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JFH Indie Review

JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

Rick Lee James, Thunder

Rick Lee James

Street Date: February 8, 2019
Style: Country Gospel / Contemporary Pop
Official Site: Official Website
Buy It: iTunes
Buy It: AmazonMP3
Buy It: Online Store

Ministry will often times lead an artist into varying types of art. For instance, worship leader Rick Lee James has also spoken at public events, written books, and has even hosted a podcast. He has also written and recorded a number of his own songs and has released almost ten albums since 1997, the latest of which is called Thunder.

The album is named for the title track, which is a never-before-published song written by the one and only Rich Mullins. The old school country sound of the track fits well, as does the song’s placement right after a reading of Matthew 21:12-14, where Jesus clears the merchants from the temple. According to Mullins, by way of James, “It sounded like thunder when You cleared the temple, it sounded like thunder sometimes when You prayed, incredible wonder when the veil was torn in glory, it sounded like thunder when the stone was rolled away.” It’s a great song to get the album started, getting the listener to focus on the glory of God, as this is essentially the underlying theme of the album. Another highlight comes in “Whom Have I In Heaven But You?” A poppier offering than the opening song, James sings sweetly about Jesus being the strength of his heart when the flesh fails, and the singing is accentuated by some catchy melodies and well-placed background singers harmonizing in the chorus. It turns out to be one of my favorite songs from the album, as does James’ rendition of the Charles Wesley classic, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

At about the halfway point, the album starts to take a turn toward a softer, more contemporary pop sound. It still has some country gospel influence, but it’s not as noticeable if you aren’t too familiar with the genre. It’s a lot more acoustic based, with an acoustic guitar or piano leading the way in most of the second half. While the first half has some gems, the stylistic shift actually works really well for James’ vocal style, which is very reminiscent of an older, Jesus Movement-era sound. I particularly enjoy the Matthew 5-inspired “Love Our Enemies” and the gentle closer, “My Master Was So Very Poor.” Perhaps the album’s best song is also the most difficult one to listen to; “The Lord Is Our Shepherd (To the Babies We Lost)” is both tragic and hopeful. The title of the song should be enough to gather why it’s a hard listen. I haven’t experienced such a difficult loss as losing a child, but I am a father, and the idea of possibly having lost my daughter to a miscarriage leaves me heartbroken. Yet, instead of sulking, James sings praises to God through the whole experience, which is humbling and inspiring. I’ve found myself unable to revisit this song when I listen to the album, which some listeners might also discover, but it’s a beautiful song ripe with love and emotion.

Before Thunder, I was not familiar with Rick Lee James. But the quality of the offerings, though not typically my preferred style, has me wanting to go back and listen to his previous recordings. This might not be an album for everyone, but if you’re looking for some good worship music that doesn’t follow the current industry formula, this comes with my recommendation. Whether you like it on CD, vinyl, or Spotify, you’ll have your chance to check it out soon enough.

- Review date: 2/2/19, written by Scott Fryberger of

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JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: None
. Album length: 13 tracks: 42 minutes, 38 seconds
. Street Date: February 8, 2019
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3
. Buy It: Online Store

  1. Reading: Matthew 21:12-14 (0:35)
  2. Thunder (3:47)
  3. The Love of Christ (3:39)
  4. Whom Have I In Heaven But You? (Psalm 73) (4:43)
  5. Glory to God the Trinity (Trinity Hymn) (3:46)
  6. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Perfect Love) (4:31)
  7. Reading: Prayer For Peace (0:43)
  8. Love Our Enemies (4:30)
  9. Be My All (3:34)
  10. The Lord Is Our Shepherd (To the Babies We Lost) (4:35)
  11. Psalm 27:13-14 (0:14)
  12. Stay (4:54)
  13. My Master Was So Very Poor (3:15)




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