Listen to the new album from Citizen Way!
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JFH Staff Blog | October 2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Josh Balogh's Top Ten Brooke Fraser Songs

Every once in awhile, there is an artist that comes along that captures the perfect storm of talent, platform, and longevity. The combination produces a stockpile of fantastic albums and songs over a long period of time. For me, Brooke Fraser is one such artist. She had already been around with her first solo record, What To Do With Daylight, releasing in 2003 in Australia, but I didn’t first catch on to her until hearing her song “None But Jesus” from the Hillsong United album, United We Stand, in 2006. She is the rare artist who can co-exist in the solo realm, as well as part of a collective like the juggernaut Hillsong United. Her ability to do so is largely based around the fact that she is an accomplished songwriter with a beautiful voice.

I have been a fan for over a decade now, and as I skimmed through her songwriting credits, I quickly realized that she has had a tremendous impact on the worship music scene, with many of her songs being sung by thousands of churches each Sunday. Not to mention, her 2006 Albertine album would make any list of my favorite albums released in the last twenty years of Christian music. So music nerd that I am, I endeavored to pick my ten favorite songs that she has either solely penned, or co-written because I cannot help myself when it comes to compiling music lists. Here they are, gleaned from Hillsong United, Hillsong Church, and her solo albums. I hope you enjoy the read, and are either reminded what a great songwriter she is, or find a new song to love.

 

  

1.     “Hosanna”All Of The Above (2007)

I love so much about this song! Unlike many of the worship songs since its release, I have not grown tired of this one in the slightest. I love that it can be sung with past, present, or future in mind. The bridge still gets me every time stating, “Heal my heart and make it clean/Open up my eyes to the things unseen/show me how to love/like you have loved me/Break my heart for what breaks yours/everything I am for your Kingdom’s cause/as I walk from earth into eternity.” It doesn’t get much better than this as far as I am concerned.

 

2.     “Faithful”Albertine (2006)

This is one that I return to often in times of discouragement and reflection. It helps remind me that my faith is not based on my feelings and to keep pressing on. Favorite lyric is the chorus, When I can't feel you/I have learned to reach out just the same/When I can't hear you/I know you still hear every word I pray/And I want you more than I want to live another day/And as I wait for you maybe I'm made more faithful.”

 

3.     “None But Jesus”United We Stand (2006)

 It was my younger sister Tori (love you!) belting this song out a capella around a campfire that began my love of this song. It is one I had previously heard, but due to that memory, it is locked in as an all-time favorite. A tender declaration that, "There is no one else for me/none but Jesus/crucified to set me free/none but Jesus."

 

4.     “Lead Me To The Cross”All Of The Above (2007)

“Savior I come/Quiet my soul, remember/Redemption's hill/Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom/Everything I once held dear/I count it all as lost.”
Enough said.

 

5.     “Desert Song”Across The Earth (2009)

 The lyrics are powerful and speak for themselves, but I imagine Job saying similar things in the midst of his soul crushing trials. May the same faithfulness be found in each of us. This is my prayer in the desert/When all that's within me feels dry/This is my prayer and my hunger in me/My God is the God who provides.”

 

6.     “Shadowfeet”Albertine (2006)

 From the first piano strike to the shuffle along chorus, everything about this is a perfect pop gem. I can identify with the following lyrics, “There’s distraction buzzing in my head/saying in the shadows it's easier to stay/but I've heard rumors of true reality/whispers of a well-lit way.”

 

7.     “What A Beautiful Name”Let There Be Light (2016)

If you have attended a church anytime in the last two years, its likely you have heard/sung this one at least once. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime powerful songs that will be sung for many years to come. The bridge always hits me the hardest proclaiming the truth that, “You have no rival/You have no equal/Now and forever, Our God reigns/Yours is the Kingdom/Yours is the glory/Yours is the Name, above all names.”

 

8.     “Flags”Flags (2010)

Another in a long line of songs that seek to direct the listener back to a kingdom perspective. She pens some thoughts directed at the gut-wrenching questions we all have. Why do innocent suffer? Why do the wicked prosper? She points the finger at herself which should cause us to hold a mirror to our own hearts stating, “Who's at fault is not important/Good intentions lie dormant and we're all to blame/While apathy acts like an ally/My enemy and I are one and the same.” Raw and convicting. She goes on to end the song on a whispered and hopeful note, “I don't know why the innocents fall/While the monsters stand/I don't know why the little ones thirst/But I know the last shall be first/I know the last shall be first/I know the last shall be first.”

9.    
“New Wine”
There Is More (2018)

This is the newest of her songs that I have really connected with, and it was hearing it live that really drove home what an amazing song it is. Perfect for communion, or worshipping alone in your car it’s a call to view suffering as a blessing. “In the crushing/In the pressing/You are making New wine/In the soil, I Now surrender/You are breaking/New ground/So I yield to You and to Your careful hand/When I trust You I don't need to understand.”

 

10.  “Soon” – Across The Earth (2009)

Another song I need to revisit when feeling melancholy. Best line of the understatedly haunting song is the call to keep the heavenly reward in mind, “I will be with the One I love/With unveiled face I'll see Him/There my soul will be satisfied/Soon and very soon.”

 

There you have it..I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite Brooke Fraser penned tunes? Leave a comment below!

 

Honorable Mentions:

“C.S. Lewis Song”Albertine (2006)

“Thunder”Brutal Romantic (2015)

“Love, Where Is Your Fire?” - Albertine (2006)

“Something In The Water” – Flags (2010)

“Arithmetic”What To Do With Daylight (2003)

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Josh Balogh's Switchfoot Album Ranking

 

With the recent announcement that the Switchfoot hiatus is over and album number eleven is either done or in process, I got to thinking how I would rank their ten albums. As a fan of the band from the beginning, this proved to be no easy task. With much deliberation and angst, this is what I came up with. Bear in mind that this is just one fan of the band’s opinion and not the opinion of the entire staff. Also, with that being said, I’m good with you disagreeing with me, just keep in mind that music is largely subjective, so be nice! Lastly, I’d love to see how you would rank them, so please leave your list in the comments below. Here goes…

 

 

1.     The Beautiful Letdown (2003)

 

Probably surprising no one, this is my favorite overall Switchfoot album, and it’s not close. With “Adding to the Noise” the only track that I skip occasionally, this is a near perfect album in my opinion. “Dare You To Move” wins for favorite overall song with “24” and “Meant To Live” following close behind. “Gone” is pure fun, “Redemption” has some of my favorite lyrics, and “Ammunition” rocks. TBL is a true standout of the genre!

  

2.     New Way To Be Human (1999)

Image result for switchfoot new way to be human icon 

 

New Way To Be Human has been in my car cd binder for many years, so I’ve probably heard this one the most. It’s definitely one of their more mellow albums, but the lyrics of “Let That Be Enough,” “Only Hope,” and “Under The Floor” are top notch. Combine that with the fun of “Company Car,” the driving “Sooner Or Later,” and the grungy “New Way To Be Human,” and you have a terrific album on your hands.

 

3.     Hello Hurricane (2009)

 Switchfoot, Hello Hurricane

 

Hello Hurricane was one of those albums that came along at just the right time when I needed it. The first four tracks rival the best opening quartet of the bands albums with the U2-esque of “Needle Haystack Life” and the guitar laden “Mess of Me,” offset by the beautiful ballad, “Your Love Is A Song.” Other highlights for me are the driving “Free,” the triumphant title track, and the soulful longing of “Red Eyes.”

 

4.     Where The Light Shines Through (2016) 

Switchfoot, Where The Light Shines Through 

 

At first, I was disappointed with Where The Light Shines Through, but with time it really grew on me. The tracks I revisit most often are the buoyant “Float,” the frenetic “If The House Burns Down Tonight,” the fun “Bull In a China Shop,” and the earnest closer “Hope Is The Anthem.” If this had been their swan song, it would have been a fine close to the bands career…luckily, there’s more to come…

 

5.     Oh! Gravity (2006)

 

 

Panned by critics, I feel like Oh! Gravity is a tremendously polarizing album. Those who like it really like it, and those who hate it, really hate it. I loved it for being different, though I do admit it and Fading West are the ugly ducklings of their catalogue. I love the indie feel to many of the tracks and still enjoy the title track, “Dirty Second Hands,” “Circles,” “Faust, Midas, and Myself,” and “Head Over Heels (In This Life).”

 

6.     Vice Verses (2011)

Switchfoot, Vice Verses 

 

For whatever reason, I don’t come back to Vice Verses much, which seems ridiculous considering the stellar songs in the tracklist. Barn burners like “Afterlife,” “The War Inside,” “Dark Horses,” and “Rise Above It” give this one some good pep. Paired with the experimental “Selling The News” and the trio of superb ballads, “Restless, “Vice Verses,” and “Where I Belong,” many of the songs from this album would make my top twenty for the band overall. It’s a mystery to me why it ended up 6th in my ranking, and yet here we are.

 

7.     The Legend of Chin (1997)

 

 

High nostalgia factor with this one…I love the raw, somewhat sloppiness of this one, a true garage band album if there ever was one. I still remember hearing the first strains of “Chem 6A” on a sampler and being hooked. I raced to my local Christian Bookstore and listened to the rest cementing my “need” to own this one. Only problem was I only had money for one album that day, so I did what any great big brother would do and convinced his little brother that he liked it enough to buy it. Guess who ended up with it? Yeah, and I don’t even remember the album that I purchased that day. (Not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of this story, haha.)

 

8.     Nothing is Sound (2005)

 

 

There’s a few good tunes on Nothing Is Sound, but overall it felt like a bit of a rush from the label to get more marketable songs out there quickly after the success of The Beautiful Letdown. “Lonely Nation,” “Stars,” “Daisy,” and “The Shadow Proves The Sunshine” are the ones I still listen to. I rarely set out to listen to the whole album in one sitting. That being said, it’s not a bad album, it just had the tough task of following up their best so it was bound to disappoint with my expectations so high.

 

9.     Learning to Breathe (2000)

 

 

Learning to Breathe is a good album, definitely a more mature follow up to their debut. This is the album that we first hear a version of “Dare You To Move” that they would slightly retool and re-release on The Beautiful Letdown, which I’m’ glad they did as it was mystifyingly missed this go around. “Learning To Breathe” is my favorite song on the album and would likely make my top twenty songs list from the band. Others from the record I enjoy are “Innocence Again,” “Paparazzi,” “Love Is The Movement,” and “Living Is Simple.”

 

10.  Fading West (2014)

 Switchfoot, Fading West

 

Ranked last because something had to be, Fading West to my understanding was never intended to be a full album but simply a soundtrack to the bands surf/rock documentary of the same name. I’m glad they made it into an official album even if it is my least favorite because it brought us a more pop Switchfoot which was nice for a little change of pace from the band. Favorite songs are “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” and the trio of “Slipping Away,” “Ba55,” and “Let It Out.”

  

Well there you have it…Where did I get it right? Where did I miss it? How would you rank them? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

 

 

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