Monday, December 21, 2020

2020: 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 seventh annual end-of-year Christian music recap. Check out my other reviews on my Music Reviews page.

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

2020 has been a wild year. To my surprise, there were just as many (if not more) Christian albums released. As always, this was a labor of love, and I hope it blesses 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 2020. I may be the proudest of this compilation over all of my other lists to-date. There are several albums featured below that no other website has reviewed, and I hope their presence here is a blessing to the artists.

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 Grace Collective: Kingdom of Your Son

Listen: Spotify

Review: This collaboration of music leaders from Virginia has released their second album since Joel Arcieri and Matthew Carpenter first came together with the desire to write corporate worship songs. According to their website, the plan is to release ten albums in ten years. Ambitious.

These songs won't blow you away lyrically -- they aren't exactly deep and rich like Sovereign Grace or Matt Papa. However, the songs are good and should be simple to replicate in a corporate worship setting if you so desire.

Matt Redman: Let There Be Wonder

Listen: Spotify

Review: You know about Matt Redman. He's been around awhile.

This album is alright. There are no surprises good or bad here and some of the tracks will be be possible in your congregational setting.

Sovereign Grace Music: Sovereign Grace Music Collection

Listen: Spotify

Review: It's 25 of the best Sovereign Grace songs from throughout the history of this ministry. Their website notes: "In this new collection, we’ve gathered some of our most popular songs as well as a few that you might not be aware of. They cover a broad range of topics including God’s sovereignty, our need for a Savior, justification, gratefulness, growth in the Christian life, the glory of Jesus, dependence, justice, mission, God’s Word, suffering, living in a fallen world, our hope of heaven, and more."

Listen to the songs. Learn the songs. Sing the songs with your church.

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. Bryann T: Red Letters

Listen: Spotify

Review: We're in the midst of a rough season for Christian rap. To view the Christian Hip-Hop genre as a "team" and to use a sports analogy, CHH is going through a rebuild. There are decent rappers here and there, but nobody is coming close to putting out tracks with the quality and lyrical depth as Lecrae and the 116 gang was about a decade ago.

That said, street-gang-member-turned-Christian Bryann Trejo has started a somewhat new Christian rap ministry called Kingdom Muzic and this release from that label is pretty good. The quality is certainly lower than preferred by those who have gotten used to high-production albums from major labels. However, the lyrics are sincere and edifying, and I look for the quality to catch up in the years ahead.

I couldn't find any other reviews of this album to quote here.

24. Sophie Frame: Grace


Review: Sophie Frame appears on the list as the first of many coffeehouse-type artists. She has a simple sound, and the production was clearly lower-budget and independent (which I appreciate very much). Hopefully you like her sound, because there isn't a huge variation in the musical arrangement/presentation from track to track.

This is the debut album for Frame, who is a 17-year-old New Zealander. Resources for her music, including chord charts, are available on her website. I look forward to hearing more from this young woman in the future!

Being brand new to the music scene and releasing this record independently, there are no public reviews of Grace yet. Consider supporting her by purchasing her music!

23. John Mark McMillan: Peopled with Dreams

Listen: Spotify

Review: Mr. McMillan is back with (what I believe is) an eighth studio album. He consistently brings his own approach and style to alternative Christian music, easily recognized from the first note he sings. There's more of a pop influence in the music this time around, but overall, it's classic McMillan.

Because McMillan's style is so unique and, dare I say, weird, the results are a bit of a mixed bag. Songs like "Christ Jesus" and "Everything New" are pretty good. "The Road, The Rocks, The Weeds," a take on Jesus' parable, is intriguing. And yet, "Cousin John," an ode to John the Baptist, and "God Is Young" are borderline scandalous. 

If you have historically enjoyed John Mark McMillan, you will absolutely love Peopled with Dreams.

Peopled With Dreams is another solid album to add to an excellent discography, and is highly deserving of multiple focused listens. Here we find McMillan walking confidently in his faith, pointing all believers to the heart of a God who is with us, and who is all-powerful. -JesusFreakHideout

22. Keith and Kristyn Getty: Evensong

Listen: Spotify

Review: The full title of this latest release from the Gettys is Evensong - Hymns and Lullabies at the Close of Day. The album features tracks that can lower your heart rate and cause you to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Produced by Ben Shive (who produced three other albums on this list), the track listing features originals as well as covers of well-known songs such as "Softly and Tenderly" and "Is He Worthy?" (with their children). Overall, the record delivers what we've all come to expect from these very important people in Christian music; but the album doesn't exactly add much to their already massively influential catalog. If this was a debut album, it would likely be found higher on the list. I guess I hold the Gettys to a higher standard.

Evensong is a dream project for Kristyn Getty. On turning 40, she and Keith decided that this project would be the way she would mark the year. First set in motion early in the year, the global pandemic meant that an album intended to bring comfort to homes at evening time was also recorded during a shelter at home season. -The Christian Beat

21. IMRSQD: Guitars, Trumpets, & the Gospel

Listen: Spotify

Review: Have you figured out the name? I didn't, either. My wife helped me figure out that it's "I am rescued." Pretty cool, I suppose.

The Cathedral Podcast named IMRSQD one of their breakout artists of the year for 2020. The artist (whose real name I can't find) is a junior doctor by day, based out of Namibia (or perhaps the U.K. now), and he created this album with Moflo Music. His sound is indie lo-fi and it's certainly one of the most unique records on the list. As the title suggests, you'll hear both guitars and trumpets here. Speaking of the title, I added the Oxford comma. 

If you're just wanting to get a taste of his style, check out "Sagrada Familia." There were no public reviews that I could find online.

20. Flame: Extra Nos

Listen: Spotify

Review: This is where things start to get a little crazy.

Flame represents the last hip-hop album on the list, and it's one unlike any other I've ever heard. Essentially what happened was that Marcus Gray (who goes by Flame) transitioned from a traditional Reformed/Calvinistic theological framework to a Lutheran perspective. The seven tracks found on this record walk through the issues that caused him to change his mind, particularly in the realm of sanctification.

In the first verse of the first track, Flame tips his cap to Calvinistic theology, thanking God for how He used it to grow him in his knowledge of Scripture. However, in the second verse, Flame criticizes Calvin's perspective, saying it left him with no assurance of his salvation because he never felt as though he was doing enough to confirm in his own mind that he is one of the elect.

The tracks that follow continue to wrestle with these issues, and it's very fascinating. In "Good Works" and "Concordia," Mr. Gray essentially just talks through his "conversion" to Lutheranism. I do not endorse Luther's view of sanctification, but I very much appreciate Flame's efforts here to walk us through this theological issue.

The EP is the first of many projects that he plans on releasing on the subject of his transition and while its lyrical content is to be praised, some were left confounded at its meaning. Thankfully, in addition to a website breaking down the lyrics and defining the theological ideas and terms, Flame sat down with Lutheran pastor and author Dr. Jordan B. Cooper in a convicting and insightful video. -Rapzilla (video included)

19. Elias Dummer: The Rest, Vol. 1

Listen: Spotify

Review: The former City Harmonic front man is back on the list after appearing fifth on last year's list. His 2019 release was titled The Work, Vol. 1 and I trust you'll be able to understand how this year's title fits with it. Dummer explained his reasoning behind these albums in an interview with JesusFreakHideout.

You may have noticed that the album artwork here features the green laurel, signifying the song of the year. This has been awarded for the track, "Holy Ground," which actually debuted on last year's record. However, joining him for this track on The Rest was Olivia Turco -- and these two make a powerful sound together. The bridge alone is masterful.

Though the first track, "A Time to Dance," wasn't exactly what I've come to expect from Dummer, the EP is good overall. "Creature," is another standout track, with Dummer singing out to God, "You don't need me, but you made me anyway // You're with me anyway, You love me anyway."

Sometimes it's hard to put into words how you feel about music, but when I played these songs I just instantly loved them. It's a weird concept for me to say as this is a review, but I kind of want to say: trust me on this one. -Louder Than the Music

18. Karissa Frampton: Memos

Listen: Spotify

Review: Here's another coffeehouse-style debut album. Karissa Frampton (no relation to Peter that I could find) funded this record independently, with at least nine backers on GoFundMe and 17 on Kickstarter. She recorded it in Lakeland, FL, where she was a part of Heart of the Father Ministry. Frampton has since moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she will no doubt be making more music. 

This album contains 15 tracks that come together as an honest look at the Christian struggle with sin and hope. With titles like "Discouraged," "Trust," and "Rest," Frampton walks the listener through her own journal-like thoughts and prayers. She presents a transparent look at a believer's battle to please God in this life while falling short time and time again. The tracks lead up to the final song, "Freedom," a song of comfort and assurance. She also set a version of Psalm 23 to music.

I could find no other reviews of this album. There's some charismatic stuff in there -- just a head's up.

17. Jason Upton: God Finds Us

Listen: Spotify

Review: Finding his way back on the list is Jason Upton (he was on the 2018 list), who defines himself as a "singer and songwriter with the heart of a pastor." His website says, "His songs and his messages reflect a life fully lived in relationship with God, family and friends." I've found this to be true about Upton -- and that makes his music unique. I really should listen to his stuff more than I do.

Though the tracks on this album are sometimes vague and not theologically precise, Upton's storytelling through music will make you contemplative in a good way. "Run Baby Run (Jonah)" is a perfect example of what I've sought to explain in the previous sentence. All other factors aside, his sound, whatever genre you want to put it in, is in the top three for me this year. I just find it very delightful to listen to.

God Finds Us is an album to sit down and absorb as a singular work, and an excellent treatise on a loving Father who seeks out His lost children time after time. -JesusFreakHideout

16. Rend Collective: Choose to Worship

Listen: Spotify

Review: Here they are. You know them well.

Over the years, Rend Collective has lost their edge as they've started to sound more and more mainstream. However, they still have a relatively unique sound with lyrical depth as they continue to find a place on Christian radio -- and that's something to applaud.

Choose to Worship is upbeat (as you'd expect from this group) and generally positive and encouraging. Lead singer Chris Llewellyn says, "This album is an invitation into the spiritual discipline that we have been living as a community of building altars of praise in the darkness, trusting that whether or not the dawn comes, worship is still our sacred duty—and privilege."

What I do find in every Rend track and even every Rend album is that there is a heart for the listener to experience God in different ways. There is a raw, passionate honesty to this band, and this again comes over in this album. I have been a fan of Rend Collective since day one and for me seeing them keep on moving forward as a band is a real joy to see. -Louder Than the Music

15. Ellie Holcomb: Sing: Remembering Songs


Review: "Don't forget to remember: God won't forget you." Now there's a good line to memorize. This album played on repeat during my family's six week sabbatical over the summer, so I certainly haven't forgotten to remember that God won't forget me.

This is Holcomb's second release in the last three years that has been made for children to learn about God. Creation Songs was #23 in 2018. Remembering Songs is extremely catchy and just as much fun (and just as edifying) for adults as it is for children. The album pairs with a book written by Holcomb for children as well.

In an interview she said, “I actually thought I’d just write a song for this second book and not include any other songs as I’m a mom of three now and the days are busy and full. I kept thinking, ‘I’m not sure I have time or margin to write another kids record.’ So I prayed. I told God, ‘If you want me to write another kids EP, I need You to make it really clear!’— that very night, my producer Nathan Dugger emailed me two different song ideas that I loved. I forget what’s true a lot of days, but songs get stuck in my head.”

Holcomb's nominated project debuted earlier this year at No. 4 on Billboard Children's Album chart, No. 1 Release on the iTunes Children's chart and the No. 1 Top-Selling Children's album on Amazon. Sing: Remembering Songs is a companion piece to her best-selling children's book, Don't Forget To Remember (B&H Publishing Group), which was a No. 1 New Release in Christian Children's Books on Amazon. The album is a beautiful, scripture rooted, children's project that she wrote inspired by God's word and His love for all of His children. -JesusFreakHideout

14. People of the Earth: Hope Is Here

Listen: Spotify

Review: This group of musicians based out of Kentucky and Tennessee provides what I hope is a good alternative to Elevation, Hillsong, and bands of the like. Their sound is energetic and very congregational in its composition -- so all you music leaders out there may want to check out their resources.

This album features a few covers, including a rendition of "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing." Three of the tracks are acoustic, including this original Christmas-themed hymn. The rest of the songs sound more like what you would expect from a modern "Praise and Worship" band.

I could find no other reviews of this album.

13. Rain for Roots: All Creatures

Listen: Spotify

Review: All Creatures is another one of those albums made for children that ends up blessing the parents just as much -- if not more! The group, which is primarily made up of four members (Sandra McCracken, Flo Paris Oakes, Katy Hutson Bowser, and Alice Smith) got its start releasing their first album with the help of children's author Sally Lloyd-Jones. Their website notes that this latest release "is a collection of 11 new songs, derived from the poetry of the Psalms exploring how creation invites us all to pour forth the praise of God."

Their sound is another one of those coffeehouse-types, and they can sound a bit monotonous with their sweet melodies and soft tones. The songs with Katy Hutson Bowser at the helm (like "Listen Listen" and "Afraid of the Dark") bring a different, more intense sound to the album. 

Play these songs for your children and play these songs for yourself!

Right off the bat, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” sets the tone for the album as a folky yet groovy, reminding the listeners of the many sweetnesses that God gives us in the natural world: the little flowers, the birds that sing. Some of the chords and progressions remind me distinctly of the kind of music I’d hear on Gilmore Girls, a sort of Sam-Phillipsy vibe. I can give no higher compliment. -The Rabbit Room


12. Jon Guerra: Keeper of Days

Listen: Spotify

Review: In his second full-length studio album, Jon Guerra delivers an honest and simple song set focused on communicating God's love for the marginalized in society. To our shame, the American church has difficulty discussing and even thinking about this topic because of the politicization of it. Guerra jumps in head-first and articulates deep truths on the topic in a special way.

For those who are more sensitive to the social justice movement, a song like "Citizens" might be difficult to listen to without analyzing his particular worldview lenses; however, it's the best track on the album. He has Postal Service-like vocals and stands out on this list musically. "Kingdom of God" is another great track, and there's a great video of it as well.

Keeper of Days is a remarkably timely expression of deep inwardness and longing. Guerra doesn’t present his best self in these songs, but his actual self. -Mockingbird

11. Cardiphonia: Psalm 119



Review: Bruce Benedict, mostly known for setting the Westminster Shorter Catechism to music, is the founder of the Cardiphonia project, which is a collaborative effort by some well-known musicians. For instance, Psalm 119 features former list-toppers Emerald Hymns (2017) and Greg LaFollette (2018). Paul Zach and Bellweather Arts also make appearances on the album.

If you're wondering where the name of the collaboration came from, they lifted it from John Newton's letters.

The theme of this record is as simple as you might think: it's Psalm 119 set to music. Even though there's a variety of contributors throughout, the sound is basically consistent. It's acoustic and relaxed. That said, it's likely that most people will find a couple of tracks that they like (out of the 22 provided...Psalm 119 is long) and the rest won't be particularly striking.

I could find no other reviews of this album.

10. Folk Hymnal: Good News Songs


Review: I'm excited to include (and introduce many of you to) Folk Hymnal this year. They have been releasing EPs and singles since 2018, but Good News Songs is their first true studio album.

Starting off with "In Our Place," a Jars of Clay-sounding tune, the listener is immediately made aware that this group is focused on the serious and solemn matters of the Christian faith. The lyrics are strong throughout the record, and the songs are mostly original (with "Nothing but the Blood" serving as the exception). "Our God Is Good" is an honest prayer of confession and lament -- much needed in these trying times.

Their website notes that they are a "guild of church worship leaders creating theologically rich songs in an accessible and attractive way." They've certainly accomplished their mission -- and you need to check them out. They've also made their chords and sheet music available on their website.

I could find no other reviews of this album.

9. Dustin Ruth: Shapeshifter


Review: You won't find Switchfoot on this year's list, but Dustin Ruth gets you close. With a sound similar to that Southern California band, Ruth brings creative lyrics and happy, energetic melodies to you in Shapeshifter, his first solo studio album since 2015.

This seven-track album is mostly personal, not exactly set up for corporate worship. In it, Ruth walks the listener through biblical truths, such as God's making us new in Christ ("New Creature") and His protection over our lives ("Shield"). As with the Guerra album described above, this one also has a bit of a Postal Service vibe in its sound, so that's something you may want to consider as you go to listen to it for the first time. "Lost Art" is probably my favorite song of the set.

I could find no other reviews of this album. 

8. Nashville Life Music: Here for Jesus


Review: They're back! After finishing twelfth on last year's list with their album Taylor House Sessions, Nashville Life Music has returned even stronger with one of my favorite collections of the year. If your favorite genre is classic R&B, then stop right now and check it out.

This 26-member ensemble sounds like what would happen if Earth, Wind, & Fire collided with Chris Tomlin and Trip Lee -- a magical mash-up. For an introduction, check out the music video to "More Than Words." My favorites from the record are "Reconciler" and "Sing a Song (pt 2)." The first version of "Sing a Song" from last year's album also came with a fun music video. The chorus for both songs is the same and it's absolutely delightful.

Nashville Life sounds the best when they're making upbeat, high-energy music; a few of the tracks on Here for Jesus are slowed down, and they don't strike the ear as well as the rest. Their style is definitely unique and won't be for everyone. But do me a favor -- when you listen to this album, use the best headphones/speakers you have.

At its core, Here for Jesus is a diverse project united by more than simply style and joyful praise. It’s worship in community. It’s uniquely tied together by the diversity of the people who make up Nashville Life. -The Christian Beat

7. Maggie Amini: Songs of Home


Review: I am tough on covers -- especially covers of hymns -- these days. It's why you don't see Shane & Shane on this year's list. When originality is taken out of the equation, there must be other factors brought to the music that can make an album worth listening to. So many hymns have been done, and done, and done again. And that's fine, but it doesn't help an album trying to get on this particular list.

In Maggie Amini's case, however, I had to include Songs of Home as one of the best Christian albums of 2020. Starting off with the original song "Come to the Quiet," Amini covers hymns you may have never heard before: "Come Ye Sinners," "Rescue the Perishing," and "I Leave All Things to God's Direction" (my favorite).

With a beautiful voice and simple accompaniment, Ms. Amini revives several hymns that have collected dust over the years. Check out this wonderful album and purchase it to support great Christian art!

I could find no other reviews of this album.

6. Jordan and Jessa: Glorious


Review: After creating music individually, husband and wife duo Jordan and Jessa Anderson have released their first album together, and it is long overdue. Their website says that Glorious is "the Scripture-filled fruit of their suffering, woven together with the promise of hope Christ offers in the midst of a broken world."

Each of the songs on this album have a gospel focus, pointing to Christ as the Author and Finisher of the faith, and "Loved as Jesus" is a great example of that emphasis. The record has been classified as "Praise and Worship," meaning it is intended to be used in corporate settings. It does seem as though it can be used in that way, as the tracks are easy to sing along with. If your church is singing the typical songs played on the radio, you may want to introduce the music leader to this couple, who creates much more theologically rich songs.

These moving and reverent recordings are all prayers and personal confessions of submission to God...Glorious is about proclaiming the majesty of God and crying out in awe and wonder for His Presence throughout this incredible worship experience. This album is a must-have for your praise and worship collection. -New Release Today

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5. Citizens: The Joy of Being


Review: Though Citizens isn't exactly back to their original sound (I think that ship has sailed), they are back to clear, unapologetic, biblical and poetic lyrics. Their musical evolution has made their sound more palatable to a more diverse audience, and there's something to be said for that. This album features a few other artists including Chaundra Jefferson (also featured on the Nashville Life Music album) and Sandra McCracken (in "Altogether Good").

The Joy of Being is obviously a good album, but it would have been made better with more creative music to match the great lyrics. At the end of the day, the lyrics are most important, and this record will edify your soul.

Citizens is pointing us to literally the joy of being. Peeling back all the distractions of doing and recapturing the imagination of the congregation with the reality that we will find our truest and most important affirmation in the joy of being loved by God. -CCM Magazine


4. Josh Garrels: Peace to All Who Enter Here


    Review: One of my favorite artists of all time has put together one of his best albums in recent history. At the end of January, Garrels released Early Work, Vol. 1 (2002-2005), which was a refreshing trip back to his older sound. However, those songs lack the maturity and encouragement of Peace to All Who Enter Here.

    This album features great covers as well as many originals. Garrels put his own spin on one of my favorite hymns, "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," the Matt Redman hit "10,000 Reasons," and "Exalt the Lord Our God." Most of the tracks are slow and deliberate, but there are a couple of bubbly songs featured. "Peace Like a River" is one of my family's favorite songs to sing in the van.

    If you're a fan of his past work, you won't be disappointed with this high-quality production!

    Astonishingly, I could find no other reviews of this album.


    3. Greg LaFollette: I'll Wait for You, My Love


    Review: This guy. He's consistently putting out great music for the church.

    I'll Wait for You, My Love is unlike previous releases from LaFollette, as this one is designed more like a singalong than something contemplative. There's nothing flashy about the sound; as one critic put it, it's "harmless." However, the collection of songs found here is full of beautiful, deep truths that Christians will find refreshing.

    LaFollette is involved with leading music and liturgy at his church in Nashville, and I have to think he had the local church in mind as he created this album of "new old hymns," as he calls it. The arrangements of the songs are unique, and the new choruses and verses are solid. From his website: "While the record is written from venerable hymn texts, this production breathes fresh, accessible melodic sense into the well-worn songs."

    Greg gives us a relaxing album packed with emotion. From beautiful background vocals to a number of instrumentals, this album will help you rest and worship God. The song “Never Alone” is a piano ballad that will quiet your spirit instantly. - New Release Today


    2. Sandra McCracken: Patient Kingdom


    Review: This is at least the third time McCracken has been featured on the 2020 list. She's a main contributor for Rain for Roots, and she was featured in a track on the Citizens album above. She was busy this year!

    Having released her first album last millennium, McCracken is a steady presence in the good Christian music world. Her calm, folksy approach to modern hymnology is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and the Carpenters, yet it features the deeply edifying lyricism of Fanny Crosby. In "You Are the Word," we're reminded of how we are to hold on to Jesus as our only hope. In the title track, we're reminded turn from our own will to conform to the will of God. What a great collection!

    Including twelve tracks written or co-written by McCracken and produced by Ben Shive and Tyler Chester, each is a stirring, reflective soundtrack of faithfulness and patience, speaking directly into the uncertainty amidst everything going on in today's world. Her writing reflects how we’ve had to not only slow down our plans and agendas, but to adjust or completely dismantle and rebuild them. -JesusFreakHideout


    1. Josh White and Holly Ann: What's Done Is Done


      Review: My apologies to all of the Reformed who are offended by the artistic representation of Jesus in the album art. Not my choice.

      That issue notwithstanding, this album is so good

      From the masterful lyrical word pictures to the seriously proficient and powerful acoustics, I cannot get enough of this album. The first time I listened to it, I had to listen to it all the way through -- and then I immediately wanted to listen to it again. That's an experience I have on a very rare occasion. I'm delighted to share this with you.

      Holly Ann has a wonderful voice and Josh White is smooth, soulful, and perfect on guitar. The accompaniment is spot on, too. You'll get harmonica, jazzy piano, and lots of classic rock vibes. At times, their sound reminds me of an old personal favorite, The Hush Sound. Both artists are a part of the Deeper Well music group, which you may want to check out if you like this album.

      Once again, astonishingly... I could find no other reviews of this album.


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      Christmas Music

      Sovereign Grace: Heaven Has Come

      Listen: Spotify

      The Sing Team: The Last Christmas on Earth

      Listen: Spotify

      Simple Hymns: Songs of Christmas

      Listen: Spotify

      If you're interested... I've also made Spotify playlists of my favorite secular music, including Ecclesiastes, the best songs from 1960-2000. Each artist can only be featured once and the songs have to be clean enough for my children to listen to it. You can follow me on Spotify.

      That's all for this year!
      See you in 2021.


      1. I look forward to this list every year. I 100% agree with putting What's Done Is Done at #1 - that album was unexpected and truly captivating. I found myself listening to it over and over. I would personally go with Josh Garrels at #2, but was glad to see that in the top 5. Thanks for putting this together!

      2. Every year Tim Challies shares this list and I always find new artists to support. As usual the list is eclectic, but that's what I like about it. Thanks for putting in the effort.

      3. Great list! The Corner Room has some great music to scripture as well as a new Children's album set to scripture.

      4. Shout out to Tim Challies for pointing me here every year. Musically, I’ve never enjoyed everything on each year’s list, but I always find something that I otherwise wouldn’t have found. Thanks for your diligence in compiling this.

      5. Your end of the year music posts are one of the things I most look forward to each year. I greatly enjoy finding new music to listen to, but I even more appreciate your devotion to lyrical doctrine. Blessings!

      6. Thanks for doing this every year, I've discovered so much great and biblically solid music! God bless!

        1. I have one minor complaint though: of your top-rated albums across the years, I've found two that didn't meat one essential aspect: the lyrics are simply not comprehensible (I cannot understand them while listening).

          Loud Harp from previous years and Josh White/Holy Anne from this year are both guilty of this, though no other albums are.

          I know I'm not a native speaker, but I understand practically everything else I listen to, so I just wanted to highlight this.

          Wanted to enjoy your No. 1 album this year, but sadly there are few sentences in the songs that I can fully understand. Somehow the overlap of the two voices is delayed and diminishes comprehensibility.

      7. Thank you for taking the time to assemble this list. I always look forward to sorting through it all and finding music to add to our family’s music library.

        1. You are welcome! I hope you all are greatly encouraged.

      8. I also got here via Tim Challies, and since I'm new to his blog as well I will be going through your archive reading previous years' reviews. I just want to say that the review for #21 is my favorite. I also love the Oxford comma, long may it survive widespread neglect. :)

      9. Jeremy - this is such a great list. Thoughts (so far):
        - Karissa Frampton - coffee house, but with good production and engineering. Sin has a layered effect that has me coming back to it.
        - JMM - some gems (Jesus Christ, Juggernaut is just so good, Pilgrim - a great reminder) and some real stinkers.
        - Jason Upton - love his vibe and voice
        - Rend Collective - only know their stuff from radio play, but really really good as a stand alone album
        - Greg LaFollette - I find myself singing Softly and Tenderly over and over. I'm drawn to the beauty of the harmonies and the modernized arrangement. Thankful to rediscover this song.
        - Josh White / Holly Ann - no doubt about this being the best album. From top to bottom there is not a weak song, lyrics so good, music so good - even picking up some southern rock vibes.

        Check out Gable Price and Friends - Fractioned Heart

      10. Jeremy:

        Could not located your contact so I am shamelessly trying this:

        Inviting you to hear my latest offering. It might be too punk for the church, and too Christian for the punks....but you might find something redeemable. Any feedback or write ups are truly appreciated.

        Thank You,