The future of pop music is in the hands of American high schoolers, and LA based EDM producer, Deezy, may just have the right sound and heart to get his music into their hands. In his brand new single, “You Never Let Me Down“, the Ohio native continues to explore the emerging realm of future bass—popularized by EDM superstars such as Marshmellow and Flume. “We’re in an absolute renaissance of music right now,” Deezy shares “I’m constantly digging through Spotify and finding new artists to listen to.”
The single features Cleveland worship leader Trisha Grimes’ effortlessly silky vocals, masterfully manipulated to create a variety of vocal effects and synthesizers that drive the song. Grimes’ performance is relaxed without losing the confidence that radiates the essence of the song: God’s faithfulness instills in us child-like trust. “There is nothing that can stop you when you’re in God’s will. Doors open, and the dream of your life can be accomplished if you don’t give up. That’s really the heart behind this song.”
“We’re in an absolute renaissance of music right now, I’m constantly digging through Spotify and finding new artists to listen to.”
And doors have certainly opened for this artist. The reason for his transition to Los Angeles, Deezy is partnering with One Voice Student Missions to launch One Voice Records—the ministry’s first step in create music that reaches high school students, and this is a mile marker for both Deezy and OVSM.
Deezy is set to perform at Vox Conference this year, and is taking steps to produce music for the ministry’s fiery worship team. Beyond One Voice, Deezy is set to release another single of his own followed by an EP in July. He certainly isn’t slowing down, and we couldn’t be more excited to follow and support this fiery musicianary.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign this last December, international worship leader and singer James Jackson, makes his CCM debut with his new song “Latter Rain”.Part of the upcoming release of his full-length album later this summer, James says he didn’t originally plan on releasing a single.
“It kind of came out of no where,” producer and co-writer Connor Caughlan comments, “We were in my home trying to finish one song, and the next moment we ditched the idea and decided to write a new song.”
Earlier that week Lou Engle, founder of the TheCall, sent out an email exhortation that called the church to fast negativity for forty days leading up to April 9, 2018. “There is a ‘last [rain] song’ yet to be sung, a song of joy and expectancy, connected with the fast that will precipitate the latter rain outpourings of the Holy Spirit on California. We will feast, fast and bless…praying for the rain in the time of the latter rain.”
“The crazy thing is I remember it pouring rain outside,” Jackson recounts, “and from the moment we decided to write the song, it’s as if it was written for us—it was such a remarkably quick writing experience.”
The song lands on April 9, the anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival, and a significant day for James. “Three years ago I started writing my own music after I received a prophetic word about carrying the ‘sound of Azusa’, and when I prayed about the release date for my songs I felt April 9th. That year I had been asked to lead worship at AzusaNow, which landed on the same day, and I assumed that I would be releasing my album that year.”
“Now to see God coming through in His perfect timing is so amazing. The last three years of writing and waiting on the Lord have been tough, but seeing everything line up according to God’s plan is unbelievable; I’m so blessed.”
James’ new single hits online music stores this Monday. James hopes the song will strengthen the church and stir up faith in to believe that God is sending a new revival to America and to the nations.
The sophomore EP “From Canyons to Plains” from Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter Kevin Skillern—the breath and life behind Ezekiel Songs—marks a new chapter in his career. Saturated with rest and quiet reassurance, Skillern sings the prayers collected over the last year with a newfound strength.
“Lord, you’ve been by my side,” he sings in the opening song Canyons Deep, “ever since you called my name.” A gentle breeze and chirping birds set the scene for two acoustic guitars, soft and steady, playing to the soft patter of a snare drum. From the first note of the first song, Skillern is introducing the presence of a friend and companion. “We feel like we are walking through a narrow rocky canyon right now, and we pray God will bring us into a level wide open space, but he is strengthening us where we’re at.”
There’s no depth, no place where Your love can’t reach. Canyons deep and dark, but Your river carries me.
Three years ago, Skillern’s life came to a halt when his newborn daughter suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen. “Life as we knew it stopped, and we found ourselves living in a hospital,” he recounts. It was in the midst of adjusting to the change in pace and learning to care for his child, that he felt God speak to his heart. “I was filled with faith and hope like never before, and from that point forward I never again spent time doubting or agonizing over the future.“
From Canyons to Plains, released exactly a year after his debut album Quiet, Strong Heart, picks up right where he left us. His voice in a way, is more calm and his arrangements more simple. A new distinct echoey room-reverb (reminiscent of Rivers & Robots production) alludes to the “open space” Skillern has been brought into, and quite possibly resembles the acoustics of the local venues he’s been performing in around Oklahoma. It’s a step towards a more intimate, folk sound—something you would hear on a Zach Winter’s album—without betraying the country style and instrumentation that Skillern has taken on as his own.
The greatest example of this might be To the Plains, a song that dances between indie folk and a bluegrass ballad. It’s the smell of a freshly plowed field and the feeling you get when you arrive at the end of a long journey, in which Skillern declares the promises of restoration he’s been given: “I will fill the canyons with My goodness, I will bring the lofty places low. Shaking the foundations of the mountains, Clearing level paths for you to go.”
Skillern’s new EP evokes a homely, assuring presence (undoubtedly the one that led him through the canyons) that stills the soul and awakens dreams. Like a breath fully exhaled, From Canyons to Plains is a memoir to the trials Skillern has overcome. We can sense Ezekiel Songs about to take in a new life that releases the strengthening of a father; a settling in the spirit that is a seed now firmly planted in the ground.
Buy this album on iTunes, or give more through Bandcamp! Read more about the Skillern’s family and their vision for Ezekiel Songs in Oklahoma here: theskillerns.net
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From the truth-telling troubadours of Big House Church’s creative community in Norfolk, VA, comes Olivia Dyer, part folk singer, part storyteller. Her full length album, Time & Age is a shoebox of memories, hopes, and lessons learned. Dyer is sentimental; several tracks feature the unpolished but authentic voices of friends and family. Her album art includes the floral design of her mother’s wallpaper and her fellow creatives are friends so close they could be blood related. It’s this theme that continues throughout, the attention to the little things that make her who she is. There’s a graciousness in her lyrics, from the acknowledgement of her weakness to the security of the profound wisdom and heritage she’s received to the questions she’s still working out.
Olivia recorded her album with Everett Hardin at Red Yeti Audio in Boone, NC. Everett is known for his work with artists like Benjamin James and John Lucas.
Dyer’s voice is lacy, delicate, precise. To the followers of Sean Feucht it might seem familiar; that’s because she was featured on Messengers’ trackMaking Melody. She knows herself and what she can do- there’s not a struggle to conform to the belting powerhouse persona many female vocalists feel obligated to. Instead there is a contentment with the style she fits best, and that’s what gives the magnetism. There’s a clarity in her voice too, one that matches the honesty of the lyrics she sings. From the story-like details in Morgan to the close paraphrase of the Psalms in Fragile Heart, Dyer is careful to bring lifelike dimension to each song she creates.
The instrumentation on the album is accessible but not boring. Piano, guitar and strings carry all the charm of acoustic sets but remain in humble servitude to Dyer’s voice. For classification’s sake it would be easy to call the album folk, but it’s the little touches that set the songs apart from the expected Americana storyteller mold. For example, My Life is Not My Own carries a grittier climax, thundering with toms and swelling strings (not to mention Ian Randall Thornton’s gripping voice). Time & Age uses plucky strings to gain that quirky Regina Spektor vibe mixed with steady kick drum and claps a la Rend Collective. Lover Has a Lover gives some bluesy grooves with a shadowy Leslie and a dirty electric guitar solo.
Olivia Dyer has written songs like every other capable non-professional songwriter. They’re personal, they’re truthful, they’re solid, they’re vulnerable. But what sets Time & Age apart is the incredible and unmoving feeling of constancy that the listener is left with. In only 11 songs, Dyer manages to pay homage to the heritage she’s received, both from her spiritual and familial communities. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see this set in song, for in it we not only see the past, but also we see an establishment of her own legacy.
Buy this album on iTunes now, or pay what you want through Bandcamp! Be sure to visit her artist page and get to know this amazing worship leader and songwriter: https://oliviadyer.bandcamp.com/
With simple and tender lyrics, To Find You uncovers the secret prayers of Kelsie Plante, musicianary to the Middle East. The album is short, only 8 songs, but what it lacks in duration it makes up for in memorability. Plante’s songs are easy to sing along with; her modest melodies are accessible even to the most unskilled singers. These highly syllabic choruses are backed by the ear-candy of producer/musician extraordinaire Jeff Schneeweis, who characterizes each track with a different part of his musical imagining. Through the Walls features an ever-moving treble piano pattern floating high over an electronically simulated deep bass and delicately syncopated wooden percussive sounds. Nearness takes a shadowy turn, dusky and intimate, entreating God to come close to his beloved. Root Me features an upwards stepping melody, methodically forward moving and unfolding, mirroring the ascension of a soul in the presence of the Almighty. The title song takes a cinematic turn with low chordal piano accompaniment, pulsing crispy percussive snaps, and transcendent background vocals.
Though every song is a part of Plante’s journey finding God’s heart for the lost, To the Fatherless might just be the clearest picture of Kelsie’s vision for missions. Though the song was written years ago on her first trip to minister to child soldiers in war-torn Africa, it’s clear it’s still a burning prayer in her heart. The instrumentation is simple; her lyrics are the main focus. Though the song could be sung by just about anyone (it’s not over-involved at all) it’s her voice that sets this track apart. Kelsie’s voice is clear and smooth, brimming with a hungry energy. It’s contagious in every track, completely and undeniably her. It’s the strongest whisper you’ve ever heard, brave, intimate, magnetic. Saturated with authentic conviction, the musical experience effortlessly draws in listeners to ignite a special place in the soul, a place that desires communion with God.
From the band Seeker and Servant, Kody Gautier has taken years of harmonic musings, poems and melodic wonderings to form his own LP, The Prevailing. Formed as a means of expression rather than a tool to please the public, The Prevailing is composed of mostly instrumental tracks that showcase what’s going on inside of Gautier’s mind. Born with Grapheme-color Synesthesia (where an individual associates numerals and letters with colors) and Chromosthesia (where an individual associates sounds with colors), Gautier describes his experience with music as intense and passionate, a veritable sensory experience. But unlike most people with this special gift, he has invited the listener into his experience.
Of the 57 minutes of listening time, about 30 minutes are purely instrumental tracks. We as listeners are ushered into the soundscapes of the artist’s mind, which seems to favor epic swells and layers of strings. It’s clear in this album Gautier is flexing his compositional muscles, he’s seeing what he can do instrumentally. For most tracks, it starts like minimalist music, high on the repetitive and low on variety. But that’s the way he wants it. Throughout each instrumental track Gautier likes to unfold his experience methodically: it might start with an ever-moving piano melody, be joined with slow moving strings and finally supplemented by lower bass piano lines. His instrumental layering is like a road trip in a car- you look out the side window and see a mountain, slowly moving by. You look at the telephone lines swiftly gliding by and the grass moving so fast you can’t see each individual blade. But you’re moving at a constant speed so it all makes sense.
Instrumental compositions are not all we get. In tracks like Tower God and Swing Low Gautier exposes his Post-Rock and Metal influences with aggressive vocals, heavy guitars and minor cadences. His voice hits the target every time; there’s something so fantastic about it. It’s convicting and stabilizing, It pulls you in but makes you feel so incredibly free. Though his singing time on the album is very limited, it is extremely memorable.
Swing Low might be the track to listen to. A minimal and repetitive piano is the foundation of the song, ominous and foreboding. It is soon joined by a driving cymbal and otherworldly guitar feedback paired with Gautier’s stirring voice and pleading lyrics. Before You is sure to please as well; it centers around the singularity of God and the desperation of man to unite with him. The lyrics are simple, asking “What good can find us but the One/What good?”. It’s in this track we see the marriage of Gautier’s Post-Rock habits and his generous filmic traits, which could quite possibly be the niche that makes him stand out.
Overall, The Prevailing is not an album to score high on the charts. It’s not a measure of success for Kody Gautier. It’s more concept than crowd-pleasing. It’s more personal than trendy. It’s simply an artist beckoning those who pass by to come and see music from his point of view.
Andy Squyres isn’t looking to impress anyone. With a whispery voice, and a quiet energy he spills all his secrets in Cherry Blossoms.
Many young folk artists write songs with lofty ideals and profound insight, and we find similar material in this album. But what sets Squyres apart from these youngsters is the way he communicates the questions that haunt him in the night, questions he has no answers for. In an interview with Carlos Rodriguez of HappySonship.com he reveals the 8 song album was born out of personal tragedy. We see glimpses of this in What Nobody Should Know when the songwriter muses that the much talked about ‘amazing grace’ becomes real when he finds himself mourning on the floor, wondering how love could allow him to get to such a low place. In Unanswered Prayers, he navigates the tension of trusting a loving God in the midst of heartbreak. But it’s not depressing in the slightest- there’s a running theme of the victory of Jesus. Oh Love Supreme looks to the sacrifice of Christ; Squyres declares there’s not a weakness he has that can come against the triumph of the Cross. The Pestle and The Mortar acknowledges the promise of God standing true during difficulty. There’s such a present-ness that Squyres possesses; it’s an art truly to remain in the great divide of trial and truth.
Squyres’ musical layering is well-chosen. It seems that each track has something so subtly new that keeps the listener’s ears fresh. He uses low brass instruments in Unanswered Prayers to depart from guitar-picking folky styles we expect and take a more Gungor-esque (think: The Brilliance) approach. Featuring a sliding cello layered over deep plucking of the same instrument, Oh Love Supreme is woody and organic. Added to the musical bouquet is Labor in Vain, which blends bluegrass-gospel vocals with modern electronic effects. A loosely tuned piano paired with low brass form a perfect foundation for the un-airbrushed chorus of real-sounding vocals. Cherry Blossoms contains a more folk/slow gospel feel, with a simple piano ballad style under a crooning Squyres.
Tastefully arranged, each track feels complete yet unified to the album. You’re probably not going to be singing these songs around the house or in the car; he hasn’t created them to be catchy or poppy. He’s just let us in on his process. And that process is a series of musical stories you read with your ears, thoroughly engrossed, captivated, not because of the surprise of the ending but rather the craftsmanship it takes to tell it.
Brimming with energy, Lindy Conant leads the Circuit Riders in their new live album, Every Nation.
Lindy Conant is and has always been a powerhouse, the kind that keeps going and just doesn’t quit. It almost feels cliché to paint her as a fiery, passionate singer, but if anybody embodies the type, it’s her. There’s conviction in her lyrics, conviction that radiates hunger and vitality when sung. Track after track she’s fully there, hammering home the worthiness of Jesus and the desire for complete surrender to him. She’s not playing games or wasting time; there’s no parable to her words or veil to her song’s meanings. There’s just the unadulterated yearning for all of Jesus to be known in all of the earth.
The group’s style is a change in pace from the familiar “Christian live album” feel with driving synths and simple but heavy electronic drums; a noticeable contrast from their last live album. Their unique sound is a collection of the members’ individual taste.Spencer Brennt brings an electronic feel on drums (check out his EDM project US.on Soundcloud) that gives the album a heavier, more driving feel. Daniel Bryan is the other half of that potent one-two punch with his aggressive piano stylings. He’s not content to simply reinforce chords-he makes his keyboard presence known. It’s this type of individuality combined with unity of heart that makes this album fly.
Chloe Brennt (now Chloe Mack) serves as capable harmonic voice, cutting through with a strong soprano voice not often heard in today’s Christian music. In Isaiah 6 and Another Wave, her clarity and purity don’t go without notice, leading out in bold declarations of surrender and faith. Guitarist Kendall Fowler fills in the space with tasteful delays and single-note riffs that suspend the listener in the moment while bassist Gem Ceniza reinforces the lower register.
It takes a lot of energy to listen to the album; every song is filled with powerful lyrics that demand a response. Least to say, it’s not the group’s goal to create an easy-listening experience; their songs are purposed for activation. Their simple melodies and repetitive choruses are constructed for the masses—for anyone and everyone to join in on. Included in the live recording are the voices of hundreds of high schoolers impacted by One Voice Student Missions, who helped promote the event. With such a daring and straightforward message, it’s exhilarating to hear the crowds of young people belt out the anthems.
It’s hard to have this album playing in the background without becoming fully immersed in worship and the mission behind every song. Listen to become provoked, to be set on fire anew for the glory of God to sweep the earth. We are more than excited to follow Lindy and the Circuit Riders as they call the world into radical surrender.
Birthed back in 2010 as the brainchild of Jonathan Ogden, Rivers & Robots began in Manchester as a one man worship project. Six years, three albums and multiple shows later, the group (now three men strong) is still producing the upliftingly worshipful, uniquely crisp music we loved about them from the beginning. Keeping with the usual pattern of creativity and biblically rich lyrics is the fourth album, The Eternal Son– completely new, yet very familiar. The 58 minute record branches out from the indie-ambience of previous albums to discover a more syncopated, bouncy work.
Jonathan Ogden has a record (no pun intended) of musical prolificacy in his published works. Not only are his albums full- each one is about an hour- they are also filled with songs that are full. Jonathan doesn’t recycle music; he has too many ideas for that. He’s not afraid to experiment within tracks, particularly with electronic effects. A Love That Carries Me establishes itself as peppy, with mellow vocals and catchy guitar riffs. But after a couple minutes, we’re inundated with wispy, windy audio. High Priest has an easy listening groove, a super laidback feel supplemented with an 808 electronic drum kit. You Know My Name borrows from several genres as well; melodically simple melodies are layered over a soft hip-hop beat partnered with a West Coast beach guitar and arpeggiated marimba-like sample. Quite possibly the most fun is Who is Like Our God, a psychedelic, syncopated hymn of praise to the Creator. It’s strange how one album can be so chameleonic in style yet so effective in curation.
If you’re more partial to the feel of the last album, don’t worry; tracks like Jesus, Your Blood, To the Highest Place, and Home bring the indie-worship vibes with a swirly delayed electronic guitar, piano/cello duo, and ambient guitar picking, respectfully. But nothing is old or tired. Ogden allows each song to evolve by seamlessly layering appealing musical ideas under (and sometimes over) inspiring lyrics. The text in each song looks like it came from the Psalms; to the Bible-reading listener it is not surprising. But in the way Ogden generates sound, in the way he pairs lyrics to music, it is life-giving. The final offering, Jesus, Your Blood appears to be a generally good worship tune…for the first three and a half minutes. But approaching the four minute mark, something happens, something so magical. Guitar, keys and drums are removed, exposing a lone electric guitar and shifting the whole atmosphere of the song. Ogden solos: “I will ascend the hill of the Lord/ ‘Cause you have rescued me”. It’s then as if a grand curtain drops, revealing that we’re sonically surrounded by chorus of voices and a full band that have been there all along. It’s quite cinematic, the ending, soaring until a lone whisper of an acoustic guitar reminds us that this song, this musical offering is for One and One alone.
We sat down to talk to Jonathan Ogden, Dave Hailes, and Nathan Stirling of the indie worship project Rivers & Robots about the heart of the band, worship, and missions.
Jonathan shares how it all started with a desire to be creative in worship music. Though he loved corporate worship (Matt Redman is listed as one of his influences), there was still a craving to look beyond the norm. “I remember seeing loads of bands and the creativity of some of the stuff they were doing was just amazing,” he remembers, “and then I was looking at worship music at the same time. Why can’t this be as great as the stuff I’m seeing here?” As Jonathan felt the Lord calling him to start worshipping, he decided to experiment on his laptop with electronic sound and textures not frequented in the church. Although his style has evolved, he still holds innovation in worship music in high regard with the most recent offering, the electronically imaginative The Eternal Son.
He speaks of his writing process: Songwriters are essentially teachers, and teachers are always communicating something they’ve learned. In his case, it’s attributes of Jesus as found in the Scripture. A worship leader at the house of prayer in Manchester, Jonathan values Worship with the Word sets, where leaders will musically muse and ponder passages of the Bible. Nathan adds that at the heart of the band is an unwavering, undivided focus on who God is.
God is not just the focus of their music, he seems to be in charge of the direction the band takes. A pivotal moment in the band’s story is when God showed Jonathan a picture of a boat sailing away from the shore, soon to be joined by other boats. Jonathan knew that Rivers & Robots was just one part of a worship movement of creatives seeking to make Jesus known. Though the band had an opportunity to join a label and have the generic form of success most musicians seek, they decided to turn it down to head in a different direction. Jonathan explains, “I felt like God was calling us to something else, something probably more scary and not necessarily known before. We started this ministry called Set Sail which was basically a platform to get us started as missionaries rather than selling loads of albums and making money that way”. Since 2015, the group has used money from Rivers & Robots’ royalties, gig fees, and album sales to fund worship nights, recording projects and missions trips.
Part of Set Sail is a ministry called Gather, a growing community of worshippers who take their worship to the bars and pubs of Manchester. Meeting at a different venue each month, Rivers & Robots has hosted bands such as United Pursuit and Kings Kaleidoscope, and taken worship beyond the walls of the church. Dave remarks, “What we’re doing is actually quite evangelistic, and people are going to get saved. Because it’s worship, it doesn’t mean that it’s just for the church, but it’s actually for the people who need to know Jesus as well.”
Their heart for missions goes beyond their city limits. Through their connections to missionaries in the Philippines, the band made a trip to minister to people in local churches, schools and prisons.
Dave elaborates, explaining that many children have to live in the same prison that their parents do because there is no one outside to take care of them. As part of their time there, the band had opportunities to lead worship for the weekly church gatherings within the prison. They recall the unique style of worship in the prisons, “they all sounded like Led Zeppelin because they came from clubs where they played that sort of thing. These guys got saved in prison, so they’d never heard worship music before.”
We were starting to see a theme in Rivers & Robots’ stories. Like the worship sets from inside a prison in the Philippines, Jonathan’s worship style doesn’t conform to the general public’s idea of what worship should sound like. His heart is to see worship invade every stream of creative expression, and for him that sounds like ethereal vocals layered over syncopated acoustic guitar rhythms and an electronic drum beat. His creative process reflects the pioneering heart that the band carries, one that discovers where it is going as it seeks something greater. Like it was prophesied over them multiple times last year, the next step in the process is seeing the other boats come around and sail with them, and we are excited to be part of that process.