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Music Reviews (by Kim Gentes)

Back in the mid-90's Kim began writing impromptu reviews of church music CDs (worship music) so that people who were looking for CDs would have an opinion from someone who is also a worship leader and is garnering music for local church use.  Up to this point, this was rarely something that was done, because church music was revered as sacred and it was thought that any offering of that sacred worship shouldn't be criticised or evaluated.  In fact, Kim wasn't as much a critic as he was an evaluator, helping people find what fit their church. He began posting his reviews on line in a email discussion forum, called the Worship List (website).  After a while, when he helped launch, he continued that same concept of trying to help other local church worship leaders and musicians find music that might be applicable to their situations.  The reviews continued to be a part of that. went on to grow a staff of writers that would add many more reviews to the collection they have, but Kim continued to participate as a key reviewer.  This journal logs all the reviews Kim has written on worship music CDs and projects.

Kim's reviews of CD projects of worship music includes independents, label and main stream recordings, but all having to do with worship music.

Entries in christian (14)

Everything And Nothing Less - Chris McClarney (2015)

Chris McClarney's new project "Everything and Nothing Less" is the best live album I've heard yet to come out of Jesus Culture Music. The anthemic and melodic sounds of soaring vocals on a bed of electric guitars and thundering drums has been the hallmark of the sound coming from the youth music birthed from Bethel Church in Redding California. And Chris McClarney is not a new-comer to this influential group. His song "You Love Never Fails" (originally included in the 2008 live album from Jesus Culture of the same name) was the main anthem of their music for several years.

There is a lot of great music being recorded across the worship genre. And while much of the best production of this music leans on radio play and becomes popular there, the best focus of all worship and praise music begins with great songs. Great songs that expound the history, passion and theology of the Christian faith. Great songs that the church can sing. Great songs that can be used as liturgy (modern or historic). And most of all great songs that local congregations can use to give honor, praise, glory, surrender, prayer, thanks, deepest devotion and worship to the one true God, Yahweh.

"Everything and Nothing Less" is a concise and brilliant collection of great songs. Excellent lyric writing, beautiful melodic hooks, and compelling music that beckons the listener to abandon their hearts and souls in a Holy Moment to the God of Miracles who is an All Consuming Fire. These are, in fact, the first three tracks of the album, and they represent three of the best new songs I've heard in the last 10 years.  

The project begins with the powerfully understated "Holy Moment", a wonderful call to worship song that opens the worshiper to a poignant sense of God's presence and a welcoming declaration of anticipation and expectation.  Track two pivots on the "Holy Moment" theme to a declaration of God's holiness, glory, worth and righteousness with "All Consuming Fire". Like the first song, track two is arranged in an initially understated bare structure, but about half way through it, the song launches into McClarney sailing his brilliant voice through the chorus and on to ad lib and vocal throw-offs that shine with genuine passion.

The third track on the album comes to my favorite song on the project, "God of Miracles." A faith-filled request and declaration, this ballad is surprisingly humble and prayerful, inquiring of God to intervene while remaining truthfully honest to the reality of what is happening in our real lives, as is seen in the unveiled language of this bridge:

This world is shaking, but you cannot be shaken
My heart is breaking, but I'm not broken yet
Your love is fearless, help me to be courageous too
There is nothing impossible for the ... [chorus: God of miracles]

I could go on to explain the remaining tracks of great music, wonderful production and true energy of this live recording, but I will leave that to you to hear. This project easily garners an "Editor's Choice Award", as it is the best album I have heard this year and I consider this to possibly be the best live album I have heard in a decade- it has that many useable, great songs.

Fans of Jesus Culture music will love this album, but so will people who like Tomlin, Hillsong United, Will Reagan/United Pursuit. Part of what makes this album even more special to me personally is that I happen to have had the chance to meet and get to know Chris McClarney on a few brief occasions. I also had the opportunity to attend a church for about a year where he led worship. Chris is absolutely one of the most passionate, humble and honest people I have yet to meet. He is singing these songs like he means it- because he does. On top of that Chris has, far and away, the best voice of any modern worship "artist" or leader I have heard- an astounding range, crisp powerful tone and a warm style that invites everyone else to jump right in.

If you've been saving your money for that one album you will buy this year- this is it. Seriously. Fortunately, with today's tech, you can hear extended samples of every song (on Amazon or iTunes) before you commit to buying.  This is one project you must buy the entire album for- don't get just a few tracks. It's that good.

For churches using, all of the songs, chord charts, lyrics and audio from this album are already available and pre-loaded for you in the system song database. In fact, to the best of our knowledge is currently the only place yet to have all charts from this album! If you are not part of and want to listen to audio samples or purchase the album directly yourself, see the Amazon link below.

Amazon Link:


Review by Kim Gentes



Light Has Come: Advent EP - Worship Together (2012)

Advent is not a word you hear outside of traditional and denominational Christian settings a lot.  But as the recent millenium has brought so many changes, we see much of the non-traditional and non-liturgical church groups reaching into the ancient traditions of the Christian church and mining the wisdom of our forebearers in the faith. Advent literally means "coming" and refers to the season of weeks that precede the celebrated birth of Christ and God's coming earth in the flesh as the Emmanuel (literally "God with us").  The Advent as a Christian season of reverence and anticipation was only exceeded in importance by the reflective season of Lent that leads up to the holy week of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Musical worship of advent often focuses on the anticipation of the coming savior, the light rising in the darkness of this world, and preparation of our hearts for His appearing.  It is in that spirit that the recent EP "Light Has Come" seems to present it’s finely crafted songs for the Advent season.

WorshipTogether releases the "Light Has Come" EP with six modern worship songs that focus on the light, hope, glory and joy of the advent season not by headlining it with artists. Instead it chose to release a compact collection of very focused songs from its songwriters, keeping the arrangements and presentation accessible and reproducible for churches.  Recorded crisply, but with the songs as the focus, one gets the idea this was meant more as a resource to churches coming to Advent than to consumers looking for radio hits.

In fact, even the keys and arrangements of the songs flow seamlessly from one song to another. I was able to sit down with my guitar and play along with each and every song the first time through. Five of the 6 songs were keyed either in F or C (very complimentary keys), making it great to use these songs together in a worship set.

Let’s dive into the songs.

The first song "Let The World Sing Gloria" is a modern song rendering language and context for the traditional phrase "Gloria in excelsis Deo" (which is Latin for "Glory to God in the highest"). Musically, it is an ebbing verse, vaulting chorus and rising bridge which brings the ancient phrase to life.  Melodic, well written lyrics and hook laden chorus, this is the best song on the EP. You really should consider this song for the upcoming season- it is excellent!

"Newborn King" is the second track and gives a medium tempo groove to celebrating the coming of the Christ child. Again the musical affinity is crisply acoustic/rock and easy to incorporate into a modern worship set. The lyrics continue to be the language of advent and anticipatory Christmas season. Another good candidate for your Sunday mornings.

The title track "Light Has Come" is a country-ish sounding ballad that reminds me of something from Vineyard Music's "roots worship" sound with Ryan Delmore- somewhere between acoustic/pop and Mumford & Sons. Lyrically, the song focuses a modern spin on the story of Jesus' light come to the broken and weak of our earthly society and bringing God's glory through such humility.

Track five is the pop-driven "End of Exile", the most progressive recording on this collection. Well done, this song soars on power-chords flooding the chorus. It is comprised of a terse lyrical style, leaving lithe phrases such as its compact chorus:

Glorious miracle here is the end of exile
God the invisible flooding the world with light

Definitely a song to look at for the Advent season.

I will leave tracks 4 and 6 to the reader to discover, as they are laid out simply and clearly in easily reproduced arrangements and keys.

Overall, I found the Advent EP "Light Has Come" to be delightful. I especially loved tracks 1, 2 and 5, as noted above and would recommend them to any church looking for new music for the season.  

"Light Has Come" find it at Amazon or iTunes

For those who use online planning, you can also find the songs from this album, the full audio, chord charts and lyrics online in

If you are wondering where you might find some great new songs for the Christmas/Advent season, and you are in contemporary worship context, you should definitely consider the songs on this new album from WorshipTogether, "Light Has Come".


worshiping Him!

Kim Gentes


The Playlist (Deluxe Edition) - Rita Springer (2012)

Rita Springer is a name that has been synonymous with passionate worship. Like many of you, I've been enjoyed her songs, been inspired by her powerful vocals and encouraged by her living example as a leader and mentor to a generation of worship leaders. I first met Rita in 2001, and did a video interview with her on a tour she was doing with Worship Together newcomers (then) Tim Hughes and Chris Tomlin. Rita was then, and continues to be, a trailblazer who never settles for the "status quo". She was never content to live on your latest success or create a song to fit with the "formula" that might be popular.

Rita's latest album, called "The Playlist (Deluxe)", is a progression in that journey, taking Rita's music from its powerful and inspirational roots to a place of beautiful artistry and pop accessibility. This marks the first album for Rita with her new major label partner, Integrity Music. Instead of pressing Rita into a plastic mold of pop-Christian music, this new release has Rita playing some of her most innovative music to date (such as tracks In This Forever, Over I Go, and Made For This), while on the same album including some of her most worshipful, hook-laden grooves (such as tracks I Call You, You Are My Hallelujah, Come In, All I Need, You Are Good, Oh How You Love Me, Make You Happy, and gospel drenched This Blood).

"The Playlist (Deluxe)" is a triumph of the best passionate worship, glorious vocals, great lyric writing, and artistic production that we've ever heard from Rita Springer. I couldn't get through this album without lifting my arms, raising my voice and joining in worship. While this album is made with top level production, it remains 25 excellent tracks (11 studio and 14 live tracks) for consideration by local churches looking for great new songs. Rita is joined by a veritable "who's who" of producers who's collaborative efforts shine, rather than segment, this great album. Jason Halbert, David Ruis, Bobby Hartry, Jason Morant, Anthony Skinner, Daniel Bashta and Joel Khouri apply their considerable talents to this project, and each track brings out a slice of Rita's passion that fits the song. Additional to that, the "Deluxe" portion of this album is a live version of many songs, PLUS four of Rita's most amazing corporate worship favorites: Created to Worship, All I Need, You Are Good and Oh How You Love Me.

Listening through the album multiple times, I keep changing my favorite songs. Lyrically, I found myself resonating with the lead track Come In very deeply. Rhythmically, I loved In This Forever and its 6/8 feel. But four songs stand out profoundly for me. First, I Call You is an infectious song of praise with such devotional language I find myself reaching for my guitar and joining in every time the track starts. Second, This Blood is something of the feel of an old-time hymn, with gospel choir backdrops and the undeniable message of Christ's redemptive work made possible in the sacrifice of His Blood. Then, You Are Good is one of those songs that will ring around in your head and want you to put it on the set list for next Sunday every time you hear it- a great corporate worship song. But my absolute favorite song has to come down to Oh How You Love Me, which though it is one of Rita's classic worship songs is so powerful, so compelling and pulls such a deep musical groove that you can't do anything but absolutely love it and want to sing along to the Lord "Oh how You love me". 

If you have never heard Rita Springer before, this album should be your first stop into one of the most passionate, gifted songwriter/worship leaders in the last 20 years. It's that good. I have no hesitation with naming The Playlist Deluxe a 2012 Editor's Choice Award recipient. It is a great album, really. Check it out.

NOTE: Below is a free download from our friends at Integrity Music, with both the MP3 and chord chat from the song "This Blood" from Rita's new album. Enjoy!


Amazon Link:


Review by Kim Gentes


Free Song Download "This Blood" from Rita Springer


This Blood
by Rita Springer, Paulette Wooten

Note: To save the PDF or MP3 files
above [Right-Mouse] click the links.


Sunshine In The Morning - Latrel Maloy (2011)

While I have been actively involved in reviewing music for churches for over 15 years, most of the recordings I have heard have typically been in the acoustic rock/easy listening/pop range. Occasionally, I would hear a country, gospel, R&B or hard rock styled album, but these were rare. I wasn't puposefully avoiding other styles, I was simply reviewing what was commonly written, produced and released in the popular Christian worship genre of music and resources.

The last year I have begun to listen to more southern soul, gospel, and R&B styled albums and found some amazingly encouraging, heart-filled and passionate music. One of the best albums I have heard is by Latrel Maloy, called "Sunshine in the Morning". On first blush, you might think that this is simply a great soulful, gospel recording, akin to the more modern sounds of Kirk Franklin or perhaps the worshipful focus of Israel Houghton. But a closer listen reveals something more sublime than either of those icons. In fact, what surprised me most about Latrel Maloy was not his music (though it is top notch and engaging), his vocals (though they are boundless and brilliant), but truly the most compelling part of "Sunshine in the Morning" is the brilliant lyrics and ad libs of each and every song. From the title track, to "Soldier for the Lord" to "Love Call" and on through each song, Latrel explores not just the glory and faith that makes his journey unique, but the sorrow and pain that provide the contrast to the triumph. And this portion of his songwriting is not only a tacid tip of the hat to "soul music", but revealing of what great songwriters have always done for us- draw us together by the common thread of our experience by articulating it for us in song.

Latrel talks of longing for love, relationship, healing for generations, hurts and pain, and the gritty reality of his own experience. And it doesn't matter if you don't have exactly the same life story as Latrel- you still find yourself drawn into each song because he sings and speaks to the human soul which, while in pain through times of difficulty, is ultimately in search of the comforting reality and friendship of God. It is almost impossible to choose favorite songs on this brilliant album. But three songs that stand out for me are the title track (Sunshine in the Morning), "Love Call", and "I Will Give Anything". Each one of these songs express the core of the encouraging message of Latrel's album. He speaks candidly about the centrality of love and the need for each of us to tether our lives to God's love.

Musically, "Sunshine in the Morning" is mixture of full soul, gospel, R&B and pop sounds. Latrel's vocals punctuate the message like a right hook to the soul of each listener. you can hardly listen to this album without being impacted by its honesty, beauty, pain and encouragement all brought profoundly to life by strong songwriting, music and vocal performance. Once I began listening to this album, I simply wouldn't let my music player move on to another album. For two weeks straight, I listened every day to Latrel sing, speak and call out the songs on "Sunshine in the Morning". It has been quite some time since I have given an Editor's Choice selection to an album, but "Sunshine in the Morning" more than deserves this. Latrel is virtually unknown right now, but deserves to be heard by the entire world. A message, a voice and a heart that speaks to the listener at every level. Brilliant!

Below is a 6 minute 25 second video for the title track "Sunshine in the Morning". Take a moment, sit back, watch and listen. You will be inspired and encouraged. This is a man who's music and message have become a singular call to reach to the unfailing arms of God and at the same time becon young and old to allow those same arms of God to draw them out of lives of brokenness into lives of life. You can also see more information about Latrel on his own website.

I want to thank Latrel for giving me permission to include the free MP3 download (song below) and display this video on my site.  You can Latrel's music at the Amazon linked listed below. I hope you find Latrel's music as inspiring and encouraging as I do.


"Sunshine in the Morning/ Do Love"
Amazon Album Link 


Free Song Download from "Sunshine In The Morning/Do Love"


I Will Give Anything
by Latrel Maloy

Note: To save the MP3 file above
[Right-Mouse] click the links.


Review by Kim Gentes

10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman (2011)

With a jubilant song of freedom, Matt Redman leads us into his newest album "10,000 Reasons" on the wings of the high-energy declaration song "We Are The Free". This is about as upbeat, power-chord driven, high-tempo as I've ever heard Matt Redman- and he doesn't waste it on bad lyrics. "We Are The Free" is spendid lyric writing, coupled with the hard driving beat and a passionate voice it makes for a great introductory track.

As we look through this entire project, Redman has offered up what may be his best complete project of new songs ever. Ever? Really? Yes, really. No one knows what a record and its songs will do before they make their way to the church. In fact, in Redman's case, it would have to be said that some of his most popular songs have risen over time, and through the coverage of others artists (Blessed Be The Name comes to mind especially in this regard).  After "Friendship and the Fear" and "Heart of Worship" back before the turn of the millenium (ya, I know, wow!) I had to wait until "Facedown" to enjoy an album from Redman's new songs. Was it because he didn't put out good songs? No. He did, just not one great project with a large batch of great songs, great production values, and that energetic live presentation with that extra "something" that can only come from a true time of worship captured on a recording for worshipers to engage with later.

Well, I am here to say- "10,000 Reasons" delivers it all. Great songs, great production, and engaging, worshipful live experience. So let's get on with it.

Track two is a trademark three section song, where a steady A/B pattern is established, then an equally infectious melody line is added for a C section about 2/3 through the song. "Here For You" tags "We welcome You with praise" and lifts the entire song, and all of us along with it. A keeper for the Sunday setlist for sure.

Track three is almost a clone of the format set up for track 2. "Holy" has a verse/chorus happening just well and strong. Then another mid-section is added for contrast. But this song has an extra chorus that is yet a 4th part- close enough to fit as the chorus, vamping on strong major chords to start (instead of the minor chords the chorus 1 begins with). The entire song is overwhelming and humbling to anyone involved with it. It works well, and again is a great song for the Sunday selection. 

And so it goes, from "10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord" (the song) to "Fires" to the droning "Never Once" to the anthemic "Where Would We Be", the driving "We Could Change the World", the glorious "Magnificent", the straight pop/rock "O This God" and finally the piano ballad "Endless Hallelujah".

This album is full, I mean FULL of excellent songs. Well written lyrics, excellent musical hooks, great production, and the gift of one of the best song writing worship leaders in the last 50 years who has obviously poured a ton of work into his craft for this album. Of course, literally every song is a co-write, a testament to the fact that Redman (and most worship writers) have finally figured out that the best songs are made brilliant with co-writing. Jonas Myrin fills in for a bulk of the co-write credits, but familiar names of Matt Maher, Jesse Reeves and Jason Ingram also chime in along with relative new-comer Tim Wanstall.

It would be almost impossible for me to select a favorite song without trying to predict which song will become the next huge song. I absolutely love the first three tracks "We Are The Free", "Here For You" and "Holy". But I would have to settle with "Magnificent" as my standout track. But a dozen people will come out liking a different list each.

You might have checked out of worship recordings for the last few years. Check back in. This album is that good.  Five years down the road, two or three of the songs on this recording will still be rising in the church. If you are a worship leader looking for fresh, well written songs, listen to this entire album. You will find something that will fit your church. Great stuff. Thus far, this is the best album of 2011, hands down.


The entire album, songs, audio and chord charts are already available for subscribers of the worship planning system.




Worshiping Him

Kim Gentes