Illuminate by @shawnmendes will light up your heart, soul, and your playlist.

Although this album was released in 2016, I finally got around to listening to it recently in anticipation of Mendes third studio album which also happens to be self-titled.

Illuminate in a nutshell has Mendes looking like the pop version of Jonny Lang with it’s musicality and rock and blues elements.

It peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart.

Of all three Mendes works, this is by far my fave because Mendes voice matured from his last album, and so did his songwriting style and use of musicality. All songs on this album were co-written with Teddy Geiger.

Listen to the entire album via this custom Youtube playlist.

Song by Song Review

There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back: A fun pop dance track that is played up with dancy guitar chords about being with someone who inspires you to face your fears, and feel free to be yourself. My favorite song off this album for sure, although the rest of the album compliments this first track so nicely.

Ruin: A slow jam about a love that went wrong but you can’t let go of because you still believe you were meant to be with that person.

Mercy: A piano ballad that grips the listener like a siren song that begs for mercy because this person keeps tearing you up with the distorted way they show & give love.

Treat You Better: A strong pop anthem about a guy who can see a girl is in a toxic relationship, and believes he’s the better suitor because he can see her full potential & worth.

Three Empty Words: An acoustic guitar and soft vocals create an authentic ballad about a relationship that is empty & unfulfilling.

Don’t Be A Fool:  An R&B bluesy track that bears the bad news that he’s not the right guy for this girl, and wants to prevent her from looking a fool by encouraging her to move on.

Like This: Another piano ballad where the vocalist carries pain in his voice. Musically, it reminds me of Nick Jonas’s song “Vesper’s Goodbye,” because of the similar sorrowful singing, soft acoustics, and lyrical content.

No Promises: With this track, it shares casual views on love to avoid consequences of heartache and pain.

“I’ve been living only for this moment and I don’t want to let it slip away.”

Lights On: A sultry song that has sexy undertones that describe the act of making love to someone with the lights on.

Honest: The rhythmic musicality of this track is infectious and is something that will stick in your head much like the topic of this track: the final break-up conversation.

Patience: A clever take on an on-and-off relationship that leaves you with withdrawal symptoms and distraught over all when it is all said and done.

Bad Reputation: A sultry, bluesy, I-want-her-so-bad type jam about a person with a reputation you can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Understand: Gospel-style musicality paints this track about wanting to understand who you are and where your life will take you.

Hold On: A slow jam encouraging those fighting life’s battles and that they must “hold on.”

Roses: A metaphor using a rose as a visual image of whether the love between you and this person, asking:

“Will you let it die or let it grow?”

Mercy (Acoustic): A cut-down, simple version of the crooner-tortured heart pop anthem.A definite fireworks finale for this musical masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

.@ShawnMendes Releases Something Big with Debut Album #Handwritten

Released on April 14, 2015 by Island Records is the Debut Album by Shawn Mendes. Ask me two weeks ago who Shawn Mendes was and I wouldn’t have been able to fully tell you other than that he was a singer who became famous from Youtube. Despite his cliché Justin Bieber road to fame, he may be able to give Justin Bieber a run for his money. From the Life of the Party, I instantly fell in love with Shawn’s voice and songwriting style. His songwriting style can be compared to that of Ed Sheeran and his vocal talent could be likened to that of Gavin Degraw. Every song on this album is worth a listen, and Shawn Mendes is definitely meant for something big.

 

#VoiceNotes by @CharliePuth is an obvious note to his creative genius

Charlie Puth’s back and stronger than ever with his new album, Voice Notes.

Inspired by recordings via the app of the same name, all songs on this album were created and produced by Charlie himself.

Listen to the entire album by clicking here to follow an exclusive playlist I made via Youtube.

Song by Song Review

The Way I Am: Starting out the album strong with pop musicality this is my favorite track because it has the musical genius of a Michael Jackson song but beside the overall unapologetic message but the rocking guitar chords in the background of the entire song.

The first time I heard it it had instant Tom Cruise in Risky Business vibes:

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Attention: Bass guitar chords carry the pop musicality of this track and the catchy lyrics of one of those attention seeking exes who can’t seem to get that you are over them.

L.A. Girls: A song about losing focus on the one girl who’s important because you fooled around with girls from Los Angeles. My favorite part of this track is the breakdown.

How Long: A song about the confrontation when a girl realizes her man was creeping but told from the guy’s perspective. Musically, it’s fun and dancy with jazz elements.

Done For Me ft. Kehlani: An R&B track about the unfair plight of one-sided love

Patient: A slow jam that Charlie is famous for, asking for his lover to be generous with their patience.

If You Leave Me Now: This album has amazing collaborations stacked up, and Boys II Men add an incredible vocal layering, and harmonies to this song which helps to give it that heart and soul r&b musiciality

Boy: An electropop musicality creates the atmosphere of a song discussing a relationship where someone older or more experienced makes you feel innocent and juvenile.

Slow It Down: A track about not wanting to take advantage of a girl because you don’t have true feelings for her.

Change ft. James Taylor: An acoustic guitar gives this a street performer feel, and a timely message:

Why can’t we just get along?

Somebody Told Me: A fun and dancy musicality contrasts the lyrics discussing the heartbreak of the one you love being in love with someone else.

Empty Cups: Sultry sythesized bass guitar chords hint at things heating up between you and someone at a party

Through It All: A gospel-like musicality with an encouraging message

God only knows I’ve been through it all

Overall, this music video accurately depicts how I look while listening to this album. It’s such a well put together piece of music, I truly hope Puth gets accolades this year for this album.

#MusicReview: Skillet’s Girl Drummer Jen Ledger steps out and has something to say with new six song EP

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Known for her unique vocals and powerful stage presence, Ledger has been working ardently in preparation for her solo launch, enlisting the talent of Skillet’s Korey Cooper along with GRAMMY Award winning songwriter and producer Seth Mosley to produce the six-song project.

 

Ledger co-wrote each of the songs on the project from a raw and vulnerable place, inspired by her own personal experiences with love, heartache, anxiety and “the fight – to not let these things hold us back and stop us from living.” As her cardinal endeavor, LEDGER is a collection of songs that personify the tension between fear and boldness. [To listen to the entire EP, click the hyperlinked name above]

Song By Song Review

I’m Not Dead Yet: With trademark versatile Christian heavy rock musicality and powerhouse vocals, Ledger is screaming for the enemy to realize every tactic that he brings against her is not valid, and challenges him with a fiery chorus and anthem like lyrics:

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Jen has said the song is about overcoming one’s hardest challenges and showing the world that you are strong. She wrote this because of the anxiety and panic attacks that had suddenly started happening to her in the past few years.

Warrior ft. John Cooper: 

The musicality and figher-like anthems on this album make it a great accompaniment for any workout or just a pump up song before doing something you thought you could never possibly do. Remember, you can do all things through Christ, friend!

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Bold: My favorite song on the album because I feel it fits who I am as a person and all I relate to the lyrics about remembering who my identity is in, and that I am called to be bold in Him:

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Foreigner: A song that details that feeling of not belonging that follows those within the faith because many are called but few are chosen. It’s because this Earth is only a temporary dwelling while heaven is our home.

Ruins: A piano ballad that showcases how broken you feel when a love ends, and the heartache that sets in after that, and how we must bring our ruins to the one who mends them back together.

Iconic: A rock ballad that will shake you from head to toe about how God’s love shakes you up for the better, and his love is practically so unthinkable it is iconic.

All in all, I am honored to have the chance to listen to Ledger because it encapsulates every moment within my faith journey where I had to decide if I was going to give into fear or continue the fight.

Ledger EP is available everywhere today April 13. Pick it up if you need an empowering pick-me-up.

 

#MusicReview: Rend Collective new praise album boasts Good NEWS!

I’m not particularly crazy about worship music because usually it isn’t very dance-worthy, is heavy on piano or organ, and tracks for worship are sometimes ten minutes or more in length. So when I got approached to listen to Rend Collective’s Good News, I will admit that I hesitated because of my stereotyping worship music.

Then, the first track started and I was into it and as each track went on, I got more and more into it. This album not only strengthened my love for my Lord and Savior Jesus but it made me an instant fan of Rend Collective and I will never hesitate to listen to another album they release ever again.

About Rend Collective:
Hailing from a small town off the coast of Northern Ireland, Rend Collective (Gareth Gilkeson, Chris Llewellyn, Ali Gilkeson, Patrick Thompson and Stephen Mitchell) wants to be known as a celebration band, worshiping for God’s Glory and fame. Since the release of their first album, Organic Family Hymnal, the group’s authentic and energetic style of worship has attracted an international audience, with career sales of more than 300,000 albums. The group saw early success as their first ever single “Build Your Kingdom Here,” peaked at No. 12 on the National Christian Audience Chart. Their 2014 release The Art of Celebration, charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart within the first week of its release. Known for their electric lively worship, the band has been a part of several major tours with top artists such as Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Kari Jobe, Lecrae and more. The group released critically acclaimed As Family We Go in 2015, followed by, Campfire Christmas Volume 1, their first Christmas record, and Campfire II, both in 2016, Rend Collective’s newest single, “Rescuer (Good News)” is available now.

Good News is set to release in January 19, 2018.

Song by Song Review

Life is Beautiful: Irish musicality trickles on every track of this album and this particular song speaks to our John 10;10 abundance Jesus died for each believer to live out.

I Will Be Undignified: A fiddle keeps this track fast-paced and promotes and unashamed dance in the presence of our King.

Rescuer (Good News)The title track of the album; praising God for rescuing us forevermore.

Counting Every Blessing: A worship song that brings to mind every blessing the Lord has provided and more importantly God’s goodness. I thoroughly enjoyed this track because it promoted me to beam with an unbreakable smile while listening to it.

Nailed To The Cross: We are taken back to Jesus’s victory on the Cross and all his death there redeemed for all mankind.

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Hymn For The Ages: Almost like a modern day “Amazing Grace,” praising Jesus for who he is.

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True North: This is another favorite off the album because not only is it a pure worship song but it has a musicality that makes me want to dance and feel fun and fancy free.

Resurrection Day: pablo (31)

This track completely had me overjoyed because it had Contemporary Christian musicality but praise-worthy worship feel.

9. No Outsiders: God is love and we can come as we are thanks to Jesus

10. Weep With Me: 

“Lord I believe you weep with me”

A worship track with an almost r&b feel to it that speaks to the depths of the listener’s brokenness.

Weep With Me (Reprise): A sweet finish featuring a strong use of violin and lead vocals

Marching On (Feat. Hillsong Young & Free): The EDM musicality and the lead vocalists motivated the listener to keep fighting the good fight.

Yahweh: A soft acoustic guitar strikes a soft chord to illustrate the gentleness of our God who is there in the midst of it all, and holds it all.

Counting Every Blessing: A ukelele version of the fourth track brings a new sense to resting in his presence.

Christ Lives In Me: I have a future and a hope because Christ lives in me is what this track emphasizes.

Get Connected with Rend Collective:
Website // https://rendcollective.com
Facebook // https://www.facebook.com/rendcollective/
Twitter // @rendcollective
Instagram // @rendcollective

“From the opening track to the last one, Good News will give you joy unspeakable and provide hope because Christ lives in each believer, life is forever beautiful.”

To see the The Smart Cookie quoted in the Good News press release click here

 

#GiftGuide: Best Music Albums in 2017

There were too many earworms in 2017 that I decided to narrow down my musical fangirling to an album only list of the Top Ten. The great thing about music is that it’s subjective so your favorite may not be here. If I missed one, comment below. Maybe I’ll make a playlist for 2018.

10. Ryan Follese by Ryan Follese

The lead singer of Hot Chelle Rae goes solo and heads back to his country roots with his first pop country solo album. Croon along to One Thing Right or jam out to Roots, either way you’ll fall in love with Ryan’s singer-songwriting talent and musicality.

To read the full review, feel free to float your boat.

9. Alessia Cara’s Know It All

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This Canadian pop rocker will have you realizing your beautiful and not alone at that party you didn’t want to go to but are now stuck at.

To join our Wild Things Club, visit here

8. Tomorrow We Live by KB

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Tampa native and Reach Records rapper KB just released a new album October 20 but to here the one that had my haters looking at me sideways and believing we will win, check out the rapper’s second album.

I won’t play anymore games, I’mma just do it.

7.  Identity by Colton Dixon

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How do you identify? Well with one listen of Colton Dixon’s third studio album I was renewed in my faith as a believer in Jesus Christ and realized why each of us is marked with his fingerprint because he designed us with a unique call and purpose. To find out more about the brand new life and how love came down, check out Colton’s newest album.

For all that matters, visit here.

6. All is Vanity by Christina Grimmie

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Her final musical project is her debut album. Post-humanous and with her signature supernatural vocal range, Grimmie shares song that showcase her r&b musicality and lyrics that showcase her huge heart and that she was okay with having standards.

For full review and to read my memorial post, join Team Grimmie

5. Lifer by Mercy Me

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Christian rock supergroup is back with a project even i couldn’t imagine. Every song on it is repeat-worthy and will have you happy dancing even if your answer doesn’t come right away.

To join Team life, visit here.

4. ’91 by Jamie Grace

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Jamie Grace is back with her first independent release but third studio album that represents the Christian music from the nineties she grew up on.

To join Team ’91, feel free to get your dance on.

3. All Things Work Together by Lecrae

With his first major label release, Lecrae will inspire and sow hope as he will make all who listen to this album see that he’s no stranger to hip hop music but instead aims to reach higher.

To find hope in all things, visit here.

2. Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato

Six albums later and Demi Lovato is no longer apologizing for who she is. Instead, you’ll catch the singer-songwriter in raw and real vulnerability that will make you fall in love with her artistry.

To meet Lovato and all her daddy issues, visit here.

  1. Waves by Rachel Platten

Some of you may not know this but Rachel Platten was the first major artist to support The Smart Cookie Philes directly and her sophomore album proves she’s not done making waves or putting up a fight, she’s just not going to apologize because she’s not perfect for you.

Love her or leave her alone, she’ll keep dancing on broken glass. 

Happy Holidays and I hope 2018 is the year you start #ESPRESSOYOURSELF

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#ATWT: Lecrae’s first major label release proves inspiration is in “All Things”

I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.

Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.

Song by Song Review

Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.

Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary

Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality  discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes

Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft

Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth

Hard times made for a good life

Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.

Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.

Hammertime:  Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot

Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.

Tweet: #ATWT is the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet with a substantial testimony @lecrae https://ctt.ec/OHePu+ via @tscphiles

Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.

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Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.

Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.

I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial

8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.

Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.

Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”

Overall, Lecrae’s major label debut knocks it out of the park and has all the original reach of his past projects with a new testimony: all things do work together.