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Bluegrass

Ghost Ship - The Good King Album Cover - 4.5 Star Rating
It’s no great secret that I have a soft spot for Mars Hill Music, so naturally I was rather excited when Ghost Ship announced that they would be releasing their first full length album, titled ‘The Good King’. Different in sound to the many other Mars Hill bands, Ghost Ship bring their own blend of alternative rock to the mix. However, at times it seems that they are still somewhat unsure of where they want to be musically placed, leading to a slightly disjointed first listening experience.

The album kicks off with the pop infused track ‘Mediator’, written as a sequel to their song ‘One God’ (From their EP, A River With No End). As we’ve come to expect from Mars Hill, the theology in the song is spot on, diving in to deep biblical truths so often missed in a lot of popular romanticist worship music of today and to call it catchy just doesn’t quite do it justice.

It’s after this opening track though where I feel that Ghost Ship really come in to their own, leaping from one huge song to the next. This starts with ‘Orion’ which musically wouldn’t feel out of place on a Kings of Leon album. Lyrically, this song also sets the tone for the majority of the album by questioning pain, suffering and doubt but ultimately knowing that God has answered our call and holds us close throughout. It’s this attitude of worshipping through the trials shown in the lyrics of this album that makes it a real challenge and encouragement to the church, and it’s a welcome change to worship music in my opinion.

Moving on to the third track and another personal favourite is the epic rock song ‘Lion Man’ which a friend rightly pointed out sounds ironically like Black Sabbath. This focuses on the power of God, and how when Jesus walked among us “He could have killed us where we stood” yet in humility and out of love He instead came to serve us and bear the wrath that we deserved. Epic indeed!

It seems that the frontman Cam Huxton’s talents in songwriting lie in theologically rich depictions of what it actually means to live a worshipful life rather than just singing worshipfully. If the overall album feels like the band wrestling to discover their true sound, it seems that they are most comfortable in the less orthodox worship songs like ‘Son Of David’, ‘Orion’, ‘Lamb Of God’ and the most beautiful ‘Where Were You’.

In fact it seems rather fitting to use the word unorthodox when describing Ghost Ship – it’s on the more experimental tracks where they seem to find their true style. For example the booming organs at the end of their rendition of the hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ would be completely out of place with any other worship band, yet seems perfectly natural on this album. This then leads to the indie-pop songs like ‘The Gospel’, ‘Mediator’ and the cover of ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’ (though as great as they are) seem slightly unnatural to Ghost Ship’s style, and sounds more like the type of worship I would expect to hear from another Mars Hill band such as The Sing Team.

It took multiple listens for me to fully appreciate the excellent offering that Ghost Ship deliver with ‘The Good King’, but even now that I’m there I still feel that the best is yet to come from this relatively young worship band. Despite saying that though this is still a brilliant debut, and though ‘The Good King’ may be a slow grower, I truly believe that over the next few months it will gradually emerge as one of the most exciting worship releases of this year.

Album Highlights: Orion, Lion Man, Son Of David, Where Were You

Purchase The Good King from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-good-king/id644039595
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-good-king/id644039595

For more info on Ghost Ship visit:
http://marshill.com/music/artists/ghost-ship
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Genre: Folk, Acoustic, Indie, Bluegrass

Taken from their latest release – Sweet Tennessee – this track really sees Judah & the Lion becoming more playful in their instrumental arrangements. The bouncing back and forth between the guitar and banjo riff on the verses of this song, though simple, adds a nice new element to their already polished sound. Listening to Sweet Tennessee its clear that the band have really stepped up the production quality and as a result have really delivered highly on this release. In lyrics, they have also explored new territory including more anecdotal song writing, however, its all still very much worshipful – just not as directly as their previous release. Overall this is a great second EP from Judah & the Lion, and its really exciting to see such development in their sound. I’m sure we’ll see this band go far…

Purchase Sweet Tennessee on iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sweet-tennessee-ep/id633457105
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sweet-tennessee-ep/id633457105

For more info about Judah & the Lion visit: http://judahandthelion.com/
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Genre: Folk, Acoustic, Bluegrass

The Vespers are a band from Nashville, TN and consists of the two sisters Callie and Phoebe Cryar and two brothers, Taylor and Bruno Jones. This song is taken from their second independently released album, The Fourth Wall. The Vespers are a popular band in the Christian and secular world of music and it’s easy to see why. With two brilliant singers creating beautiful harmonies and a true southern american sound it’s hard not to like them. On some songs their faith comes through strongly and others it’s more subtle, either way it’s a great album.

All rights belong to The Vespers.

Buy The Vespers new album The Fourth Wall from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-fourth-wall/id508263516
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-fourth-wall/id508263516

For more information on The Vespers visit:
http://thevespersband.com/

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Genre: Folk, Indie, Bluegrass

This song comes from The Last Bison’s (previously known as Bison) debut album Quill. The Last Bison are a 7 piece band from Virginia, USA.

I came across this band when Monster’s Calling Home (who I uploaded recently) tweeted ‘If you’re a fan of Mumford and Sons, check out my brothers and sisters, @thelastbison. They will not disappoint.’ so naturally I did as instructed and was pleasantly surprised. If are looking for a Mumford & Sons clone however, you are in the wrong place, this band is similar but very much have their own style. The lead singer’s rough vocals backed up by a variety of instruments makes for a truly beautiful album. This song, Iscariot, is about Judas (as you may have guessed) and though the lyrics may be fairly simple the brilliance for me comes at the end of the song when the singer flips the perspective to that of Jesus singing ‘I have used / Your unbelief, to set them free’. This album is definitely worth checking out and if you head over to their bandcamp you can also get hold of the song Switzerland for free.

All rights belong to The Last Bison.

Buy Quill from iTunes:
United Kingdom:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/quill/id472246616
United States of America:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/quill/id472246616

For more information on The Last Bison visit:
http://www.bisonfolk.com/

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Genre: Folk, Bluegrass, Worship

Judah & The Lion are a folk worship band from Nashville, Tennessee and are made up of 7 individuals. With a sound comparable to Mumford & Sons, their music is catchy, and made up of good strong God-Centered lyrics. This is worship music but not as you usually hear it; and it sounds great! This song is taken from their debut release First Fruits EP released this year back in June. I love this song and this EP and can’t wait to hear more of Judah & The Lion.
All rights belong to Judah & The Lion.

Add some Judah & The Lion to your music diet and buy First Fruits off iTunes:
United Kingdom:
http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/first-fruits-ep/id535347677
United States of America:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/first-fruits-ep/id535347677

For more information about Judah & The Lion check out: http://www.facebook.com/judahandthelion
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