Reviews > Notable CDs

Notable CDs

Music | New or recent gospel and CCM releases

Issue: "Reaping a whirlwind," Aug. 24, 2013

Walking Song

By Ron Block

The PR for this Alison Krauss band member’s third solo album cites the famous musicians who contribute to it, reiterates Block’s many accomplishments, and details how Block came to solicit the lyrics of 11 songs with someone he met online. Interesting stuff, but what matters is what emerges when one pushes “play”: pleasant singing, masterly musicianship (Block’s guitar and banjo chief among it), shape-shifting roots genres, an instrumental version of “What Wondrous Love Is This?,” and a beautiful gospel song—with words—called “Rest, My Soul.”

Troubled Days 

By Seabird

Three-and-a-half years after their underrated sophomore album divided fans of their 2008 debut, Aaron and Ryan Morgan get back to creating hooky, emotionally honest, piano-driven rock mini-dramas, this time with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. They’ve spent their fans’ money well. The troubled-marriage songs “Love Will Be Enough” and “Something Better Change” will mean the most to couples facing the post-honeymoon blues. The enough-is-enough “We Can’t Be Friends” and the Jesus-is-enough “Stand Out” are for everyone. 

Rise

By Skillet

The most obviously metallic elements of this concept-album follow-up to the platinum-selling Awake—Seth Morrison’s guitars and John Cooper’s vocals—verge on “industrial”: abrasive, hard, and compacted into pummeling pistons of sheer sound. They are not, however, the linchpins. That honor goes to the exuberant “Good to Be Alive” and the prophetic “American Noise.” As for the band’s outright declarations of faith, the plenty American-noisy “What I Believe” beats “My Religion,” which derogates the visible Body of Christ whether it means to or not.

Wow Gospel 2013

By Various artists

In one of his World Youth Day homilies, Pope Francis cited “hope,” “openness to being surprised by God,” and “living in Joy” as Christian hallmarks. And although probably none of these 30 contributors are Catholic, those hallmarks are what they communicate. Their hope-and-joy cup practically runneth over. And while the surprise factor might be diminished for regular listeners of black-gospel radio, others might wonder where these songs—especially those of Andraé Crouch and The Walls Group—have been all their lives.

Spotlight

Matt Rogers

The tradition of rural, a cappella, gospel-singing women is older and richer than the spotty availability of that tradition’s recordings. There is, in other words, more such music where Ester Mae Smith, Angela Taylor, and Della Daniels—the Mississippi sisters and cousin known as the Como Mamas—come from. But so satisfying are their performances on Get an Understanding (Daptone) that listeners who find themselves deepened and uplifted by them won’t be seeking greener pastures any time soon.

Get an Understanding was recorded at Mt. Mariah Church in June 2005, i.e., one year before the Como Mamas were recorded at the same site as part of Daptone’s various-artists Como Now: The Voices of Panola County, Mississippi. So, chronologically, it could create a disturbance in folks’ minds. Otherwise, however, the raw power of these 11 traditional selections and one apiece by Thomas Dorsey and James Cleveland lay and build upon a rock-solid foundation.

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