Heart Full of Music: New Tunes to Uplift Your Valentine
February marks the month of Valentine’s Day, and while the latest CD releases might not specifically have to do with that romantic holiday, there are plenty of presents to give the music enthusiast in your life. Fans of The Crabb Family are no doubt elated over the group’s reunion, while another comeback in the making includes frequent chart-topper Jaci Velasquez. Add in uplifting crossover favorites like The Fray, Tim McGraw and Owl City, plus a whole stable of newcomers, and there’s certainly a lot to love.
The Act: The Crabb Family
The Album: Together Again (Gaither Music Group)
The Sound: Southern Gospel/Country/Bluegrass
The Scoop: Throughout the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, The Crabb Family garnered 11 Dove Awards, three GRAMMY nominations and a slew of fanfare for their country-flavored brand of contemporary gospel. Following some time away for group member Jason Crabb to kick start his GRAMMY-winning solo career, the five siblings are back and sounding better than ever on this cutting edge collection that also packs plenty of bluegrass, soul and faith-enriching lyrics.
The Best Download: “God Has a Plan”
The Act: Jaci Velasquez
The Album: Diamond (Inpop)
The Sound: Contemporary Pop
The Scoop: Her hit parade is virtually endless (“On My Knees,” “Un Lugar Celestial,” “God So Loved”) and chances are that trend will continue on this crystal clear comeback. The crisply produced project finds the chanteuse in stunning vocal form as she unveils an inspirational blend of Latin-infused pop and beautiful ballads.
The Best Download: "Give Them Jesus"
The Act: Audrey Assad
The Album: Heart (Sparrow)
The Sound: Worshipful Pop
The Scoop: Considering her 2010 debut The House You’re Building was met with critical and congregational acclaim (plus multiple Dove Award nominations), anticipation is mounting for Audrey Assad’s second album. Heart continues in her worshipful, contemplative pop direction with stripped down instrumentation to highlight her soothing vocals.
The Best Download: “Even the Winter”
The Act: The Fray
The Album: Scars & Stories (Epic)
The Sound: Modern Rock/Piano Pop
The Scoop: After racing out of the gate with the platinum-plus debut How to Save a Life, The Fray fell into a self-titled sophomore slump. Thankfully though, the piano poppers are back with an assertive follow-up (recorded at Nashville’s legendary Blackbird Studios) that benefits from the production of Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam) and frontman Isaac Slade’s spiritually leaning reflections.
The Best Download: “Run For Your Life”
The Act: Owl City
The Album: Live From Los Angeles (Eagle Vision)
The Sound: Electronic Pop/Rock
The Scoop: For the first time in Owl City’s meteoric career comes a concert DVD, which was filmed during the Adam Young-led outfit’s 2011 tour. The project finds the front man appearing more much more confident at commanding an audience, while his backers churn out a first-rate blend of string-spiked synth pop split between the breakthrough single “Fireflies” through a bulk of tunes from the current studio CD All Things Bright and Beautiful.
The Best Download: “Fireflies”
The Act: Tim McGraw
The Album: Emotional Traffic (Curb)
The Sound: Country/Rock
The Scoop: The dozen track disc McGraw refers to as “my best album ever” is certainly a cornerstone in the country superstar’s catalogue thanks to a blend of his primary genre, plus plenty of good old-fashioned rock n’ roll with pop sensibility. He grooves southern charm come “Right Back Atcha Babe,” gives a shout out to his spiritual side on “Touchdown Jesus” and rises from his own emotional ashes on the bluesy ballad “Better Than I Used to Be.”
The Best Download: “Touchdown Jesus”
The Act: Nine Lashes
The Album: World We View (Tooth & Nail)
The Sound: Alternative Rock
The Scoop: It never hurts to pass around a demo, and in the case of Nine Lashes, a concert promoter wound up getting it in the hands of Thousand Foot Krutch front man Trevor McNevan. As a result, the group inked a deal with Tooth & Nail and is sure to follow in the hard hitting (yet extremely infectious) footsteps of that mentor.
The Best Download: “Anthem of the Lonely”
The Act: Worth Dying For
The Album: Live Riot (Ammo)
The Sound: Alternative/Modern Worship
The Scoop: There’s certainly a parallel between Worth Dying For’s last studio CD Love Riot and the brand-new Live Riot, though the latter collection is much more than simply a repeat of the original album. While there are a handful of already familiar live interpretations, the project boasts ten new cuts that are even more artistically ambitious than the first batch, spanning aggressive anthems to angelic ballads.
The Best Download: “Freedom Is Rising”
The Act: Samestate
The Album: The Alignment (Sparrow Records)
The Sound: Modern Rock
The Scoop: The one time classmates at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas are now the latest signees to Sparrow Records, which helped link the modern rockers with producer Paul Moak (Third Day, Mat Kearney). The results find the group falling in line with Sanctus Real, The Afters or Abandon thanks to massive power choruses and contagious melodies.
The Best Download: “Hurricane”
The Act: Sent By Ravens
The Album: Mean What You Say (Tooth & Nail)
The Sound: Hard Rock
The Scoop: The second nationally-released long player from Sent By Ravens comes under the helm of producer Rob Hawkins (Fireflight, Disciple). The band’s scalding rhythms are accompanied by an extremely relevant thematic canvas that encourages believers to choose their words carefully and make sure they’re never distorting God’s truth as they evangelize to culture.
The Best Download: “Listen”
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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