At Hallels, we seek to encourage new and emerging talents. Over the year, we have had featured many reviews of upcoming artists. So, in retrospect, we have picked our top 10 albums by newer artists. Here are snippets of our reviews with links to the full articles.
1. Revelation "Christ for Me"
Hailed from Northern Ireland, Revelation has had already been quite a tour-de-force with the albums they have had released over there. Garnering the attention of Crossroads Music, the musical home of the Talleys, the McKameys, Kingsmen and the Inspirations, Revelation has released their Celtic-tinged Southern Gospel music to the US giving the genre a much needed International flavoring.
2. Vita Adam "White Horses"
"White Horses" is Adam's debut full length album after her 4 charting singles and an EP "Real." The crowning value of "White Horses" is that this is a textbook example of how to think deeply about Scripture before incorporating them as worship into her songs without sounding like you have attended a Ph.D. lecture on theology.
3. 4 Proches "Wayfaring Stranger"
If John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" needs a folk-imbued soundtrack, 4 Proches' "Wayfaring Stranger" would be a strong contender. What makes "Pilgrim Progress" such a classic is that Bunyan is never reticent in depicting the Christian life as a journey filled with treacherous valleys and glorious mountain peaks. Likewise, when we come to "Wayfaring Stranger," we are greeted with the same topography. These 11 songs are not surreptitiously thrown together.
4. The Walls Group "Fast Forward"
The triumphant of "Fast Forward" lies in its flavored diversity and its energetic maturity. Joining the elite tradition of Jackson Five and the Clark Sisters, the Walls Group has much to add to the urban sounds created by gifted kinsfolk that all bear the same last name. Darrel (22 years-old), Rhea (17), Paco (16) and Ahjah Walls (15) are the singing four out of the eight children of Roger and Alicia Walls.
5. Laura Hackett Park "Love Will Have Its Day"
Most of all, what is most winsome about "Love Will Have Its Day" is Park's ability to get into the issues of life, be it anger, human trafficking, chronic illness and so forth, and laying them down at the foot of the Cross. And this is what a worship album besotted by the Cross of Jesus Christ ought to be like.
6. Bellarive "Before There Was"
Touted by many scholars as the Queen of the Pauline corpus, the Book of Ephesians canvases the explosive outpouring of grace from the Cross of Jesus searching into the slightest crack in the most remote part of the globe. In an effort to capture such a majestic overflow of God's grace, the members of Bellarive have immersed themselves in the Apostle's teaching in order to present to us with these Scripturally-soaked offerings. With congregational worship as its focus, "Before There Was," thus, are 12 vertically directed songs that could service well not only in a church setting but also in our own personal worship of God.
7. Landry Cantrell "Landry Cantrell"
When Landry Cantell sings about adrenaline pumping out of the stereo in the first track of his latest eponymous release "Feel It," you know he isn't lying. Bursting with an ever-ready kinetic energy that is irresistibly contagious, when Cantrell sings, you can almost swear he's ready to jump out of the speakers himself. "Feel It," the lead single from the record, is a song with the word "hit" stamped all across it
8. Christie Chong "Songs for the Journey"
What is most valuable about Christie Chong's "Songs for the Journey" is that it's a two-way ticketed affair. On some of these songs, we'll get to pilgrim with her into the deepest recesses of the soul, where she deals with issues of God, worship, faith and regeneration. Yet, on other songs she takes the outward bound flight in tackling isssues that has to do with how such a faith revolutionizes our thought life, our lifestyle and how we incorporate God's holiness into ours.
9. Shon Murray "Ready"
Just like the pirouette of a ballerina needs to be marked by a balance of poise, flexibility and purpose. Shon Murray's latest release "Ready" is also characterized by the same triumvirate of excellence. First, Murray demonstrates a sense of poise in the way she presents herself vocally. With a sophistication of a Yolanda Adams that can delve into the soul of a song, Murray has the ability to communicate shades of emotions through her sultry alto. Second, these songs show Murray's willingness to be flexible. Within this canon you will find Murray tackling an array of genres and styles from contemporary Christian pop ("Empty Me") to modern worship ("Lifeline") to choired accompanied Gospel ("His Mercy") to R&B funk ("Ready") to even an African tune ("African Praise Medley").
10. The Horn Family "The Horn Family"
The Horn Family is made up of Joel Horn, Tina Horn, Jamie Horn and Tracy Horn. Unlike many other quartets who are dependent on one lead singer, here the Horn Family shares the lead vocals and they do also offer their hands in co-writing and writing their own entries. Of the Horn originals, one that serves as the album's hinge into greatness is "Rise Above the Fall." Written by Tracy Horn, "Rise Above It All" is a visceral ballad that is made palatable with lots of confessional lines as Horn echoes what many of us often feel about pain but dare not articulate.