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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Jars of Clay Contiues to Create

When you join a band at 20 years old, you don't think much about what it might mean to still remain together almost 20 years later. To be true, it's nearly impossible to imagine much after your 21st birthday. At the close of 2011, Jars of Clay celebrated its 17th year of creating together. Over 100 songs written, 10 studio records, international touring, and the genesis of a sustained work benefiting our neighbors in Africa, Blood: Water Mission. Is there still soil to turn in this plot of land? I there something urgent, timely, even startling, left yet to create? In early 2012, we turned our chairs towards one another once again, and agreed that whatever grace of time we still had before us, we would spend finding this out. And so we headed Inland. The journey began like many before it. We wrote songs, and more songs, and when we typically would've stopped we kept writing. We wrote close to 50 songs. We had little concern for what we were looking for. We simply showed up and wrote the song that the day required. We believed that along with us, there were others, faithfully showing up and doing the work of preparing for the opportunity to build something truly great. There are the songs for ordinary days - when life is weighty and uncertain, doubt is the necessary partner of faith; where we see mostly through a glass darkly. It is this middle space that we have inhabited over the years. It's where you and I do the gritty work of actually living. The space in between the way the world is, and even underneath the most cynical exteriors - the way we know the world ought to be. - Jars of Clay

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Digital Age Leads Worship

Often, endings are just new beginnings in disguise. As 2012 saw the curtain close on a decade of the David Crowder* Band, long-time band members Mike Dodson (Mike D), Mark Waldrop, Jack Parker and Jeremy Bush (Bwak) sought to write a new chapter in the story by continuing to create, perform and produce music together for the Church. It was out of that desire to keep serving the faithful that The Digital Age was born.

     In this high tech age, they remain grounded by the roots they planted long age at University Baptist Church in the small college town of Waco, Texas near Baylor University campus. The members of the band have been leading worship there in some form since its inception in 1995. It's from there that they are sent out to Church at large, a body they believe is beautiful, diverse and alive - qualities they strive to reflect in the music they create.
     The tracks for Evening:Morning were written in a quasi-conceptual, temporal fashion, moving through the night to the morning. The album is characterized by a sound that is both unique and familiar at the same time. They call it alternative Church music, and they blend modern melodic soundscapes and interesting electronic sounds with reverent and personal lyrics. (description provided by Fair Trade label)
     If you were a fan of what made David Crowder* Band music unique, you will also enjoy the music that The Digital Age creates.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Matthew West - Into the Light

A couple of years ago now Matthew West sent out a request to his fans asking for their stories. He was blown away with the response that he got. There were so many letters and so many heart wrenching, honest stories. The Story of Your Life was the album from those letters. Many of the stories, well pretty much all of them, were stories that dealt with brokenness and the encouragement to the specific pain in life. The encouragement was almost on a survival basis in terms of counseling (I am no concealer but one who has experienced brokenness and the help from others.) It is the immediate response to the painful stories. 

In this new album, Into the Light, by Matthew West, he still uses the letters but there is a distinct change in the feel of the album. This is an album of encouragement of going beyond the survival stage of dealing and moving on toward the healthy living future. The song "Moved by Mercy" is such a song. It is the next song after The Story of Your Life's "Broken Girl." A song that characterizes the album as a whole is the song "Do Something." It is for the listener of these heart wrenching songs. It is a call to action. We can sit back and blame God or others for the pain of this world or we can recognize that God has given us gifts to be his instruments in the world and do something. We can guide people into the healing of the light of God.

"Forgiveness" is a song where a women chose to forgive the man who drunkenly murder her daughter with his car. The story is one of power and doing something showed the grace of God.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review - Group 1 Crew's Fearless

Last fall Group1Crew had some changes within their group. Pablo left the group to spend more time with family. Manny and Blanca continued forward with their music fearlessly. Due to this personnel change Group 1 Crew’s music focused on Manny and Blanca’s strengths.  The song “He said” featuring Chris August is an excellent example. They are true to their hip hop beats while fusing with some contemporary melodies. I think that the fusion is a great idea that works. Fans of tobyMac will greatly enjoy this new Group 1 Crew sound. If you are a fan of their more hip hop dance songs, not to worry they still have some of those songs on this album too.

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of a synthesizer. I agree that it is really fun to use, but I am in some ways really old school purist. That being said, the project has almost two different audiences in mind, the synthesized dance people and the hip hop fused contemporary songs people. You are never bored when listening to the project.

One recommendation the I have for you is when first listening to this new album approach it openly and enjoy the music as what it is and not compare it to how different they had sounded with Pablo. I did not do this the first time and I missed out on some really great new music. I did not make the same mistake twice. I really enjoyed the music the second time through. It is defiantly true when they say that different doesn’t mean less. They are still Group 1 Crew, but different.