Contemporary Christian Music

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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Natasha Owens – We Will Rise

Natasha Owens We Will Rise Maharlow Records (release date: July 7, 2017) http://natashaowensmusic.com By Bob Marovich Sometimes new beginnings flower from the most terrible tragedies. That was the case for Natasha Owens. Seven years ago, her father was cleaning a gun when it misfired, killing him at age 58. In the midst of her grieving, Owens was invited to serve as her church’s worship minister. She wrote songs for her church to sing. Through music ministry, she found that the more she poured into the congregation, the more she got back.  A trip to the recording studio to memorialize her songs produced ...

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Sandra McCracken – God’s Highway

Sandra McCracken God’s Highway Independent release (release date: September 9, 2016) www.sandramccracken.com By Bob Marovich Modern day hymnist Sandra McCracken’s latest CD, God’s Highway (also available on vinyl), continues where her 2015 Psalms left off: new songs based on Biblical texts and that sound as if they came from the Primitive Baptist Church hymnbook. McCracken’s beguiling voice combines the cry of Beth Nielsen Chapman and the world-weariness of Emmylou Harris. Her lonesome singing combined with an understated combo and songs with heavy chords but bright melodies give listeners a sense of eavesdropping on the prayers of someone emerging, victorious but ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 6, 2017

“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” Out of the Dust Discovery House Music (release date: March 7, 2017) www.outofthedustmusic.com I’m inclined to think that English songwriter Stuart Townend is a nineteenth-century hymnist reincarnated. His 1995 composition, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” as covered by the husband-and-wife duo Out of the Dust on their self-titled debut album, sounds like it comes straight outta the Southern Harmony, a shaped-note hymnal, or a Shaker hymnbook. Its beautiful simplicity, honored by Chris and Stephanie Teague’s delicate reading, makes it a keeper, suitable for singing in all types of worship services and ...

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Out of the Dust – (self titled)

Out of the Dust (s/t) Discovery House Music (release date: March 7, 2017) www.outofthedustmusic.com By Bob Marovich Some of the best songs are birthed out of suffering. For Out of the Dust’s Chris and Stephanie Teague, the circumstances of their separation, divorce, and remarriage, and their reliance on Jesus for healing, provided the raw material for the eleven songs on their self-titled debut LP. Despite the pain behind the Teague’s story, the album’s music buzzes with the gratitude of having made it through.  It offers pleasant pop melodies, bright production, and duet singing that evokes the informality of coffee house ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 2, 2017

“I Will Be Waiting” Guro Elverhoi (released October 20, 2016) www.guromusic.com “I Will Be Waiting” is a new single from Guro Elverhoi, a talented singer with a delicate and beautiful voice that evokes a young Joni Mitchell. Led by an acoustic guitar, the song is a wispy Christian folk ballad brimming with similes about seeking God’s guidance patiently. From Roeyken, Norway, where she directed a local youth choir and received a Cultural Scholarship for her many contributions to the area’s arts scene, Guro graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2015. She is now based in Los Angeles, where she ...

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withLove (self-titled)

withLove withLove (released October 15, 2016) https://withlovemusic.bandcamp.com/album/withlove-deluxe-edition By Bob Marovich It is appropriate to begin 2017 with a post about a group that has love in its name and sings about love. A love of God, a love for God, and a love for all of God’s creation frame the self-titled debut by Baltimore’s multicultural ensemble withLove. In addition to music, withLove, formed by David Warren in 2013, holds “Love Projects” around the Baltimore area, where they serve the sick and shut-in and feed the homeless. withLove, the album and group, offer an eclectic mix of symphonic CCM, rock (progressive ...

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