Albums to Journal By

Gungor's "Ghosts Upon the Earth" is... hard to describe. At times ethereal, it is thoughtful music, meaning deep lyrically, not fluffy pop and not chart topping. The opening track, "Let There Be," sets the stage for this musical experience. It is anthemic. It is angelic. It is a good introduction of what the listener is going to receive from the whole album. Gungor is proof that my musical taste has evolved. Give them a spin and start writing! 

"Streams" is a concept album released in 1999 featuring various artists from the world of CCM. The theme of healing in times of crisis is woven throughout the songs. The album opens with a hauntingly beautiful offering from Cindy Morgan entitled "Job." This particular melody line can be found throughout some of the  lush instrumentals on the back end of the album. Amidst the heavy hitters in Christian music, other familiar voices can be heard, such as Jon Anderson from the band Yes (in a duet with 4Him), and Michael McDonald. It ranks high on the mellow albums list, but it is excellent to journal by. OOP (out of print). 

I visited Shawn McDonald's website when I discovered he had a new musical offering. I had heard that shortly after he was married, he was going through a divorce. He alludes to this painful experience in the journal section of his website, and this album is partly a response to that hard road he never expected to walk. Knowing the story behind songs helps the listener hear them with new ears. It's mostly an acoustic romp, but perfect for journaling by. 

"Who?" you might ask. St Lola is the collaboration of one of my all time favorite Christian artists, Cindy Morgan (who is completely underrated), and her long-time writing partner Jeremy Bose. St. Lola was formed with the intent to write freely, not being bound by industry expectations and needing "radio friendly" songs. The result is a fresh, natural sound with great lyrics and memorable melody lines. Love the whole album (and my journal does, too). 

Mark Gershmehl used to rock with the Christian band Whiteheart, but mellowed things out on his first (and only) solo effort. Lots of piano and no real up-beat or finger snapping tunes here (or else it probably wouldn't be on this list), but good music which is probably better in the background than singing along to in the car.  The song "Break Down" is impacting. One can only imagine what Gersh's friend is going through as he musically gives him the okay to do just what the title suggests. The final track, "Wind of Heaven" eases into a nice, simple piano instrumental, almost making it worth the price of the album. 

Donna Lewis is best known for her pop hit "I Love You (Always Forever)" from the mid 90's, and the rest of her catalog has gone pretty much unnoticed. That's a shame for those who like really good mood music. The instrumentation is, on the whole, sparse making this album perfect to journal by. Lewis is not a powerful vocalist, but rather an "enchantress" as one reviewer on iTunes called her. There is one track that I skip over, "Pink Dress," which musically sounds like someone constantly playing a vinyl record backwards. Otherwise, put this album on and start writing. 

"Beauty Will Rise" is an album birthed out of tragedy and pain, yet offers comfort and hope. On May 21, 2008, Steven Curtis Chapman lost one of his little daughters in a car accident. As emotionally devastating as this was, Chapman lived to write and sing about it. Knowing the backdrop of this album makes the lyrics so much more poignant, and they can be applied to whatever struggle or crisis we are enduring. It doesn't answer all the "why" questions in life, but these songs certainly point us to the "Who" we need to be looking to. Excellent journaling album. 

Infamously known for their late 80's hit "What I Am," EB&NB actually deliver a whole album worthy of being on this list. I found the vinyl in a thrift store and thought I'd give it a spin for 99 cents. I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. I haven't listened to it too many times so I don't know if any of the lyrics conflict with my personal philosophies, but the organic style definitely added to a journal session I had. 

Jars of Clay's second offering is probably my favorite out of the bands whole library. It may have been a rushed effort in response to the overwhelming commercial success of their self-titled debut CD, but rushed or not, I'm glad it is what it is. Listening to Jars of Clay music sometimes feels like walking in the shadows: They're not obvious in what they're saying but you knows something's there. It may take a few spins, but you'll find it. 

Plumb is normally a rocker and then her ballads are usually remixed to be heard in dance clubs everywhere. On "Blink," however, she offers her version of a lullaby album. The birth of her boys inspired the songs here, and as a parent, I can relate to the lyrics, so I don't mind this genre being on my list. All original songs here, so you're not going to hear Braham's Lullaby or the like (thankfully). It may not rock, but then again, that's why it's on this list.