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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 praise (41)

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



Coming Alive - Dustin Smith (2014)

Coming Alive - Dustin Smith

[Free Song Download "Who Is Like Our God" from Dustin Smith- see at the bottom of the review.]

Every time a new project comes out, I hope to find one thing - great songs I can use in my local church. The new album "Coming Alive" by Dustin Smith is a treasure trove of those kinds of songs.

Songs that speak truth. Songs that are singable. Songs that can be the anthem of our local church, and the hearts that comprise it.

The project starts off with the declarative "Coming Alive", the title track song that quickly becomes a thankful praise and a deepening prayer as you enter into it. The lyrics are straightforward, passionate and thankful. 

You rescued our lives and lifted our heads up
You opened our eyes to see all Your goodness
You came in like a raging flood
Overwhelming us with Your great love

But even in that thankfulness, the lyrics remain God-ward and prayerful in posture.

We're coming alive, we're coming alive now
So breathe Your life into these bones
So we can run to Your light and sing of freedom

I love this opening song. It brings the listener in touch with the sensibility of this project as a place of overflowing wonder- something birthed from a heart that is renewed. And in our cynical, tired world (and sometimes church) we are thirsty for the message of God's refreshing love coming to revive us.

Passionate Modern Psalms - Without collapsing into cliche, these paradoxial twin concepts of thirst and refreshing become the synthesizing theme of this album, which is evident as you listen to plaintiff prayers and thank-filled anthems like "Coming Alive", "Extravagant Love", "Breathe On Me", "Come Rushing In", "We Want To Know You", "Home", "Eyes Like Fire" and "Surround Us Now". Dustin Smith is clearly a person who has been to the desert, and has found the spring of eternal life Jesus promised to the woman at the well in the fourth chapter of John's gospel account. Smith relies on the Psalmic formula of honest need and heartfelt prayer that always capitulates to an extravagant response of thankfulness.

Singable Songs - Above all, each song is singable and I absolutely love that about "Coming Alive". It has placed melody and lyrics at the center of each composition. While the musical production of this project is top notch and beautiful, each one of these songs stands on its own as memorable song your congregation can learn and sing and it does not rely on musical arrangement primarily to be considered for your Sunday morning worship list.

Live Recording - That isn't to say there isn't some spontaneity, energy or musicality in this project. In fact, this album bubbles over at times with an honest spontaneous fervor that gathers the songs into an experience of worship rather than just a collection of songs. Listening to "He's Alive", "Breathe On Me" and "Come Rushing In" makes it clear that Dustin is just as intent on worshiping God as he is in recording an album.

Surprising - Even when the lyrics and tone of the songs take a more intense flavor, they remain constantly scripture-centered (as in "Eyes Like Fire" which is based on a poignant combination of Gospel, Psalms and Revelation imagery). And, even those songs, we find the melodic and singable qualities stand strong.

My favorite songs on this project are "Coming Alive" (melodic and anthemic for use in any church) and "Eyes Like Fire" (vivid lyrical imagery) ! This is a faith-filled album with gracious and thankful language placed on singable melodies. Excellent!

Amazon Link:

Review by Kim Gentes

DOWNLOAD! Our friends at Integrity Music are giving away this free mp3 and chord chart for the song "Who Is Like Our God" written by Dustin Smith, Michael Farren and Chris Clayton! Check it out below!

Free Song Download "Who Is Like Our God" from the album "Coming Alive" by Dustin Smith

Who Is Like Our God - Dustin Smith (mp3)

Who Is Like Our God
by Smith, Farren and Clayton

Note: To save the ZIP file above
simply [Right-Mouse] click the link.

 "Coming Alive" Already in

All the songs on this album have been pre-loaded for subscribers who use for their worship planning. You can include these songs in your set planning this week! If you are a member, simply login and find it in the song database, or under "New Songs" link. If you aren't a member, you can check out for free for a month (more info here).

My God My King [single] - All Sons & Daughters (2013) - free download

The new album "All Sons and Daughters: Live" is a beautiful collection of fresh songs, done with wholehearted devotion. [a full review of this album will be coming soon to this blog]

One of my favorite songs on that album is "My God My King". A simple song of devotion, declaration and Psalm-like surrender from our heart to the King. As with other songs on this album, I found myself getting out my guitar and playing along. As the crisp lyrics rose of out my heart I was reminded of Psalm 9 and the similar theme and words used there to express thanks and praise.

I love where it echos that thanksgiving for God's goodness :

For You've been good always
You're good always

I encourage you to download BOTH the mp3 and the chord chart and engage with this song. Many thanks to my friends at Integrity Music for giving us permission to post this.

Below you will find download links for both the PDF chord chart and the mp3 audio file.

Be sure to chime in and let us know what you thought (post comments) and you are welcome to share this with friends on Facebook and twitter with your friends. 

Free Song Download "My God My King" from Integrity Music

My God My King
by David Leonard & Leslie Jordan

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


"My God My King" Already in

This song has been pre-loaded for all those who use for their worship planning. You can include it in your set planning this week! If you are a member, simply login and find it in the song database, or under "New Songs" tab. If you aren't a member, you can check out for free for a month (more info here).

Article by Kim Gentes 


Not Be Moved - Vineyard Worship (2012)

"Not Be Moved" is the latest recording from Vineyard Worship and is released via their quarterly series (called Club Vineyard) with some grace-filled fresh songs. The twelve songs that fill this project are congregationally minded offerings that could fit in a varied range of churches, partly due to their generally singable vocal ranges and partly due to the diverse range of styles in which these songs are arranged.

The lyrical and theme content of this album reflects a long-standing tradition of the main-stay of worship music- glorious adoration and the Christian basics of faith, hope and love. Several songs focus directly on glorifying God for his worthiness- Name Above All Names, Face To Face, Greatly Praised, Satisfied, Blessed Be The Name of The Lord, He's Our King. Several other songs expound the virtues of God's rescuing, faithfulness and provision towards His children- My Savior My Rescue, Love Lifted Me, Not Be Moved, The World Can't Take It Away, and Everything Is In Your Hands.

Aside from these thematic groupings, notable in this collection is a focus on declarative language in most songs (in both theme groupings previously mentioned) and the absence of the language of prayer and request.  Two songs with prayer language are "Make Us One" and the personal "Face to Face". This is not a huge shift or difference that might be noticed on this album alone, but becomes clear as one looks at decades of songs from the Vineyard churches. Popular songs from the 80's (such as Change My Heart O God, More Love More Power, Psalm 121), 90's (highlighted by Come And Fill Me Up, Draw Me Close, Breathe) and 00's (Hungry, Surrender, Be The Centre) of Vineyard catalog often prominently featured a musical playlist of plaintiff prayers and supplicant surrenders. Today's Vineyard songs resound more with the language of assurance and faith declaration than the language of prayer, though the lyrical sense of joy and thanks continue to smile across many of the songs of this album.

The album kicks off with an understated floor tom pounding in solid rock song "My Savior My Rescue". The song is a declaration of placing trust in God's love, His works and the belief that he will rescue us from the desperation inherent in our human needs. A thoughtful song of remembrance and assurance, that exudes praise and lifts the worshiper into a place of trust in God. Track two, "Love Lifted Me", is a country styled tune that rambles steel guitar through its bubbling effervescence of love-laced lyrics. This exultant song provides a joy-filled refresh to the age-old phrase "love lifted me" that is worth churches taking a look at, with a tasty gospel hook (that ends too soon, in my opinion) appended to the final refrain of this special song.

"Name Above All Names" is beautiful track setting a guitar-infused musical bed for a wonderful presentation of Philippians 2:6-11, where Christ's submission by emptying Himself of his divine-qualities becomes the place in which he humbles Himself to obedience and gains the experience of true humanity, even death on a cross. The song is perfected by the passionate and grace-filled vocal tones of worship leader Hannah Daugherty, who highlights two of my favorite tracks on this project. The title track, "Not Be Moved" follows this. A glorious, piano-based (complete with oscillating organ pads) gospel song, it presents the center of this project's theme- a clear, powerful and faith-filled declaration of God's immovable and unchanging nature as the foundation for our reliance on His benevolence.

Track five is the poignant song about the prayerful desire for the worshiper to have their eyes opened to see God's glory and to be in the presence of the One. Again, Daugherty captures the song with her fluent interpretations that create the atmosphere of deep worship. At eight and a half minutes (the longest track on the album), this song effortlessly brings the worshiper into the same place of prayerful hunger as the lyrics expound. Several songs continue  the stylistic rock/roots, country and rock/country stylings of this album's primary motif- "Greatly Praised", "The World Can't Take it Away", "Make Us One", "He's Our King" and "Everything Is In Your Hands".

"Blessed Be The Name of the Lord" is another reload of an archived Kevin Prosch song from the mid-90's (similarly, the song "They That Wait On The Lord" was revived on the "My Foundation" album from Vineyard last year), though this tune update drones on and fails to either capture the energy of the original version or provide an alternative infused with an interesting arrangement.

"Satisfied" is one of my favorite tracks on this project, partly because it stands out stylistically from the guitar-centered, country/rock styling of the rest of the album. But more than just style, this song is a humble admission of our needs resting solely in the person of God.  It states:

All of my longings are satisfied

All of my longings are satisfied in You

This kind of admission is enrapturing and epitomizes the heart-ache of all of us- to be with Christ and have Him be, simply, enough.

If you are looking for songs to consider for your local church, I recommend "My Savior My Rescue", "Love Lifted Me", "Name Above All Names", and "Satisfied"- each of these songs have something significant to contribute to any worship repeteroire. Be sure to listen through the entire album and glean some good new songs for your local church worship.

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. 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

All The Poor And Powerless [single] - All Sons & Daughters (2013) - free download

[This free download has expired.]

As one looks through the Biblical record, we see an amazing series of real lives. Some resounding with hope, some with triumph, some hurting and some broken. Amidst these poignant moments, we see the real story of God's love and power bursting on to the scene, intervening to bring His presence and justice.

It is this thread of mercy and justice that rises up in us, as God gives us strength that gives songs like "All the Poor and Powerless". This is a song pointing us to a desire to see the justice of the kingdom come to the aid of the poor and powerless. And for the hearts of every human, regardless of their place in life to come to a recognition of the Holy One and sing out "Hallelujah". David Leonard and Leslie Jordan have penned this melancholy tune that displays both of the need of humanity and holy and worth character of God.

What really gripped me about this song, was getting out my guitar and starting to play along and sing this song. The lyrics begin to leap off the page and you realize what you are singing. It sinks deep into your heart and flows back up as a declaration, and a realization that on that day :

We will sing out "Hallelujah".

[downloads expired]

Be sure to chime in and let us know what you thought (post comments below) and you are welcome to share this with friends on Facebook and twitter with your friends. 

Free Song Download "All the Poor and Powerless" from Integrity Music

All the Poor and Powerless
by David Leonard & Leslie Jordan
  • Listening Audio (Download MP3)
  • Chord Chart (Download PDF) 

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



"All the Poor and Powerless" Already in

This song has been pre-loaded for all those who use for their worship planning. You can include it in your set planning this week! If you are a member, simply login and find it in the song database, or under "New Songs" tab. If you aren't a member, you can check out for free for a month (more info here).

Article by Kim Gentes