New music from Toby Mac, Tenth Avenue North and Hillsong Live

This month features some highly anticipated new releases

Toby Mac– Eye On It

As noted earlier in the fall, this has been one of Christian music’s most successful albums, debuting at the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 100.   Commercial success doesn’t always translate to great music but on this album, we find contemporary pop that would be at home on any secular radio station.  “Me Without You”  is an incredibly catchy lead single off the album, which emphasizes the futility of chasing for the riches of the world without God.  The title Track “Eye On It” is a edgy rock/pop number with inventive loops and clever effects whereas “Unstoppable, ” which features Blanca from Group1Crew, makes it hard not to want to get up and dance.  Lyrically, the album is definitely focused on the spiritual.  A great example is the song “Forgiveness,” with a rap supplied by Lecrae who is appearing on all sorts of Christian albums these days.  There are a few weak moments on the album, such as the song “Family” which sounds far too similar to “City on a Hill” from the previous release.  In his live performances, Toby Mac and the DiverseCity band creates a fun party atmosphere and this is definitely reproduced here on the album.  There is also an interesting autobiographical aspect to the album with songs such as “Thankful for You” for his fans,  “Mac Daddy” about son Trudog and “Made for Me” which is about the love of his life.   In short, great phat fun beats makes this album one that I highly recommended

Tenth Avenue North– The Struggle

This is one hard-working young band!  Tenth Avenue North have now released four albums in as many years.  This album has done very well, debuting at no. 9 on the Billboard charts.  The album starts promisingly with “Shadows“, which focuses on the theme of finding God in the midst of stuggles.  This is actually the emphasis lyrically through all the songs on the album, which reflects a deeper, more mature outlook from the band.  This is definitely a welcome change.  There are many great tracks like “Where Life Will Never Die” and “Losing, ” both which reminds one of the hugely successful Christian band, Mercy Me.    In an attempt to create a more mid-tempo and reflective mood, however, some of the intensity of previous releases has been lost.   Tenth Avenue North continue to deliver solid projects.  This is one which will do very well on Christian radio.

Hillsong Live– Cornerstone

This is the latest and twenty-first release from the Australian magachurch Hillsong .  As with many of the Hillsong recordings, this one is another one that is recorded in a live setting.  Unlike their previous worship albums, this one was inspired by a news event- the mass killing of 77 youth in Norway in 2011.  This album brings together several Hillsong Worship artists such as Reuben Morgan, Darlene Zschech and Hillsong United among others.  There is the signature Hillsong sound (U2-ish guitars with rousing anthems and arena-rock sound), which many of their detracters complain about, but the variety on this one is its strength as compared to previous Hillsong releases.  This is a pleasant listen, but still with a sense of deja-vu through many of the songs.  The album definitely has strengths in the songs “Endless Light“,  “I Surrender” and “Hope of the World.”  At the end of the day, however, it matters little what this reviewer says.  The Hillsong fans will buy this album in droves and will turn many of these selections into Evangelical church worship hymns all over the world.

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