Music notes – reviews
by Kevin Pollard
Danny Gokey: Haven’t Seen It Yet, Capital CMG, 2019
It’s been more than a decade since we heard the voice of Danny Gokey on American Idol. After his debut country album, Danny began to release a string of Christian albums with hits like, “Hope In Front of Me,” “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again,” and “More Than You Think I Am”. Now his fifth album, Haven’t Seen It Yet, brimming with hope and well-written songs that make it my favourite album of the year. Highlights here include the infectious album opening, “New Day” and the upbeat anthem, “Love God Love People” and the gospel choir backed, “Tell Somebody” featuring vocals from Mandisa. But it’s his soulful vocals and stellar songwriting found here that make this album rise above the rest as heard on “Move Than I Could Be”, “No Pressure” and the title track with the lyric, “You’re closer than you think you are / only moments from the break of dawn / all His promises are just up ahead / maybe you just haven’t seen it yet.”
Steven Curtis Chapman: Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows, SCSEE Music, 2019
After 25 years of making Contemporary Christian Music, Steven Curtis Chapman went back to his Paducah, Kentucky origins with the album Deep Roots back in 2013. Problem was, it released exclusively at Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Now, six years later, Chapman returns with Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows reworking his classic hits and favourite hymns with some help from his family and some guest artists. Highlights found here include the opening song, “Where the Bluegrass Grows” featuring bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and “Till The Blue,” with a soulful performance from Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox. Fans will enjoy the new arrangements of favourites “Dive” and “Cinderella” and southern gospel classics abound on “Victory In Jesus,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and “Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad” where he is joined by his father and brother.
Michael W Smith: Awaken: The Surround Experience, Rocketown Records/Fuel Music, 2019
Following close on the heels of back to back albums released early in 2018 (“A Million Lights” and “Surrounded”) Christian music pioneer Michael W. Smith has now released his fifth live worship album, Awaken: The Surrounded Experience recorded live at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Although Michael is a gifted worship leader as evidenced in his live concerts and past worship albums, I have always been disappointed at the lack of self-penned songs from this veteran singer/songwriter; once again, of the 13 songs found here, only three were written by Smitty. Songs found here include Sunday morning favourites like the energetic opener, “Set A Fire”, “Reckless Love” and “Revelation Song.” Fans of Smith’s prior worship projects will love hearing live arrangements of “Let It Rain,” “Healing Rain,” and “Agnus Dei”.