Fresh I.E.: Out Tha Oven, Red Sea Records
‘Fresh In Eternity’ (aka Rob Wilson) has an inspirational story: a turnaround from a life of drugs and violence on the street, to learning how to love and serve. Fresh I.E. shares a vision of freedom for others who have chosen – or who have become trapped in – a cycle of vicious negativity.
Out Tha Oven contains a clear biblical message of liberation. The music honestly revisits Fresh’s own criminal history – and his departure from it, with God’s help. Some tracks may leave seasoned hip-hop listeners unsatisfied, but it is largely excellent material.
Fresh’s creativity and confidence as an emcee continues to rise; definite progress has been made since his first release. Repetition is rare, and each track is a new sonic experience. Fresh I.E. brings in an eclectic variety of styles and samples, and completes the sound with a range of guest vocalists.
Amanda Falk: Beautiful, Avante Records
Nominated in 2008 for a Juno Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year, Beautiful is another big step forward in Amanda Falk`s vision of a generation of young women.
She promotes the concept that their beauty is found in their inner spirit and derived from their identity in God – rather than outward appearance, or in material things.
Normalizing experiences of hurt, grief and confusion for her listeners with songs like ‘Fragile’ and ‘We All Cry,’ Falk guides her listeners through messages of comfort and healing in ‘Love Like You’ and ‘Beautiful.’
This is an upbeat album that displays Amanda`s growth as a songwriter – and a person with purpose.
Misty Edwards: Relentless, Forerunner Music
Relentless stems from an awareness of God’s majesty and a continual marvelling at it. The album is a testament to the discovery of God’s presence and glory, his pursuit of the lost, and his unrelenting love for his followers.
Musically atmospheric, the CD surrounds the listener with a careful arrangement of reverberating guitars. The vocals are as unrelenting as the CD title suggests.
Opening track ‘Finally I Surrender’ is Edwards’ invitation to her listeners to join her right from the outset – to lay down their lives, to recognize their creator and re-creator.
Halving the album is ‘People Get Ready,’ a metamorphosing 11-minute ballad emulating biblical prophecies of Jesus’ second coming – and presenting them afresh for a modern audience in a post-Christian milieu.
With its genuine, powerful and spirit-filled worship, Relentless is nothing less than an inspiring album – fit for meditation, as well as fervent praise and worship.
John Mark McMillan: The Medicine
Like its predecessor, The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down, this CD offers a fresh take on Christian music. Mainstream music can learn a lesson from the nuanced lyrics on The Medicine – whose honesty and authenticity make their power seem effortless.
McMillan has written about the pressure on burgeoning artists who have spent years honing their first album – only to release a premature sophomore record, and sell themselves short.
His awareness has borne fruit: The Medicine continues to draw on the power of simple and true messages, like songs on his first CD; but this album is a step up on multiple levels. It is filled with stunners like ‘Death In His Grave’ which talks of Jesus’ reversal of sin and death; ‘Skeleton Bones,’ a call to worship; and ‘Dress Us Up,’ which is a celebration of transformation.
Like the first CD, The Medicine showcases both wailing blues-rock and gentler folk. Poetic and inspirational, the music demonstrates awe toward the divine.
Brock Human: Let Me In
Returning to the U.S. from a trip with Iris Ministries in Mozambique, and intending to record an album, Brock Human experienced a puzzling fall into depression, and a complete creative block for several weeks.
He desperately prayed for God to be real, to be more than an idea. God gave him the reassurance he needed in a dream, telling him to proceed with his blessing.
Brock writes: “In six days, he showed me greater love than I could have imagined.” Within a week after the dream, six songs were completed – and the album was finished.
The first two songs, ‘Come Away’ and ‘Let Me In,’ are composed of simple, profound statements of faith and truth, set against the backdrop of sweeping guitars, rich piano, and pulsing African drumbeats. The middle tracks are an affirmation of God’s good plans for each life, and a commitment to wait on the Lord. The album closes with a sung Apostles’ Creed, and an instrumental progression.
Let Me In is a flowing album, filled with the real inspiration of a real God.