Top Picks for Fall

By Jenny Bennett | managing editor,
Posted: Fri, 09/19/2008 - 13:56

album promo image for Top Picks for Fall

Kevin LeVar releases his debut this week.

Before the slew of Christmas releases begins to take shape in Christian music, fall is in definitely infull swing with tons of new music to choose from. School activities, football and cooler weather are here,so to add to the festive mood, here are somegreat releases for your iPods.

Ordinary Dreamers, Group 1 Crew

September 16 | Fervent

Dove Award-winning Group 1 Crew (2008 Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the Year) release their anticipated second project Ordinary Dreamers this week. Songs like "Keys to the Kingdom," although structured around a simple rap line and a run-of-the-mill chorus, show impressive depth with background vocals and electric guitars. And it's the song's simple core that allows the "kingdom is near" message to shine through. The group's versatility is apparent with "iContact's" electronic sound, which then moves easily into "I See You" that opens with a lighthearted jazz piano line. Their solid hip-hop flair is evident on just about every song, but some of the best elements from the '70s and '80s crop up in unexpected places, keeping listeners on their toes. Aside from a couple of weak moments, (the key change at the end of "Our Time" is a bit Disney-like) the album is a well-rounded second offering, and lead singer Blanca gives even Beyonce a run for her money.

Let's Come Together
Kevin LeVar & One Sound

September 16 | Habukkuk Music

Kevin LeVar & One Sound make their debut on the gospel scene with a 16-track praise & worship album (including a bonus track dedicated to the students at Virginia Tech) that's both traditional and energized. The project opens with the stirring, prayerful "Here I Am," a call and response that begins with the lyrics: "Here I am, standing in the need of prayer," and builds to "Thank you, God! You heard us!" Supported by a stellar choir, "high church" comes to mind, but that takes an about-face with surprising moments like a reggae-infused bridge on "Hiding Place," a steel drum, island flair on "Heaven Have Your Way," and the Latin style of "My Everything." LeVar's smooth vocal quality comes to life, shining brightest on slower songs like "I'll Say Yes" and "A Heart That Forgives," yet the faster, innovative "What-Cha Know About Jesus" will have you yelling "Amen! Sing it, Kevin!" Outstanding soloists shine on songs like "Atmosphere of Faith" and "Just Like You" adding to the album's fullness. Kevin LeVar's ultimate goal is to bring glory to God in his music and with his life. How does he bring the lyrics and music together? In Kevin's own words, "I don't, God does. It's all Him."

Reiterate, GRITS

September 30 | Revolution Art

After 10 years with boutique label Gotee Records, rap/hip-hop duo GRITS has branched out to release their 8th studio album Reiterate on their own label, Revolution Art. Collaborations with Third Day's Mac Powell ("Fly Away"), Jars of Clay's Dan Haseltine ("Sky May Fall"), and tobyMac ("Say Goodbye"), signal that GRITS (Teron "Bonafide" Carter and Stacy "Coffee" Jones) haven't lost their connections to the industry by doing their own thing. These familiar voices along with superlative hooks and skilled arrangements set the music apart and make it very listenable without being the least bit poppy. The rich, musical "Dirty South" undertones (minus the dirt) of GRITS' style will appeal to southerners in particular. Its only possible weakness for Christian listeners is a shortage of spiritual content, but even on the more light-hearted tracks they manage to squeeze in at least some mention of prayer, God, or clean leaving. Parents should be aware of references, though mild and in the context of the past, to things like "baby mama troubles" and "friends wit benefits."

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