At this year’s Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards, Canadian Catholic artists are making quite a splash. Matt Maher has nominations for Praise and Worship Song of the Year, Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for the song, “Christ is Risen”. Chris Bray is making a splash with nominations for Inspirational Song of the Year, Modern Worship Album of the Year and Modern Worship Song of the Year for “Hope Arise”. New artist (and my daughter), Mags, is up for Seasonal Album of the Year for her “Dreaming of Christmas” debut album. This month’s review has albums from Maher, Bray as well as a dynamite new contribution from Audrey Assad!
Matt Maher The Love in Between
Matt Maher is arguably the most successful Catholic artist currently in Christian music. This album will be another great addition to Maher’s discography. The song, “Rise Up,” is an anthemic call to all Christians and is a great way to start off the album. Throughout the album, Maher gives the listener a different lyrical feel from most other offerings in the Christian market, by alternating between pure worship songs and songs that are just about Christians trying to live out their lives the best way they can. Musically, the album delivers a gritty classic rock sound. On a few songs, like “Every Little Prison”, it sounds like Maher is trying a bit too hard but this is more than offset by gems like “Write your love on my heart” and “Heaven and earth“. The song “On my way” is a highlight stylistically for me. It is a great tune and a bit autobiographical… Matt Maher is truly on his way!
Chris Bray Let Hope Arise
Chris Bray, like Maher, is a Canadian Catholic artist who was 2009’s Covenant Award Winner for Best New Artist. He is also one of the hardest working artists in Canada. This is now paying off in spades, with recognition again this year at the Covenant Awards. Chris Bray continues to impress on this album with his smooth vocals and great new songs like “Salvation Belongs to our God” and “Hope Arise”. The latter track is incredibly catchy and is easily the highlight of the album. “Pursue Me” is a beautiful ballad with Marie Miller and Bray also delivers a great version of “Here I am Lord.” The song “We Receive” is a glorious Communion hymn that would sound great in Catholic churches everywhere. Chris Bray is one of the top Catholic artists and deserves a wider listening audience!
Audrey Assad The House You’re building
Every once in a while, I drop the ball and a great Catholic artist escapes my attention. This album, released in 2010, is an incredible debut album from a recent Catholic convert who spent time on the road with Matt Maher.ﾠﾠThis is simply one of the best debut albums I have heard. Featuring beautiful singing, intelligent insightful lyrics and incredible melodies, Assad is an artist that you all need to check out! “For Love of You” and the title cut are both hauntingly sung and is a tonic for the banal auto-tuned songs that are so prevalent on secular radio. This is a great example of what Christian music needs to do in order to stop simply following secular trends but to break new ground. This is an album that simply gets better with each listen. Highly, highly recommended… and my apologies for taking so long to draw this album to your attention.