Today's Praise: Spring has sprung with new batch of albums
Fall brought a disappointing musical harvest with big-name artists delivering flat performances. However, in a seasonal switch, the late winter and early spring have brought a bumper crop of high-energy albums.
In “Tonight,” tobyMac adds a variety of big new sounds to his hip-hop mix and ends up with very diverse and entertaining package.
Opening with guest vocals by Skillet’s John Cooper on the title track, it’s easy to sense “Tonight” is going in a new direction. R&B singer Beckah Shae and Siti Monroe deliver a funky vibe in the appropriately named “Funky Jesus Music.” Nirva Ready brings a vibrant energy to “Changed Forever.” Relient K’s Matt Thiessen brings some pop sensibility to “Wonderin’.” And the album wraps up with Israel Houghton offering some Caribbean-flavored assistance on pleasantly mellow “Break Open the Sky” — a fun track that expresses the desire to see God, even asking him to “turn off gravity so we can fly.”
However, all of this guest input doesn’t mean Toby McKeehan is taking a back seat. His imprint can be felt on every song. And the best on the album — a song that’s all over Christian radio stateside — is his very own “City On Our Knees.” It’s a beautiful account of becoming a believer that uses rich imagery to describe the worlds of sinners and saints colliding in a glorious display.
Then, there’s the upbeat “Get Back Up,” which offers encouragement to those who’ve made a misstep, and “Hey Devil,” an energetic and ornery call to stand against temptation. Once again, tobyMac delivers a strong and enjoyable performance.
FireflightLast year, Fireflight was nominated for a Dove Award for Artist of the Year for “Unbreakable.” Powered by Dawn Michele’s strong vocals and assertive guitar riffs, the Orlando, Fla.-based rockers’ third album, “For Those Who Wait,” is a worthy follow-up. The title track is a powerful call to stand firm amid difficulties, fear and doubt.
Amid a thick, driving groove, “Fire In My Eyes” describes the results of being rescued by God. “What I’ve Overcome” is a powerful tales of battle scars and broken hearts — an honest confession of mistakes.
And proving their ability to turn the tempo down a notch, “Name” is an emotional piano ballad that describes God’s care for those who are suffering — “He knows your face. He knows your pain.”
It’s interesting that an album that’s focused on waiting for God’s timing can feel so urgent. However, those who’ve waited through times of struggle can understand the contradiction.
SeabirdThings are a bit lighter but no less energetic in Seabird’s sophomore album. “Rocks Into Rivers” is filled with catchy pop tunes boasting piano-powered melodies and strong vocals by Aaron Morgan.
Encouragement is a key theme in many tracks. The album opens with “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful,” an upbeat song that offers hope as a family disintegrates. The soaring ballad “The Good King” describes the need for a friend who can help you keep your head above water.
Although the emphasis seems to be on upbeat pop, some of the album’s high points slow things down a bit. “This Ain’t Home” is a soft ballad that looks forward to life in heaven and the title track is dark warning against personal failure. The Cincinnati-based band’s best is very good, and while other songs don’t really grab you, they still make for some pleasant listening.
Today’s Praise focuses on the contemporary Christian music industry.