“Blessings” by Young Saint

As I just mentioned to a friend in a comment on my Facebook page, this song by YOUNG SAINT articulates, so well, where I stand at this point in my life: BLESSED!  You may not be a fan of rap music and you may not identify with urban culture as represented in this video, but, listen to the lyrics throughout the song. This is universal truth and all credit is due to my God. Please consider my last post, “An Honest Survey,” in conjunction with the message and passion in this song.

 

The song “Blessings” is available as part of Young Saint’s album TRANSITION.

9 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Coundtown Retrospective: “When He Returns” [UPDATED w/ “Help”/”So Help Me God”]

Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating some of his prior creative ventures.


IMG_5889


[8:15PM UPDATE] In light of the announcement of Kanye West’s new album title, I present this clip of Kevin Max with dcTalk performing “Help!” and “So Help Me God” from WELCOME TO THE FREAK SHOW


THE IMPOSTER was released in 2005 and remains my favorite Kevin Max album because of the strength of the album as a whole, the lyrical theme running throughout (inspired by the concept of the imposter, as written about by Brennan Manning in ABBA’S CHILD), and the role that the album played in tuning my spiritual life in. But, the track featured for today’s countdown entry is included because it is one of Max’s most impressive vocal performances and, in my opinion, is one of the best covers ever recorded. It is Max’s take on a song from Bob Dylan’s 1979 album SLOW TRAIN COMING and I dare say that Max’s vocal, in combination with the pure and reverant piano arrangement, fleshes out the song in a manner that Dylan himself would have to be pleased with. While more characteristic Max-styled tracks like “The Imposter,” “Platform,” and “Your Beautiful Mind” stand firmly on their own merit, this cover is a performance to behold.

B-0Js7BXAAA2fnLRead a bit about what I get out of the music and poetry of Kevin Max and check out how you can get a digital download of the new project BROKEN TEMPLES (with two bonus tracks!) before the official March 10 release!

B-vn0MnWoAATZBd

Read the 10 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Day By Day” Installment

Read the 11 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Existence” Installment

Read the 12 Days Until BROKEN TEMPLES: A Kevin Max Countdown Retrospective: “Alas My Love/The Hard Way” Installment

The Flying Leap Of Kevin Max – Cotes d’ Armor: True Rebels (dPulse Records)

Within the context of the catalog of work involving Kevin Max, from dc Talk on, Cotes d’ Armor conjures up the image of a summer blockbuster action hero calmly lighting a cigarette while the scene in the background explodes in a gasoline hellfire blaze. The palpable hints of Depeche Mode’s VIOLATOR, PRETTY HATE MACHINE by Nine Inch Nails, and Moby’s ANIMAL RIGHTS, combined with Max’s unique knack for mixing colors has yielded a tour de force of a concept album that will hold its own against the test of time. While this will not be mistaken for anything remotely close to the products most recently put out by his former cohorts TobyMac and Michael Tait (Newsboys) it should be said that Cotes d’ Armor is the one product that is not restricted by the pop Christian-lite confines of Nashville and, subsequently, will still be revered long after the fad-based veneers that so many others exploit have faded. This is by far, as a whole, Kevin Max’s best album. Get it and settle in for a long trip.

Heather Williams: EP (INO Records) – Review

I happened upon the music of singer/songwriter Heather Williams purely by accident, but, I was hooked instantly. After hearing her unmistakably sincere voice on the individual tracks that were released on iTunes some time ago, the question of why she didn’t have more of a promoted presence in the music world immediately surfaced. Since then, however, she has signed with INO Records (Derek Webb, Sara Groves, Skillet, MercyMe, etc.) and just recently released her debut EP on the INO label at iTunes. The four tracks featured on the EP showcase her range and ability from the sassy, soulful, groove of “Beautiful Thing” to the anthemic beauty of “Hallelujah” and the moving sincerity of “Holes.” The EP then closes out with a glittering pure pop track called “This Time Around.”

“Hallelujah” is a confessional and celebratory song that starts small, but, builds in presence until crossing a dramatic musical threshold toward the end. Lyrically it begins with recognition of humanity and our need for grace. But, the ultimate message is that, despite fact that we struggle and fumble through our daily existence making mistake after selfish mistake, God’s unconditional love for us still calls.

“Holes” is a piano-driven track that exhibits the pop sensibility of Williams while also showcasing her soulful voice. Like the lyrics in “Hallelujah,” “Holes” communicates the experience of someone who has humbly realized her human limitations and, as a result, opened herself to the hope of something much bigger.

“Beautiful Thing” is the track that hit me immediately as an infectious, gutsy, whimsical pop groove. Its terribly catchy and one can’t help, but, to nod, wiggle, toe-tap, or all-out dance while its playing. Its another track that displays the deep soul in the voice of Heather Williams, but, does so with a power and groove that is distinct in comparison with the mellower ambiance of “Holes,” and “Hallelujah.” “Beautiful Thing” seems like the kind of song that should be on the radio and, in airplay on pop-format radio stations, would stand head and shoulders above most of the vanilla, formulaic music that currently dominates radio playlists.

“This Time Around” provides a distinctively pop canvas on which Williams has masterfully painted her story of redemption and the hope that is found in God’s grace. It is a theme common to all four of the songs on the EP, but one that deserves to be showcased as much as possible because it is the hope of our lives.

Heather Williams, amidst the cloud of insincere musicians with watered down goals and wayward objectives in today’s music industry, is an ever so refreshing breath of fresh air. I can honestly and without reservation suggest that, for less than the price of a tall latte, Heather’s new EP is well worth the price. Find it at iTunes.