The One21 Essential 100 Pt.9

essential100 copy

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
Check out Pt.5
Check out Pt.6
Check out Pt.7
Check out Pt.8

Dustin Kensrue-Please Come Home
Please Come Home
Dustin Kensrue

2006
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
There was so much to be surprised by on 2006’s Please Come Home. First and foremost, it was the debut solo effort from Thrice frontman, Dustin Kensrue, a band known for their complex, mosh inducing post hardcore anthems. So the fact that he choose to make a folk/country album let you know this was something completely different in itself.

The second surprise is just how GOOD Please Come Home is. Kensrue’s normal growl translates into earnest grit in this stripped down setting, and the whole feel of the album is set off by this fact. Think of something in between Johnny Cash, The Mommas & The Pappas, and old timey gospel, and that’s about where this album lands. The songs are well constructed, catchy, and thoughtful. Everything about them seems very familiar and yet fresh at the same time. Please Come Home is track after track of your favorite song that you’ve never heard.

Perhaps the biggest surprise though, and the one that makes all of this so special, is Kensrue’s willingness to talk about his faith on Please Come Home in a very personal and real way. When he isn’t putting parables into song form (Please Come Home), or declaring his beliefs directly (I Believe), Kensrue is confronting issues of sin and struggle in such a thoughtful manner you hardly know he is preaching. What Dustin Kensrue accomplished in 2006 with Please Come Home was speaking on the human struggle through the eyes of a person touched by Christ, and made us love every moment of it.

Truly a diamond in an already stunning career, and as he continues to prove himself over and with Thrice, Dustin Kensrue continues to prove that he may be our generation’s most talented songwriter.
Highlights: I Knew You Before, Please Come Home, Blood & Wine, Pistol

sam phillips the turning
The Turning
Sam (Leslie) Phillips

1987
Buy this album:Amazon, iTunes
Throughout the 80’s Leslie Phillips was a CCM darling, with three hit records. The Turning, however, marked a shift in the singer’s attitudes: a definite pop sensibility was now apparent in the music, and a disillusion with the narrow-mindedness of the Contemporary Christian Music machine was expressed in the lyrical content. As a result, the album fared less strongly in the religious market, but earned greater critical attention in pop music circles. The Turning was also important to Sam Phillip‘s career (and personal life) in that it paired her for the first time with producer T-Bone Burnett, who has produced all of her subsequent albums to date, and whom she married in 1989.

Following the release of The Turning, Sam Phillips made a public separation from both her former label and her previous body of work; with the help of Burnett, she signed to Virgin Records and, adopting a nickname given to her as a child, released her next record, The Indescribable Wow (1988), as Sam Phillips.

The Turning stands out as an artistic turning point in Sam Phillips‘ career as a singer and songwriter as well; on one side, the cheerful, upbeat pop-rock albums that she recorded in the early 1980s, and, on the other, the quirky 60′s music influenced rock and folk albums, with a much darker and more poetic tone lyrically. Most critics would agree that Phillips‘ songwriting abilities grew by leaps and bounds beginning with The Turning. Others might even say that this album was a pinnacle that has yet to be topped by the artist.

The Turning was listed at #8 in the book CCM Presents: The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music.
Highlights: The Turning, Answers Don’t Come Easy, God Is Watching You

Hands - Creator
Creator
Hands

2009
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
Music can be incredibly powerful when in the hands of the right artist. The best music, in my book, is one that can take a sound or a genre, and twist it to serve a completely new purpose. So it is only fitting that Christ-centered metal’s first real prog-metal band would be named Hands, and Creator proves that not following the rules can be so much better sometimes.

Creator is two things at all times; it is progressive metal, and it is worship. There is no time during the album’s 10 tracks (more than half of which are over 6 minutes long) that it is one or the other. The mere fact that these two seemingly opposing genres can meet and work together is by itself pretty stunning, but it is the fact that they succeed that makes Creator amazing in everyway. Creative isn’t even the word, superior may be better. If you want to know what kind of metal we may listen to in Heaven, this may be it.

The reason it all works is that Hands understand the emotional and spiritual core of their songs. They know the exact moments to pull back and let the atmosphere take over, and then hit you with everything they have to give the words a sense of release. They know that sometimes singing makes sense, that sometimes spoken words are appropriate, and that screaming is the only volume appropriate for some of the lyrics. Nothing ever feels forced, nor overdone; everything just fits in balance.

Hands isn’t a band, it is a force to be reckoned with.
Highlights: Brightest, Robed In Majesty, Returning

They Sang As They Slew - Get Well
Get Well
They Sang As They Slew

2004
Buy this album: Amazon MP3, iTunes
The brainchild of Luxury and Canary member, Jamey Bozeman, They Sang As They Slew released their debut, Get Well, to the amazement of underground Christian hipsters. Weaving between soaring experimental emo and pleading acoustic ballads, Get Well weaves a mesmerizing soundscape that pulls you into the lyrics.

“Her Left hand Rocks the Cradle” sets the tone for the entire CD, with its ethereal back sounds and samples that break into psychedelic lyrics. “I Can See With My Eyes Closed” is a straight ahead driving rocker with layers of fuzzy guitars. “It Goes On”, the psychedelic ballad with distorted vocals and layers of sound closes the CD.
Highlights: Her Left Hand Rocks The Cradle, I Can See With My Eyes Closed, 10,000 Candles

John_Reuben_Are_We_There_Yet
Are We There Yet?
John Reuben

2001
Buy this album: Amazon, iTunes
I guess it is the whistling at the beginning of Are We There Yet?’s opening track (Divine Inspiration) that really tells you that this is something…a little different. From the beginning of his career, John Reuben, a quirky, unassuming white kid who has proved himself as one of Christian hip-hop’s pivotal artists, has always done things differently. Instead of embracing the more party oriented mainstream hip-hop sound, or a completely abstract underground sound, John Reuben has been able to push a fresh new sound that is something in-between the two. Are We There Yet? Was the introduction to this sound, and remains Reuben’s purest interpretation of THAT sound.

The songs on here are just SO GOOD. Tell me one emcee in the scene today that has a song like “Do Not”, and can pull it off like John Reuben. Then there are song like “No Regrets” and “Identify” that are almost rock songs, with some of the painfully honest lyrics I have heard in hip-hop in a long time. What you get with Are We There Yet? Is a mix of fun and real; of party and grit. It has been almost 10 years since the release Are We There Yet?, and it still feels completely fresh. Today, John Reuben continues to do thing his own way, and we are so glad for it.
Highlights: No Regrets, Do Not, Divine Inspiration, Identify

Comments

  1. Gordon says:

    I can’t believe Hands made the list. I knew all these band memebers in previous bands and they come from my hometown. Yay Hands.

  2. Clark says:

    The Turning absolutely belongs on this list (finally something older than 2000!), but why not the original cover art?

  3. ian says:

    we have had several that were before 2000, and this cover art is the only one we could find….if you have the original, please send it to us (300X300)! that would be great

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