Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Building 429 take their name from Ephesians 4:29 which reads: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen". SPACE IN BETWEEN US (2004, Essential) was their first full-length album on a major label. 'Glory Defined', the first track from it, became a #1 hit on several Christian charts and to this day remains a signature song for them.  In 2005 the band won a Dove Award for 'New Artist of the Year'. Fast forward to 2008 and they released the self-titled BUILDING 429 (INO), which I will be reviewing here.

1. The album begins with 'Not Gonna Let You Down' written by Scott Faircloff, Jesse Garcia, Jason Roy, Michael Anderson, and Chris Stevens. It's a strong rock song of encouragement: "This is the hope that you've been longing to know/God is alive and He's never left you alone/So hold on through the tears.../Lift up your soul, don't you let go/Lift up your soul/Never let go".

2. 'End of Me' is a good rock song about spiritual surrender: "Once upon a time the story goes/I laid it all down and let it go/To lose it all, to lose it all/I took a step of faith and said goodbye/Everything I had I left behind to find true life/Well, all I longed for I found finally/At the end of me".

3. 'Erase' finds Claire Indie on cello and Zach Casebolt on violin. There is also some nice electric guitar work on this rock ballad that serves as a love song: "I can always go back to the place of you and me/And I will find you once again/Just like I remember/Time it will erase the world around us/But I will never be alone/Cause time can't erase love".

4. Tony Wood and James Rueger wrote 'Overcome'. It's a great modern praise and worship song: "Your heart was moved with such mercy/That in love You endured the cross/You've overcome the world/Rescued my soul/I don't have to worry/Cause whatever comes, You're in control/Forever I will worship You/I'm amazed by the things You have done/I am overcome".

5. 'Always' is one of two songs written solely by Jason Roy. This one is an adult contemporary ballad that begins with this emotional picture: "I was standing in the pouring rain one dark November night/Fighting off the bitter cold when she caught my eye/Her face was taught and her eyes were filled/And to my surprise she pulled out a photograph and my heart just stopped inside/She said 'He would have been three today/I miss his smile/I miss his face'".

6. Jason Roy and Sam Mizell wrote 'Shoulder', a melodic song about God's faithfulness: "And if you're on top of the world and you fall down/You're shaking inside and you can't find your ground/When you lose yourself, God will find you/Yeah, you need to know that the door is open/When you're broken/Come on, step on through".

7. 'Bring Me Back' serves as a sincere adult contemporary prayer: "Bring me back to the innocence of You/And bring me back to the first love I ever knew/Back to the way that it was when I was young/I'm tired of the mess that I've become/I want to see the world the way You do/So bring me back to You".

8. The uplifting pop song, 'Your Love Goes On', is up next: "One hope is never gonna change/One truth is certainty today/That Your love goes on/One promise covered all our shame/One Savior died to take the pain/And His love goes on and on.../Your love goes on/I see it and I feel it/We're not alone/I know that Your love goes on".

9. 'Coming Home' is a strong rock song told from the perspective of a prodigal son: "Every other road carried me away to anger/And every destination was just another point of danger, so/I'm coming home (2X)/There's nothing left to prove anymore/I'm coming home (2X)/So father, don't you close that door/Won't you wait for me when the sun goes down?/I'll be running straight to You/I'm coming home (2X)".

10. Last up is 'Oxygen (Bringing Me Back to Life)'. It's a cry to God for help: "And if I could breathe You in/I'll be sure to hold my breath/Cause You are like oxygen/Bringing me to life/So here I stand once again/Open me and come on in/Cause You are like oxygen/Bringing me to life".

I am quite impressed with this, my first album ever owned from Building 429. These songs offer hope and encouragement for those going through dark valleys and trials in life. These songs specifically point to God's faithfulness and love for us and encourage us to have an intimate and personal relationship with Him. That will not take all of our problems away, but it will help us navigate them. Jason Roy's lead vocals are quite good. On this album there are about an equal number of rock and adult contemporary songs. The band plays both equally well. I'm rating BUILDING 429 a 95% and recommending it to fans of Kutless and Jeremy Camp. For more info visit: www.building429.com and www.inorecords.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Brooke Nicholls is a Canadian worship leader/songwriter. Her bio states: "Seven years into a pop music career; three independent records, and many missed successes later, Brooke began looking backward, at all the heartache and disappointment, and saw very clearly the hand of God guiding her each step of the way-and so she wrote". The result was 2016's FOUND IN YOU. It was produced by her husband Steve Lensink. In the liner notes, Brooke writes: "Thanks Jesus-The reason I sing, the reason I worship, and the reason I write. Without You, my purpose in all of this wouldn't exist. Thank You Lord for calling me into the unknown with grace and everlasting love". In 2018 Brooke won two GMA Canada awards: 'New Artist of the Year' and 'Female Vocalist of the Year'. She has shared the stage with the likes of MercyMe, Love & The Outcome, and The Color.

1. First up is 'Beauty from Ashes'. It's one of five songs on this project that are solely penned by Brooke. This one is an adult contemporary ballad that speaks of God's transforming power: "Once empty, made whole/Rekindled light burns within my soul/You're near me, I'm restored/Hope alive, I will rise/Stronger than before/Beauty from ashes with peace that surpasses/You turned my mourning into joy/Hearts that are broken find healing unspoken/You turned my silence into song".

2. Brooke co-wrote the title track, 'Found in You', with fellow Canadian artist Dan Macaulay. It's a great light pop song about finding one's identity in Jesus: "I rest in Your truth, perfectly loved by You/No condemnation, my one salvation/I rest in Your truth, perfectly loved by You/No condemnation, Jesus I belong to You/And the truth's that I am found in You/Covered by unending love/I am enough".

3. Fanny J. Crosby and Phoebe P. Knapp wrote one of the Christian faith's most beloved hymns, 'Blessed Assurance'. The melody is toyed with on this version to modernize it a bit and it works well.  It's still a song of personal testimony: "Perfect submission, all is at rest/I, in my Saviour, am happy and blessed/Watching and waiting, looking above/Filled with His goodness, lost in His love, oh His love, yeah/This is my story, this is my song/Praising my Saviour all the day long".

4. 'All I Need to Know' is a beautiful adult contemporary song of faith: "When the night is closing in/Fear begins to whisper I am not enough/Then the dawn begins to break/You have come to rescue/You have come to save/I will praise You in the dark/I'll praise You when it's hard/I will sing through all the pain/There's victory in Your Name/You, God-You never let me go/You God-Your strength is all I need to know". 

5. 'Grace Today (A Prayer)' is a pretty easy listening number that declares reliance on God: "You speak to me so humbly/Reminding me You're all I need/Nothing else could ever satisfy/Grace today, I need Your grace.../Your power made perfect/When I'm weak You're strong/Your grace sufficient/I find my rest though a thorn in my flesh/Your grace sufficient".

6. The classic hymn 'How Great Thou Art' follows. Here it is essentially presented as a modern praise and worship song: "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing/Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in/That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing/He bled and died, to take away my sin/Then sings my soul/My Saviour God to Thee/'How Great Thou art! How Great Thou art!'"

7. Next up is the album's lead single, 'Home', which hit #1 on Canada's largest Christian radio station. It's an adult contemporary song that invites people to come to Christ: "Come blind, come cripple/Come be made new/The gates of pearl are open/New life is waiting you/Oh, come thief, come beggar, come confess/Your history's rewritten/Yes, in heaven find your rest, living in eternity".

8. 'I Am Free' seems autobiographical and is moving: "Like a sheep gone astray/I had turned my own way/Wandering alone, I was lost/A slave to my shame/I could not make my own way/I never understood the cost/He came to pay my debt/He came to make a way/I am free/Bought by the blood of the King/Jesus laid His life down for me/Broke the chains that bound and rescued me/So that I could live free/I am free".

9. Last up is Eugene Monroe Bartlett's vintage praise and worship tune 'Victory in Jesus' which we used to sing at my home church a lot back in the day. Here, the song is presented in a tender, subdued, ballad manner. It is splendid and still reflects on Calvary and salvation: "Oh victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever/He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood/He loved me ere I knew Him/And all my love is due Him/He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood".

FOUND IN YOU is comprised of mainly slower, quieter modern praise and worship and adult contemporary fare. The people you will hear on this record are: Brooke Nicholls (vocals, keys), Steve Lensink (guitars, vocals, keys, programming), Justin Brix (guitars), Jared Fox (guitars, programming), and Jacob Schrodt (drums). The message of this album is that it is only in Jesus Christ that we can find our true identity. Through Christ, the Father loves on us, gives us His grace, heals us, restores us, and gives us His joy. Songs of testimony are found on this project. Gratitude for the cross, the blood of Jesus being shed, salvation, God's keeping power even in the dark times, and His creation are expressed here. It is made clear that Heaven is our true home. I'm rating this project 85.5%. For more info visit: www.brookenicholls.ca or connect with her on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Darlene Joyce Steinhardt, who we now know by her married name, Darlene Zschech, was born on September 8, 1965 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. At ten she was part of an Australian children's show 'Happy Go Round'. She has sung jingles for companies such as McDonald's, KFC, and Coca-Cola. She released her solo debut, MAKE THE CHOICE, in 1987. In 1993 she wrote her signature song 'Shout to the Lord' which became a massive praise and worship hit internationally. She joined the staff of Hillsong Church, and has went on to release a few more solo albums. The one I will be reviewing here is 2011's YOU ARE LOVE (Fair Trade/Columbia). In the liner notes Darlene writes: "These songs have been gathered, written, and recorded as I continue to walk this journey of loving and worshiping my King in every season...and as my heart discovers new ways and new melodies to sing a very earnest THANK YOU".

1. 'Under Grace' is one of seven songs penned solely by Darlene. David Davidson is responsible for the lovely string arrangements on this light pop song of personal testimony: "Under grace, You cover my failing again/Heavenly rain, You wash all my fear away, away/When I woke today, the sun was not hiding away/And hope filled my world once again/My life forever, changed by the Master/My life forever, given to praise/And I`m forever grateful for my salvation/Washing over all my sin/You are washing over all my sin".

2. Michael Gungor, Israel Houghton, and Darlene co-wrote 'Saving Me', a joyful, bouncy pop song featuring Darlene's daughter Zoe Z: "Love is saving me/Everything I am becoming free to love/You're saving me, Your love saving me/This beauty for ashes/Your love changing me/Your presence is calling me/Oh hear the sound of salvation".

3. The title track, 'You are Love', is a beautiful praise and worship anthem: "You are love/Love unfailing, love divine/You are love/Love that mends a heart like mine/You are love/Lifted high for all to see/You are love/The heavens sing of Your glory/You are love, You are love".

4. 'We are Your People' is a modern worship song of spiritual consecration: "We are Your people/We live to worship/We live to carry Your Name/Making a way by Your love/To move every mountain/We're living with healing and grace/We carry Your Name, Jesus". Electric guitar is put to good use here.

5. 'I Will Wait' runs over six and a half minutes long. It is one of two co-writes between Darlene and Israel Houghton. This wonderful adult contemporary ballad that builds in musical intensity is one of spiritual dedication: "Though the storms may rage around me/In the eye I will rest my soul/Lord I love You more than life itself/This I know/I will wait for You/I will wait/Lord, I'll wait for You/I will wait/In Your presence I surrender/Laying down all my foolish pride/As this deep calls unto deep/I will love You with all my life".

6. 'Beautiful' includes these calming words: "Oh peace, flood my soul/Be still my anxious heart/When I don't understand/You hold me/Peace, flood my soul/You're beautiful/Amazing love over me/You're beautiful/A love beyond all I see". 

7. Next up is 'Hope for Humanity', which points everyone directly to Christ: "Jesus, Jesus/Saviour, Emmanuel/Oh Jesus, my Jesus/Healer, only You are/Hope for all humanity/Jesus, my Lord/The hope of the world is Jesus".

8. 'Faithful' is a great modern worship song: "You rescue me from enemy lines/You're reaching down from heaven's open skies/You run to my defense, You cover me/For when I am weak/You are strong/Savior, all my days in Your hands/Redeemer, every dream, every plan/Father, at Your word I respond/You are my God, You are faithful".

9. 'Cry of the Broken' includes a nice electric guitar solo and expresses gratitude for Calvary: "You were wounded for my sin and You were bruised for all my shame/You were broken for my healing/Only by the cross I am saved".

10. 'Face to Face' is an easy listening number that is a duet with Barry Southgate. Stu Garrard plays guitar while Tony Lucido plays bass. The song paints a beautiful picture with these words: "My searching heart was aching for a place to find a home/You knocked upon its doors, I asked You in/Oh, You loved me into life and all its fullness/Now I know that I am Yours forever/You are mine".

11. Last up is a Bonus Exclusive Australian Mix of 'Under Grace'. 

Darlene Zschech's vocals are just lovely to listen to on YOU ARE LOVE. This album is comprised of mostly slow adult contemporary, modern worship, and light pop songs. Made clear is the fact that we all need to have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Also we should worship God. Our God is full of beauty, grace, mercy, love, healing, and holiness. He provided a way through the death and resurrection of Christ for us to receive forgiveness and salvation. In addition, we are reminded to share God and His message of love with people who don't yet know Him. The Cd booklet is nicely  put together with some beautiful shots. I'm rating YOU ARE LOVE 95%. For more info visit: www.darlenezschech.com or connect with her on Facebook.

Monday, September 10, 2018


Steve Green was born on August 1st, 1956 in Portland Oregon. He spent a lot of his early life in Argentina as his folks were Baptist missionaries. He sang tenor on the first two albums by the Gaither Vocal Band and also sang lead on White Heart's self-titled debut album in 1982. Fast forward to 1984 and he put out his self-titled debut solo project (Sparrow). It was produced by Greg Nelson. In the liner notes Steve thanks: "My Lord, for the miracle of salvation and reconciliation, and for the promise of continuing the work that He started. Praise the Lord-Hallelujah!"

1. First up is 'Lift Up A Song', a short, but jubilant praise and worship song of victory: "Oh it is Jesus/The Lamb who has saved us/Who now has been raised and is seated in power/At the hand of the Father/Behold His presence/Comes to His temple/As the redeemed of the Lord join the dance of the passover Lamb (2X)".

2. Melodie Tunney, Dick Tunney, and Bev Darnall wrote the upbeat Christian pop song, 'Looking for the City' which anticipates heaven: "Since the moment of new birth/I've been a stranger on this Earth/An exile of promise living in this world/But with my new eyes of faith/I`m looking for the day/When I'll be gone from this house and at home with the Lord".

3. 'Bring Back the Glory' was penned by Bill and Gloria Gaither and Bill George. It's an inspirational ballad that begins by describing what it's like to be in a spiritual valley: "All the laughter is gone/And the sound of the song that we sang/Slowly faded away/Simple joys that we knew/When we walked close with You, hand in hand in the cool of the day/Are just memories/Or are they dreams?/Yet we hold to the hope/That the music will come back again/Bring back the Glory/Won't You show us what life is for?/Bring back the Glory/Make us open once more".

4. 'Proclaim the Glory of the Lord' is an upbeat praise and worship number that is definitely joyful: "He is our Messiah, our Savior and our King/Let all our voices join as one/And fill the Earth with singing/Glory to our God!/His greatness we applaud/Let every race on every shore/Proclaim the glory of the Lord!"

5. Dony McGuire and Reba Rambo co-wrote 'Wounded Soldier', an easy listening ballad about bearing one another's burdens: "Obeying their orders/They fought on the front lines for our King/Capturing the enemy's stronghold/Weakened from battle/Satan crept in to steal their lives/Don't let a wounded soldier die/Come let us pour the oil/Come let us bind the hurt/Let's cover them with a blanket of His love".

6. 'Lamb of Glory' is a moving praise and worship anthem centered around Calvary: "Precious Lamb of Glory/Love's most wondrous story/Heart of God's redemption of man/Worship the Lamb of Glory/On the cross God loved the world/While all the powers of hell were hurled/No one there could understand/The one they saw was Christ the Lamb".

7. Horns are arranged by Dan Cleary on 'Other Side of the Grave', a light Christian pop song of testimony: "We are alive in Christ/Dead to the world/Free from the sin that enslaves/In His death we died/In His life we live again/On the other side of the grave".

8. 'Broken and Spilled Out' is the longest song at over five minutes in length. It expresses gratitude for Calvary: "And though You were perfect and holy/You gave up yourself willingly/You spared no expense for my pardon/You were used up and wasted for me/Broken and spilled out/Just for love of me, Jesus/God's most precious treasure lavished on me".

9. Mark Gersmehl and Billy Smiley of White Heart co-wrote 'You Can Be (As Full as You Want to Be)' with Dwight Liles and Steve Green. This one's a peppy pop song about totally surrendering to Jesus: "You can be as full as you want to be/Look inside your heart and you will see/All the places that you need to give to Him/Open up your heart and you will see/You can be as full as you want to be/But it's up to you how much you let Him in/Let Him in".

10. Last up is 'People Need the Lord', one of two co-writes on the album by Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh. It would become one of Steve's signature songs over the years. This splendid adult contemporary ballad is about sharing the Gospel with the lost: "Every day they pass me by/I can see it in their eyes/Empty people filled with care/Headed who knows where/On they go through private pain/Living fear to fear/Laughter hides their silent cries/Only Jesus hears/People need the Lord (2X)/At the end of broken dreams/He's the open door/People need the Lord (2X)/When will we realize/People need the Lord".

STEVE GREEN has five fast songs and five slow ones on it. The main musical genres are light pop and inspirational, with touches of easy listening and adult contemporary mixed in. Praising and worshiping God for who He is and what He has done is prevalent on this album. Also prevalent is the story of how Christ came to earth to purchase our salvation at Calvary. God's love for us is great! A desire for intimacy with God is expressed. Also, we are encouraged to care for others, whether they be Christians or not. Steve's vocals are great as are the backing vocals. I'm rating this one a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.stevegreenministries.org or look him up on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


In 1989 Word Records released the multi-artist project OUR HYMNS. It was executive produced by Loren Balman and Michael Blanton.

1. First up is a laid back version of 'Holy, Holy, Holy'. Michael W. Smith gives a nice vocal here. The Christ Church Choir and Donna McElroy are among the other singers on this essentially praise and worship classic: "Holy, holy, holy!/Lord God Almighty!/Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee/Holy, holy, holy!/Merciful and mighty!/God in three Persons, blessed Trinity".

2. Amy Grant sings "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus', while Gary Chapman plays bass. Dulcimer and accordion are two of the other instruments used on this rootsy, Americana song about having faith: "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus/Just to take Him at His word/Just to rest upon His promise/Just to know/'Thus saith the Lord'.../I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee/Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend/And I know that Thou art with me/Wilt be with me to the end".

3. Bruce Carroll presents 'More Love to Thee' in an easy listening manner. It's a quiet, reverent song: "More love to Thee/More love to Thee!/Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee/This is my earnest plea/More love, O Christ to Thee/More love to Thee/More love to Thee!"

4. Christian dance queen Kim Boyce brings a slow R&B groove to 'I Must Tell Jesus'. It features Kirk Whalum on sax and Alphie Silas and Jean McRath on backing vocals. It's sung from the standpoint of one with an intimate relationship with Christ: "I must tell Jesus all of my troubles/He's a kind, compassionate friend/If I but ask Him, He will deliver/Make of my troubles quickly an end/O how the world to evil allures me!/O how my heart is tempted to sin!/I must tell Jesus, and He will help me/Over the world-victory to win".

5. Russ Taff delivers a soulful version of 'Near the Cross' which will lift your spirits. Julie Miller is a guest vocalist. Again, this song speaks of a personal relationship with Christ: "Jesus, keep me, keep me near the cross/For there is a precious, precious fountain/O it's free, free to all, a healing, cleansing stream/And it flows from Calv'ry's, Calv'ry's mountain/Always near, keep me Jesus/Let it, let it be my glory ever/Till my raptured soul, soul shall find/Rest, rest beyond the river".

6. Next up is a gem from Phil Keaggy. It's called 'Prelude: Bach's Bourree/O God, Our Help in Ages Past'. Smitty Price plays keyboards and Phil as usual is great on guitar. This track begins as a soothing instrumental and transitions into a light adult pop number. It includes these prayerful lyrics: "O God, our help in ages past/Our hope for years to come/Be Thou our guard while life shall last/And our eternal home/Our home (4X)/O God, lead us, guide us, we pray".

7. First Call presents 'O Sacred Head, Now Wounded'. It reflects on Calvary: "O sacred Head, now wounded/With grief and shame weighed down/Now scornfully surrounded/With thorns Thine only crown/How pale Thou art with anguish/With sore abuse and scorn/How does that visage languish/Which once was bright as morn!/What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered/Was all for sinners' gain/O mine was the transgression/But Thine the deadly pain". Tommy Sims plays bass.

8. Wayne Watson presents a great adult contemporary version of 'It is Well with My Soul'. These words anticipate heaven: "O then Lord, hurry the day when the faith shall be sight/The clouds be rolled back as a scroll/The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend/Even so, it is well with my soul".

9. Take 6 put their cool acappella spin on 'The Savior is Waiting', a song of spiritual invitation: "The Savior is waiting to enter your heart/Why don't you let Him in? (2X)/There's nothing in this world to keep you apart/Why won't you answer Him? (2X)/Time after time He has waited before/And now He is waiting again/To see if you're willing to open the door/O how He wants to come in/If you'll take one look at the Savior, my friend/You'll find His arms open wide (2X)".

10. Last up is a rock battle cry from Petra, 'Onward, Christian Soldiers', which begins with these words: "Onward, Christian soldiers/Marching as to war/With the cross of Jesus/Going on before!/Onward, then, ye people/Join our happy throng/Blend with us your voices/In our triumph song". John Elefante and Dave Amado are on background vocals.

OUR HYMNS was a kind of who's who of Contemporary Christian musicians at the time. It was a forerunner to many multi-artist projects that would follow, such as the CITY ON A HILL series. On OUR HYMNS there are seven slower songs and three faster paced ones. Adult contemporary and easy listening are the main musical styles, but we are given samples of Americana, R&B, acapella, and rock music as well.  Loving and trusting Jesus Christ and a gratitude for His sacrifice at Calvary are main themes. God's love for us and His holiness are made clear here. This is a pretty decent praise and worship record. I'm rating it 90%. For more info visit the artists' official web pages or connect with them on facebook/twitter.