I have always been an avid lover of music; and thanks to Spotify, it is so easy to listen to a lot of great music for free [I encourage you to still purchase albums of artists you really appreciate, especially indie artists...because they really don't make much money from Spotify].
As I look at my 2012 Spotify playlist, there are 524 tracks; so that’s probably about 40 albums. Yet, out of all these albums, there are two standout winners for me.
Overall Favorite Album of the Year:
Season One – All Sons & Daughters
Despite the fact that not much of this album is new [13 of the 15 tracks are from previous EPs], it’s still my favorite LP of the year. AS&D to me is like a worship version of Damien Rice. Not only is the musical style similar, but even the female vocalists remind me of each other. AS&D’s lyrics are creative, raw, and honest. They write about topics that CCM tends to ignore (like lament, embodied in the track “Reason to Sing, my favorite of the album]. I love the simplicity of the instrumentation/production. AS&D is truly a breath of fresh air in a genre where the majority of the music sounds the same lyrically and musically.
Favorite Album for Congregational Worship
From Age to Age – Sovereign Grace Music
To be completely honest, before this album I was never a fan of SGM in terms of musical style. I really appreciated the theological depth of their lyrics, but I didn’t really gravitate toward their music because I found the style kind of “old school”. But this album blew me away. The lyrics are amazing, but that’s a given. However, even for SGM this album is amazing lyrically. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that every song was inspired by a traditional hymn. And the music…oh, the music! Love. This album is an incredible resource for worship leaders because every song is a gem for congregational worship (except the prelude, of course). This album is truly a gift to the local church.
Give Us Rest or (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) – David Crowder Band. This, DC*B’s final album, is truly a magnum opus. There are only a few songs (out of 34 tracks) on here appropriate for congregational worship, but the album as a whole is a great listening experience. Favorite track: “After All (Holy)”
Onething Live: Magnificent Obsession – IHOP. This is a great album for your contemplative side. Prior to its release, I was really excited about it because I had been dying for recordings of two songs in the prayer room that had been absolutely undoing me – “New Jerusalem” and “There is Only One.”
White Flag – Passion. Every year I look forward to the Passion album and it’s almost always among my favorite worship albums of the year. This year is no exception. From the rich Christology of “Jesus, Son of God” to the simple yet beautiful declaration of love in “How I Love You” to the Augustine-esque confession of “You Revive Me” to the social justice-oriented “Sing Along”, this entire album is a great resource for private devotions as well as corporate worship.
Singalone 2 – Phil Wickham. Although there are no new tracks on this album (as it is a live album), it is still one of my most-played albums of the year. What I love about live worship albums is that it captures the spirit of the leader and the people. I love hearing the worship leader’s intermittent shouts of praise and declarations of God’s character as well as the crowd’s voices raised in praise. And there’s a flow and spontaneity as the music is allowed to break out of the box of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. And…what can I say, Phil Wickham’s an amazing worship leader with incredible chops & mad guitar skills. Favorite tracks: Heaven Song; The Victory.