By Claire Walden
Numerous artists and hits have emerged out of England, including worship leader Tim Hughes. He is best known for his hit “Here I Am To Worship,” which is arguably one of the most popular, modern worship songs of our time. The hit resulted in two Dove awards, all before the age of 30.
His most recent album, “Holding Nothing Back” is comprised of timeless worship songs. One of the stand out tracks off the album is “God of Justice.” The lyrics outline a call to action; he sings that we must continue “stepping forward, keep us from just singing, move us into action, we must go.” The song continues to summarize what all justice entails, which is one of the major themes in the Bible. Hughes sings about God’s heart for the poor and broken and how it is up to the believers to go out and “live to feed the hungry, stand beside the broken.” Throughout the album, Hughes’ lyrics are inventive and not your average church songs.
By Mark Bowyer
With the New Year, comes a new generation of artists. Ian McIntosh, in his early 20s, is setting the bar high for futuristic worship music. A keyboardist, Ian uses all the modern conveniences available to experiment with the newest sounds emerging from the current band trends. Head and mastermind over a team of musicians using a variety of instruments, he is a refreshing break from the traditional. Ian McIntosh challenges all the standards and erupts in a sea of impassioned patterns and magical melodies. He is a believer that true Christians in creativity will be the catalyst for bringing morality back to the industry.
On “Alive,” the recent groundbreaking release, Ian manages to mix the effortlessness of the vocals with the complexity and beauty of his own keyboard skills. Definitely ethereal, and thought provoking, Ian never ceases to amaze from track to track. The song “Faithful,” especially warrants multiple listens–having multiple band-influences, and heavy drumming, yet rewarding the listener with a clear heart-warming God-honoring chorus to replay in their mind all day. The first album, “Awakened” is more of the same, but shows Ian’s roots and original blueprints for his current enigmatic style.
By Mark Bowyer
Thinking about people in the UK might often conjure up images of uptight, reserved, and orderly ladies and gentlemen who are prim and proper and run their lives just so. Not for the British Gavin M. Cox—or at least not judging by the photos on his Web site—this Christian artist enjoys the laid back beach atmosphere, unbuttoned shirt, and barefooted bliss of relaxation.
With over 150 songs available, Cox has remained a busy songwriter for many years. And being featured on different British TV and radio programs is a plus for him. However, what really sets him apart from other Christian artists in his genre is his versatility and overall quality. One moment his music has elements of Steven Curtis Chapman, then the next it sounds like something that Nickel Creek could have sung. Songs like “Love Lift Me Higher,” “Hold On to Love,” and “Love is the Reason Why,” all make love the ultimate goal in life. While songs like “Leap of Faith,” and “Hear My Cry,” are songs about God and to God.
By Claire Walden
We sing for many reasons, but most of the time it is because words alone don’t fully express our meaning behind them. Brandon Heath uses this outlet with his singer/songwriter style. His sophomore album, “What If We,” is filled with more original and inspirational worship songs. The decision to make the album title an open-ended question was purposeful in setting the tone for Heath’s thought-provoking lyrics. Breaking it apart, the collective pronoun “we” alludes to the importance of community that Heath promotes through his works. His use of the phrase “if we” means we are open to so many possibilities to make changes in this world together.
The first track on the album reinforces this theme with “Give Me Your Eyes.” The entire song is a prayer for God to break our heart for what breaks his. The lyrics go through various, unsettling moments in time that we might not always recognize without God’s help. However, Heath points out that being aware of the circumstances is not enough; we need to do something to make a change. “Wait and See” has another message of hope that God is continuously doing a work in us. He describes the uncertainty of life and the fears and doubt that we may have, but through it all God doesn’t forget about us and will use us for his bigger plan.
By Brian Johnson
Matthew West is a remarkable artist. It’s true that this could be said of many people; however, West is one of the few that seems to continue to resonate in your mind. West hails from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Hoping to pursue a career in baseball, he pushed to earn a college sports scholarship. The Lord had other plans, though. He was offered a full-ride music scholarship from Millkin University.
His latest album, “Something to Say,” has received great attention in the music industry, for good reason. After its release, it reached number 8 on Billboard’s Top Christian albums chart, as well as earning the 159 spot on the Billboard 200. “Something to Say” is a high quality contemporary Christian album. The songs on the album allow for easy listening, while providing a clear message of faith. At the beginning of the year a new single was added to the album, “The Motions,” which has become a radio DJ favorite.