My Top 10 Music Highlights of 2015

As you may have figured out by now, music runs in my veins, and it is something that speaks to my soul on a very deep and personal level. It is a means by which God communicates encouragement to me, and quite often I discover songs right at the moment I most need to hear them. This year was full of such songs, and since I listened to quite a bit of music that was released either this year or late last year, I thought it fitting to write a post on some of my top ten favourites.
Empires, Hillsong UNITED
Though typically I am not a huge Hillsong fan, something about this album captivated me. Upon first hearing, it didn’t stun me musically, but whilst listening carefully to the lyrics I was moved by their depth and their creativity. I loved the soaring melodies and soulful imagery of Touch the Sky, and the anticipation of God’s kingdom coming alive in us in Empires. The simplistic yet moving Captain won me the moment I heard it, and the poignant When I Lost My Heart to You (Hallelujah) also didn’t fail to impress. It’s a beautiful worship album.

The first time I heard of NEEDTOBREATHE was at a Third Day concert earlier this year where they guest starred. I was hooked by their folk rock sound, and this song’s message and rhythm in particular won my heart. As you know, I have brothers who are incredibly dear to me, one of whom was still going through a really tough time, and this song spoke nearly everything I was feeling for him. On top of this song, I also loved their live album:

Live from the Woods, NEEDTOBREATHE
This is one of the few albums that perfectly captures the live vibe of a band. From the crowd participation in Something Beautiful, the worship and harmonious voices in Multiplied, to the live jam sessions in the middle of The Heart, listening to this record makes you feel like you were at the performance, immersed in the energy. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Lead Us Back, Third Day
One song title: Soul on Fire. This song captured my heart from the very first time I heard it, reinforced when I shouted it at the top of my lungs with hundreds of others in the stadium where they performed it live. Other gold off this album was Victorious; nothing stirs my spirit like proclaiming the victory of Jesus Christ. The other gem is one that has frequently brought me to tears is The One I Love… Those words: Oh you of little faith/why do you let the wind and waves distract you/Oh you of little faith/don’t you know that when you’re falling I’ll be there to catch you/and when all your world is gone/and you cannot sing your song/I’ll help you carry on/the one I love… Yeah. This song sums up so many seasons for me this year.

Brave New World, Amanda Cook
Again, not usually a huge fan of praise and worship music, I bought this one mostly because I had been seeing it everywhere and wanted to know what the fuss was all about (also, Francesca Battistelli was raving about it. Obviously I had to try it). It only took me hearing Heroes before I was so glad that I did. These words echoing the experiences of my heart this year: awake my soul to sing/with Your breath in me/I will worship/You have taught my feet to dance upon disappointment/and I will worship. I loved nearly every song from this album, with standouts being Captain, The Voyage, City of Hope, and Never See the End which speaks of the vastness of God’s love; a concept God really brought to life for me whilst visiting America last month.

No Longer Slaves, Bethel
Unlike Empires or Brave New World, Bethel’s We Will Not Be Shaken album didn’t really do it for me. Though another song I came to eventually like, there was only one in my mind that stole the show off this album, and it was No Longer Slaves. Wow. There are really no words to describe how powerful this song is. I am a firm believer that lyrics that are straight Scripture carry so much more weight than our own words, and that is so evident in this song by the soulful depth of the chorus: I am no longer a slave to fear/I am a child of God. This song is a must listen.

War Room Soundtrack
I loved the movie, and knew that I’d have to get the soundtrack afterwards if only for John Waller’s Crazy Faith and Steven Curtis Chapman’s powerful Warrior, both of which rocked my world in the best way. God was teaching me a lot about prayer when I first went to see this movie, and Warrior really summed up everything I’d been learning. Great song. Bonuses that I didn’t expect but enjoyed were Mandisa’s Press On, I Am They’s Amen, and the Capital King remix of TobyMac’s Me Without You. Overall, it’s a very good listen full of varied genres.

A Live Worship Experience, Casting Crowns
I’m a big fan of Casting Crowns’ old school music, not so much their newer stuff. However I am thoroughly enjoying this album at the moment. I love how they covered some of the best worship songs out today, and their version of Good, Good Father and Great Are You Lord have ministered to me deeply. Hearing the speaking in between has been so encouraging, almost like being in an actual church service. Other favourites off this album were At Calvary and their rousing live version of Thrive. This is a great all-rounder praise and worship album.

Love Come Down, Heath Balltzglier
Last year Hillsong College released a song called Victory, which was a simplistic yet foot tapping tune that succinctly captures the Gospel message. This song was almost like an answer back to that. I heard it at church a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t help grinning as I sang along. Solid words to a solid beat, this one has become a favourite of ours, and we’ve enjoyed jamming to it together in the garage. Great song.

Changing gears a little. Blanca’s self-titled album was a bit left field to me, yet I am also a great lover of the peculiar or different in music, and one of the things I loved about this artist was her ability to blend the meaningful with upbeat pop. Think a more honest Britt Nicole. The song Different Drum that is mostly percussion driven (surprise) was very unique musically, and so well captures the message. Among others on this album, I loved When You Say Go, Who I Am, and Echo. A great album for when you want something modern and catchy to listen to.

Mobile Orchestra, Owl City
This is the first album of Owl City’s I was actually able to be excited for since I’m a relatively new fan, and I have to say – I think this is his best album yet. Contrary to popular reviews, I think this is the most authentic Adam Young has been to himself in his music, including both the soulful, the whimsical, the bizarre, and the hilarious. Unbelievable is a catchy fun song which I related to being a 90’s kid, Bird With a Broken Wing had a dark feel yet hopeful outlook which I enjoyed, Back Home had that awesome country vibe mixed with the electronic which won all of our hearts, and I fell in love with My Everything from the first note. Spotify put out track commentaries on the entire album done by Adam himself, and it gave new insight and depth to every song, which made listening to the album all the more enjoyable. I simply can’t fault this one. Great listen.

Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, For KING & COUNTRYI’m cheating on this one, since the original album came out in 2014, however since they have released it this year as a deluxe version, I’m going to put it anyway. The song Fix My Eyes has been an anthem for me this year, summarizing my focus, and pointing me beyond my circumstances to fix my eyes on Jesus. The questioning hopefulness in To the Dreamers was a balm to my soul, Long Live a stirring exhortation to live life to the full, and Without You a haunting story of love in difficult circumstances. Shoulders was a standout, the spoken Scripture at the beginning giving me chills. Though not a fan of songs that include rap, I really loved the message of Run Wild, rap and all (shocking, I know). The bonus songs on the deluxe album, Wholehearted and Ceasefire were also brilliant additions to the album. Though their style took a little getting used to, For KING & COUNTRY have become a favourite of mine, and I look forward to their new work.

The Burning Edge of Dawn, Andrew Peterson
Andrew Peterson… what more can I say? This man sings the words only my soul knows. His music is so close to my heart, and I was so blessed by the opportunity to see him live during my time spent in America. I bought this album the second it hit iTunes, and haven’t looked back. The Dark Before the Dawn has been the flip side of the coin; where For KING & COUNTRY’s Fix My Eyes was my anthem, this song was the echo. How keenly I have felt the dark this year, and how my heart has longed for the light of Heaven. It has reminded me that all in this life will soon pass away, and dawn will one day rise to a glorious new future. The dark will be just a small and passing thing. Along with this song has been the gutwrenching I Want to Say I’m Sorry, the tearful revelations in Be Kind to Yourself, the sweet presence of the Spirit singing “Peace, be still” in The Rain Keeps Falling, and the winsome love song My One Safe Place. The deep roar of the voice of God speaking through the Scripture in The Sower’s Song caps off this incredible album. To sum up my year, there’s no doubt about it: obviously, Andrew Peterson takes the cake for me. 

So: that's my year according to music. Also I was really lazy and didn't hyperlink them for you, sorry. You'll just have to go look them up yourself. *evil laugh* 

What have been some of your favourite releases of 2015? What music speaks the most deeply to your soul? What makes you want to get up and dance? Did you like any of these from this year? Did I miss something awesome? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. YES!! For King and Country has been a massive hit in our house too... as I'm sure you already know. ;)
    The other top album for us ATM is 'Music Inspired by the Story'. It has 24 songs, each by a different big-name artist and basically works its way telling the story of the Bible through the hearts of the characters. Some of those songs are so soul stirring, such as David (Your Heart), Esther (Born for This), The Thief (How Love Wins), and Mary Magdalene (Alive). Absolutely incredible. Album of the year for us. :)

    1. I knew 4K&C was a big favourite for you guys this year too. ;)

      Actually I also have that album. I've heard a couple of songs off it, but haven't really listened to it properly yet. I'll have to do so!

  2. Great list! My favorite album of 2015 is probably Blanca's self-titled one.

    1. Thanks Jonathan! And it was thanks to you I heard Blanca. ;)


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