Sparrow Records

2002 may well be the Newsboys' most successful year to date, and it all started with the release of Thrive last spring. The band is always at its best when the legendary Steve Taylor steps in as a lyricist and producer, as he did on this project. The result is the band's best work since 1996's Take Me to Your Leader. And who would've expected that the worship single, "It Is You," would spend a record-breaking twelve weeks at #1! Including Thrive on the list is also my sly way of acknowledging the band's fine live concert DVD and remix album — both also released this year — as well as bassist Phil Joel's solo album, Bring It On, which would certainly make my top 20 list (and is included on Mike's list in the same spot). The Newsboys is one of Christian music's most beloved and enduring bands, and I'd be happy to see them play twenty more years if they can keep making music this good


Shane Barnard & Shane Everett
Inpop Records

Some may dismiss "The Shanes" as mere copycats of Caedmon's Call or just another entry in the growing modern folk sub-genre within Christian music. But those would be over-generalizations. For one thing, the musicianship is excellent. Although Shane Barnard considers himself an acoustic guitar lightweight, his rhythmic flourishes are, at times, breathtaking. The other musicians also are very skilled, as heard in some of the drumming and the passionate vocals of these two friends from Texas A&M. Second, and even more impressive, are the smartly crafted adaptations of the Psalms, which are more than merely Scripture set to music. These guys have written musical interpretations that don't alter the text, highlighting key phrases ...

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