MUSIC REVIEWS

CHRISTIAN CONTEMPORARY 1

 

ABOVE ALL by LENNY LEBLANC

 

A familiar (tender) mood as far as contemporary Christian music goes

but rather than a wholesome picture of our Christ and his doctrine,

we have here a lyric that dubiously detaches the love of Jesus for his fellow men (reconciled or not)

from his love for, and subjection to, the eternal Father and His throne (headship)

- where even the martyred apostles may not be given to sit -

thereby muddling the two great commandments;

which may not seem a significant doctrinal matter but is certainly a spiritual danger.

 

 

 

FAITH ENOUGH by JARS OF CLAY

 

A poignant piece that fails to deliver it's Christian potential

by being neither sacred (particularly in not preaching the name of the object of saving faith,

who saves not the world but persons - out of 'the world')

nor secular (in that earthly trial and experience are addressed, but without putting critical difference

between these matters and the cruces - and realms - of the vaguely expressed faith).

 

 

 

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD by CHRIS TOMLIN

 

A great devotional (no pun intended). Praise be to our glorious God !

The strength of this creditable song however,

is substantially given over to the glory of (worldly) conventional rock techniques (appealing to the natural ear),

rather than the glory of God's Spirit -

given his place by more modest (or classical) musical forms, or a resounding traditional choir for example.

 


CHRISTIAN CONTEMPORARY 2


 

ANYWAY by BRAD REYNOLDS

 

A truly humbling piece that touches the soul in a way foreign to bloated popular music and rhythms.

Not that Christians are 'soft' or have no strength of character - that presumption would often be a misjudgement -

but as far as spiritual edification in tackling our pride and bullishness goes, this hits the mark.

 

 

 

HERE IN THE SHADOW by SHANNON WEXELBERG

 

Superb. To God be the glory.

An upliftingly powerful offering matching a lyric of Christian intimacy with dramatically emotive music,

only (but in this case non-fatally) let down by an element of mantric repetition

that is rarely subsisted on without detriment.

 

 

 

CHILD OF THE KING by VICTOR BARDEN

 

Still feeling the joy of God's salvation ?

Try this and recognize the shading effect that daily earthly life may have had on the light of your soul !

I do not know a better (spiritually un-weighted) standard of such kind anywhere,

other than Elisha A. Hoffman's 'Are You Washed In The Blood ?'

or Elton M. Roth's 'In My Heart There Rings A Melody', perhaps.

 


CLASSIC HYMNS

 

ABIDE WITH ME by HENRY F. LYTE

 

Ice cream is fun (I speak as a child)... friends are interesting (I speak as a liberal)...

social success is great (I speak as a fool) -

but where is my strength; where is my physical, cognitive and spiritual health; where is my life ?

Is it not in the God of Israel ?

Forgive me my childish, careless and foolish attitudes,

and be my rock when I need you most and when I feel no need at all.

Even so, come Lord Jesus; Almighty God and lover of my bitter soul. Amen. Thank you Henry F. Lyte.

 

 

 

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD by ROBERT LOWRY

 

The poetry may sound a little awkward but let's not be petty (I just prefer perfect rhymes).

Anthem of anthems ! Onward Christian soldiers ! Passion for the blood: let's hear it...let's sing it !

Yes, it was Christ who died, but what does he want us to do with that information:

file it under '700 wonders' or shout the Victory ?

Not that our earthly members should be indulged, but let our mortal bodies be quickened - unto rapture and self-control. This certainly serves the Word, wherever sung without adulteration.

 

 

 

ROCK OF AGES by AUGUSTUS M. TOPLADY

 

No electricity. Not even any instruments, perhaps.

Just a union of voices congregated for church and, just like many of the enduring traditional hymns,

the shiver this sends down a Christian spine is not sheer psychology -

because the Spirit of God Himself accompanies not the frivolous, deceitful or denied; but the authentic, engrafted word.

 


NICK & ANITA HAIGH

 

O SACRED LOVE

 

Sensibly from another world, this divinely encapsulates the Christian kernel of God's design

with an astounding authenticity that, I would guess, cannot but impress the soul that is committed to, or seeks,

the life (and kingdom) offered by the Spirit of God. Holy.

 

 

 

NENDRUM (HALLOWED GROUND)

 

An awesome blend of melancholy, purity, power and allure;

inspiring an extraordinary mix of contemplation, admiration, fear and peace.

Musical talent like this can only fittingly serve and honour God.

 

 

 

COME TO ME

 

The peaceable gospel sentiment of Almighty God,

expressed with such captivating sweetness that almost brings Jesus himself to us.

The character of this is blatantly different to what we are socially bombarded with

(for all who would consider the reality of God with us).

 


PERSONAL POP FAVOURITES

 

THE LION'S SHARE by 10,000 MANIACS

 

Fetching from the get-go, the music of 10,000 Maniacs' 'The Lion's Share' provides an ideal backdrop

for this story of hope (for a 'lamb king') - within a political context of selfish tyranny -

and courage (to call iniquity iniquity without succumbing to it's persuasions).

The chord changes and melodies are winsome and, together with the adept poetry,

serve up a pop gem that may not sound (or technically be) sensational but certainly has the mark of musical mastery.

 

 

 

DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME by NANCI GRIFFITH

 

Just what I need to hear ! Not necessarily the singer or the song (although this is a fantastically enjoyable listen)

but the faithfully expressed notion that there is a spirit, or something about life,

that is (morally) benevolent even when I am a failure and a disgrace. Much obliged.

 

 

 

HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MY BROTHER by THE HOLLIES

 

What can I say ? Press play and ask yourself what life is, what you respect,

and what you believe about the much needed exhortation to compassion

that is wonderfully poured out in this song with complementary music.

 


20TH CENTURY POP

 

THE RIVER OF DREAMS by BILLY JOEL

 

Billy Joel here, delightfully relates a season of disposition

towards conscious (as well as subconscious) soul-searching, or contemplation,

which concept I suspect most of us have engaged at some point in our lives to some degree.

He seems to be enjoying himself, the music is very likeable and catchy,

but I beg to differ that 'we're all carried along by the river of dreams'

without responsibility and potential to determine our own (psychological and literal) destination -

we do not all end in an 'ocean' that, if it doesn't evaporate, becomes a stagnant place;

some of us choose the contentment of the metaphorical 'dry land' which,

if it weren't for the sea, we should all recognize as one rock mass as opposed to separate islands.

 

 

 

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN by LED ZEPPELIN

 

This is undoubtedly an inspired masterpiece

with as much epic quality as anything I've ever come across in contemporary pop music.

The intro is beautiful, the structure and progression charming, and all-round composition very accomplished

(even the heavier section at the end occasionally goes down gladly in my mind, if not my spirit, to this day -

probably because we are eased into it);

but lyrically however, we are given expertly crafted philosophical principles

that generally concur with Biblical doctrine and case examples whilst being asked to contradict the Bible

regarding what (or whom) we should expect and trust

if we were genuinely spiritual - or reasonable - (objectively speaking) and, almost as crucially,

regarding the notion of time and whether or not we can, or would be able to, turn ourselves or our ways about

if indeed we decided, at any point, to question where (and how) we are being led. Treat with (extreme) caution !

 

 

 

IMAGINE by JOHN LENNON

 

There is perhaps no better example of pathos in music in any widely known age of the art.

Akin to Satie's 'Gymnopedie No.1', for those of us who love a melancholy mood the music is endearing.

The sentiment however, is desperate, expressing John Lennon's wish for others to hear himself

in order to create, in his view, a (blessed) reality that is impliedly non-existent and can only be dreamt about.

The unanswered question is: what did he have in mind for those who insist that there is a heaven,

and believe they would be putting their own and others' eternity (as well as immediate peace of mind) in jeopardy

if they ignored their conscience in order to conform to his Utopian vision ?

 


21ST CENTURY POP

 

LOVE STORY by TAYLOR SWIFT

 

A blissfully romantic reworking of Shakespeare's 'Romeo And Juliet'

set to music that effectively promotes the dramatic experience

and (honestly or deceptively) ingratiatingly represents the spirit of a lyric

that philosophically looks to one's own (unscrutinized) heart (and possibly hormones)

as the ultimate approved guide to life and love

while subjecting or ignoring moral, spiritual and other relevant considerations.

This partially depicts the precarious nature of a decision-making agency

that is blinkered by an inadequate or incomplete worldview (with respect to Biblical advice)

and is therefore at the mercy of chance.

 

 

 

BEAUTIFUL by CHRISTINA AGUILERA

 

A disgraceful dogma (despite the graceful music), obsessively promoting - by hypnotic suggestion -

vain, vulgar and perverted self-indulgence that leaves no room for others to determine (or at least express)

their own opinions regarding beauty and whether or not that is even the concern of a matter;

typical of an economy (world) that is competitive (rather than cooperative)

and seeks it's satisfaction in lordship instead of friendship. Despicable.

 

 

 

COMPLICATED by AVRIL LAVIGNE

 

Great fun. Life is simple, life is safe... but wait a minute... why does he behave the way he does ?

Confusion (and social pressures) is (or becomes) undeniable but, rightly or wrongly, people desire to and do change.

A well-constructed song with positive vibes,

but one that is lyrically ignorant of the give and take nature of (spiritual and personal) life and growth

and the wisdom, or otherwise, of the choices we make (and attitudes we have) in these matters.

 


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