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Reviewer selects top 10 Christian albums for ’02

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–2002 was a great year for the Christian music industry, building on the phenomenal growth the industry experienced in 2001.

Sales of Christian albums skyrocketed and the fan base continues to grow. The year was also marked by an impressive collection of new releases from veteran musicians and a few newcomers.

Following is our list of the top 10 Christian albums that were released in 2002:

10. New Map of the World, Paul Colman Trio, Essential Records

This group traveled all the way from Australia to record their first American album New Map of the World. Although their pop/rock style is overused in Christian music today, PC3 promises to be one of the best at its game. They combine clever and poetic lyrics with above average musicianship to create a project full of infectious songs that are perfect for radio airtime.

9. The Eleventh Hour, Jars of Clay, Essential Records

The Eleventh Hour is Jars of Clay’s best release since their self-titled debut in 1995. Combining all the elements that have marked Jars of Clay over the years, the project excels in thoughtful songwriting, catchy melodies and excellent production. One of Christian music’s most inspiring groups has created an emotionally charged album that lives up to expectations.

8. Hero, Daily Planet, Reunion Records

Daily Planet has delivered an impressive premiere, Hero, and the public has embraced it with open arms. An upbeat and positive message is displayed throughout and is joined by its abundance of rock styles and lyrical hooks. The factor that makes Daily Planet so successful is that they are not afraid to go beyond the “norm” of Christian music, already having dared to experiment with their talent.

7. Psalms, Shane Barnard & Shane Everett, Inpop

Shane Barnard and Shane Everett have easily established their own unique voice in worship music with the release of Psalms. The amazing musicianship of every instrument shines through the album with bright colors, matching with the vocals beautifully to blend and mold every song. Adapting Scripture to song, the album screams originality and artistry. This folk/pop masterpiece is a must-have for any fans of bands ranging from Caedmon’s Call to Dave Matthew’s Band.

6. Then Is the New Now, Denisson Marrs, Floodgate

Denisson Marrs is the band that Christian music has been craving for a long time. Musically, the foursome are best described as Emo-rock, similar to the sounds of Jimmy Eat World, yet it is hard to fairly describe them, as they do not neatly fit into one musical genre with their talent at the pen and with their instruments.

5. All Right Here, Sara Groves, INO

In Sara Groves’ sophomore effort, she matches and surpasses her wonderful 2001 release of “Conversations,” which ironically found itself in the number 5 position last year on the Top 10 List. I believe Groves is one of the best songwriters of today, able to communicate the many issues of a Christian life into poetic phrasings and well-crafted lines, allowing the listener to instantly relate to her messages. All Right Here is a heart-warming, piano- and guitar-driven folk/inspirational release.

4. Myself When I Am Real, Bebo Norman, Essential Records

Bebo Norman, with his collection Myself When I Am Real, proves he can master the art of writing ear-catching melodies and tunes that carry a listener from the first note to the last. His sensitive and intimate lyrics and, in some cases, soaring voice produce a folk/pop atmosphere that leaves little room for perfection. Myself includes everything you would expect from a seasoned artist such as Norman.

3. A Place Where You Belong, The Normals, Forefront Records

A Place Where You Belong offers a diverse musical layout throughout each of its songs, trying not to flood the listener with the same sound. This works unfailingly, and I commend the Normals for treading these uncharted waters. Every element adds to the accumulating greatness of the recording, from the honest lyrics to the creative production.

2. Stanley Climbfall, Lifehouse, Dreamworks/Sparrow

The grunge-rock-driven Lifehouse has released a great sophomore project Stanley Climbfall, joyfully taken in by non-Christians and Christians alike. Although Lifehouse reigns in a time period where their sound is all too popular, they have continued their musical journey and taken a leap forward with their latest release. Their open-ended questions require the listener to contemplate and digest the music, rather than being too blatantly obvious by shouting every message in every song. Stanley Climbfall is a musically refreshing and casual piece that is sculpted into an art form.

1. Divine Discontent, Sixpence None the Richer, Warner/Reprise

The top Christian recording of 2002 is Divine Discontent by Sixpence None the Richer. Like Lifehouse, their influence ranges beyond the Christian circle, which results in the subtle sharing of the gospel to millions of people worldwide. This project comes after a five-year lull in released music, but it was most certainly worth the wait. Divine Discontent features 13 polished, well-defined songs based on the theme of dealing with difficult areas in the human life, resulting in a complete, deep and effective feature. Easily, this is Sixpence’s best album to date.

    About the Author

  • Tim Harms