Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Favorite Christian Music CDs/Projects from 2012

By Bunni Pounds

Last year, I released my list of top 10 favorite Christian CDs that came out during the year and the post got so many hits that I have decided to do it again this year. I apologize upfront that I am releasing this so soon before Christmas, but buy yourself a few of these for your own presents this year.
Here are the rules of the game: The CDs had to have been released in 2012 - not before, and they had to be all Christian music- my spirit food. They are listed in the order of how much I listened to them.
This was another hard year to make these choices. Projects that won me over this year were duos (harmonies get me every time), worship projects that took me straight to the throne room, and amazing songwriting that took me deep into the Word of God.
People who know me know that I have a Christian music buying problem (as a indie songwriter, worship leader, and music lover) and this year it has turned into more of a Christian music promoting "problem". In 2013, we are going to be hosting more independent Christian music events. Get ready, it is going to be blast!
I love to worship God all day long, promote great artists who love God and who impact people for the kingdom of God, and study great songwriting. 

Here are CDs that I worshiped with, was inspired by, and sang to at the top of my lungs in the car or at my computer -  All released this year in 2012.

#1 – Aaron Keyes – In the Living Room
 

In 2011, I took a trip to Regent University as I prayed about doing a Master’s degree. That degree was not in the plan for my life as Tim and I focused our lives back on the kingdom, but in the process of that trip at a prayer/worship gathering, I fell in love with the music and ministry of Aaron Keyes.
Aaron sings the soundtrack of my heart, the Word of God, with a passion that only comes from going deep into the presence of God and spending precious time with Him. I purchased his release on Integrity Music, Dwell, as soon as I found it, but when Aaron released this simple project of worship In the Living Room on his website this year something inside me connected deeply with it.

The songs I Am Not the Same, Trust You, Sovereign Over Us, Praise Him, and Flood Over Me are my favorites though all of them have ministered to me on one day or another.
Aaron speaks at the beginning of the project that he was inspired to do this recording to inspire communities all over the world that are meeting in homes or in smaller communities to go deep into God together. This project takes you into that place that we call at our home - community, life, and freedom.
I so appreciate Aaron's heart for real discipleship, his heart for the Body of the Christ in all the nations, and his heart to restore the Word of God as the main thing that we sing about. This project is rich in the Word, rich in passion and the Holy Spirit, and rich with amazing musicians in a simple community format. I am proud to recommend it at #1.
I highly encourage everyone to order this project off his website. Get the deluxe version ($12), because you need the bonus tracks.
#2 – Bryan and Katie Torwalt – Here on Earth

Duos were big for me this year, but the number one duo was the Jesus Culture married couple, Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Their song, Holy Spirit, became the theme song for our Friday night group, we are working on I See Heaven now, and all of the songs on this album took me straight into the presence of God this year. I loved singing their songs in Romania as well.
There are few CDs that I love all the songs. Well, this one breaks that mold, because I love, love, love all these songs. They are great congregational and personal ministry songs that bring you into intimacy with Jesus.
The thing I appreciate about Bryan and Katie is that they not only have incredible music, but they are moved by the Holy Spirit. This puts the extra little touch where the music sets captives free.
On a side note, Katie Torwalt, is one of the few artists that tweeted back when I tweeted this year about the impact Holy Spirit was having on our group. I appreciate that! We pray blessings over them and their ministry in this next year.

Their website: http://www.jesusculture.com/music/bryan-and-katie-torwalt

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.
 
#3 – All Sons and Daughters – Season One
 
Another duo that made the list this year is worship leaders, David Leonard and Leslie Jordan, from Franklin, TN. My political girlfriend, Sarah, turned me on to them in 2011 when they only had EPs out, but as soon as I saw their whole project together, I grabbed it in February.
Amazing songwriting, amazing melodies and harmonies, and songs that take you into deep thoughts about God and His kingdom defines this group.
My favorite songs are I am Set Free (that Brendon and I do on Friday nights), Oh Our Lord (which we will be doing soon), Buried in the Grave (one of the best songs ever written about the resurrection), and Wake Up (A cry for the Church to wake up).
You will love All Sons and Daughters. This album is also 15 tracks. Great bargain!

Their website: http://allsonsanddaughters.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#4 – Christ for the Nations – Uncreated One

My bible school has done it again with one of my favorite CDs of the year. I wrote last year that Gabriel Allred and Jonathan Lewis have taken this school to a whole new place in worship and I am blown away by the songs that have continued to come out of Christ for the Nations over the past few years. 
I was there again this year for the live recording of this album. I love the CFNI versions of Deep Cries Out and Great I Am, but their original songs are what makes CFN Music so special.

My new theme song for my life is Gabe’s Show Me Your Ways. In an age where we are emphasizing grace at the expense of seeking God, it is a wakeup call that we have to go up the mountain into His presence and seek His face.
Chris Martin’s Let Us Remember is a stirring song about the cross and that Jesus captured us by leaving the 99 to find us. We will be doing this song on Friday night soon.
The title track, Uncreated One by Andrew Meek, Chris Martin, & Jonathan Lewis, is Ben’s (my 13 year old worship leader) favorite song of the year. I have to agree. It is amazing and it is a heart cry for the church right now. “Release heaven’s sound, shake the nations. Let our worship arise to the God of the ages.”  Yes, God! P.S. I won’t even talk about the modulation and the range that it takes  to sing this arrangement. Amazing vocal work, Andrew!

Their website: http://www.cfnmusic.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#5 – Kari Jobe – Where I Find You


Growing up with Kari (her father was my youth pastor), I never could have imagined where God would take her. This year, 2012, has been an amazing year for her as she has traveled all over the world and her release Where I Find You topped the billboard charts for most of the year in Christian music.

I am so happy that the world has seen the gift that is Kari Jobe – she is a jewel to the Body of Christ. I remember seeing a tweet from Natalie Grant from the Dove Awards this year that said something like “No one can take us straight into the throne room quite like Kari Jobe.” I couldn’t agree more! As I listen back to Alabaster Jar and Revelation Song from the CFNI days, there was an anointing and gift on Kari from the beginning but the maturity that I have heard in her voice and her confidence this year has been staggering.

This album is worth every penny, if not just for the song – Here. I have been reminded to breathe this year. Not just to breathe, but to breathe in His presence. Thank you, Kari, I never get tired of singing your songs and praying for you.

Her website: http://www.karijobe.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#6 – Jenny & Tyler – Open Your Doors

 

In 2011, I stumbled across a facebook ad that said, “If you love Gungor, you will love Jenny & Tyler.” I clicked on it and the rest is history. I bought everything that Jenny & Tyler had ever done on ITUNES and I became a passion supporter of these amazing songwriters.

 
We were thrilled to host them as they came through Texas in July and it was a concert that I will never forget.
 
Their album, Open Your Doors that released in 2012 is a great compilation of Jenny’s allegorical writing style and Tyler’s straight forward Word based writing. You will love it!

My favorites are Abide, Fear Thou Not, O That the Light, See the Conqueror, and Kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I am more of a Word based writer myself.

Support these amazing indie artists who are taking the gospel all over this nation.

Their website: http://jennyandtyler.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#7 – Jennie Lee Riddle (and Friends) – People & Songs, Opus 1
 
 
One of my favorite songwriters released a project this year that I love! Jennie Lee Riddle who wrote Revelation Song, When the Stars Burn Down, When Love Was Slain, and so many other songs that are changing the face of Christian music; she is also an acquaintance of mine from McKinney, TX. Knowing her story from Klaus, Paul Wiggins, and other mutual friends has kept me tuned into what she is writing and doing, so the moment that this project was released, I supported her. I downloaded it from ITUNES.

What this project did was open me up to see Jennie’s songs in a new light – the way she heard them when they were written, and it also opened me to discover new talent and friends that I needed in my life.

What can I say about Will and Crystal Yates? It has been a thrill to hear them on this project, divinely meet Crystal at a worship leader's lunch this year, and get to know their hearts and lives. These two are amazing talents and people who are after the Kingdom of God. Check out their work on this project on When Love Was Slain, Glory Fall, and Inescapable Day.

I also discovered the voice, writing, and music of Jonathan Lee from Jennie’s album. What a great worship leader! I feel in love with his album, Let Them Hear, from 2009. Every song is well written and stirs my heart to worship. With one of my favorite songs of the year being – Oh My Soul - by Jonathan. I can't count the times that I have played that song.

I am so thankful to Jennie for showcasing her songs, her passion for the Kingdom, and her love of people and the friends in her life. I found a lot more musical loves and friends because of People & Songs this year. Thank you, Jennie, for being faithful to put out this project that was probably in your heart for a long time.

Her website: http://www.jennieriddle.com/people-songs/home

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#8 – Audrey Assad - Heart
 
 

This sweet Catholic worship leader that I discovered with her first album release, The House You’re Building, stole my heart again this year with Heart.

Since I have had to live my life without new music from Nichole Nordeman over the past years, I had to fill it with something and Audrey has filled that space in my heart.

Her piano melodies, her stirring vocals, and thought provoking songwriting has keep me warm and full during long work weeks this year.

Her song – Breaking Through – has been my heart cry for one of my friends that I love and O My Soul, Won Me Over, No Turning Back, and New Song have been anthems for my year.

I also had the chance to see her for the first time LIVE this year in Tyler, Texas, opening for Tenth Avenue North on the Struggle Tour. What a blessing!

Discover Audrey Assad, you will not be disappointed.

Her website: http://audreyassad.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.

#9 – Matthew West – Into the Light

 
There are few songwriters that I respect as much as Matthew West. He can take a story and touch our hearts with it, but he can also turn a melody into a radio hit like no one else.

Almost all of my favorite male singer-songwriters released new projects this year, Bebo Norman, Warren Barfield, Chris August, and Matthew West. As much as I love all of their projects, Matthew West wins first prize.

This is Matthew’s second project where he has taken the stories of average people and has written songs inspired by their lives. His lyrics are amazing and the songs are musically moving. Everyone can relate to these stories because they speak to the center of  our hurts, pains, hope, forgiveness, and light in Jesus.

His song Forgiveness is the best song on the subject this year and inspired by a true story of a woman that forgave a drunk driver that killed her daughter. Moved by Mercy is our family favorite from the album – maybe because we are learning how to be moved by mercy and feel the pain of others in new ways.

Amazing songwriting, vocals, and musicianship from Matthew West. Keep supporting this man of God and his work.

His website: http://matthewwest.com/

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.


#10 – Bethel Music- The Loft Sessions
 
 
One of our favorite churches, some of our favorite worship leaders and writers, and now a project that we can’t get enough of called The Loft Sessions.  Our family is addicted to this album, every song, and every intimate movement in it.

My favorite song is Come to Me, Ben’s favorite song is My Dear, Israel’s favorite song is One Thing Remains, and Tim just loves everything with Brian Johnson.

This project has the anointing of the Holy Spirit all over it and the passion and the depth of the lyrics that we have come to expect from this world-changing church, but it has a feel that is all its own.

The Pounds family is praying that a Loft Sessions 2 will be in the works in the years to come. P.S. For the Sake of the World is another great live full band album from Bethel Music this year as well.

EP of the Year – Bethany Dillon – To Those Who Wait (Live EP)

 

One of my favorite artists of all time, Bethany Dillon, came out with a 5 song EP this year which I have to mention here. Since she has been home with her two beautiful babies, she has continued to write. Thank God! I need her.

To Those Who Wait is now a theme song of my life.  “You can do more in my waiting, then in my doing I can do.” – Some of the best lyrics released this year.

You’re the Best Song has to be one of the best songs ever written for stay-at-home moms. Husbands, buy this EP for your wives who are staying home with small children. They will love you for it.

You can read all about my love for Bethany Dillon and our upcoming concert event in 2013 here.

Download this great EP and fall in love with Bethany now if you haven’t already.

To purchase on ITUNES, click here.
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I hope you have enjoyed my top 10 CDs of 2012. I am just one worship leader here in Garland, Texas, but I want to encourage you to seek God with all your heart, soul, and mind.

Remember, worship is about connecting with a person – the one that we love – Jesus. There is a God behind the songs, so make sure you are connecting with the One that loves and cares for you when you are worshipping or you are just singing…

Keep great music around you that encourages you, lifts you up, and brings you into the presence of God especially in these days of warfare in our country.

Support great artists by actually buying their CDs or downloading their music. Support their livelihoods!

My prayer is that God will continue to bless the Body of Christ with great music, great art, and encouraging worship music that lifts up His name. This is only the beginning. Watch out, 2013!

**I would love to hear your thoughts. You can comment to this list below on the blog or email me at bunnipounds@yahoo.com.

Note: After I wrote this post, I was corrected that Bryan and Katie Torwalt's project came out in 2011. I apologize for the misinformation, but I have left them on the list since they made such a great impact on me this year. I will be more careful on my list for 2013.

 

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