Musical Artist Review: Brooke Fraser.

I have no clue how popular Brooke Fraser is. She writes songs that are oftentimes cryptic and open to interpretation with a folksy sound. But it doesn’t really matter how popular she is – b/c I like her music – so I listen to it and I want to share it with you.

Probably my favorite song by Brooke Fraser is “Hosea’s Wife” – based off of the Old Testament book of the same name:

Brooke Fraser.
Brooke Fraser.

I just spoke silence with the seek next to me
She had a heart with hesitant, halting speech
That turned to mine and asked belligerently
“What do I live for?”

I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There’s a question like a shame no one will show
“What do I love for?”

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives

[Chorus]
If we’ve eyes to see
If we’ve ears to hear
To find it in our hearts and mouths
The that saves is near
Shed that shallow skin
Come and live again
Leave all you were before
To believe is to begin
[/Chorus]

There is truth in little corners of our lives
There are hints of it in songs and children’s eyes
It’s familiar, like an ancient lullaby
What do I live for?

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using bodies like money and truth like lies

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions
Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans
[/Bridge]

She also has a song titled “C.S. Lewis Song” – now how can you not like someone who names one of their songs after C.S. Lewis? The song is based around one of Lewis’ most famous quotes, one John Piper uses frequently, which she paraphrases as, “If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here / If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary, / then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared.”[1]

I’m also a fan of Crows + Locusts – and I imagine from the title you can get a sense of the topic – somewhat similar (dark) to Hosea’s Wife…So I won’t quote it here for you…But Brooke Fraser doesn’t sing primarily darker songs – in fact she has a number of light and joyous songs that a more general audience may find appealing.

The most popular of these on Spotify is “Something in the Water.” If there was ever a song that was meant to be danced to, this is it.[2] You can see the music video below:

And I’ve included the lyrics below:

Do do do do do do do do do do

I wear a demeanor made of bright pretty things
What she wears, what she wears, what she wears
Birds singing on my shoulder in harmony it seems
How they sing, how they sing, how they sing

Give me nights of solitude, red wine just a glass or two,
Reclined in a hammock on a balmy evening
I’ll pretend that it’s nothing that’s skipping my heart when I think of you
Thinking of me babe I’m crazy over you

[Chorus]
Aaah Aaah Aaah
There’s something in the water, something in the water
Aaah Aaah Aaah
There’s something in the water, that makes me love you like
[/Chorus]

I’ve got halo’s made of summer, rhythms made of spring
What she wears, what she wears, what she wears
I got crowns of words a woven each one a song to sing
Oh I sing, oh I sing, oh I sing

Give me long days in the sun,
Preludes to the nights to come
Previews of the mornings laying in all lazy
Give me something fun to do like a life of loving you
Kiss me quick now baby I’m still crazy over you

[Chorus]

Oooh oooh ooh (3x)

Give me nights of solitude, red wine just a glass or two, give me something fun to do

[Chorus 2x]

Do do do do do do do do do do

  1. [1]Lewis’ original quote (in Mere Christianity) is “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
  2. [2]I would dance to it, if I danced.

Musicians for the Church.

Introduction

In this article I’m going to list some of the artists I have found to be thought provoking, encouraging, challenging, innovative, and so on and might be appropriate for use in church services – whether for corporate singing or special music. Let me know if you have any suggestions or comments!

[At this juncture, I’ve listed songs but these are just some of my favorite songs by the artists – they aren’t necessarily songs that would best be used in the church].

If I had to pick a the artists I’d especially want to point folks to from the below it would be: All Sons & Daughters, Ascend the Hill, Casting Crowns, David Crowder Band, Gungor, Jars of Clay (mainly their later work), JJ Heller, Keith Green, Keith & Kathryn Getty, Matthew West, Michael Card, Newsboys (again, largely their later work), Rend Collective Experiment, Rich Mullins, Shane & Shane, Shaun Groves, Sovereign Grace Music, and Stuart Townend.

If you are looking for groups that bring a contemporary twist to traditional hymnology, check out Ascend the Hill, City Hymns, Indelible Grace Music, Jadon Lavik, Page CXVI, and Red Mountain Church

Artists which do a twist on traditional hymnology while also carrying a much larger repertoire include Chris Rice, Fernando Ortega and Jars of Clay.

If you are looking for artists who are doing hymnology contemporaneously (e.g. not rewriting classics, but writing new songs in a hymn form) I’d recommend Keith & Kathryn Getty or Stuart Townend.

The Artists

Photo of David Crowder Performing
This photo depicts American musician David Crowder performing in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • All Sons & Daughters (e.g. Reason to Sing, Oh Our Lord, Alive, All the Poor and Powerless, Brokenness Aside, Your Glory, Buried in the Grace, All Praise to You).
  • Andrew Peterson (e.g. The Chasing Song, Come Lord Jesus, You Came So Close, The Last Frontier).
  • Ascend the Hill (e.g. So Good to Us, Inheritance, Power in the Name of Jesus, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Heaven Come Down, Rock of Ages, Take the World But Give Me Jesus, I Surrender All, Hallelujah! What a Savior, Be Thou My Vision)
  • BarlowGirl (e.g. I Need You To Love Me, Never Alone, Song for the Broken, Million Voices, She Walked Away, Surrender, One More Round)
  • Brandon Heath (e.g. Leaving Eden, Your Love, Might Just Save Your Life, It’s Alright, It’s No Good to Be Alone, Now More Than Ever, Give Me Your Eyes, London, Sunrise, Listen Up, Fight Another Day, When I’m Alone)
  • Britt Nicole (e.g. Have Your Way, The Lost Get Found)
  • Brooke Fraser (e.g. Albertine, Faithful, Hosea’s Wife, Something in the Water, Betty, Ice on Her Lashes, Flags)
  • Burlap to Cashmere (e.g. Anybody Out There?, Build a Wall, Tonight, Closer to the Edge, Live in a Van)
  • Casting Crowns (e.g. If We Are the Body, Voice of Truth, Who Am I, American Dream, City on the Hill, Jesus Friend of Sinners, Spirit Wind, My Own Worst Enemy, Does Anybody Hear Her?)
  • Chris Rice (e.g. Rock of Ages, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Pardon My Dust, Sneakin’ Into Heaven, Kids Again)
  • City Hymns (e.g. There is a Fountain, Spirit of God)
  • The Cross Movement (e.g. The Drawing Board, Our God, Clarity)
  • David Crowder Band (e.g. All I Can Say, Come Thou Fount, Oh Great God Give Us Rest, I Am a Seed, The Great Amen, Blessedness of Everlasting Light, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, Jesus Lead Me to Your Healing Waters, How He Loves, Shadows)
  • Downhere (e.g. Cathedral Made of People, My Last Amen, The Problem, Rest, Glory By the Way of Shame, For the Heartbreak, Reveal the Kingdom, Feel Like Winter, In America, Last Night’s Daydream)
  • Fernando Ortega (e.g. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, What Wondrous Love is This, I Need Thee Every Hour, Green Pastures, If I Fly on Morning Wings, Just As I Am, Children of the Living God, How Firm a Foundation, I Will Sing of My Redeemer, I Will Praise Him Still, All Creatures of Our God and King, Hear Me Calling Great Redeemer)
  • For King & Country (e.g. The Proof of Your Love)
  • Francesca Battistelli (e.g. You Never Are, Angel By Your Side, Don’t Miss It, Lead Me to the Cross, Free to Be Me, Beautiful Beautiful, Blue Sky, This is the Stuff)
  • Gungor [aka The Michael Gungor Band] (e.g. Dry Bones, Beautiful Things, Brighter Day, You Have Me, Cannot Keep You, Call Me Out, Please Be My Strength, We Will Run, Wake Up Sleeper, Ezekiel, Prodigal, White Man)
  • Indelible Grace Music (e.g. More Love to Thee, His Love Can Never Fail, Jesus Lover of My Soul, Begone Unbelief, Father Long Before Creation)
  • Israel Houghton (e.g. Love God Love People, Love Rev, Others, Our God)
  • Jadon Lavik (e.g. Moving On Faith, Come Thou Fount, Wondrous Love, Mighty God, Surrender, Tis So Sweet, I Surrender All, Turn Your Eyes, I Need Thee)
  • Jars of Clay (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Revolution, Whatever She Wants, The Edge of Water, Work, Dead Man (Carry Me), All My Tears, Work, Love is the Protest, Small Rebellions, Eyes Wide Open, Shelter, Weapons, Two Hands, God Be Merciful to Me, I Need Thee Every Hour, God Will Lift Up Your Head, I’ll Fly Away, Nothing But the Blood, Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile, Hiding Place, Jesus I Lift My Eyes, It is Well With My Soul, They’ll Know We are Christians By Our Love, All My Tears, What Wondrous Love, Lonely People, Lesser Things)
  • Jimmy Needham (e.g. If I Ever Needed Grace, Being Small, Yours to Take, The Reason I Sing, Grace Amazing, Light of Day, Nightlights)
  • JJ Heller (e.g. Control, I Get to Be the One, In the End, No Fight Left, Love Me, All the Beauty, Everything is Changing, On My Own, Grow, Fly Away, When You Come Back, Small, The Pretty & The Plain, Why Is It Colder, Little Things, You Tell Me So, Have Mercy On Me, What Love Really Means, Until You Came Along)
  • John Waller (e.g. Our God Reigns Here, Somebody Else’s Story, Man of the Valley)
  • Josh Garrels (e.g. Father Along, Never Have I Found You)
  • Josh Wilson (e.g. Fall Apart, See You, Always Only You, They Just Believe)
  • Joy Williams (e.g. We, One of Those Days, Doesn’t Get Better Than This, Sunny Day)
  • Keith Green (e.g. Because of You, You Put This Love in My Heart, The Victor, The Prodigal Son Suite, I Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, Song to My Parents, Soften Your Heart, Oh Lord You’re Beautiful, Your Love Broke Through, Asleep in the Light, My Eyes are Dry, So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt, Grace By Which I Stand, To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice, He’ll Take Care of the Rest, There is a Redeemer, How Majestic is Thy Name, Holy Holy Holy, Easter Song, When I Hear the Praises Start, Rushing Wind)
  • Keith & Kathryn Getty (In Christ Alone)
  • Kutless (e.g. Everything I Need, What Faith Can Do, Sea of Faces, The Feeling)
  • Laura Story (e.g. Blessings, Make Something Beautiful, Grace)
  • Lecrae (e.g. Nobody, Halleleujah, Desperate, Change, Live Free, Killa, Just Like You, God is Enough, Church Clap)
  • Leigh Nash (e.g. Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Power of the Cross)
  • Matthew West (e.g. Something to Say, The Motions, The Center, My Own Little World, Two Houses, Broken Girl)
  • MercyMe (e.g. You Don’t Care At All)
  • Michael Card (e.g. Scandalon, Celebrate the Child, The Nazarene, Forgiving Eyes, Sea of Souls, I Am Not Supposed to Be Here, Come Thou Fount, How Firm a Foundation, Jesus What a Friend for Sinners, O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All That Was Lost, Look Ye Saints!, Praise to the Lord, In the Beginning, In the Wilderness, The Prophet, Jubilee, Then They Will Know, Lift Up the Suffering Symbol, God Will Provide a Lamb, Valley of Dry Bones, Will You Not Listen?, Job Suite, Malachai, El Shaddai, Come to the Table, Why, Immanuel, So Many Books…, A New and Living Way, I Will Arise and Go to Jesus, Jesus Lover of My Soul, Be Thou My Vision, Starkindler, I heard the Voice of Jesus Say, Holy God We Praise Thy Name, The Unveiling, To the Overcomers, You Are Worthy, Salvation, The City of Doom, Hallelujah, New Jerusalem)
  • Michelle Bonilla (e.g. Give It Up, I Love You, Our Generation)
  • Mikeschair (e.g. Love Won’t Quit on Us, Save Me Now, Someone Worth Dying For, Let the Waters Rise, Keep Changing the World)
  • Natalie Grant (e.g. Greatness of Our God, Human, Perfect People, In Christ Alone)
  • NEEDTOBREATHE (e.g. Streets of Gold, These Hard Times, Something Beautiful, Let Us Love, Oohs and Aahs, White Fences, Drive All Night, A Place Only You Can Go, Maybe They’re On to Us, Angel at My Door)
  • Newsboys (e.g. Born Again, One Shot, Build Us Back, Jesus Freak, God’s Not Dead (Like a Lion), He Reigns, In Christ Alone, Wherever We Go, Breakfast)
  • O.C. Supertones (e.g. One Voice, Hallelujah, Away from You, Unite, Hold On to Jesus, Unknown, Grounded, Little Man)
  • Page CXVI (e.g. Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded, Come Thou Fount, You Have Redeemed My Soul, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Joy, Rock of Ages, Be Still My Soul, Wash Me Clean)
  • Phil Joel (e.g. changed, burning down, Call Unto Me, Go Home, Blue Sky, Life is Crazy, Wait for You)
  • Red Mountain Church (e.g. Christ or Else I Die, It is Finished, Crown Him)
  • Rend Collective Experiment (e.g. You Bled, Build Your Kingdom Here, You Are My Vision)
  • Rich Mullins (e.g. Hard to Get, Hold Me Jesus, Elijah, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, Sometimes By Step, If I Stand, Screendoor, While the Nations Rage, What Susan Said, Awesome God)
  • Sanctus Real (e.g. Forgiven, These Things Take Time, Lead Me, The Redeemer, Take Over Me, Keep My Heart Alive, Turn On the Lights, We Need Each Other, Black Coal, Whatever You’re Doing)
  • Shane & Shane (e.g. Yearn, God Did, My Audience, Forever Reign, Revelation Song, Everlasting God, Before the Throne, Christ is Risen, Our God is Greater, The Lord’s Prayer, Liberty, Without You, Future Version, Victory, Grace is Sufficient, Praise Him, Beg)
  • Shaun Groves (e.g. All Is Grace, Kingdom Coming, I’ve Got You, Enough, No Better)
  • Sidewalk Prophets (e.g. Live Like That, Save My Life, The Words I Would Say, All Things New, You Love Me Anyway)
  • Sovereign Grace Music (e.g. I Will Cast My Cares, Great Things, Abba Father, Glorious Christ, Mighty Fortress, Immovable Our Hope Remains, You Are our Hope, Name Above All Names)
  • Stuart Townend (e.g. In Christ Alone)
  • Superchick (e.g. We Live, Wishes, Stand in the Rain, Courage, Beauty from Pain, Alive, Breathe)
  • Switchfoot (e.g. Gone, Meant to Live, Awakening, I Dare You to Move, Mess of Me, Your Love is a Song, The Sound, You Already Take Me There, Lonely Nation, Stars, The Shadow Proves the Sunshine, Easier Than Love, The Blues, American Dream, Afterlife, Restless, Thrive, Learning to Breath)
  • Tenth Avenue North (e.g. All the Pretty Things, Hearts Safe (A Better Way), Losing, By Your Side, Let It Go, Hold My Heart, Times)
  • TobyMac (e.g. Made to Love, Hold On, Get Back Up, Boomin’, Lose My Soul, Me Without You, Yours, No Ordinary Love, Tonight, City On Our Knees, LoudNClear, Hey Devil, Wonderin’, Start Somewhere, Break Open the Sky, The Slam)
  • Todd Agnew (e.g. Come Ye Sinners, Written on the Wall, I Need No Other, Did You Mean Me?, The Love of God, The Love of God, Deep Love of Jesus, Jesus the Hope of Glory)
  • Warr Acres (e.g. Undignified, Sound the Alarm, You Are Joy, Hymn of Remembrance, Shout Your Love, Shadow of the Steeple)
  • Worthy Dying For (e.g. Destroy, Savior, Love Riot, Through Your Eyes, You’re Alive, Stir It Up, No Love Greater)

Concluding Miscellany

  • I have not included some of my favorite artists such as Skillet or Thousand Foot Krutch, while their music is excellent, I don’t think most of their songs would work well for congregational singing – though a few songs, especially from Skillet might make good special music depending on your congregation’s openness to harder rock.
  • I have not included many of the more popular CCM artists who top the CCLI charts. You can easily find these on CCLI’s site.

Music: Losing by Tenth Avenue North.

Tenth Avenue North is a relatively new band (at least by my calculations, compared to bands like Newsboys <g>), yet they have already struck a deep chord with the hearts of many with heart-pulling and heart-convicting lyrics and a beautiful sound. Check out this music video for their song Losing – about the pain of giving forgiveness to those who injure us.

Tenth Avenue North – Losing (Official Music Video) from tenth-avenue-north on GodTube.

Spotify: Free, Unlimited, Streaming Music.

Spotify Logo
Spotify Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been using Spotify for a number of months now and I really like it. I’ve used a number of services over the years to listen to music –
Pandora, Napster (once it became legitimate), and Grooveshark…now I mainly use Spotify.

Spotify has a tremendously large library of music available – somewhere in the ballpark of 15 million tracks I believe. It includes most popular artists as well as many small, independent artists. You can’t always find the latest releases – but overall, I find 95% of the music I’m looking for on Spotify.

I love how Spotify integrates into Facebook so that others can know what I’m listening to (if you want to share that info.), allows third party developers to create unique apps to extend Spotify’s built-in functionality, the quick and easy sharing of songs with others, and the relatively sporadic ads in the free version.

Go get it now, its free. What do you have to lose?

That said, I do have a few “ideas” for how Spotify could enhance its service. Namely:

  1. I’m unaware of any way in which one can “favorite” an artist. This is easy to do with individual tracks, but oftentimes I don’t want to say, “hey, I love every track on this album” – I really want to say, “hey, I love this artist…so I’ll like pretty much by ’em.”
  2. I’d love the ability to tag songs rather than just assigning them to categories. This would create a flexible base around which I could query Spotify to find songs for the specific topic I’m thinking of. In my case, I use songs to facilitate discussions – in church, in youth ministry, etc. Sometimes I’m looking for that song I can’t remember about death, love, God, anxiety, or whatever – being able to tag songs specifically would be awesome.
  3. I’d like a counter on each song. How many times have I listened to this song? Sometimes I favorite songs and I love them – but I don’t want to listen to them again right now…its likely that if I haven’t listened to it more than a few times, I’d like to hear it again. By giving a counter I could easily decide which of my favorite songs to listen to…hmmm, that also makes me think it might be nice to have a “last played” column.
  4. The last feature is an important one. I love music discovery – but I also have my stream integrated with Facebook and I want whatever songs appear in my list to be “safe” songs. I don’t use most discovery services at this juncture (other than Pandora) b/c too often one ends up with an “unsafe” song with explicit language. This is an unpleasant surprise in a work environment and for those who might be following your stream on Facebook. I know for many this may not be a concern, but it is for me, and I think it would be fairly easy to exclude explicit songs from being included in music discovery (this could be an option, rather than forcing it on everyone).

O.C. Supertones – Little Man (Song)

It has been a few years now since ska was on the scene…longer for those who are younger than I, shorter for those who surpass me in years. In any case, today I was thinking about the Supertones song “Little Man.” I’d preached a sermon on Galatians 3 which reminds us of the greatness of God and the smallness of ourselves…so I came home this evening and stumbled upon the music video…thought I’d share.

Grooveshark (Music).

Image representing Grooveshark
Image via CrunchBase

[Grooveshark has since become defunct.]

For a while I was a big fan of Pandora. Pandora is still a great way to listen to and find new music – but with ads becoming more frequent and its inability to tell that I prefer certain lyrical genres, I eventually became disillusioned.

I was a big fan of Napster – but I finally canceled them this past month.[1] Over the past several months I’ve been experimenting with Grooveshark and have been quite impressed. What makes Grooveshark so amazing?

  1. It is free and legal.
  2. It has a humongous library of music.
  3. The site works well – you can save, favorite, and share songs.
  4. Their premium service is only $3/mo.
  5. With the premium service you can utilize their Grooveshark mobile phone apps for music on the go.

That said, I do have a few minor issues with Grooveshark:

  1. They allow people to upload their own music – so sometimes you end up with multiple copies of the same track – and of varying qualities and with differing levels of correct titling.
  2. Sometimes the songs stop working. They released a fix for this perhaps a week or two ago and it has greatly reduced the problem, but it still occurs on occasion.
  3. Its integration with last.fm leaves a bit to be desired. Specifically, it’d be nice to get a Pandora-esque feel directly through the Grooveshark interface.

All that said, I’m still extremely happy with the service. If you are looking for a good music service – Grooveshark is it. Currently the price is only $3/mo. for premium – but the price is going up soon, so I’d just on the bandwagon now.

  1. [1]Napster let me down on several fronts. First, their site has been horrendously buggy. Sometimes music wouldn’t play, sometimes favorites wouldn’t save, and on and on. Secondly, they raised the price. If everything had worked well this might not have been a big deal, but they raised the price while their site still didn’t work all that great.

Napster – Free and Legal Music?

Timeline of file sharing
Timeline of file sharing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Update: I no longer use Napster. I believe they have been acquired. I’m now using Spotify.]

Napster became a household name for its early days when it offered massive peer-to-peer (P2P) music sharing – the large majority of which was illegal. After attracting significant legal attention (and conflict) it was recreated as a legal music venue – but by this time many other competitors had come out of the woodwork and Napster’s free business model had suddenly become pay. Since then Napster has held on at the periphery of existence. By Alexa’s ranking Napster is now in the top 5,600 sites, by comparison Apple’s iTunes ranks #61. Just a tad of a difference.

That said, Napster still has a lot to offer. First off, they offer full-length audio streaming of just about their entire music library. Just go to free.napster.com. Sure is, you can only listen to a song three times for free – then you either have to buy it or stop listening. But hey, how many songs do you really want to hear more than three times? And if it is worth listening to more than three times, isn’t it worth $.99?

Napster recently came out with a really impressive deal that I’d jump on if I was an audiophile…but I’m not. Its a $5/mo. package which gets you full streaming access to Napster’s massive (7 million+ songs) library and five permanent MP3 downloads. Snikes. Apple’s iTunes will charge you the $5 for the five songs, forget about being able to stream unlimited songs all month long!

So, what am I saying? Take a look at Napster. They are trying so hard – and in my opinion, while the hype is no longer on their side they are doing a great and innovative job of offering music to the masses at reasonable prices.