New Tunes for the Back-to-School Blues
By Andy Argyrakis
| senior editor, www.watchgmctv.com
Posted: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 15:52
The last full month of summer doesn’t need to signal sadness. For the Christian music lover, there are plenty of prominent albums releasing as the kids head back to school. From gospel greats like Deitrick Haddon and Donald Lawrence, to crossover favorite Mat Kearney, plus collections from Steven Curtis Chapman (who rearranges his past hits) and MercyMe (who turn in worship favorites), fans of all stripes will find what their hearts desire. So read on to find out more about your most beloved artists, alongside some choice fresh faces, all of whom are poised to share their unique styles of uplifting entertainment.
The Act: Steven Curtis Chapman
The Album: re:creation (Sparrow)
The Sound: Adult Contemporary
Considering his history of hits, it would’ve been easy for Steven Curtis Chapman to release a second singles collection. Rather than resting on his laurels, he rearranges staples such as “Live Out Loud,” “Speechless” and “Heaven In the Real World” with current production, while also peppering in several new acoustic/organic reflections.
Best Download: “More to This Life”
The Act: Deitrick Haddon
The Album: Anthology: The Writer & His Music (Tyscot/Word)
The Sound: Urban Gospel
The Scoop: Ever since the early ’90s, Deitrick Haddon’s served as one of gospel music’s most diverse voices who’s always been championed for his relatable songwriting and cutting-edge production. Longtime fans and newcomers alike can catch up with the veteran throughout a CD and DVD set, split between hits, rarities and remixes.
Best Download: “Who Is Like Our God?”
The Act: Mat Kearney
The Album: Young Love (Universal Republic)
The Sound: Acoustic Rock
The Scoop: After growing up on a steady diet of A Tribe Called Quest and Paul Simon, it was no surprise to find Mat Kearney making acoustic music with an underlying hip-hop motif. That trend continues on his latest major label long player, which tells the lyrical tale of tying the knot with his longtime love.
Best Download: “Hey Mama”
The Act: MercyMe
The Album: The Worship Sessions (Fair Trade Services)
The Sound: Praise & Worship
The Scoop: Fans are sure to flock to Family Christian Stores for the chain’s exclusive album that finds MercyMe putting its harmony-heavy, contemporary pop stamp on a slew of praise standards. Current church cuts like Hillsong’s “Mighty to Save” and Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone” intersect with classics like “Come Thou Fount” and “Hosanna.”
Best Download: “Mighty to Save”
The Act: Donald Lawrence
The Album: YRM (Your Righteous Mind) (Verity)
The Sound: Urban Gospel
The Scoop: The GRAMMY and Stellar Award-winning Donald Lawrence dishes out a new disc featuring several of his famous friends. Gear up for a contemporary blend of gospel and R&B backed by the likes of A-listers Dorinda Clark Cole and Israel Houghton, plus relative newcomer Kim McFarland.
Best Download: “Though the Fire”
The Act: DecemberRadio
The Album: Southern Attic Sessions (EMI CMG)
The Sound: Alternative/Southern Rock
The Scoop: One of rock n’ roll’s greatest revivalists DecembeRadio turns in a new EP to tide fans over until its third full-length offering. At times, the project is delightfully raw and rowdy, while it’s contemplative and encouraging in other moments, sure to leave fans wanting much more than the five stellar songs contained therein.
Best Download: “Son, When You Feel Down”
The Act: Shaun Groves
The Album: Third World Symphony
The Sound: Acoustic Pop/Rock
The Scoop: In addition to being a singer/songwriter, Shaun Groves is a husband, father, blogger, speaker and activist. His new, entirely fan-funded creative outpouring (featuring production from GRAMMY winner Mitch Dane) focuses on the perils of poverty with all proceeds benefiting Compassion International.
Best Download: “No Better”
The Act: MIKESCHAIR
The Album: A Beautiful Life (Curb)
The Sound: Modern Pop/Rock
The Scoop: With a previous effort that yielded four Dove Award nominations and the huge hit “Let the Waters Rise,” anticipation is at an all-time high for MIKESCHAIR’s second CD on Curb Records. Expect a bevy of melodic rock, powerhouse pop and anthemic songwriting specifically crafted to encourage the body of Christ.
Best Download: “Love Won’t Quit On Us”
The Act: Micah Stampley
The Album: One Voice (Music World Gospel/Interface Entertainment)
The Sound: R&B/Soul/Worship
The Scoop: As he was gearing up for this fifth studio CD, Micah Stampley sought out his wife Heidi, not only for moral support, but also songwriting assistance. The results find the couple unveiling a mixture of deeply personal observations and several prayers of praise and thanksgiving, likely to earn an extra boost of attention under the direction of label head Mathew Knowles (who just so happens to be Beyonce’s dad).
Best Download: “Heaven On Earth”
The Act: Bethany Dillon
The Album: Beautiful: The Hits Collection (Sparrow)
The Sound: Pop
The Scoop: She may only be 22, but with four proper studio CDs under her belt and several EPs, it’s about time for Bethany Dillon to earn a career retrospective. All the main hits are present for this four- time Dove nominee, as are her sunny vocals and acoustic pop pleasantries.
Best Download: “All I Need”
Copyright 2011, www.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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