Kevin’s 2018 picks for Album of the Year
by Kevin Pollard
Lauren Daigle: Look Up Child, Centricity, 2018
With this sophomore album and her first single “You Say” Lauren Daigle has received both critical acclaim and chart-topping success. This is what I expected from this new artist, but the mainstream exposure through opportunities performing on The Ellen Show, Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Dancing with the Stars has given opportunities for this album to be heard by millions.
for King and Country: Burn The Ships, Curb/Word, 2018
This third studio album from brothers Joel and Luke continues to solidify this pop/rock band as not only the most sought-after live concert experience but their songwriting and production on this effort make this one of my favourite albums of the year. Favourite tracks include “God Only Knows”, “Amen” and the smash lead single “Joy” with it’s clever inclusion of the 1925 penned Sunday School classic “Joy In My Heart”.
Tori Kelly: Hiding Place, Motown Gospel, 2018
For Tori Kelly’s first Christian album she partnered with gospel veteran Kirk Franklin to produce and co-write the songs found here. The combination of her soulful voice, stellar production and solid song writing make songs like “Masterpiece” (feat. Lecrae), “Help Us To Love” (feat. The Hamiltones), “Just As Sure” (feat. Jonathan McReynolds) and “Never Alone” (feat. Kirk Franklin). The only disappointment here is that the album only has 8 songs.
TobyMac: The Elements, Forefront Records, 2018
It’s only when you hear that Toby Mac hits his 30th anniversary as an artist this year that you realize the longevity and relevancy of his music through the decades. This continues with his seventh solo album The Elements that showcases a more mature and less pop sound while continuing to hit hard with his well-crafted lyrics as heard on the title track, “Scars,” “Starts with Me,” and “Edge of My Seat”.
Jordon Feliz: Future, Centricity Music, 2018
Just a few short years ago Jordon Feliz introduced us to his soulful, modern/pop sound with his hits “The River” and “Beloved”.
Now on his third album he offers yet another solid effort with favourites like “Witness” to kick off the pop affair with a high-test Gospel number that uses both electronic and organic rhythms (check out those African djembe drums in the verses) and makes use of an old Southern church expression in a clever turn-of-phrase. As a first single, and album lead-off, the bouncy, soulful “Witness” is a great choice.
The second track “Count That High” continues the soulful R&B flow, with a song that celebrates the endless blessings of the Lord and features a fantastic falsetto vocal. Other highlights include the rhythmically stuttering “Streets Of Gold,” the 70’s disco groove of the title track, and the driving, pulsating “My Shelter.” “Blank Canvas” is a great album closer, weaving its central metaphor into a moving ballad about the grace of the master artist.
Austin French: Wide Open, Fair Trade, 2018
The debut album from Austin French took me by surprise and impressed me with it’s modern-pop sound. Although I enjoyed his debut single “Freedom Hymn” it was after listening through the album’s 12 songs that I knew this was my favourite new artist of the year. Other solid songs found here include “Born Again”, “Holy Ground” and “Good Feeling”.
Dan Bremnes: Wherever I Go, Curb/Word, 2018
This Canadian singer/songwriter’s 7-song EP released “Wherever I Go” on the heels of performing on the 47-city Winter Jam Tour and has seen significant radio play both here and in the US.
In support of the lead single, he released an epic music video that documented his eight-day trip around the world visiting Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Dubai, India and China. That video already has more than 1 million views on YouTube.
Bremnes’ acoustic pop sound has lyrical depth as heard on the ballads “It Would Have Been Enough” and “Speak To Me” but my favourite tracks are his infectious pop melodies heard on “How You Love Me”, “Up Again” and “The Way.