Okay, diving back in to my CCM days. A quick background: I did the Christian rock festivals for a few years; I was swept up in a lot of the hysteria and hype. And yah know what - it was a blast. Some of the best times of my teenage years, actually, to a point, which I remember exactly and vividly. I do remember what good Christian music is though, and I have a respect for those that do it right.
I know what my beliefs are, and I know where I stand, and I think that's all y'all need to know.
Now, why this genre needs its own category of awards, I'm not really sure. I don't want to delve too deep into the argument, but I don't personally see why this can't be considered in the same realm as every other kind of music, as there are Christian bands that make music that sounds exactly the same as others in Pop, Rock, Dance, etc. I believe the only reason there are separate categories is because we live in a world that doesn't believe the music can stand on its own, so these bands have to have their own set of awards and recognition. I guess it depends on if you're classifying by sound of music or subject of song. But, that would require this whole awards classification thing to make sense, and we all know that's not going to happen.
Okay, personal feelings and rant and confusions out of the way. Let's get to what's important - the MUSIC!!!
Chris has scored three nominations this year:
- Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
- Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for "I Lift My Hands"
- Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for "I Life My Hands"
Here's a little video intro to the album from his vevo:
"I Will Follow" comes next, and there's just this weird produced sound to the chorus itself. Almost like there was some auto-tune used, but maybe it's just how the recording was mixed. It's a great song otherwise, I think the music's just so simply done and pretty that the studio may have done more harm than good for the vocals on top of it.
Then we get to the single, "I Lift My Hands":
Then we get the clap-along song, "Majesty of Heaven." I think what I'm not entirely enjoying about this album is that maybe the songs are a little too simple musically? There's a weird balance you have to hit for a great worship song. It can't be at a BPM that people are going to just stand and bop their head. You need them either slow enough for arms to be lifted up and eyes in tears, or fast enough that people are partying for God. These songs are hitting that weird in-between feel. They're pretty, but not entirely moving.
"No Chains On Me" is more hitting the faster beat necessity I was talking about. There's passion and will behind this song. It moves and is moving, while remaining a good time to all listening. It doesn't try too hard to be something it's not, but provides something to listeners that they need in such a track.
We're kind of closer to the slower side with "Lovely," but I think in this case it's just the lyrics that aren't hitting right. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong. Those verses are entirely gorgeous and heartfelt. I think the chorus is a little hard to bear, but the song does a really great job.
"The Name of Jesus" starts off like it's going to be one of those classic slow praise songs, which I would have actually been surprised to hear from Chris. He picks it way up throughout that first verse, and this is clearly Chris Tomlin now. Or, at least, the Chris Tomlin I remember. He's worshiping, but it's in a style you don't regularly hear - power and beauty in this weird mixture that works.
Now, "All To Us" is that slow praise song. I guess every collection needs to have one. Since when is a concert a constant party the whole time? Yup, that was rhetorical. Keep in mind - not knocking the song even a little bit. It's honest and full of heart, exactly what such a song should be.
"Faithful" would be the song immediately following or preceding "All To Us," as it keeps that more solemn tone throughout. It's just simply a lovely worshiping song, kept light by the music and intonation of the singers. When it picks up later with power, it's punching the point it wants to make.
In kind of a fashion I expected, those slower songs serve to set up the more upbeat final numbers to close out with. "Jesus My Redeemer" picks up the pace a little with a regular drum beat and rhythm guitar moving us along. There's no synth or strings, or whatever we had going on, really prominent here at all. It's more a raw Christian rock song.
Finally, we end on "Awakening." It a song that does give a very final tone to the album overall. Maybe I was wrong about ending on an upbeat number, but this has the power that is absolutely needed in this situation. It's kind of a culmination of absolutely everything from the album that we've been hearing.
Stuff I Wouldn't Mind Hearing Again: