Rahn Anthoni – Highway (Country Soul)

Rahn Anthoni’s song “Highway” begins with a smooth and gentle acoustic guitar riff backed by a touch of tasteful bass guitar to provide some subtle ‘low end’.  Just in case anyone happens to miss the hint of steel guitar suggesting the “country” genre to our ears, Rahn Anthoni’s Cowboy hat and red Chevy Blazer draw the connection in living color for us during the opening scene of his YouTube video.  Gentle strings & piano join the arrangement, filling out the soundscape full enough to distract us from the fact that drums have not even entered the picture yet!  This sets the stage for the strings and piano to temporarily drop out long enough to direct our attention toward the arrival of a gently driving drumbeat and the pop country vocal stylings of Rahn Anthoni during the song’s first verse.

 

At first, on the surface, this song may sound like it merely chronicles an innocuous road-trip that gets off-track before the driver finds his way back to the right road to reach his desired destination.  “As I walk to get in my old car in Georgia, there’s a lot of things I passed on 85.  Sometimes I may get lost. When I’m lost I pay the cost and find my way back as I drive.  There’s a highway to the road again.  There’s a highway.”

The backing piano gains prominence as the chorus reinforces the conviction that there is a fast-track to help the driver relaunch his journey to get moving in the right direction again.  “There’s a highway to where it begins / There’s a highway”.  A harmony female background vocal adds a touch of soul to the  tune’s otherwise contemporary and breezy country pop sensibility.

Verse two makes it obvious that Rahn is singing about something more important than cars, roads, and Interstate 85 in Georgia.  This song is actually about the changes and decisions we all face, the directions in which we choose to drive – so to speak – as we travel through the personal journey of life.  People who’ve “been around the block” a few times already may know the terrain better than we do.  They may sincerely and earnestly offer us driving directions.  But God leaves each of us with the responsibility to decide which way we will turn at the many crossroads our lives have to offer.  “As your life goes through so many changes, and the road don’t look good when you’re blind.  They try to help you see but you don’t want to be free, and you drive back to the place to leave.”

The meaning of the chorus resonates more fully the second time around.  It gently reassures us that even if we may have “gotten off track’ and wandered in the wrong direction, as long as we are willing to submit to the Lord and “follow His directions”, there is always a highway to getting back on track, moving in the right direction again, serving God on the pathway that he has mapped out for us to travel.  “There’s a highway to where it begins.  There’s a highway.”

A short spoken word passage drives the point home further. 

“When you come to the crossroads – look!  It’s a direction but only one way that can take you to where you need to be.”  Syncopated piano stylings gain greater prominence on a few final energetic choruses. 

By the time the song closes, we are encouraged by the realization that getting our lives back on track is not an end unto itself.  It is only the beginning of a new adventure of meaningful activity fueled by hope and driven by the very love of God.  Be sure to strap on your seatbelt!  There’s no telling what great things God has in store for us as we move forward!  

“There’s a highway to where it begins!”

The New Covenant – By My Wounds You are Healed

The New Covenant’s ethereal new song “By My Wounds You are Healed” is a unique piece of Christian rock music, a meaningful spiritual statement delivered with an uncompromising alt rock vibe that defies simple categorization. 

The singer’s vocal timbre is quite unique, immediately grabbing the listener’s attention from the earliest moments of the verse.  A full organ/string/mellotron type keyboard patch mingles with a lightning and storm sound effect.  Additional vocal layers enhance the sonic pallet.  A clean electric guitar riff heralds the beginning of a chorus section in which the vocal line becomes irresistibly captivating due in large part to the addition of a simple yet inimitable higher harmony line.  If given the chance, this is a singular soundscape that can really grow on you.

The lyrics don’t beat around the bush for a moment.  This song is an uncompromising statement of Christ’s love.  He suffered because we needed to be healed from our sins.

I had to suffer this to make you mine.
You know I think about you all the time.
You are the branches and I am the vine.
Drink the water and taste the wine.

By my wounds girl you are healed.
By my wounds yes you are healed.
By my wounds girl you are healed.
By my wounds now you are healed.

These words are softer than the morning dew.
A burning fire inside of you.
I gave my blood I gave my life for you.
His words are faithful and His words are true.

By my wounds boy you are healed.
By my wounds boy you are healed.
By my wounds boy you are healed.
By my wounds boy you are healed.

I had to suffer this to make you mine.
You know I think about you all the time.
You are the branches and I am the vine.
Drink the water and taste the wine.

By my wounds girl you are healed.
By my wounds yes you are healed.
By my wounds girl you are healed.
Now you are healed.

You are healed.

 

 

 

Christa Deana – If God Doesn’t Want It

The pristine neo jazz/pop/soul keyboards that introduce us to “If God Doesn’t Want It” by Christa Deana prepare our ears for a very modern audio production.  Carefully produced claps on beats “2” and “4” cleverly begins the construction of a very strong underlying rhythm section.  Christa sets a conversational, friendly tone on what might be described as a smooth rap intro in which she shares the main theme of the song while also drawing the listener in. “If God doesn’t want it, then I don’t want it.  I guess it just ain’t for me.  Listen!

An electronic bass drum approximates the sound of a heart-beat as the first verse begins.  It’s creative stutter-stepping groove is a very nice touch!

Christa effortlessly glides from vocal phrase to phrase smoothly in a manner which, on one hand, is reminiscent of classic jazz pop vocalists like Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Sade yet without sounding “retro” at all.  Indeed, “If God Doesn’t Want It” presents us with a modern hip-hop sensibility not unlike that of sophisticated cutting edge artists like Tinashe.  Most importantly, she manages to attain this stylistic achievement while also maintaining a distinctively pure Christian focus.

Polished execution of strong creative ideas make this song a delight to listen to again and again.  For example, on the chorus, a subtle male vocal matches the melody line an octave lower than the lead voice.

The male rap change-up section toward the end adds just the right touch of energy and power needed to elevate this catchy and well-crafted smooth hip hop tune into mega-hit territory.

By the time the spotlight returns to Christa to allow a few sublime moments of skillfully improvised vocal lines over a final chorus section, it is the icing on the cake, the logical wrap-up to a wonderful piece of music, one which leaves the listener wanting to come back again for yet another listen.

Lyrically, verse one explains the condition of a frustrated follower of Jesus who thinks they know what is best for their own life.  She prays and prays asking God for the things she thinks is best for herself, always wondering why she doesn’t seem to see or feel God working in the powerful ways she desires.

  • I used to think I knew what was best for me. Praying and asking on my bended knee.  Then I learned to pray and trust in Your word.  As I lift my voice this is what I heard…

Then something life-changing happens in her life.  As she begins praying and trusting in the Word of God, her attention gets drawn away from an inward focus.  As she begins to listen to God, a realization dawns upon her.  God always wants what is best for her.  And what may seem “good” on the surface is not always what is truly best.

  • If God doesn’t want it, then I don’t want it. I refuse to complain about what He hasn’t given me.  If its not from my Father, then it’s from the enemy.  God always does what’s best for me Put it in His hands. Leave it be.

As a result, she resolves to seek out a desire for the things the Lord wants for her.  For when we seek the Lord first, Jesus tells us we can rest assured all the rest of the things we need “will be added unto us”.

  • I heard it clearly the night I lift my voice. I’m committed.  You’ll always be my choice.  I only want the things You want for me. I’ll seek you first the rest is history.

Even though we may believe in Jesus, whenever we are still wrapped up in an inward focus, the pathway described in this song seems counter-intuitive.  The inward focus will never  understand how raising our hands in surrender to the Lord can possibly make us feel so much better.  But Christa Deana clearly does.  Like a gentle and supportive friend, she’s sharing the vision, encouraging us to understand that focusing on what God wants for us leads each of us to a much better, more fulfilled, joyful place.

  • Eyes haven’t seen – ears haven’t heard all You have planned for me. So I raise my hands in surrender.  I feel so much better. I trust You and I choose to let it go.

God has more than enough joy and peace to fill to overflowing all who are brave enough to follow Christa as she follows Christ.  May we all sing this chorus daily!

  • If God doesn’t want it, then I don’t want it. I refuse to complain about what He hasn’t given me.  If its not from my Father, then it’s from the enemy.  God always does what’s best for me Put it in His hands. Leave it be.

House on Solid Rock – Revivify

House on Solid Rock is back with “Revivify”, a single set for release Friday, 4/6/18, to iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Music, Spotify and many other fine online music retailers.

The tune has an infectious ‘sing-along’ quality.  Stylistically the song calls to mind output from classic alt rock bands like Weezer or REM, yet with a more relaxed vibe and a slightly more melancholy tinge, which brings me to the most important element… the message.

In Luke 7:47, Jesus says those who are forgiven much, love much as a result. Similarly, I would suggest those of us who are more aware of having been rescued from the brink of hopelessness often seem to appreciate the healing power of Christ’s hope in a very special way.  And those who have palpably suffered through years of wandering in dark clouds of doubt and depression have a fundamentally deeper appreciation for the respite and clarity light brings whenever and wherever it shines upon their hearts and lives.

https://houseonsolidrock.bandcamp.com/track/revivify

Even those of us fortunate enough to have enjoyed relatively sheltered and generally happy childhoods will find at least a part of ourselves depicted in this song. For when we pause to consider the depth of our neediness as sinners, we remember that we were totally incompetent to do anything to set us free from the chains of guilt and death. Even the most blessed, rich and popular people of the world have dings and dents that cannot be repaired by human effort. We are only saved by trusting and following Jesus, the one who paid – at His own expense – the ultimate price to set us free. It is through faith in Jesus that we are revivified. Jesus brought the key and unchained us.

When we are born again, dread and fear are banished. Instead, we discover exhilaration because Christ has breathed new life into us for eternity!

A lyric video is also going live at YouTube  on 4/6/2018.

Check it out!  Sing along!  And I predict this song will really grow on you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bX6kZur3Mg

Revivify

Twenty years of thought suppression
Childhood spent in deep depression
Feelings of incompetence
My life was always on the fence
My life was filled with dings and dents
But now I’m saved at your expense

Your love has revivified me
You brought the key and unchained me
You came to exhilarate me
You breathed new life in me for all eternity

No longer do I feel depleted
‘Cause since you came, I feel accreted
Now I want to tell my stories
Share with doubters allegories
From endangered territories
To their broken dormitories

Your love has revivified me
You brought the key and unchained me
You came to exhilarate me
You breathed new life in me for all eternity

Your love has revivified me
You brought the key and unchained me
You came to exhilarate me
You breathed new life in me…

Your love has revivified me
You brought the key and unchained me
You came to exhilarate me
You breathed new life in me for all eternity

Suzan Mutesi – “Love Run Remix”

Suzan Mutesi’s “Love Run Remix” is an interesting reinterpretation of her previously released conventionally bouncy electronic Christian pop song “Love Run”.  Both the original song and the remix feature beautifully crafted electronic elements, careful production, and the kind of shiny auto-tuned vocals we’ve come to expect from the genre. The remix, however, follows its own unique muse, daring to wander farther from its mainstream influences into a more free-form direction that even explores melodic tonalities not often found in electronic pop songs.

The first verse begins with a declaration of Christ’s love.

Love!  Your sacred heart was all you had in mind.
When tension rose you gave Yourself for me in zeal.
To live – Love paid it all FOR YOU and Me.
Yeah FOR YOU and Me.
I have been set free!

The chorus then states and repeats the main theme of the song:

Your love is running after me.  When I fall you catch me!
Your love is running after me.  When I fall you catch me!

A second verse uses imagery of love, innocence, and joy to paint an  emotional word picture anticipating her future heavenly home.

Kisses – baby laughter – Heaven you’ve built for me
When All is gone in dust I will trust your love to lead Me home

Love paid it all FOR YOU and Me.
Yeah FOR YOU and Me.
I have been set free!

A little over 2 minutes into the track, the beat drops out for a change-up section that leads into a surprisingly energized rap section!  Suzan’s choice to contrast the sleek beauty of her vocal with the spoken energy of a male  voice makes this section of the song really stand out.

Jesus your love is what I bleed.
A best friend so close when I need.
Walk with no fear you shining thru.
My king J-E-S-US rules.
yeah

I wont trip or fall.
I know I win when your involved.

I was saved, your amazing grace,
you’re the start and the finish of my race.

We lit with your glory – turn it up!
Energy overflowing – that’s wassup!

I’m overcoming – I cant get enough.
My cup runneth over from all your love!

The spectacular rap sequence ends as suddenly as it appears, with Suzan’s ethereal vocal returning to the main theme to wrap things up.

“Your love is running after me. When I fall you catch me. Love.”

Check out both the original upbeat song “Love Run” and the creative new “Love Run Remix” at Suzan Mutesi Mufumbiro’s SoundCloud page, on iTunes or Spotify.

Sylvester Murray’s “When I Proclaim I Believe in the Lord” (sung by Obeji Williams & Kareen Foster)

Sylvester Murray’s composition opens with delicate acoustic guitar fingerpicking.  After a few gentle vocal “oohh’s”, The O!K! team of Obeji Williams & Kareen Foster blend their voices beautifully as they introduce us to the first of many recurring instances of the meditative refrain When I proclaim ‘I believe in the Lord‘.   Each iteration is followed by a lead vocal line which completes the thought in a slightly different, yet always single-minded and consistent manner.

Much of the song seeks to clear up some common misconceptions by stating things that the singers are NOT saying whenever they proclaim they believe in the Lord.  Here are a few examples:

  • When I proclaim I believe in the Lord: I’m not boasting about my success. I’m saying I’ve come short of my goal. And He’s got something better in store for me yet.
  • When I proclaim I believe in the Lord: I’m not saying I know everything.  Life is filled with anguish and confusion. Without God’s wisdom I am nothing.
  • When I proclaim I believe in the Lord: I’m not saying I’m better than thee. Only God’s way is perfect. My imperfections are there for you to see.

The piece truly reaches its apex, however, toward the end when it transitions our focus toward a series of unmistakably affirmative statements.  This is what the singers ARE SAYING when they proclaim their faith in the Lord…

When I proclaim I believe in the Lord, I’m saying…

  • Jesus bore my pain.
  • In Calvary He was my salvation.
  • And that’s why I praise His name.

When I proclaim I believe in the Lord!

J-Carter – “The G.O.D.”

J Carter’s rhymes flow fast and fluidly with verse after verse of praise to the one true God, creator of heaven and earth, on his song “The G.O.D.”

“You’ve been there for me from the beginning
Forgiving me even when I was sinning
You give me the strength to live
Give me the strength to give
Give me the strength to try to lead my wife and my kids.”

The message of this song is so important that when each chorus rolls around, even clever rhymes end up taking a temporary backseat at least long enough for a quatrain of important statements of straightforward truth.

“Life has been good because of You – True!
Life cannot go on without You – True!
Life would be meaningless without You – True!
God has been good to me – Me too!”

It is refreshing to hear moments of honesty and even of humility coming from a modern rap artist.

“I’m not worthy of your love but still you put it on me.
I’m not worthy of praying to You but You still don’t ignore me.”

“You know me inside out without a doubt.
You’ve helped me in so many ways that I’ve lost count.”

“There’s no way I could ever pay you back
All I’ve got is my soul and You got that.”

The Word of God is held in high esteem.

“You sent me your instructional book
on how to live right how to put up a fight
and how to let my light shine bright…”

And then he wraps things up with an invitation of sorts.

“Has He been good to you too?
If He has put your hands up high!”

At this point, I love to envision every hand in the house raised high!!!

J-Carter’s music is available at his website.  http://www.jcarter.rocks/

Yeisie Marie invites us to ask God to reveal His glory! “Digno De Gloria”

When I was first contacted about Yeisie Marie’s brand new release, “Digno De Gloria”, I must admit I was a little concerned about whether a ‘language barrier’ might limit my ability to adequately understand and review a Christian song sung entirely in Spanish, even if I was provided a translation of the lyrics into my native English language. One listen to the song, however, quickly allayed my concerns. The heartfelt message came across loud and clear.

The song’s first verse opens with a very minimal arrangement which allows Yeisie’s lone vocal line ample space to convey a feeling of personal expression to God. “To You we raise our hands. We raise our voice. Worthy of glory. Great and eternal God!!” The song naturally flows into a gentle chorus which continues expression of praise to the one true God of love, God almighty, the Holy Lamb.

So it is that only after our sung prayer has established a strong foundation of praise to God, that the chorus ends by placing a request before the mighty throne of the LORD.

Your glory we want to see.

 

Verse 3 effectively adds a feeling of confidence and energy.   A second chorus continues to build with emotion exclaiming “We raise our hands.  We raise our voices.  God is worthy of glory!”  A celebratory tone ensues.  It is almost as if – through the very process of asking in song – we hear these singers receive an affirmative answer from the Lord.  “We want to see your glory.  Revive us again.  We want to see your glory.  Let it cover me.  Let it fill us.  We want to see.”

This beautiful and powerful song closes much as it began, with a reflective and gentle single vocal line.  Yeisie sings to God: “We adore you.  Worthy are you!”

In the first chapter of his gospel, John speaks about Jesus Christ saying “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14-16)  But not everyone who saw Jesus truly beheld his glory.  In Matthew 13:13, Jesus spoke of some who, even though they witnessed his physical presence and heard his spoken words did not understand or appreciate His true glory.   “Though seeing, they do not see” Jesus said.  “…though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”

In Matthew 16:15-17, Jesus asked his apostles “Who do you say that I am?”.  Peter replied You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”   “Blessed are you” Jesus replied, telling Peter “…this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

That is why songs like this one are important.  They encourage us to ask God in heaven to reveal His glory to us.  Asking God for such blessings is scriptural.  In Luke 11:9 Jesus says “Ask and it will be given to you…”  In verse 13 he explains “If you… though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

When we behold the holiness, truth, kindness and grace of Jesus… when we recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior, a veil is lifted from our minds and hearts and God does a mighty work in our lives.  In 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 Paul says it like this.  “… whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 

Transformation into his image.  This is the mighty work which God seeks to accomplish in our hearts.  He wants to transform us into his image with ever increasing glory.  And he does it within us when we contemplate the Lord’s glory.

Beholding God’s glory is not an elusive emotional feeling or state of mind.  It is a condition of confident faith in and trust in Jesus as the “truth of life” and the “light of the world”.  It is a mindset that trusts in Jesus and seeks to obey Jesus.  It is a realization that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.  It is an internal revelation that Jesus is our hope, our Lord, our source of eternal glory.

Notice that Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 does not speak of beholding the Lord’s glory as though it was only a “one-time event”.  Quite the contrary.  As we “with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory” we continue in an ongoing process of “being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory”. 

Let each of us who belong to the Lord raise our voices with Yeisie, whether it be in English, Spanish or whatever language we happen to speak…  Let us all communicate the same sincere request to our Father in heaven as we say…

“Let us see your glory, LORD!”

House on Solid Rock – Not Alone!

House On Solid Rock has released a nice lyric video for the song “Not Alone”.  It’s  a bright and bouncy auto-biographical reggae-pop number which celebrates the gifts of community and purpose that result from dedicating our lives to Jesus Christ.

Throughout his teenage years, singer song-writer and multi-instrumentalist Christian Joseph Allbee confides that he felt adrift and estranged.  His life journey seemed like an endless walk down a solitary, depressing and lonely road.  No matter how hard he tried to be “good enough” to “fit in”, he always seemed to fall short.

But then things began to change for the better when, at around age 21, he dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.  He discovered a sense of peace, purpose and community within the family of faith that is not based upon personal achievements.  Instead, the strong fellowship and community that followers of Jesus share is based upon shared membership in the family of God.  It is the love of God that binds us together with Christian love for one another.  It is not our strength or skillset which enables us to perform works of service within the church.  It is the mighty power of God’s Holy Spirit working within us. With the heavy load of “performance based” acceptance no longer weighing him down, he soon discovered an energy, freedom and sincere desire to help share the good news with others!

Instead of worrying about whether he was good enough or not, Christian had been set free to trust God to take him into the unknown.  He now rests in knowing that the Lord Jesus goes with him.  He’s ready and willing to go around the world and back again to share God’s love.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the apostle Paul praises God as “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Read the lyrics as you listen.  Or better yet – let’s all of us who have been comforted by God’s love and grace sing along as we listen to the song “Not Alone”!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXZJmf2OqLQ

CHRISTIAN JOSEPH ALLBEE – Vocals, bass guitar, synthesizers, percussion, songwriting, production.  JON HARE – Guitar, drums.  SAMUEL ALVAREZ – Mastering

Hear Derek Homer’s new song free on Spotify (More to You)

Here’s the link.  Have a great weekend!

The theme of “More to You” came to Derek during a time of prayer.  Finding himself increasingly thankful for what God had done and continued to do in his life, he “just kept saying ‘I want to give more… I want to give more…” he confides.  “Truly Jesus has done so much more than I could ever count!.. I am blessed to be a blessing and my sprit longs to do more – more for Him and for His Kingdom!”

According to Ephesians 2:10, each of us who has been born again in Christ Jesus is blessed with opportunities to serve, “good deeds God has prepared in advance for us to do”!  As these opportunities arise, may we all joyfully and sincerely sing along with Derek.  “I want to give more to You Jesus!  More to You!”

http://www.derekhomer.com/
https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/DerekHomer
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1diHYcOtpJnmzdQOUVl98d
https://www.facebook.com/derekinworship/