2010: The Best of the Best
By the staff and senior music editors at gmclife.com
We’ve always been a ‘glass is half full’ bunch of critics, but some years more than others have certainly tested our optimistic outlook. But this year – despite the recession and the down-and-dirty politicking, we’ve kept our heads held high and our musical sensibilities, well, sensible...and finely tuned.
And now... we’ve finally done it! After much deliberation and bantering back and forth via the net in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Nashville and Atlanta (and wherever else Deborah Evans Price happens to be traveling) we’ve merged our passionate picks for the year’s best new releases. By no means is this a comprehensive list of the many exciting, well-executed, and radio-worthy Gospel and Christian projects of the year – such a collection would be more laborious than Walmart on payday. (No blood was shed in the making of this list.)
To make the bitter pill of choosing only 10 go down a bit better, we’ve included a hearty ‘honorable mentions’ list. So...with all due disclaimers aside, gmclife.com presents (in no particular order) 2010: The Best of the Best.
This will be one of the most definitive holy hip hop albums we've heard. If the commercial response is any indication, this is not only a breakthrough CD for this artist, whose talent to see it through is as powerful as his testimony, but a breakthrough for the genre he represents. –Lisa Collins
Lecrae is seriously amazing, and Rehab captured my attention at first listen with fresh beats, really clever lyrics and a redemptive message that never comes across as contrived or hokey. –Christa Banister
Next: Ricky Skaggs, Mosaic
Skaggs' rousing and moving new album, Mosaic, is a testament to his personal faith. The Cordell, Ky. native worked closely with fellow GRAMMY-winner Gordon Kennedy, known for his work with Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks and Bonnie Raitt, to create an album that mixes elements of country music with Beatles-esque melodies, making “music that is in my head and in my heart,” says Skaggs.
With Mosaic, Skaggs takes his music in a new direction, reincorporating electric instruments, keyboards and drums. While the songs will resonate well with AC Radio, Skaggs hasn’t abandoned his acoustic, bluegrass roots and mixes a pop/rock/ country sound with strains of acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle. –Deborah Evans Price
Loved this at first listen. He writes intelligent, thought-provoking worship that's musically substantive, too. I'll be listening to this for a good long while, I just know it. –Christa Banister
This record, and Josh's voice, has a rawness that captured my attention. It feels like you're sitting in a coffee house, enthralled by these gritty, gospel-y songs, and next thing you know, you're encountering a brand of folk smooth as molasses. –Jenny Bennett
With secular placements landing on everything from WWE to ESPN, these hard rockers are amongst the hardest hitting crossovers in recent memory. –Andy Argyrakis
Just when I thought worship was getting a little boring, this group comes along with one of the best efforts of the year. Love the unorthodox songwriting, instrumentation, and their clever music videos are among some of our favorites this year.
Next: Gungor, Beautiful Things
It is, perhaps, one of the greatest worship projects I've EVER heard, let alone in 2010. –E.J. Gaines, GospelPundit.com
This follow up to the record-setting and chart-topping Thirsty tells the story of why Marvin Sapp is where he is – at the top of the charts. You can't contain his talent, you can't harness his spirit or his phenomenal vocal range; and you cannot ignore this album for a top slot on anyone's top 10 list. –Lisa Collins
Next: Forever Jones, Get Ready
There's a reason that this heretofore unheard of group was able to break so high on the gospel charts: simply put, they are just that good. The music is phenomenal with piercing vocals and masterful instrumentation. They are here to stay. Wow.
Another great concept project that was executed with utmost precision. I also love the way that Jars of Clay continues to surprise us with their sound. This is a quiet, understated little album with some great guest appearances that really highlights how diverse their talent is. –Christa Banister
The band just keeps getting better when it comes to authentic songwriting and rootsy instrumentation. Add in several of the Christian scene’s top collaborators, and it’s sure to garner the Dove Award for “Special Event Album of the Year.” –Andy Argyrakis
Next: TobyMac, Tonight
Even after a decade out of dcTalk, Toby remains red-hot, seamlessly translating to the current rap and hip-hop landscape. His duet with Skillet’s John Cooper for the title track is the hands-down highlight. –Andy Argyrakis
Next: Honorable Mentions
Matthew West, The Story of Your Life, Sparrow
James Fortune, Encore, Worldwide Gospel
Audrey Assad, The House You’re Building, Sparrow
VaShawn Mitchell, Triumphant, EMI Gospel
Chris August, No Far Away, Fervent Records
Andrew Peterson, Counting Stars, Centricity Music
House of Heroes, Suburba, Gotee Records
The Afters, Light Up the Sky, INO Records
Karen Clark Sheard, All In One, Karew/EMI Gospel
Tye Tribbett, Fresh, Columbia Records
Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone, ANTI Records
Delirious?, Farewell: Live in London, Kingsway/EMI
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