There have been some high profile recent releases from the world of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM for my new online readers). If you are considering getting some music as presents for Christmas, here are some interesting choices to help spread the cheer long after the holidays are over.
Switchfoot– Vice Verses
This is the seventh release for one of Christian music’s biggest groups and it is another winner! Much of this album deals lyrically with the internal yearnings and the battles that rage on within each one of us. In other words, these are intelligent lyrics from a Christian rather than overtly Christian lyrics. “The Original”, “Dark Horses” and “The War Inside” are some of the best rock tunes of the year. One of my favorites is “Selling the News” which is a great indictment of current popular media . Switchfoot is one of those rare bands that seems to come up with releases that resonate immediately with my kids. By far, this is one of the best albums of 2011.
Family Force 5– III
When Family Force 5 released their great debut “Business in the front/Party in the Back,” it was a fresh sound that rocked the CCM world. This was derailed by a disastrous sophomore effort but this third album is a solid return for the band. The album is characterized by fun songs like “Can you feel it” and “Wobble”. “Paycheck” will resonate lyrically with many who are struggling during these hard economics times and the band even throws in a Bruno Mars-like song entitled “Mamacita”. Although there is nothing overtly spiritual in any of the lyrics, it is a fun positive choice for young listeners.
Mandisa– What if We Were Real
Mandisa is the Season 5 American Idol finalist who has made a career for herself in CCM. The message of this, her third album, is best expressed by the title cut “What if We Were Real”. The album starts of with R&B “Stronger”, which is a continuation of the styles of her previous albums, but when the title cut kicks in, the listener is caught by surprise as this is a Mandisa we didn’t expect. This is an edgier rock sound that is continued in the song “Temporary Fills”. The remainder of the album is pleasant pop which we would normally expect from Mandisa. Overall, this is a very solid album.
Francesca Battistelli– Hundred More Years
Francesca Battistelli has been busy since her debut album, getting married and having a baby. This hasn’t slowed her down, though, as this is a great sophomore album. “This is the stuff” is a sweet acoustic number that starts the album and is followed with the upbeat and super catchy “Constant”. There is quite a mix of styles and messages, ranging from country-tinged pop to the social justice mantra of “Motion of Mercy” to the rock feel of “Good to Know“. Francesca Battistelli is definitely an artist on the rise. This is a recording that should please a broad audience.
Peter Furler– On Fire
The former frontman of the Newsboys has released his debut album and it is very catchy. This is great driving pop but is slightly lightweight compared to the Newsboys. The highlights on this album are the ones that capture the worshipful lyrics and incredible hooks of his former band. Songs like “I’m Alive”, “Reach” and “Glory to the King” are all in this vein. This a very promising start to a solo career.
Matt Redman– 10000 Reasons
Matt Redman has penned some of the most famous praise songs ever, such as “Blessed be your name”. For this reason, his releases are all met with anticipation. This album is recorded live with an audience of worship leaders at a recent conference. The album starts strong with “We are the Free” and “Holy” is a song that could become a standard in churches around the world. My favorite is “Endless Hallelujah” with its haunting melody. Highly recommended for lovers of worship music.