Friday, December 20, 2019

2019: A Christian Music Review

"Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world."
Martin Luther


This is my sixth annual end-of-year Christian music recap. Check out my other reviews: 2014201520162017, and 2018.

I have a detailed system for rating these albums. You can read all about that here.

This past year has been an exciting one for Christian music. Many anticipated released made their way to our ears, including releases from Josh Garrels, Ghost Ship, Citizens, Elias Dummer, and the guy who topped last year's list, Greg LaFollette. There were many twists, turns, and surprises in reviewing 2019's Christian albums and it's my hope that this list benefits you greatly.

What you'll find below: First, I've incorporated some live/congregational albums for your consideration. That subgenre deserves to be mentioned, but it's not fair to anyone for me to group it in with standard studio albums. So I've not rated or ranked them, but I've chosen some of what I considered to be the best so that you can be aware of them.

After that you'll find a list of the top 25 Christian albums of 2019. I know there are other artists who fly under my radar each year. Let me know who I missed in the comments!

Then, as an added bonus, there are three fresh Christmas albums at the end to wrap things up. Consider them stocking stuffers.

Live/Congregational Considerations

The Sing Team: Live On!

Listen: Spotify

Review: The Sing Team isn't exactly in the business of churning out new music these days; however, they still perform their old songs in concert from time to time. Recently they were able to record what was essentially the track list from their breakout album, Oh! Great Is Our God! that released all the way back in 2012.

If it were up to me, this group would put out new music every other year, but it's apparently not in the cards for them right now. This former Mars Hill-associated band is made up of people with busy lives and we'll just have to enjoy some of their older music for the foreseeable future.

David Leonard: The Wait: Silence the Noise

Listen: Spotify

Review: I don't know much about David Leonard, as this album was my introduction to his music. Actually, the studio version of this album was my introduction to his music. I chose to forego the inclusion of that studio album in the list below in order to include his live version here.

These live tracks are certainly not intended for congregational involvement. He is a musician who performs well live as he adapted the studio versions for a more acoustic presentation. All told, I enjoyed the live arrangements much more than what he recorded for the regular album.

Sovereign Grace: The Glorious Christ

Listen: Spotify

Review: If Sovereign Grace does it, you should listen to it. There's a rule of thumb you can live by.

The Glorious Christ is a compilation of things you've heard before and many things you haven't. It was just released earlier this month, so it's likely that this album will be fresh for most of you. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of one of my top five favorite hymns of all time, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."

If you're a music leader in your church, this album will undoubtedly serve you as a resource for rich, congregation-considered tracks.

Shane and Shane: Hymns Live

Listen: Spotify

Review: The Shanes are continuing their hymns-kick with a 13-track compilation of hymns old and new. They started their most recent run with hymns last year with their studio album, Hymns, Vol. 1, and continued this year with another studio album, Hymns, Vol. 2. I decided to leave the studio record out this year to highlight their live versions of that first studio album.

Shane & Shane is a duo that should be respected and honored for their long run in the Christian music industry that has stayed faithful to Scripture. Breaking onto the scene with songs that featured lyrics lifted directly from the Psalms, they have always sought to glorify the Lord with reverent, worshipful music.

Note: There is an astounding number of live congregational albums out there. However, I am unable to add many of them to the list in good conscience. I do not share any albums that are directly associated with the Hillsong, Jesus Culture, or Bethel record labels. Between the self-centeredness, emotionalistic revivalism, bad doctrine, and more-than-sketchy associations, I simply refuse to support them. I look forward to one of you letting me know about other good live albums that I've missed this year -- I truly hope there are some!

The List

25. John Lucas: We Walk in the Garden


Listen: Spotify

Review: This resident of Boone, North Carolina has now released four full albums as he and his wife work with children in foster care. We Walk in the Garden contains a sound that is on-trend for the moment, yet, at the same time, sounds unlike anything else on this list.

Lucas seeks to paint a picture with his music, which makes his songs unique, though I'm often left wanting a more specific message in his lyrics. His musical range is limited by his resources, which is understandable, but it does leave the listener feeling like the tracks are somewhat redundant.

All in all, We Walk In The Garden delivers ten finely crafted and beautiful songs that work well for background ambiance, and/or closely studied lyrics. John Lucas is one deserving of high praise, and one to keep an eye on. -JesusFreakHideout

24. Cindy Morgan: Autumn and Eve: Old Testaments, Vol. 1


Listen: Spotify

Review: Cindy Morgan's first album on Spotify was released in 1991, before many of you readers were even born. Due to her long career in the Contemporary Christian Music industry, I hardly feel as though I have the right to critique her; but alas, I shall.

The twelve-time Dove Award-winning Morgan presents an album that's friendly enough and easy to listen to. The six tracks featured, though, are slow and somewhat straining. It's difficult to discern the messages in the songs, which is never ideal. Her musical ability is certainly evident, though, and those looking for an ambient, folksy, coffee house vibe should give it a listen.

“The new record is about a merging of Old Testament struggles and modern heartache,” shares Cindy Morgan. “I have been in a season of loss and chance, and the songs on Autumn & Eve are inspired by not only this season of my life but also of the stories of old.” -CCM Magazine

23. Jervis Campbell: Glory


Listen: Spotify

Review: Never heard of Jervis Campbell? Me neither. Like John Lucas above, he's a little-known singer/songwriter from North Carolina.

This short six-track is unique to this list because it seems that the first and last song are both about a woman. In between, though, he focuses specifically on speaking to the glory of God, as the album title implies.

The title track, "Glory" is certainly my favorite and it was also a contender for song of the year. His skill is impressive and the recording quality is as well, especially considering his lack of fame (and presumably resources) in this arena. If the songs were more concentrated on biblical depth, Campbell's rating would skyrocket.

Jervis is a relatively new Christian music artist from Charlotte, NC that now lives in Nashville. He has a unique blend of rock, R&B, Folk, and Gospel influences that makes for a really nice vibe. If you’re not familiar, you should definitely go check him out. -CCM Magazine

22. Battledrums: Breakthrough



Review: Battledrums is a Calvary Chapel band from New Mexico who has now released their first full album. The band features a variety of different voices and their sound certainly seems geared toward the megachurch performance-based music ministry.

That being said, for the moment, the band is hanging on to some decent original lyrics and there are moments where they appear to show some original sound as well. Two things that kept their rating lower was the repetition found in many tracks (it slays me), as well as an uncomfortable line from the song "Satisfies," which states that God is "in love with me." I am interested in what this group does moving forward and it would be great to see them follow the example of a Calvary Chapel band like EQ Worship.

There's something powerful about worship songs that are born out of a local community of believers living life and pursuing Jesus together, and Breakthrough will draw you into the preciousness of that experience. -New Release Today

21. Sarah Kroger: Bloom


Listen: Spotify

Review: Sarah Kroger certainly seems to be the next big thing in Christian music. Not only does she have a full album of her own, but she's being asked to join some bigger-name artists for songs on their albums (including one later on this list). For Bloom she received help from mega-name Audrey Assad, who produced the record. Both women are Roman Catholic, so do with that information whatever you wish.

The album artwork is fantastic (perhaps the best of the year), yet, sadly, the music wasn't as remarkable. Listening through the 13 songs, the sound feels quite monotonous and the words never approach anything substantial. That said, the quality of this music is quite high and there are good themes found throughout.

Gathering people together from all religions and cultures under a common love for God, Sarah spreads a universal message of hope no matter how dark an individual may feel their situation is. Her passion to create a reflective and secure environment for prayer projects further than just within the church environment. As Andrew Osenga, Director of Artists and Repertoire for Integrity, said, Kroger's "heart for the Church and for bringing new expressions of intimate worship to the liturgical world is inspiring and much needed." -Cross Rhythms

20. Zach Williams: Rescue Story


Listen: Spotify

Review: If you're someone who listens to K-Love, this is one of the few points in the review where you'll say something like, "Oh, I know that guy!" Of course, finding out that someone is on K-Love is news to me since I swore it off years ago. But I digress.

Williams has a fairly well-known conversion testimony and much of his music reflects his experiences. Rescue Story is a pop-country-blues hybrid that has a lot going for it. Dolly Parton is featured in one of the songs, so that's something.

One of the major downfalls of this album is the song "Baptized," where Williams says, "I can still hear the sermon / All the people said 'Amen' / There was a gift of salvation / And you could be born again / I remember the power / The Holy Spirit rushing in / There was peace like a river / When the preacher man said / In the name of the Father / The name of the Son / The name of the Spirit / You're washed by the blood / Buried with Christ / Raised in new life / Baptized." This sounds like baptismal regeneration to me -- and that's heresy! Williams appears to be Southern Baptist, so I'm hoping this was just sloppy songwriting. But it's inexcusable!

[Williams] brings an old-fashioned macho swagger to his songs imbuing them with some heavy-lifting truths smashing all the recycled cliches.  He's no sissy when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel truths.  He's not afraid to let his gravelly tenor rip and roar.  He has no qualms in mixing up his genres. -Hallels

19. New Hope Oahu: Scripture Songs


Listen: Spotify

Review: Well, this was a missed opportunity.

New Hope Oahu is a big church in Hawaii where Wayne Cordiero is senior pastor. The church is egalitarian and isn't everything I'd want a church to be. But it's no house of devils, either.

As the title Scripture Songs implies, these songs are meant to reflect what is written in the word of God. However, there are several factors that kept this album from being all that it could be.

First of all, the style is all over the map and there really is no consistency of genre. Second, much of the audio has a canned, karaoke-like flavor to it that is off-putting. Third, it seems as though there were some interesting hermeneutics at play when it came to choosing passages to highlight, which may leave the discerning listener feeling like the album was man-centered when it was set up to be anything but.

Overall, Scripture Songs has plenty to offer like NHO’s other releases and fans will find their handful of favorites in the bunch. But it’s also not hard to imagine how much stronger the overall package could be if focused on a specific theme or batch of biblical passages from the same book. -CCM Magazine

18. Citizens: Fear, Waking Up to Never Die


Listen: Spotify

Review: One of my absolute favorite bands in years past, Citizens has really started to slip. Their music style has changed, though that is not the key issue at play. The band has decided to take a less-assertive route in their lyrical production, leaving much of their music sounding quite vague and less edifying.

However, there is still much to enjoy and appreciate about this Seattle-based band. In 2019 they released two albums, as noted in the title above. They were able to produce more music because the fundraiser for this album tripled their set goal. Their sound is consistent across both records and it truly is some of the highest quality audio that you can listen to in the CCM world.

Citizens, dropping the "& Saints" that was attached to their name during their BEC Recordings era for the band's first release with Humble Beast Records. Fear is a logical next step for the band, repurposing some of the best elements and styles from Join the Triumph and A Mirror Dimly for a bold step into alternative music. -JesusFreakHideout

17. Big Daddy Weave: When the Light Comes


Listen: Spotify

Review: Here's another one for you K-Love listeners. Big Daddy Weave has proven to be one of the more lyrically faithful artists in popular Jesus music culture and this album is pretty good overall. Obviously, the sound here is going to sound like much of what you hear on mainstream Christian radio: upbeat, positive, encouraging, yadda yadda yadda.

Though not swimming in the deep end of rich Christian music, When the Light Comes is certainly out of the shallow end. However, I must issue a trigger warning for all of the Calvinists out there. "When the Light Comes" contains some interesting theology: "Let this be the day when I let You in...Help me open the door and let You in." Wut.

After listening to the full album, Big Daddy Weave and their message of faith has never seemed more relatable and accessible. While the band may play with their sound from track to track, their album’s inspiring message holds true and is woven throughout the project. This deeply personal collection is an honest and at times heart-wrenching record that ultimately brings to light the joy found only in Christ. -The Christian Beat

16. Wilder Adkins: In This Pilgrim Way


Listen: Spotify

Review: Shifting down from the Big Daddy Weave album just referenced, Wilder Adkins slows things down with his truly indie and beautiful album full of encouraging hymns. This man of the South (Georgia and Alabama) has won awards for his songwriting and his original lyrics found on this album reveal why.

Many of the songs featured here are well-known hymns, such as "Just As I Am" and "I'd Rather Have Jesus." Yet there are also new songs here that folksy fans will most certainly enjoy. The final two hymns on the album are my favorite, particularly Adkins's arrangement of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."

Wilder Adkins is an extremely talented singer and musician. His sound is top-notch from the music to the vocals. The arrangements he's chosen for the hymns are lovely and his originals manage to fit perfectly into the mix right along with the classics that have been sung for so many years. -JesusFreakHideout

15. House of Peace: Welcome to the River


Listen: Spotify

Review: Right off the bat, just by looking at the track listing, it is clear that this album contains some Pentecostal influence. I just needed to say that up front. Consider that as you will.

House of Peace sounds like what would happen if late 90s pop-rock clashed with the likes of Young Oceans -- and I kind of like that. And, in fact, their sound is what carries them to #15 on this list. Overall, their lyrics are quite weak.

"Send Your Fire" was a strange plea that I didn't particularly enjoy. "Day of Atonement" was a "dis-appoint-ment," as the title hinted at so much potential. There are obviously going to be good things in here, but I mostly encourage you to give it a quick listen to hear their sound, but don't expect to be sucked in.

Welcome to the River features 13 songs, which were written and produced by leading member David Liscum. This is the first time Liscum has served in the producer role on a full-length project from the group. Welcome to the River is a follow-up to Into the Great Unknown. -JesusFreakHideout

14. Russ Mohr: The Kingdom Sessions


Listen: Spotify

Review: Here's something unique to jazz up your playlist.

Russ Mohr is a music leader at The Journey Church, where Darrin Patrick pastored before a sad resignation. Interestingly, his role in his album seems to be one more of coordinating other artists than taking the leading role. The record features an impressive list of contributing artists such as Sho Baraka and Odd Thomas from Beautiful Eulogy.

Mohr himself has a very Kirk Franklin style -- but younger and hipper. Kingdom Sessions carries a "love your neighbor" theme throughout and brings to mind important truths as it seeks to encourage the listener to apply Jesus' teachings for living in the world.

"It’s about putting faith into action. It’s about justice and reconciliation and compassion. It’s about imagining and praying and working for a better tomorrow." -STL Post-Dispatch

13. Steven Curtis Chapman: Deeper Roots


Listen: Spotify

Review: A Steven Curtis Chapman bluegrass album? Sure! Now I must say first off that I don't particularly like bluegrass; however, I can appreciate it. I especially appreciate it when it has a pop edge to it that softens the sharp edge of hillbilly culture. And that's exactly what SCC does here.

The album's title is a spin on a former Chapman album, Deep Roots, just as many of the tracks on the album are a spin on former Chapman songs. It certainly seems like he had fun with this album and there are a couple of heartwarming touches. His daughter-in-law sings with him on "How Great Thou Art" and he has other family members join him (including his father) on other tracks. This album is fun -- especially for the few of you out there who like Chapman and bluegrass!

To be able to record with his family must have had been something very endearing to Chapman.  And after listening to this album, one also has to agree than though this record is not perfect, it's still precious, heartfelt and deeply personal. -Hallels

12. Nashville Life Music: Taylor House Sessions


Listen: Spotify

Review: Here's something fresh and original. I loved exploring this music from Nashville Life Music and was impressed with the decisions they made in putting their tracks together.

The first three songs on this six-track record are quite good -- and a full album on par with them would merit a top-ten finish. However, the back nine took a dip and there was quite a bit of repetition eating up song time and that did hurt the rating overall. For a better score next time around, it would help for this group to go deeper with their lyrics and remove all auto-tuned voices from the tracks.

As a diverse family of singers and musicians known for lively, fun-filled melodies and powerful, anthemic worship choruses, they are inspiring worship gatherings in their local church each week with songs expressing their heartfelt mission to see the world filled with Jesus followers. The members are thrilled to now have the opportunity to share their music to a broader audience with Taylor House Sessions, named after the studio where they recorded the EP. -Hallels

11. Steven Malcolm: The Second City


Listen: Spotify

Review: Rap/hip-hop is so hard to place on a list like this. On the one hand, the genre is just as legitimate as other genres and deserves the same amount of attention. On the other hand, the genre is polarizing and many Christians simply won't listen to it. So, it puts me in a weird spot.

That said, Steven Malcolm takes a well-earned spot on the list with the Christian Hip-Hop album of the year. (Apologies to all expecting Kanye.)

Infusing Jamaican reggae influence with rap, Malcolm creates a truly unique sound that, at times, explores some incredibly deep topics within the Christian life. The Rapzilla link found below does a great job going through the album track-by-track. If you're a fan of CHH, just add five points to the rating to get a more accurate impression of this record's place among the rest.

I’d say we’re dealing with a once in a lifetime talent, who’s personality and emotional clarity is as deep as his expertise is wide. He picked the right producers and navigates every beat in his own original way. -Rapzilla

10. Simple Hymns: Songs of... {multiple albums}


Listen: Redemption - Spotify, Worship - Spotify, Thanksgiving - Spotify

Review: What we have here is a collection of three different albums, all produced by Venture3 Media, totaling 30 songs!

The title Simple Hymns is meant to communicate two things. First of all, there are hymns -- hymns pertaining to redemption, worship, and thanksgiving, to be exact. Secondly, the hymns are arranged simply so that they make for easy listening and reproduction in the local church.

Sadly, many of the arrangements of these well-known hymns are so different from the original that "simple" proves to be a bit of a misnomer. That said, the songs are still great to listen to and provide much edification for the Christian listener. Be aware, though, that the albums contain a smattering of artists and they are not all of equal reputation.

This isn't a collection of old crusty hymns made with baby boomers in mind. Rather, what you will find in the first installment of the Simple Hymns series are 10 newly written hymns and reimagined older hymns performed by some of today's best worship leaders. -Hallels

9. Local Sound: Sunday School / The Free World, Vol. 1


Listen: Sunday School - Spotify, The Free World, Vol. 1 - Spotify

Review: You may not agree with me on this one. If that's the case, you're wrong.

Local Sound is a Nashville-based band that thinks outside of the box. They released two shorter albums this year that took different approaches. Sunday School is a remake of many older, well-known praise songs from the 1990s. The Free World, Volume 1 is a grouping of original tracks.

Now I have to make clear that I'm not incredibly wild about the lyrics. They're obviously not looking up to the Gettys, but that's okay. There are different approaches to all of this. I wish they were deeper, but they're not interested in writing theological exposés.

What they do that is extraordinary, though, is make good music. Again, you might disagree with me (like Hallels below) -- but you're wrong. I recommend you listen to "Shout to the Lord" to get familiar with them.

The thought of doing a throwback record is great, but unfortunately, the execution is not.  Local Sound could have done so much more to update these songs, but they just haven't thought through the process enough. -Hallels (wrong)

8. The Porter's Gate: Neighbor Songs


Listen: Spotify

Review: This was a difficult decision. Part of me wants to exclude this album, but the other part of me knows I shouldn't. As I said about The Porter's Gate in 2017, "This album presents some ecumenical difficulties. The collaboration here is one of Evangelicals and Catholics. And that's not good."

However, none of the content found here communicates the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The theme is all about loving your neighbor and the music quality is high. If you're into hipster music, featuring many stringed instruments, that conjures up images of people dancing on a hillside wearing new clothes made to look like they were made 150 years ago, then this album is certainly for you. It's the French press coffee of the list. Yet, be sure to heed the words of JFH below.

The disappointing elephant in the room that we must address is that "neighborliness" is something that has been taken captive by the modern political climate. -JesusFreakHideout

7. Josh Garrels: Chrysaline


Listen: Spotify

Review: Perhaps more than a few of you are surprised to see Garrels come in at #7. Let me explain.

Josh Garrels is a gift to Christian music and remains one of the most talented musicians and songwriters in the industry. However, he has abandoned all of the risk he used to take. When's the last time he gave us anything remotely close to "The Resistance" or "Freedom"? This is not to say that his contemporary albums should be judged against his former works; however, it is impossible to be content with this album knowing what Garrels is capable of.

In conjunction with this idea, Chrysaline comes across as very redundant as nearly all of the tracks contain an echo effect on the lyrics and the audio continually features the same sort of chime and rhythm throughout. Yet through all of that, the songs found within this record are still quite good and will edify the listener. "Consecration," his version of "Take My Life and Let It Be" is probably my favorite.

If you're a cessationist like me, you might find the story behind "Butterfly" to be of particular interest.

While Chrysaline is another long-format album topping an hour in length, it could stand to be Garrels’ magnum opus. There’s depth and character here that keeps things from getting sluggish, and there’s a wide team of veteran musicians working together to make these songs glisten. -Indie Vision Music

6. Chris Rice: Untitled Hymn: A Collection of Hymns


Listen: Spotify

Review: Here's a name many of you will recognize. Rice has been around for a long time and his faithful presentation of these hymns is a pleasant addition to the releases of 2019.

There's not a ton for you to understand before you listen to what's here. If you can think of Chris Rice's style, just imagine that applied to great hymns such as "O For a Thousand Tongues," "This Is My Father's World," and "Fairest Lord Jesus."

Don't expect some big sound from Rice here; rather, anticipate an enjoyable stroll through the hymn book. If you like James Taylor, then this album is for you!

One of the things that appealed to him about this project was the chance to revive the classics. "I love hymns. I love the record that I did before," he says of Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project. "I felt like I already picked the best ones for the first record and then I realized no, there are so many more." -Billboard

Is this list helpful?
Tell somebody!


5. Greg LaFollette: Holyweek, Vol. 1


Review: Last year's list-topper is back with an EP that walks us through Psalms with the Passion week in mind. The tracks are certainly not word-for-word iterations of the Psalms, but direct quotes are featured alongside modern summaries.

LaFollette has proven to be an intentional Christian artist who desires to keep his music pointed God-ward. This album only further cements his reputation in the Christian music scene.

The songs are based on themes found in the traditional Holy Week services, and the music is both comforting and exacting; skillfully guiding the listener through hymns and psalms of fear, loss, trust, and surrender. -New Release Today


4. Elias Dummer: The Work, Vol. 1

Review: The former front man for The City Harmonic is doing well on his own. Although this album doesn't feature as big of a sound as that former band, his big voice is still present and the end product is remarkable. The album is worth adding to your playlists. Dummer keeps his songs theologically-focused, which is obviously good and helpful. If you were a fan of The City Harmonic, Dummer's solo album will most certainly be for you.

It's exciting to see one of modern worship's best artists continue to make music after the departure of his former band. Although steps can certainly be taken to carve out a unique identity in this overpopulated genre, Dummer's debut as a solo artist is an early highlight of the year. -JesusFreakHideout


3. Matt Papa and Matt Boswell: His Mercy Is More

Website // Spotify // Apple Music

Review: This rating isn't entirely fair.

Looking at the track listening for this album and listening through the songs, it's obvious that this is a top-notch album based on my rating system. However, I had to deduct some points because not everything here was new. In fact, some of these songs have been all over the place for the last couple of years. Yet, I couldn't leave it off of the list. Thus, here it sits.

Matt Papa and Matt Boswell have quickly become two of the most recognizable names for local church music ministries that care about biblically sound music. They are authoring modern hymns that are of the highest standard and are rightly sung in many congregations around the globe. This particular album was produced by Keith and Kristyn Getty, certainly a great influence on these two men, and Kristyn joins them for one of the tracks.

When it comes to theologically rich, Christ-exalting praise music, it doesn't get better than this. I couldn't find a third-party review of this album, but I was able to find the two men discussing what this album means to them.


2. Christopher Williams: We Will Remember


Website // Spotify // Apple Music

Review: Encouraged by a ministry friend and inspired by the book of Joel, Nashville songwriter Christopher Williams came out of nowhere to surprise me with these great songs. The female vocalist who accompanies Williams throughout the record gives the sound a very All Sons & Daughters vibe, yet the record still stands on its own.

What I appreciate most about the songs on this album is how man is brought low and God is lifted up in reverence. The tracks are completely original and will leave the listener focused solely on the Lord. "Deeper Well," "Send Me," and "The River" are songs that may catch you by surprise as you listen through, and they really make the album dynamic.

There's much more for all of us to discover about Williams and I look forward to his continued contributions to Christian praise music!

The first song we wrote was “Cry Out To You,” and I loved the way it made me feel, but I quickly realized that the album needed another song to come before that one. You can’t start with “Cry Out To You”—you need a sort of call to worship to get everyone on the same page first. And then I looked in Joel and realized he had already done just that! And I had skipped over it.

So the first song became “Hear This,” taken straight from the first words of Joel. It essentially says, “Have any of you experienced loss? If so, tell your children, and let your children tell their children,” and so on. -Rabbit Room


1. Ghost Ship: To the End


Website // Spotify // Apple Music
Review: It was bound to happen. Ghost Ship is a great band who deserves to be recognized as such in 2019. To the End surprised me by how much more I liked it than their last album, Costly, and I really liked Costly! The more I listened to it, the more difficult it was to find weak spots in it. This is truly a job well done.

Cam Huxford continues to lead the band with his unmistakable voice and the words to these songs are just as deep as they've always been. What has made this record better than ones previous for Ghost Ship is that the sound has become less banjo/twang-dependent and more dynamic and palatable for a more diverse audience. Some of the musical decisions that have disappointed me in the past have been fixed and I have no problem listening to this one over and over again.

To the End is all about the goodness and faithfulness of God in the life of the believer. As the band points you to Christ, be encouraged in your faith and enjoy the great sound!

When the band released Costly, I liked it well enough, but it didn't do a lot for me at the time. Needless to say, I wasn't really anticipating future releases. But I'm pleased to report that To the End has been one of my favorite releases of 2019, and one I return to often when I want some good worship music. If you enjoy country and southern gospel and are looking for something new to dive into, I can easily recommend this one. -JesusFreakHideout


Share via Facebook 

Share via Twitter 

Christmas Music

Sara Groves: Joy of Every Longing Heart

Listen: Spotify

Sandra McCracken: Christmas

Listen: Spotify

Lincoln Brewster: A Mostly Acoustic Christmas

Listen: Spotify

One last thing...

My wife and I are adopting! We've been fundraising for much of this year and we're continuing to do so. We met our goal for a matching grant through a Christian organization called Lifesong, but we still have quite a ways to go to reach our overall goal. If you'd like to donate to our cause, you can still give through Lifesong and help us provide a Christian home for a child who needs one!

That's all for this year!
See you in 2020.


  1. For your convenience (and mine 😁) I put all the albums into master playlists. Here they are:

    Top 25 Playlist:

    Christmas Album Playlist:

    Live Album Playlist:

  2. Thanks for the list (as in years past), and especially the Spotify links. I love finding new music.

    I wanted to quickly share that David Leonard was half the duo All Sons and Daughters. I thought this was worth mentioning.

  3. For those using Amazon Music, here is a link to the playlist for the top 25 albums: