Recently my wife and I were reminiscing about our childhood memories of family vacations. We were thinking about the long car- not spacious SUVs or minivan- rides with lots of arguments with siblings and cramped spaces. I now know why my parents took our family on only one trip per year! I remember how the Walkman, and then later the portable CD players, changed our family's vacations. My brother and I would sit in the backseat of our car with our headphones on listening to hours of music. My parents, enjoying the silence, could carry on a conversation or actually listen to their own music without the interruptions of children. I guess today's equal would probably be the portable DVD player or Gameboy. Family vacations are now figured by the number of movies/videogames it will take for us to get from point A to point B, not by miles or time.
If you find yourself packing the family vehicle for a summer vacation and are in need of some tunes, allow me to suggest a few releases that you and your spouse may enjoy during the silence of backseat movies. The great thing is if the kids' eyes start to cross, they too can enjoy your music without fear of bad lyrics. Bon Voyage!
MercyMe "Coming Up to Breathe"
This marks the band's second release in 8 months and, for lead singer Bart Millard, his third release in 10 months. The band has lived a paradox: they have experienced the pinnacle of success with hit songs on both Christian and secular radio while having to face the death of family members. Such a bittersweet existence found its way into their music. This release, however, finds the band in a happy place. The 13 tracks on this project have the band rocking a little more than in previous efforts while exploring a slew of subjects. From admitting the need to crucify self on "I Would Die for You" to confessing that any good that comes from us is only due to God's presence in us on "You're to Blame," this project is all about the nitty gritty of living out the Christian life in this world. One of the most poignant moments on this project is on the track "Bring the Rain." The band, which has navigated through life's tragedies, now confesses that the only way to truly praise God is in the sun and the rain of life. When you are no longer naïve about how painful life can be, but you can sing, "Lord bring the rain," I guess that's when you have made it. The irony of this record is that the band's thesis for the project is found on the hidden track after the last tune. In a playful ditty, the band sings: "Have fun in life, make it all worth while...Have fun in what you do." Those are words that we can all live by!
Passion "Everything Glorious"
The Passion movement, starting as a worship festival for college students, brought leaders in both worship and bible teaching together in one location. With thousands of college students in a festival setting, the idea was to challenge this generation to a deeper spiritual walk. Highlights of the worship sessions were captured and released as live recordings. Probably the start of today's modern worship movement, the Passion festivals are where many of our churches' contemporary praise songs originated.
With over 6 releases already out in the Passion series, this project was recorded this past January in Nashville and highlights the music of four of today's modern worship leaders: Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, and David Crowder. Incorporating original tracks along with contemporary takes on two hymns, this project is a rock album. These 13 tracks, a nice blend of upbeat acoustic/electric songs, will have you singing along by the second listening. Make sure you catch Chris Tomlin's rocking track "Party." The music is both fun and worshipful at the same time! If Passion is new to you, I promise you will not be disappointed with this disc.
Chris Rice "Amusing"
This project, released in 2005, has experienced moderate success in secular radio with the witty love song "When Did You Fall in Love." Chris's style of acoustic pop is very similar to a James Taylor or Jon Mayer. Rice's gift is his ability to musically capture his painful observations of this world through humorous, yet pointed, lyrics. From love that God has for his children to the love between a man and woman, the theme of this project is love. Chris pens one of the most touching songs about the loss of a loved on in his tune "Breakfast Table." For all you type A's make sure you listen to the track "Tick Tock." With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Rice reminds us that life is nothing more than the dash between two dates, so don't let it fly by!