One of the greatest joys in Christian music is the diversity with which artists express their faith through song, and it's not simply a matter of genre. Some of this year's choices feature subtle expressions of faith, while others openly declare it through hymns and worship songs. Some of the artists made their debut this year, while others are making a return visit to our annual list. Six editors and writers nominated more than forty albums to consider, from which the top twelve were chosen. They're all winners.
With so many albums of reworked hymns released in 2005, it's only fitting that we start off recognizing one of the best. The key in making an album like this work is a fine balance of fresh interpretation, musical versatility, and faithfulness to the texts and melodies of the source material. Ashley Cleveland has long been heralded as one of the greatest voices in the history of Christian music, and her bluesy, smoky pipes are a comfortable match for these church standards. You've rarely heard "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" and "I Need Thee Every Hour" belted with such conviction and soul—naturally, since Cleveland says songs like these literally saved her life when she was strung out on drugs years ago. Hymns are indeed powerful medicine for the soul.
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A remarkably strong debut from a band that sounds more seasoned than they really are—and one that easily stacks up to their mainstream indie rock peers. With sing-along anthems perfect for live shows, the music is melodic enough for radio, yet still sophisticated enough in its intricacies and musicianship to maintain ...1