If you can remember back about 6 months or so, I had the pleasure of unveiling my favourite 25 albums of January – June of 2017. And while I myself still haven’t reviewed everything that I wanted to in the year of 2017, I have since come to the conclusion, that 2017 was and is one of my favourite years in terms of music. And thus here we are in January 2018, as I am unveiling my favourite 30 albums of the back half of 2017. I have incorporated quotes/descriptions of my favourite 15 albums of July-December and the remaining 15 without quotes (because frankly, it could take too long for a reader to check out, and thus, the post could seem daunting and overwhelming to read), totaling 30 albums in the back half of the year that have stood out for me personally. And so without further ado, here below are my favourite albums of 2017 (second half). I will also do a post showing my favourite albums of 2017, period (thereby incorporating my favourite albums of the first half and second half of 2017 in one post. What are your favourite albums of 2017. Read on to check out mine!
Top Albums of July – December 2017 (1 – 15 with descriptions/quotes)
Matthew West- All In
Matthew West’s new album is pack-full of heartfelt moments and lyrical and musical backdrops that Matthew hasn’t really ventured into…until now. His promotional singles in ‘All In’, ‘Mercy is a Song’, ‘Amen’, ‘Broken Things’ and ‘Jesus & You’ delivered a variety of styles prior to album release date on the 22nd September, and songs like ‘Never Ever Give Up’, ‘The Beautiful Things We Miss’ and ‘You are Known’ expounded on the ability of Matthew in delving into a sonic landscape that CCM artists haven’t really done before. The album is a unique experience musically, and while most times it is different compared to Matthew’s previous music, All In brings a sense of uniqueness and power, making this new offering by Matthew my favourite album since Into the Light.
Kristine DiMarco- Where His Light Was
Where The Light Was isn’t your usual worship album, as it contains plenty of musical genres within this 11 song tracklist, and that’s what makes it musically unique, fresh, reinvograting and diverse. An album that will deifnitley be on my rotation on iTunes for a long while yet, there’s nothing much more to say. Than to listen to “Take Courage”, “I Am No Victim”, “Hope Is Alive”, “Jesus Is Willing”, “Your Love Stands Alone”, “I Just Wanna Worship”, and more. Actually, I reckon you should listen to the whole album. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much Kristene changes your perception as to how worship music should sound like.
Nichole Nordeman- Every Mile Mattered
Nichole is a lyrical genius, and it is a great to hear what she has to offer this year. Without fail, this new album is a masterpiece. Period. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to embrace the reality that every circumstance, and I really mean ‘every’, will be used by the Lord, because honestly, when we’re in the thick of it, we can get bogged down and sometimes not believe this truth- we may not see that God can use whatever mess we’re in and turn it around for His glory. But He can. And He does. And He will…With around a 10 year wait for a new full length album from Nichole (The Unmaking was an EP), this is certainly and definitely worth the wait, from an artist that’s certain to leave a wonderful and much-respected mark on not only the CCM industry but on the music industry as a whole whenever she does move onto another area if God calls her to do so. The Unmaking is a journey of the soul from start to finish, and songs like the title track, ‘The Sound of Surviving’, ‘Dear Me’ and the radio single ‘You’re Here’ anchor the album musically and thematically.
Matt Maher- Echoes
Releasing on the same day as Matt Redman’s latest studio worship album Glory Song, Matt Maher’s latest musical offering is sure to attract listeners of his music as well as fans of other similar contemporary/worship artists like Chris Tomlin, Audrey Assad and Kristian Stanfill. While listeners could potentially be hesitant in listening to his music because of his Catholic faith background, Matt continues to bridge the gap between Protestants and Catholics (alongside Audrey Assad) to always provide us heartfelt songs that can be sung by both these diverse denominations alike. Matt’s heart for the presence of God is very much evident throughout Echoes and in particular, ‘Your Love Defends Me’. The album as a whole is one that has made be become excited for Matt’s music, and has inspired me to listen to an album that I myself have overlooked these last few years- yes, you are right, I didn’t really listen to Saints and Sinners as much as I could’ve or even should’ve, yet hearing Echoes and the life, encouragement and enthusiastic motivation flowing through it, has given me the courage to take the plunge and to listen to what I reckon was one of the most underrated albums of 2015.
Cimorelli- Sad Girls Club
Musically unique, and subject matter hopeful, encouraging, and sometimes raw, emotive, dark, and moody, we are given a glimpse into a concept and notion, that it is ok to show our feelings, even the sad and scary ones, especially during a time in society when we have been taught that good feelings can be expressed and bad ones either have to be bottled up or just ignored completely. While this album is not at all about championing or even glorifying sadness and moody moments over moments of joy, elation and happiness, Sad Girls Club is nevertheless a constant reminder to express ourselves no matter what, be it in a sad, happy, frustrating, hopeful, kind, or crying way. This is an album that takes us on a journey where we as listeners can also feel the things that these sisters have felt throughout their lives on this planet. While technically not a Christian album (their last album Alive was very much a Christian/CCM/worship album), Sad Girls Club I believe can still be of impact, and God can still use such an album as this to remind us all about the parts of ourselves that we may want to hide, while also finding things about the Lord God Himself in the process!
Third Day- Revival
Fans of the band will enjoy the album. Newer fans will also love this album. And I’m sure fans of music that may not necessarily be within the same genre or style as Third Day may also appreciate this album. Dare I say that Revival is in the running as being nominated for the Rock/Contemporary album of 2017/18 at next year’s Dove Awards? I will say it, because it has a great chance- alongside albums in 2017 like Jeremy Camp’s The Answer and Seventh Day Slumber’s Found. Formed long ago with the assembly of kids from Atlanta, Georgia, Third Day show no signs of slowing down as they release some of their most lyrically profound and enjoyable songs I’ve heard since their 2010 album MOVE. One of my favourite bands ever (alongside Newsboys and Delirious?), Third Day still have more years in the tank with their music ministry, and Revival is a testament to that.
Cody Carnes- The Darker the Night, The Brighter the Morning
There you have it- The Darker the Night The Brighter the Morning from Cody Carnes, that released September 15th 2017. While some of the music on some of the songs can seem a little too EDM for my own liking, and others not as musically engaging compared to the publicised few, this debut label offering from Kari’s husband is still bound to be enjoyed by anyone who loves worship music, period. Spending his time leading worship with Gateway Worship as well as being on the road touring with wife Kari Jobe, Cody is starting to become an artist himself, with this new album being a collection of some of the most musically unique and out-of-the-box songs I’ve heard in a while, Cody’s career is certain to be as long as it will be impacting and inspiring for those who hear his music.
Philippa Hanna- Come Back Fighting
Philippa’s new album and a great follow up to what I reckon was one of the most underrated album releases, of any genre, in 2016; Come Back Fighting is a journey full of lyrical and stylistic ingeniousness, as Philippa brings to listeners songs of comfort and confrontation, hopeful moments of clarity and songs where questions are just asked. All within the umbrella of a country music style. Which is vastly different compared to music of her past, but that’s ok. And while she’s still not as publicised or even as popular as one would hope she’d be, her presence on both British Christian and mainstream radio is growing. Come Back Fighting is a quick turnaround from Speed of Light, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the album is anything less poignant or encouraging. Because it is.
Carrollton- Everything or Nothing
Carrollton’s Centricity Records’ full-length debut is something to savour, and is a great alternative if you’re looking for something with a bit more edge in your worship. With a bright future ahead of them, this album is a must for fans of southern gospel, country, rock, and worship, or all four! Perhaps you’ll find a new favourite song or a new favourite genre! There’s nothing much more to say for me to try to convince you to check out the album…so, let’s take the plunge! Are you with me?
Vertical Worship- Vertical Worship
While we all may be familiar with, and know and love all of the 10 tracks present on Vertical Worship, and while we may have wanted the band to record new material, these studio arrangements comprise truly one of the best worship albums this year; this magical offering from Essential Worship deserves to be picked up on iTunes! Though the blend of different worship styles are contrasting in this studio recording from Vertical Worship and their live recordings; the band’s entire discography has proven that vibrancy and uniqueness is indeed a wonderful breath of fresh air! It’s something different, that stands out, and that’s definitely a good thing!
Stephen Christian- Wildfires
Stephen’s journey from rock band front man to worship leader, worship pastor and solo artist, is quite remarkable, and could only be described as God working and being faithful and keeping His promises. As a debut album, Stephen Christian’s Wildfires is quite remarkable, and is worth the listen. For Anberlin lovers and non-Anberlin lovers alike. Or for people like me, who hadn’t for one reason or another, listened to Anberlin. Maybe I will in the future. That’s not the point though. The point is that Stephen now has a platform to spread the gospel now, now that his rock band days are over (or over in the sense that Anberlin will never reform again). So what Stephen does with his solo career is up to him. But one thing is for sure- he will continue to make Jesus’ name renown if Wildfires is anything to go by.
Finding Favour- Farewell Fear
As like the debut EP and the debut full length album, TobyMac has got it right once again- Finding Favour is a band to watch out for, judging from “It Is Well” and “It Is Well” alone. And now with Farewell Fear already out for a few days already, the debate is now settled- Blake’s vocals are sublime, and it’s plain to see that the rest of the band feed off the enthusiasm and positive energy of each other. Gotee Records, the home of Hollyn, Capital Kings and Ryan Stevenson, definitely signed a keeper. The band will definitely be big in the next few years, and I will keep my eyes and ears open to hear what they’ve got next in the pipeline.
Brandon Heath- Faith Hope Love Repeat
Faith Hope Love, Repeat, an album of mixed results. There are some songs that are great, and others that aren’t as so. Still, Brandon’s heart is in the right space, even with this album, and while some songs don’t resonate to me as much compared to others, the album overall is a solid 4, as I see that Brandon’s musical experimentation for the most part has paid off. Fans of artists like Josh Wilson, Tauren Wells, OBB, Mat Kearney would love Brandon’s music, as well as Faith, Hope, Love Repeat, one of the most musically unique albums of the year thus far.
Matt Hammitt- Matt Hammitt
Matt Hammitt’s self-titled album, though not perfect, is nonetheless still poignant, and worth a few listens, as we are reminded that God isn’t done with Matt just yet, in terms of music, and in terms of everything else- the podcasts and the conferences and events he is a part of. Though I may not know what Matt will do in the future, this album, though maybe a one-off, is one of the most inspiring and encouraging I have heard all year and doesn’t contain a song that I want to skip (yeah even the last two tracks!). Well done Matt for such a poetic and powerful new album, praying that God blesses you heaps in the future!
Jeremy Camp- The Answer
Jeremy Camp has come a long way since recording Stay 15 years ago. But for those of you who are not fans of his music anymore because of the gradual but nevertheless evident move away from his original genre, let me remind you all that The Answer should at least whet your appetite for something more rockier in the future. Yet what if Jeremy decides that ‘full on rock songs’ aren’t for him anymore? What then? My point is (and I’m guilty of this as well!) that we crucify artists as much as we praise them, when they seem to make a mistake, when they do not reach the standards we make for them, when it’s really something else entirely, when the ‘mistake’ is in fact intentional. So before I sign and let you all debate about Jeremy’s musical direction, and lament about other artists whom you feel are ‘selling out’ like The Afters, Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real and Kutless; let me ask you this? If Jeremy does decide to do worship or CCM full time and never go back to rock, are you going to demand that he must return to his roots, even if he feels God moving him elsewhere musically? Maybe we should all listen to (and maybe re-listen to) The Answer before we make a quick judgement!
Top Albums of July – December 2017 (16 – 30 without descriptions/quotes)
My Utmost For His Highest
Julie Elias- A Girl Like Me
Natasha Owens- We Will Rise
Anthem Lights- Painted Skies
Jamie Grace- 91
John Ellis- Growing Silent
Veritas- Hope Survives
Rachel Platten- Waves
Lecrae- All Things Work Together
Christy Nockels- Be Held
Manic Drive- Into the Wild
The Walls Group- The Other Side
Matt Redman- Glory Song
Kutless- Alpha Omega
Seventh Day Slumber- Found
There you have it. Our favourite 30 albums of 2017 (from July – December). Any album stand out to you? Any albums we have missed that have impacted you (and that you think we have to check out in the upcoming months)? What are your favourites? Sound off in the comments. Til next time!