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Rick Foux
Much Afraid - Jars of Clay Much Afraid (1997) - Jars of Clay
Tr‡Æng to decide between The Eleventh Hour and Much Afraid left my brain permanently crippled, but in the end Much Afraid just had to win out. Even now, fans still yearn for Jars to return to sounds such as “Fade to Grey,” and “Five Candles (You Were There).” Mega-rock hit “Crazy Times” is a must-hear, and the passionate, artistic classics “Portrait of An Apology” and “Hymn” will never be forgotten. If you’re looking for the album that defines Jars of Clay, here it is.
Live the Life - Michael W. Smith Live the Life (1998) - Michael W. Smith
As far as making an impact goes, this album was a blessing during my sophomore year of high school, a major turning point in my life. It was during this time I was just discovering who I really was in Christ, and my ever-confusing life didn’t make things any easier on me. Thankfully, Smitty penned an exquisite work of art featuring powerful songs such as “Missing Person,” “Live the Life,” “Let Me Show You the Way,” “I Know Your Name…” the list goes on. This is a CD that provides immense focus and encouragement when you need it most.
The Golden Hum - Remy Zero The Golden Hum (2001) - Remy Zero
Not too long ago, I was at a point where I thought music could go no further. We’d already taken it to the limits. Then, after discovering Remy Zero, I found out how wrong I was. These guys can do amazing things with a guitar. Some people like to compare them to Radiohead, U2, or Better than Ezra, but I say they’re in a class of their own. If you like “Save Me,” the theme song of the WB’s “Smallville,” then you’ll love cuts like “Perfect Memory,” “Glorious #1,” and “Impossibility.”
This Mystery - Nichole Nordeman This Mystery (2000) - Nichole Nordeman
I knew This Mystery had affected me when I found myself crying after hearing “Why” for the first time. I found myself asking the same questions: Why did Jesus have to die for me, a sinner? Where does this grace come from that I don’t deserve? Because of Ms. Nordeman’s album, I’m content in knowing it’s all part of a grander and more beautiful mystery. Her stirring keyboard work on songs like “Fool For You,” “Home,” and “Every Season” are what keep me coming back begging for more. Instead of putting God in a box, This Mystery freely proclaims that there are no limits on our Lord.
7even Year Itch - Collective Soul 7even Year Itch (2001) - Collective Soul
While they aren’t necessarily Christians, Collective Soul has often been mislabeled as such. After hearing 7even Year Itch, it’s apparent why. On this album at least, these modern guitar prodigies have selected 13 of their greatest hits, full of inspirational, harmless lyrics, vague references to God, and a knowledgeable understanding about music. 7even Year Itch was a breakthrough album for me in the way that I discovered not all secular music was ungodly or hypocritical, an ignorant view I used to once embrace. I wouldn’t recommend other Collective Soul albums for a Christian audience, as they’re a bit more controversial, but with hits like “Heavy,” “Precious Declaration,” and “The World I Know,” 7even Year Itch has made me a fan.

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