees and winners, and this ...

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Horizon Music – Victory

Horizon Music Victory Maranatha! Music/Capitol Records (release date: October 13, 2017) www.horizoncommunity.church/music By Bob Marovich “What if worship music could be done so well with mainstream pop sounds, that it became interesting to those who haven’t been willing to listen before?” asked Lead Pastor Stan Russell of Horizon Community Church in Tualatin, Oregon. Horizon Music’s debut album Victory, crisply produced by Dave Lubben (Kutless, Hollyn) and Aaron Russell, is the church music ministry’s response to its pastor’s call. The album’s dozen radio-sized selections feature vertical praise lyrics wrapped in chilly, atmospheric Hillsong-meets-Neon Indian electronica with some acoustic moments. While tracks such ...

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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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