The One21 Essential 100 Pt.5

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The One21 Essential 100 is a collection of albums that represent the best in creativity, innovation, and originality in music. This is not a “best of” list, nor is it influenced by album sales, or even popularity. Our attempt with this series is to highlight the gems, those rare albums that push boundaries and encourage new ways of thinking; both musical and philosophically. In our opinion, the music highlighted in this series is the “good stuff”.

Simply what this is going to be is a list of 100 albums from Christian music artists that we think you should own. Like our website, most genres will be represented, and some of the albums will be from as far back as the 60s, to as current as 2009. Each week we will post five albums, in no real order, with descriptions, album artwork, and places to buy the music.

Check out Pt.1
Check out Pt.2
Check out Pt.3
Check out Pt.4

Eso Charis
Eso Charis
Eso Charis

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
At the turn of the century, the genre known as metalcore was trying to kind its holding in the hearts of extreme hardcore and metal fans. Like many new trends, the combination of hardcore and metal was having a hard time coming off as anything BUT a trend, and then came Eso Charis. Interesting, creative, aggressive, and passionate were words that surfaced in almost every review of the self-titled debut (and sadly final album for the band). Every track on the album plows forward in such angry progression you would swear the members of the band might reach through the speakers and pull you back with them. The two key things though that made Eso Charis so great though was the extremely unconventional song structure and the worshipful lyrics. Each song featuring a rollercoaster of starts and stops, twists and turns that didn’t lend much to the accessibility of a fan’s first listen, but allow it to stay interesting after the 20th. The lyrics cry out to God for change, and banish the devil from the band’s hearts; so it is no wonder the screams sound so painful. This album is what metalcore could achieve if the passion behind it was righteous, and Eso Charis continue to show people how it was supposed to be done.
Highlights: The Judas Swing, Processed Bodies, The Narrowing List

Kate Miner-Prodigal Martha
Prodigal Martha
Kate Miner

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Simply a masterpiece, both musically and spiritually. Using a dizzying array of musical styles and instruments Kate Miner builds her case for stripping away the trappings of Christianity to truly worship Christ. Kate explained, “It starts in that really broken place. The chorus of the title track goes “Father I know it’s here. It’s been so long since I’ve sat at your feet, will you recognize me?” It’s a great journey. I think it’s quite relevant for people in the church. I believe that we all get hung up in that. We’re all doing good work. It’s not like I slipped and went into prostitution and had a heroin addiction. I just kept doing ministry things.” The Kate Miner we love is here with her declaration of Christ, “Jesus”, which opens with “Does anybody here need Jesus? I got something to say . Does anybody here need heaven? You may hot here what I have to say? The she bursts into a rocking declaration of Jesus Christ. Finally, the heart breaking “Who Will Cry” touches on our weaknesses and our sadness and how we just walk past each other.

Then there is the voice, raw, powerful with a heart wrenching tone. Kate Miner uses her voice powerfully and tenderly to touch just the right string in our soul. Finally, Prodigal Martha features maybe the best worship song of the 21st century, “Covered.” Simple piano and percussion underneath a whispering Kate singing quiet, worshipful words of submission and praise. She then let’s looses with “Covered by grace, covered by light, covered by the fullness of you.” I defy you to listen without stopping to worship.
Highlights: Covered, Come To The Water, Who Will Cry For Me?

Innocence Mission-Glow
The Innocence Mission

Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Glow is a musical treasure that immediately starts with a dreamy riff, taking you by the hand for a journey of tunes and floating guitar evoking the feeling of spring fever. “Keeping Awake”, probably the most famous song on the CD, communicates peace and calm, but it’s the little details that stand out. The imagery is evocative: family members sitting under trees in a dreamed-for tomorrow; a girl dancing into her room; the sense of peace at having everyone home; and, most of all, the sense that “My room is held in someone’s arms,/my bed is held in someone’s arms.” This last little detail — God holding the speaker’s bedroom — points to the often subtle ways in which The Innocence Mission communicate their Roman Catholic faith. Glow evokes a sense of drinking cold sweet lemonade on a sun drenched porch, or driving your car with the top down on the first fresh, warm day in spring.

If you’ve never heard The Innocence Mission before you must know that they require you to listen. Sparse quiet guitars, with some piano and percussion you barely notice, The Innocence Mission delivers music in a whisper, but what a whisper. You will be blown away by Karen Paris’ vocals and poetry, think Natalie Merchant meets Bjork . The childhood memories displayed on this album are moving, and the songs paint incredible pictures with an economical use of words that hint at larger vistas. Glow can still grab you from beginning to end more than a decade after its 1995 release.
Highlights: Keeping Awake, Speak Our Minds, Brave

Brooke Waggoner-Heal For The Honey
Heal For The Honey
Brooke Waggoner

Buy this album: iTunes
Heal For The Honey is what can happen when talent is expressed in its most pure form. Heal For The Honey is the creation of Brooke Waggoner, a young songwriter making her way through the underground indie scene in Nashville. With only an EP under her belt, Waggoner wrote and recorded her 2008 full length with hauntingly beautiful results. Heal For The Honey is creative, delightful, and most of all progressive. Most songs sound more like small symphonies than pop songs, combining piano, strings , and percussion in a way that both feels classic and innovative all at the same time. Earlier when I said Brooke wrote Heal For The Honey, I mean SHE WROTE everything you hear in the album; including all the string arrangements.

Heal For The Honey also puts Brooke Waggoner‘s lyrical abilities on display in full force. While most of the songs may come of as introverted, she paints such a lovely picture of the world with memories of cold winters, deep forests, and lite hearts. It will be hard to listen to Heal For The Honey and not be alble to completely fall in love with every single aspect of it.
Highlights: Beaut, Live For The Sounds, Tender Mending

Jason Upton-Faith
Jason Upton

Buy this album: iTunes
When Faith came out in 2001, most people had no idea who the passionate worship leader named Jason Upton was. It also didn’t take most people very long to figure out that Jason Upton was a very special man of God. Faith is an album like no other, filled with prophetic lyrics, progressive song structures, and an air of improvisation as Jason leads a congregation in a worship service that would make the Brooklyn Tabernacle look like they conduct puppet shows for two year olds. Powerful isnt the word for this music, because that would simply put a limit on the energy behind these songs.

In many other ways, Faith is completely unique in its approach to worship, with more focus on the Holy Spirit than melody; songs like “Freedom Reigns” makes the listener yearn for as clear of an understanding into the heart of God as Upton has. These are the kind of songs that change things. They penetrate, and work their way into the heart of the listener. No matter where you are, or when you hear it, Faith has the power to stir things in your spirit you didn’t even know existed, and change the way you see worship music forever.
Highlights: Freedom Reigns, No Sacrifice, I Will Wait

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