Yes, I know we as a site just posted a top 10’s mere days ago, but this topic has been brewing in me for a while. What does it mean for an album to be influential? Sure you can have your favourite albums of any given year because of great lyrics, music and the technicalities of it all. Yet for an album to be influential in your life is a different story. For an album to mean something to you in a season of our life, the album has to strike a chord with you when no other album has done before. For me during my 26 years on this earth, there has been several that have done that. Maybe we need to stop listing our favourite albums just because, and really delve deep into the heart of the matter- what albums have influenced your life in a positive manner from birth til now? Which albums are impacting for sentimental reasons? Which albums are special, mean a lot to you when others may not like the tracks for whatever reason? Regardless, influential albums are such that shape us and our character as the years go by. What are mine? Read on to find out.
1. Music Inspired By: The Story
This album is a masterpiece! Every song is a gem, exploring the fall of man and the restoration by God, restoring creation to it’s rightful place, united with Christ in all His glory. It is with these songs, written by singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman, where she truly captivates and draws in faithful supporters of her song-writing ability. Nichole and Bernie Herms (husband of powerful vocalist and Christian musician Natalie Grant), who wrote the music for all the songs on the double-disc album; have created 18 moving testimonies of God’s faithfulness and continual advocacy for His people. This is the best album of 2011, and my most influential album ever, with Bernie and Nichole bringing together some of the most musically diverse artists. Though at first listen the styles in music can seem disjointed, the album still feels complete, like a theatrical movie, starting with the old testament and moving until the second coming of Christ. I also saw The Story Tour live on hearitfirst in 2011, one of my highlights of the year. The Story Tour was also in 2012, and continues to impact individuals, myself included, today.
2. Almost There- MercyMe
MercyMe have been able to craft out a great musical career, yet it is their debut that is still one of the most enjoyable albums by the band, with international and crossover hit ‘I Can Only Imagine’ one of my favourite songs ever, speaking about the mysteries and wonders of heaven and what it would be like. With such power in Bart’s voice, this anthem alone warrants the selection of Almost There as one of my influential albums of all time.
3. Mission 3:16- Carman
Carman may be dormant from the music industry since the early 2000s, but his 1998 album is one of my favourites. With his ability to write spoken songs (‘A Witch’s Invitation’, ‘This Blood’, ‘Revival in the Land’, ‘The Third Heaven’) that speak to the soul, ‘The Courtroom’ stands out on the album, with a vivid depiction of judgement day. Growing up with Carman during my primary and high school years, this album is a great mixture of genres, from pop, to dance, to Latin American, creating an album that is one of the most memorable of Carman’s discography.
4. King of Fools- Delirious?
Purchasing this album after hearing and singing the song ‘History Maker’ in church for a number of years, Delirious? is my favourite band of all time (even more influential than dc Talk!!!)- with ‘History Maker’ my all-time favourite inspirational song ever, rousing up a motivation to proclaim Christ to the nations and become the history makers we already are in Christ. King of Fools is Delirious?’ first album under their official name, and also marks the branching out of albums as prior to this, I was only listening to Carman.
5. Speechless- Steven Curtis Chapman
Along with Declaration, Steven’s 1999 album is one of my favourites. With Signs of Life one of the first albums my family bought (before purchasing a CD player), Speechless continues Steven’s musical influence, with ‘Dive’, ‘Speechless’ and ‘Great Expectations’ some of the most motivating, moving and hopeful songs of his career.
6. Awaken- Natalie Grant
Awaken is my first album from Natalie Grant after hearing her songs ‘Held’, ‘Awaken’ and ‘Live for Today’ on WOW Hits compilations. With such honest lyrical moments, this 2005 album is still my favourite from her, with ‘The Real Me’ possibly one of my all times favourites- reminding listeners (myself included) that Christ sees the ‘real’ us, never judging or condemning us. Influential in that 7 years after its release, its still one of my top albums (from any artist), Awaken is a great album with plenty of timely reminders of our godly purpose, one of the albums that has continued to spur me on spiritually throughout these last 5 years or so.
7. The Invitation- Meredith Andrews
One of my favourite worship leaders of late, Meredith’s debut album in 2008 is easily my favourite worship album of that year (even beating Michael W. Smith’s A New Hallelujah and Chris Tomlin’s Hello Love), all primarily because of her chart-topping single ‘You’re Not Alone’. Spoken from Christ’s perspective, this song speaks about how we are not alone in the darkest parts of our lives, and has been ministering to me a lot over these last few years.
8. If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something- Rebecca St. James
One of the first artists to listen to and branch out into along with Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman and MercyMe, Rebecca’s 2005 album was the first album that I purchased from this Aussie artist, and I’m still enjoying it even today. From songs like ‘You are Loved’, to ‘Alive’ and Hillsong cover ‘Take All of Me’, I think it was Rebecca’s album that led me onto other rock-pop albums from other artists like Building 429, David Crowder Band and BarlowGirl. With a musical style different than any album she’s done, If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something will always be my favourite Rebecca St. James album.
9. Offerings I- Third Day
As early as the 1990s, our local church has been singing ‘My Hope is You’ and ‘Your Love Oh Lord’ as well as ‘King of Glory’ since the early 2000s. Since figuring out the rock-worship band Third Day wrote all those songs and since then hearing ‘Cry out to Jesus’ in 2005, my purchase of Offerings 1 has always been one to remember. With a more worship slant on this rock band, Offerings 1 sets the stage with a part-live part-studio disc, with plenty of classics, like a live version of ‘Thief’ and a Michael W. Smith classic, ‘Agnus Dei’.
10. The Altar and the Door- Casting Crowns
After hearing their radio hits ‘Lifesong’, ‘Praise You in the Storm’ and ‘Who Am I’ on radio during 2005/06, their third album The Altar and the Door released to become my favourite album of Casting Crowns ever. Though not necessarily their most successful album compared to their other albums, their 2007 album has favourites like ‘East to West’ and the underrated melody, ‘Somewhere in the Middle’. Casting Crowns came to Sydney at the beginning of 2012, and only sang 1 song (albeit shortened- ‘East to West’) from their 2007 album on their concert setlist. Regardless, this album speaks volumes about our view on life and contrasts what happens between the altar and the door and how things can be a little muddled if we’re not relying on our own walk with Christ to carry us through the week.
11. Shine: The Hits- Newsboys
This compilation album encompassing their 1990’s hits has a bonus DVD of a 1999 concert, one which I saw (and hold special significance for) when I had my wisdom teeth taken out in 2007. With most of their older hits becoming classics like ‘Shine’ and ‘Breakfast’, this snapshot of their early stuff brings a great appreciation, in light of Michael Tait’s appointment to Newsboys frontman as they develop their new sound to more rock orientated rather than pop in the past.
12. How Great is Our God- Passion
The first Passion album I bought was this 2005 album, after listening to ‘How Great is our God’ on the radio one time during 2005, that led me on a musical journey, discovering Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman and Christy Nockels in the process, and my love for this worship movement has never ceased, managing to see them live in 2008 on their world tour to Sydney, Australia. Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement, is one of my favourite all-time speakers and communicators.
13. New Day Coming- Steve Grace (iTunes)
Though not as publicised in the U.S., this country Christian singer from Australia, though independently signed, was one of the first artists I listened to after almost eternity listening to Carman and Delirious? in the early 2000s. With this album the first of a few I’ve purchased, these guitar-driven songs echo the heart behind it, with ‘Turn Turn’, ‘Every Town’ and ‘New Day Coming’ some of my favourites.
14. Worship- Michael W. Smith
Watching the Worship DVD before listening to his 2001 CD, Michael W. Smith’s Worship brings listeners into 70 or so minutes of great worship, with many worship covers like ‘Breathe’, ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart’, ‘Draw Me Close’ etc. On the DVD Michael sung a U2 cover of ‘40’ (pity it’s not on Worship or Worship Again). This is perhaps one of the only albums of Michael’s that has a wide variety of covers, with Michael a great worship cover artist- his cover song of ‘Above All’ and more recently his versions of ‘Open the Eyes of My Heart/Forever’ and ‘Mighty to Save’ are some of my favourite renditions of these worship classics!
15. Woven and Spun- Nichole Nordeman
Nichole Nordeman will always be one of my favourite writers with songs like ‘To Know You’, ‘Brave’, ‘Real To Me’ and ‘Fool For You’. But it is her 2002 album Woven and Spun that has spent the most time in the CD player, full of lyrical richness as I ponder on ‘Legacy’- one of my favourite tracks, speaking about leaving a mark on the lives of our own futures as we move from Earth to heaven at the end of our lives.
Other albums that have been influential: Another Journal Entry (BarlowGirl), We Need Each Other (Sanctus Real), Something to Say (Matthew West), Over and Underneath (Tenth Avenue North), Blessed Be Your Name Vol. 1 (Matt Redman)
There you have it, albums that have been the most influential to date. What are yours? Sound off in the comments. Til next time.