#MusicalNotes: Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me Album Review

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#ATWT: Lecrae’s first major label release proves inspiration is in “All Things”

I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.

Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.

Song by Song Review

Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.

Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary

Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality  discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes

Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft

Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth

Hard times made for a good life

Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.

Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.

Hammertime:  Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot

Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.

Tweet: #ATWT is the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet with a substantial testimony @lecrae https://ctt.ec/OHePu+ via @tscphiles

Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.

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Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.

Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.

I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial

8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.

Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.

Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”

Overall, Lecrae’s major label debut knocks it out of the park and has all the original reach of his past projects with a new testimony: all things do work together.

Team ’91 is represented with Jamie Grace’s long overdue autobiographical album

Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. I am a huge fan of Jamie Grace. And what’s weird is that it took me forever to discover her because although she was always played on Christian radio stations nationwide. I didn’t actually get bit by the fan bug until I seen her on a livestream for 2015’s Night of Joy.

Instantly, I felt like I was looking in a metaphorical mirror. At 25, Jamie Grace has had the typical experiences of a young artist: being bullied, outcasted, and moved across the country and back over her young life, all while still being single in a world that ridicules you for having higher standards than the heels on your shoes. Yet, she’s extraordinary in that at only 25, she managed to already be nominated for a Grammy, win a Dove award, star in a major motion picture, and deal with a whole heck of a lot health-wise. Her mother was diagnosed with pudendal neuralgia which makes walking and especially sitting extremely uncomfortable. For more on this battle, please read this personal essay by Jamie herself.

Despite leaving Gotee Records in August 2016 and relocating to California later in the year, Jamie Grace Harper finally released her long-awaited third studio album ’91. Influenced by the Christian music she and I both grew up with, Superchic[K] and ZoeGirl, among others it is her first independent album release as an artist with a bold, strong, and autobiographical message. The album was released on September 1, 2017.

Song by Song Review

Different: A song about realizing you are different and that’s okay featuring heavy guitar musicality and bass drum.

The Happy Song: An acoustic jam that reminds you that the joy of the Lord is your strength no matter what trials life brings.

One of a Kind:  A song about all those crazy thoughts we have on a daily basis and how God doesn’t think we are crazy in spite of them.  Heavy use of percussion creates a playfulness to the musicality.

Here: A track featuring her older sister Morgan Harper-Nichols, it has country ballad musicality while discussing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Spotlight: Heavy use of guitar chords and static make this interlude track have a radio wave effect on the vocals.

Dance On: One of two favorites off the album, it’s a dance party anthem with rock n roll musicality.

Bella: An acoustic song with soft vocals about being a daughter of the king.

Party Like A Princess:  My other favorite off the album with elements of Superchic[K]-like sound (no surprise there, it was produced from the band’s own Matt Dally), comes this single girl anthem about loving who you are regardless of who you walk into a party with or without.

Reverb This second interlude track which has a definite Superchic[K]-like sound and influenced by ZoeGirl as well, it boasts a theme of being God’s echo, as a reverb is defined as an effect whereby the sound produced by an amplifier or an amplified musical instrument is made to reverberate slightly.

Games: A song about the lines drawn in the invisible sand to outcast one girl from social groups.

Sixteen: A fast-paced rhythm mirrors the fast-paced life of a sixteen year old with this track about struggling with a journey of faith in your teen years.

Daughter of the King: An acoustic ballad about who God made you is ENOUGH

Bella(Acoustic): The acoustic version of the daddy-daughter guitar ballad

Heaven (Fix Things): A piano ballad about God’s mighty power and sometimes not understanding his process.

I love when I learn new things about an artist that I very much love and I just found out that Jamie Grace was actually asked up on stage by Adele where she sang “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and Adele said she had a great voice. Well she totally does but what a HUGE compliment coming from such a vocal powerhouse and equally versatile artist.

No matter if you were born in ’91 or 2001, you will find pieces of yourself while listening to Jamie Grace’s third studio album, and feel free to dance on!

#CGForever: @therealgrimmie proves that #allisvanity with brand new album

One year ago today, Christina Grimmie was taken from this Earth far too soon. Yet, her beautiful family and team have been keeping Christina’s beautiful legacy alive by continuing to release new music that she had worked on prior to her passing. And none of it disappoints. christina-grimmie-title-meaning

Her newest album was released a major record label, which was one of Grimmie’s life-long dreams, as well as to win a Grammy.

With this review, I am only trying to honor Christina and in no way trying to critique her or her absolutely powerful gift with music and inspiring people. As mentioned in previous posts, I only spoke to her briefly when I worked the Wildfire Tour for Rachel Platten but she definitely had a big heart, a beautiful smile, and a light that would help you through the darkest times in your life.  I also urge everyone to read this to get a copy of All is Vanity as a tribute to the singer.

Her new album is titled All is Vanity and is based off her favorite Bible verse that she ended up getting tattooed on her arm:

“All Is Vanity” is a bible verse, from Ecclesiastes 12:8, which reads: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

Before her untimely passing, Christina would say that this verse was there to remind her that her success and fame where nothing without Christ, and only in Him does life have meaning.

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Song By Song Review

“Sublime”: 

This song opens the album and it is said this was Christina’s favorite of all her new songs, and you can hear it in her voice throughout the track. There is an enthusiasm that gives her voice that extra dose of perfection. 18839135_1582459721796616_5983707235376120846_n

The breakdown is my favorite part of the entire track:

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“Steady Love”:    

I absolutely love the musicality of this track. It reminds me of an anime love story, as it has a little bit of a Japanese sound to it.

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Invisible: 

The third track was one of the first new songs released by Team Grimmie, and 100% of proceeds from the sale of it went to starting the Christina Grimmie Foundation. A posthumous release from Christina Grimmie, who rips our hearts in two with her incredible talent, bright presence, and musical ear. The song is a little eery as Grimmie talks about no longer being invisible, singing:

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Source: Beat.Media

Crowded Room

My favorite track on the album that caused me to tear up at the first listen because it showcases Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and it shows a deeper side to her songwriting by discussing someone who chooses a crowded room to hide from themselves, possibly hinting at what Grimmie felt was an epidemic in Hollywood.

Crowded Room perfectly blends Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Sia’s “Chandelier” in song content, vocal stylings, and musicality.

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Everybody Lies

Producer and Christina’s boyfriend, Stephen Rezza, perfectly placed a clip from this Youtube video at the end of this song and it made me ball my eyes out.  This song is a perfect placard for Christina’s motivating and inspirational legacy.

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Pressure I woke up with this stuck in my head and cannot stop listening to it because this song is a serious bop, jam, hit, and it has these feel good dancy vibes that remind me of the power and caliber of a Michael Jackson song. It is similar to “Scream” but has the musicality of “Bad.”

Christina, I’m with you.

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Maybe I With this track, Christina’s vocal powerhouse shines here.

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Echo A badass “I deserve better” anthem about someone who continues to lie to you and you realize you need to get up and move on. 

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I Only Miss You When I Breathe

This song makes me miss this young beautiful talent. A beautiful arrangement similar to her single Invisible, EDM meets Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and incomparable vocal range. It’s my favorite off her Side B EP.

Source: Beat.Media

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The Game

This song reminds me “For You” by Demi Lovato in vocals and musicality. It’s the perfect way to end the album.

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We miss you, Christina! I know you are absolutely beaming in heaven.

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#MusicReview: @DNCE’s debut album will make you D-A-N-C-E

New album review I wrote about DNCE

They did happen to cut out my intro paragraph but do I really need to reiterate how much the Jonas Brothers mean to me, and how happy I am for each of them despite how much I was saddened when they parted ways as a musical act?

For all the fangirl features, check out my review above.DNCE-Kissing-Strangers-Lyric-Video.jpg

#MusicMonday: ‘Starlight’ is an appropriate light in a dark world

Worship focuses on Who God is. His character, His goodness, faithfulness, grace, love, and many other wonderful things. Worship creates an atmosphere in which God can work. Worship transforms us. By starting to worship God for the changes He is already working in us, we find that those changes start manifesting more and more, and we experience new levels of God’s presence, power, and goodness in our lives. As we worship, we remain in position to receive these things and everything else God has for us.

About Bethel Music
Bethel Music is a worship ministry that formed as an organic extension of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Over the last seven years, Bethel Music has grown from being a local church music ministry to becoming a global outreach featuring a cadre of songwriters and worship leaders, with both online and on-campus worship schools. The Bethel Music Artist Collective includes Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Leeland, Hunter Thompson, Paul and Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin, Cory Asbury and Kristene DiMarco. Together these artists have six acclaimed albums that all went to the top of Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, in addition to four GMA Dove Awards and a GMA Covenant Award. Bethel Music’s multi-artist double-disc live recording Have It All (2016) hit No. 1 on the overall iTunes Albums chart and No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart, becoming Bethel Music’s highest retail debut on the charts ever. Starlight, Bethel Music’s first full-length album recorded live on tour, is available April 7.

The heart of Bethel Music is to be a steward of the worship being created and released at Bethel Church, making it a resource available to the world. In addition to thousands of people that attend Bethel’s weekly worship services, another 350,000 plus people subscribe to the online stream of the services at www.ibethel.tvWorshipU, Bethel Church’s online school of worship, features ongoing training programs underneath seasoned instructors, with tracks including worship leader, songwriter, sound engineer, team essentials, producing a song and worship fundamentals, available at www.worshipu.com. More about Bethel Music can be found at www.bethelmusic.com.

Get Connected With Bethel Music
Website // www.bethelmusic.com

Facebook // www.facebook.com/bethelmusic

Twitter // www.twitter.com/bethelmusic

Instagram // www.instagram.com/bethelmusic

YouTube // www.youtube.com/ibethelmusic

Starlight is the first full-length album recorded live on tour by Bethel Music. Featuring songs led by an all-female worship leader team, including Bethel Music artists Jenn Johnson, Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, Kristene DiMarco, Kalley Heiligenthal, Melissa Helser, Hannah McClure, and Grammy-award winning guest worship leader and songwriter, Francesca Battistelli.

Starlight is anchored in the message that our lives, our world, and all eternity are held together in Jesus. Like His stars placed in the universe, no distance separates us from our Creator and we are handcrafted and deeply known as children of God.

Notable Tracks

Most tracks on this record have a wonderful musicality that boasts a soft acoustic feel.

“Starlight”: Vocalist Amanda Cook begins, “You’re like starlight in the dark.” “You’re like summer in the night, even when the sun goes down, I still feel you.”

“Breathe”: Vocalist Amanda Cook sings, “You are here right now/ I can see your smiling face/pride in your eyes.”

You Came (Lazarus): A piano medley breaks up the soft, acoustic feel while vocalist Amanda Cook breaks it down: “You are a God of miracles.”

There’s No Other Name: Vocalist Francesca Batistelli sets the scene for a worship song centered around the Name of Jesus.

God, I Look To You: Batistelli wows once again with a song about looking to God for wisdom: “You know just what to do.”

Old For New: A break from the acoustic musicality with a more pop rock sound, this song builds much the same as our excitement in Christ and becoming a new creation in Him.

For The One: “Help Me to love with open arms the way you do,” sings Vocalist Jen Johnson.

The War is Over: “He made a way for us/Born from glory out of dust.”

I See The Light: “I’m your delight; you chose me.”

Take Courage: “Take courage, my heart. He’s in the waiting.”

Catch The Wind: My favorite because the musicality reminds me of Colors of The Wind from Pocahontas, and is an incredibly beautiful worship song on this album.

Starlight debuts everywhere April 7.