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[ cds worth a second spin, vol. 3 ]

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If there's one thing to be said about second chances, it's that there aren't enough of them. Forgiveness often takes a backseat to pride, bringing the "three strikes" rule to a sudden out. In this unforgiving world of ours, we're fortunate enough to be able to look to a loving God for a second chance and know that He will grant it to us. And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth...

With that said, we humbly offer you this list of albums deserving of a second chance. Some of them are acknowledged but fall short of the credit they deserve; some are recognized but passed by; some are overlooked completely. We hope that by bringing you this list we can encourage you to give these discs a second spin and recognize them for what they are: enjoyable, artistic endeavors that will, in one way or another, bring you closer to God. Enjoy.

She Must and Shall Go Free - Derek Webb
Derek Webb - She Must and Shall Go Free
Why They Dissed: Occasionally listeners draw a thin line between folk and country music, and Derek Webb's debut solo project may sound a bit too much like country for the more hardcore. Furthermore, Derek's sharp declarations about the state of the church have shocked and offended some listeners. Some Christian retailers have gone as far as to boycott the album.
What You'll Miss: One of the best albums of 2003. Derek's deep folk anthems are reminiscent of early Caedmon's Call. Moving ballads such as "Lover" and "The Church" capture the true spirit of Christ's bride, while fun tunes like "Saint and Sinner" and "Crooked Deep Down" make no attempt to cover up our human nature. This much-needed album is a winner.
The Swift - The Swift
The Swift - The Swift
Why They Dissed: Piano-based pop/rock is a relatively new thing in Christian music. Some just aren't used to it, some are turned off by it, and some are just afraid to try it. Comparisons made between The Swift and Keith Green also had some of the younger generation running far, far away.
What You'll Miss: A passionate, modern rock symphony. The group's self-titled debut on Flicker Records is already garnering praise from the masses for hits like "Wake Up," "Under the Sun," and "Come On." This is a good one to blast in your car with the windows rolled down, since the slower, melodic songs ("Almost There," for example) are few and far between. And the younger generation would be happy to know that the band's "Wake Up" has already drawn comparisons to the All-American Rejects.
Much Afraid - Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay - Much Afraid
Why They Dissed: "Flood" wasn't on it.
What You'll Miss: The Jars' deepest, most artistic project yet. It's been a long time coming, but this one has deserved to be on our list for three years now. Tracks like "Fade to Grey" and the title track whisk you away to a time before the pop craze of If I Left the Zoo kicked in. Acoustic art such as this cannot be emulated, and in this writer's opinion it's the best Jars of Clay album thus far. If you don't own it, you owe it to yourself to run out and buy a copy. Right now. Seriously. Go. Skedaddle.
Stanley Climbfall - Lifehouse
Lifehouse - Stanley Climbfall
Why They Dissed: Lifehouse has been accused of being everything, from a closet Christian band to a Pearl Jam rip-off to Creed wannabes. Some individuals claim their lyrics lack depth and their music begins to sounds all-too familiar after a while. After Stanley Climbfall was released, a minority of listeners dismissed them as one-hit wonders for their song "Hanging By a Moment."
What You'll Miss: The philosophy of life put to music. Every note of this disc oozes with talent, from the slamming rock cut "Spin" to the process of repentance (title track) to the emotionally searching "How Long." Instrumental quality is stepped up a notch from their first album, and truthfully there isn't a bad song in the bunch. This is about as far from Creed as you can get. We wait on pins and needles with our ears perked for their Mr. Tumnus worship side-project.
Spiritual EP 1 - Cush
Cush - Spiritual EP 1
Why They Dissed: "Cush who?" Though Northern Records (the label home of Cush) is a wonderful label with wonderful artists, it is still an independent label with limited distribution. That, combined with the mysterious identity of Cush, means that the average Christian music fan isn't going to be familiar with their name or their music.
What You'll Miss: Soothing spiritual splendor. Though spirituals have long been considered a part of the folk music tradition, Christian music has by and large discarded and ignored them. Cush brings them to life on this six-track EP, offering listeners a beautiful journey through the best elements of spirituals: loose group singing, booming bass singers, and soothing melodies. And if you need one more reason, just how many spiritual CD's do you have in your collection?
This Side - Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek - This Side
Why They Dissed: Nickel Creek's first album was very bluegrass and very awesome. Still, some listeners are afraid they actually might start liking country music if they listen to This Side.
What You'll Miss: A classic waiting to happen. They might be under the "country" label, but don't let that scare you off. This Side is more of an artistic endeavor than your typical "I drank too much, shot my dog, and cheated on my wife" fare. In fact, there are several spiritual references throughout the disk, including "Speak," the title track, and "Seven Wonders." Gorgeous acoustic instrumentation ("Smoothie Song, "Brand New Sidewalk") accompanied by poetic lyrics ("Hanging by a Thread," "Green and Grey") makes Nickel Creek's sophomore effort more than worth a second spin.
Not To Us - Chris Tomlin
Chris Tomlin - Not To Us
Why They Dissed: With every artist and their mom putting out worship albums these days, do we really need another?
What You'll Miss: Authentic worship brimming with reverence. Those who attended OneDay '03 can testify that Chris Tomlin is a different kind of worship artist. Rather than giving long-winded, flowery speeches, Tomlin and his band offer sincere worship straight to God without taking any of the credit. The proof is in the title track of this record, which is a U2-esque guitar-laced effort, but several other tracks are likely to become -- if they haven't already -- well-known worship tunes, including "Everything," "Famous One," and "The River." If you want to experience worship that is real and you have yet to check out Chris Tomlin, give Not to Us a spin and just enjoy offering praise to our Holy Lord.
Cali Quake - Raphi
Raphi - Cali Quake
Why They Dissed: With the Christian industry's slow response to hip-hop, folks are having a tough time recognizing the skill of the Tunnel Rat crew, let alone their solo projects. Also, the hot topic of Christian battle rappers causes conservatives to back away from this talented artist.
What You'll Miss: Banging beats and crushing rhymes. Cali Quake is straight hip-hop that latches on and doesn't let go for 60 minutes. Honest, passionate rhymes are combined with various deliveries that create musical variety but also make you think.
Me Died Blue - Steven Delopoulos
Steven Delopoulos - Me Died Blue
Why They Dissed: Though folk music has always had its crowd, there hasn't been a hit-making folk artist since the 70's (in the era of Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Gordon Lightfoot, etc.). Every now and then, somebody pops up with talent and a fluke hit, but as a general rule, pop music dominates the scene, leaving folk music to those who live outside the pop culture bubble.
What You'll Miss: Instantly accessible folk music. I guarantee that when you first hear "Another Day," you will put everything else down and simply listen. Painting pictures in your mind, this music will take you to the Mediterranean and back, floating on the strumming of the guitar and the tenderness of Delopoulos's tenor. This CD will bring all of those 70's folk artists to mind, but in the end, Delopoulos's personal stamp of redemption is on this music, and it is that stamp that will make you listen again and again and again.
Committing to Tape - Shepherd
Shepherd - Committing to Tape
Why They Dissed: Besides the whole Northern Records deal (and we do love them, even though nobody knows their name), Committing to Tape is chock full of melancholy music. And I do mean chock full. If you only like listening to happy music, then this CD will immediately turn you off with its wistful melodies and longing lyrics.
What You'll Miss: A jarring realization. Let's face it: sadness is a big part of our lives. It doesn't make it nice, and we certainly don't want to dwell on sadness too long, but it's important for us to realize the role that sadness plays in our lives: it's not simply an emotion, but also a lesson for the future and a reminder this earth is not our home. Ronnie Martin's songs capitalize on these truths and turn them into songs that will make you reminisce and grasp for the only hope that never dies.

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