Below are the top albums of 2009 that have impacted me. Some of them may make someone else's Top Ten list…but some will go relatively unnoticed. They are all very different from each other. So, in no particular order, here they are.
1. The controversial Stockholm Syndrome, from Derek Webb. Perhaps one of the craftiest lyricists of recent years, Webb is known for his blatant allegiance to Scripture and his scolding of white, middle-class Republicans for appearing to love the GOP more than Jesus.
Most impacting tracks:
What Matters More, which charges contemporary Christianity with hating homosexuals instead of loving them. ("if i can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth, then it looks to me like being straight is all it's about."), The Spirit v. The Kick Drum , and Freddie Please (an address from Jesus to the infamous pastor Fred Phelps and his commentary on homosexuals).
2. Backspacer, by Pearl Jam. If you're a Pearl Jam fan, you've gotta have this one. If you're not a Pearl Jam fan, then you've really got to have this one. With matured lyrics and tones, PJ have released one of their best projects to date. The post-punk grooves in The Fixer and west coast riffs in Johnny Guitar make this a pretty amazing soundtrack. The Impact Track has to be the heart-wrenching Just Breathe: the deathbed confession of a man recounting the love he's been blessed with in life. When I die, I pray someone plays this at my memorial service.
3. Kind of Blue , by Miles Davis. While it's not new (1959!), it's relatively new to me. Jazz historians divide jazz music into two periods: before Blue (pre-1959) and after Blue. For many jazz musicians, blue was a watershed moment when culture, history, and art collided to forever change the course of human history. I'm beginning to appreciate and understand that more, largely due to Kind of Blue.
Impact Tracks: The title track, So What., which is not followed by a question mark (‘so what?’), but by a period (‘so what.’) as evidence to the cultural climate of segregation in the late 1950s, and the groovy Freddie Freeloader. (HT to Robert Gelinas for pointing me to it!)
A playful and organic vibe (‘Canada’)..yet almost anthem-esque (‘Staring Out a Window’). One part Paul Westerburg telecaster, one part shoulda-been-the-Juno-soundtrack, and two parts soulful vocals and deeply rooted lyrics. Absolutely great stuff.
Impact Track: ‘Let Us Know You’, which is worth the price of the album alone.
5. Big Whiskey and The Groo Grux King, by Dave Matthews Band. After the passing of long-time bandmate, friend, and saxophonist LeRoi Moore in August 2008, DMB produced their heaviest album to date. Both emotionally and musically. 'Nuff said. Impact tracks are Funny The Way it Is and Why I Am.
6. Glorious (Paul Baloche). I've been a fan of Paul's since the early days of 'Open the Eyes of My Heart'. IMO, much of today's worship music seems to be worshipping a God who's concerned with my well-being. Glorious breaks that trend with some genuinely God-focused worship. Impact Tracks are the title track, Glorious, and We Will Hold On.
What music have you run across this year that has moved you? Inspired you? Healed you? Changed you?
I'd love to know!