Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review: All of the Above - Hillsong United

I'm a bit of a worship hypocrite. While at one time I clammored for the need of guitar-driven, rock-styled worship, and I do still like some of it, as I've aged I've come to appreciate and long for softer and quieter rhythms of worship. Yet, there are moments when I just need someone to pump up the voluvme and remind me that I'm alive as well. Hillsong United is one of the hot worship teams of the moment and their latest will show you why. Here's the INFUZE review:

Review: Beautiful People - Jason Upton

I stumbled upon Jason Upton's Faith album some years ago and found myself stricken with the young worshipper's passion and compelling delivery, in many ways reminscent of a postmodern era Keith Green. Upton's efforts since haven't quite climbed back to that level but his newest album is a solid listen. Here's the INFUZE review:

The Michael English Interview

I mentioned a few posts earlier that I'd had the chance to sit down with Michael English a few weeks ago and ask him about some of the trials he'd been through and the places he'd been as well as the place that God has brought him to now. The piece is finally up on the website so check it out!

Michael English Interview

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Cobalt Season

I don't know why it's taken me so long to remember to pimp this album a bit but you need to check out the newest work from my friends Ryan and Holly Sharp, otherwise known as The Cobalt Season. Their newest work is called, In Search of a Unified Theory and is simply great. We had a great chance some time ago to have these guys stay with us and share our life for a brief period and we continue to be excited at the challenge their life presents to us. Please check this out if you're interested in some thoughtful, reflective, and all-around good music. I'll be doing an interview and a review for INFUZE soon so check back for that as well!

Sample and buy the album here: The Cobalt Season

More Recent Reads

This was a book that I'd waited a long time for and then it took a long time before I finally had the chance to read it but I thoroughly pleased that I did. While some of it was predictable, it was a fascinating look into just a few corners of the emerging church movement. Like a beautiful mosaic, the Church is becoming a fabulous work of art and its great to watch it unfold. Per usual, I found Dan Kimball to be the one with whom I had the most agreement, Mark Driscoll the least although I find his respect for Scripture to be a very positive thing, Doug Pagitt to be very challenging, and Karen Ward to be the one whose church I definately would like to visit one day. If you're a student of the Church and of emerging contexts, this should be on your to-read list.

Due to some friendships I've developed over the years as well as to increasing knowledge of both Scripture and the understanding of our world, I've become increasingly concerned with the need for creation care. Now, I'm not where I need to be, nor am I where I want to be in this respect but at least the conviction is setting in and I'm taking baby steps toward changing. Dr. Sleeth's book is a huge help toward doing that, particularly as it deals with those issues but frames them in a much larger and more appropriate window that calls us to more than recycling but to a new way of living that is in line with the Scriptures and teaching of Christ.

After some of that more serious reading, I needed a bit of a rest and my local Goodwill came through again with another hand-me-down by Mr. Moore. Again, Moore doesn't disappoint with this older title that details the misadventures of one Tucker Case who finds himself on an island with...Well, I don't want to give it away but just suffice it to say that Christopher Moore is one of the more interesting writers of our day. It's not necessarily family-friendly fare but if you give it a shot, I'm pretty sure you'll be happy you did.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Me & Michael English

It's not a cool thing in some circles but I'm a huge Michael English fan. He was one of the first Christian artists I really latched onto, largely because his music served as a bridge between the world of southern gospel (which if you're not sick enough of me bringing up that I was raised on by now!) and contemporary Christian. It didn't hurt that the kid could sing like no one else and he possessed a latent soul within his voice that just resonated with me. Plus, Mike is just cool. He's just got that way about him. We've traveled all over the freakin' world to see him, from overnight trips in RV's to Atlanta to all day trips to Panama City Beach. If he was near, we were doing our best to make it although we've missed the past few times largely due to the fact that, well, we've got kids. Anyway, like it or not, he's my guy.

But Mike's been through some stuff over the past ten years or so, having made some poor decisions that resulted in his almost losing his entire career, abusing drugs and alcohol, and other such issues. He details much of this in his recent book, The Prodigal Comes Home, that I've already mentioned reading before. But, he's back. And better than ever. I had the opportunity to interview him for INFUZE a couple of weeks ago and will be posting that as soon as I get it transcribed and I also got to see him do a concert at a local church here in town. It's good to see him back in the swing of things. Mike's life reminds me of the amazing redemption and goodness found in God. Thanks, Mike, for allowing Him to use you.

For more clips, music, and whatnot, you could also check out Mike's site here: Michael English Music

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Review: Atlantis: Hymns for Disco - K-OS

While I'm not a huge fan of hip-hop, I do like well-crafted and thoughtful hip-hop. I'm not all about the bling-bling but if you've got something intelligent to say, I'm all ears. K-OS is this sort of artist. Bridging the gap between hip-hop, R&B, and soul, this young artist has some powerful things to say and does it in a way that demands to be heard. Here's the INFUZE review:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Singing Baritone, Longing for Lead

I grew up on country, oldies, and southern gospel music. The latter, while illiciting a giggle or two from some as I share my affection for it, still holds a near and dear place in my heart. I remember watching as numbers of gospel quartets came through our church over the years, some better than others. We had some come and they performed with tracks, offering up their encouraging blends country soul and gospel twang. Others came with a full band and, as much as you could in an independent Baptist church, rocked the house. But, what set, and continues to set southern gospel music apart from others in my mind is the stellar harmonies that some of the groups could create.

I remember being a little kid, laughing and smiling as the bass went low, the tenor went girly-voice high, the lead soared with power, and the baritone...Well, what did the baritone do? Of course they did something, didn't they? Somewhere in my memory I recall them getting a token solo or two but within the mix of everyone else their voice seems to fade the quickest in memory. The baritone (and as someone who is a huge fan but not necessarily a true student of music, I acknowledge that this may be entirely incorrect) seemed to be the glue that drew the pieces together. His voice hid among the others yet created that platform that helped things to blend into a smooth harmony, one that was simply surreal.

I've found myself feeling like the baritone as of late. I just feel like I'm sort of blending in, really in all phases of my life. Yet, deep within, I long to stand out, to be that charismatic lead singer or at the very least the quirky bass or tenor. I want to do something that matters, that makes someone sit up and say "Whoa!". I consider my writing and ask myself why anyone would even want to read what I have to say. Why would they? And then comes the proverbial question, "
Who am I?"

Now, faithful three, let me first say that I acknowledge that I am someone and that my faith informs me that within the eyes of God that I am indeed someone who is loved and cared for. Yet, tell me that you haven't longed to be that celebrity of sorts, that person surrounded by friends and admirers? I know, I know, a lot of it has to do with perspective. In fact, we'd probably be surprised by who really does look up to us, who thinks highly of us. But, either way, I'm feeling sort of baritone lately. I suppose that what I can do in the meantime is to sing with all my heart, to practice and practice, and work my hardest at glueing those other parts together so that when my solo comes, I'm ready.

Review: Spiderman 3 - Music From and Inspired By

I wrote this before I actually saw the movie but I'd have to say that my original assessment holds true. Great movie and a great soundtrack! Here's the INFUZE review:

To the Faithful Three

I realize that I haven't posted anything of significant worth here in a while save a few pictures and links to reviews I've done so I thought I'd take a brief moment while I have it to update the faithful on what's been going on with us.

To begin, the biggest thing that's kept me from blogging consistently surrounds the move that we as a family have made. After much prayer and consideration and maybe a touch of insanity as well, we decided to do a "Kingdom of God"-type thing and move in with my in-laws in order to help them out financially for a season. They've been okay but just so and we wanted to help them get their heads a little above water. On top of that (of course we're not totally unselfish!) we also wanted to utilize the opportunity to fast-track some debt out of the way and put a little into savings for ourselves during that time. So, we moved.

Thus far it's been okay. It is interesting, getting to know one another's little patterns and whatnot but we're making due. We do have more television channels now and a slightly larger kitchen but of course now there are more people to hog it. But, we're just trusting that we're doing the right thing, that it will help them out, and that we'll survive with our sanity intact. I think the first two will work out but the third is still up for grabs!

Aside from that, I really can't think of anything incredibly significant. My writing life was put on hold a bit due to all of this so I really haven't had time to sit down and really work on that much either. Wow. I'm just looking back at all this and am realizing that I'm really quite boring. Oh well. Maybe that's why it's just a faithful three...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Review: The Story - Brandi Carlile

Some albums are good. Others are great. This falls into the category of "great". Here's the INFUZE review: