Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Favorite Christian Music Projects from 2013

By Bunni Pounds

The last two years, I have released my list of top 10 favorite Christian CDs that came out during the year. I keep getting shocked at the response on the web and people's hunger for good music. My desire is that you find some treasures that take you further in your relationship with Jesus. I don't get a dime for these recommendations. My desire is to just see the Body of Christ grow into maturity and one of the ways we grow is through WORSHIP. 

These projects have truly been treasures to my life.

As a worship leader, songwriter, volunteer Christian music promoter, church planter, and working professional, I love to connect with Jesus throughout my day, study good songwriting, and pray to be led to songs that will bless our church community.

Here are the rules of the game for my list: The CDs/Projects had to have been released in 2013, and they had to be all Christian music (spirit food). 

They are listed in the order of how much I listened to them.
Disclaimer: This year has been really different for me. God has been taking me personally into a new revelation of His heart, His desire for more intimacy, and since we are birthing a new church in 2013, I have had to go deeper in prayer, intercession, and worship. What used to be good Christian music for me has again changed as I have cried out for something deeper. The choices this year definitely reflect that growth and hunger in my own heart.  
So here are the projects that I worshiped with, was inspired by, and sang to at the top of my lungs in the car, at my computer, or around my house -  All released this year in 2013. 

#1 Matt Gilman - Awaken Love

I wish I could describe the impact that this project Awaken Love has had on my life over the last few months. You know the moment when you get some revelation from the Word of God and you try to explain it to someone else, but it comes out like gibberish. That is how I feel to even think about writing about this album.
I had been familiar with some of Matt's music from IHOP-KC and his song Holy from Klaus Kuehn and Kari Jobe's recording of it on Prepare the Way. When I saw that Ed Cash had produced this project for Matt, I had to download it.

I was blindsided! Blindsided by the love of God for my heart, blindsided by a hunger for more of God, and blindsided by songs that were not only birthed in a deep place of prayer, but amazing songwriting and melodies that took me to another level in God as a worshipper.
This is what I have to say about Matt's project- I can probably count on one hand the music projects that have stirred my soul as deeply as this one. If you buy nothing else this year, please support this great man of God and his music (I have already bought so many for Christmas presents). Let Holy Spirit take you to another place in your relationship with Jesus through these songs.
"Just as the deer pants for the water brook so my soul pants for you. I have set my heart on a pilgrimage through the valley of weeping I will go." - As the Deer
"This was the joy set before You, that You would have my heart forever." - Awaken Love
"I am singing over you - songs of deliverance, and I will set every captive free and you will be with me. You are mine." - Every Captive Free
My husband is also addicted to watching Matt's last worship set in the prayer room at IHOP-KC- you can watch and worship with it here.


#2 Daniel Bashta - The Invisible

I have already written so much about this project of Daniel Bashta's. You can read my full blog post here, but I will repeat these few words.
The author of Like a Lion and Pursuit released his sophomore project at the beginning of 2013 and I am praying every time I listen to it that Daniel Bashta's songs make an impact on the Body of Christ in this country and worldwide.

Invisible has remained one of my favorite albums of the year (even though I have a 2 to 3 album a week buying problem). I think I listened to it for a straight month letting the songs go deep into my heart and mind. It is not only great songwriting but has a flow and an "anointing" on it that moves me beyond words and goes to the deepest parts of my heart.
The epic songs, the emotions in Daniel's vocals, and the amazing production by Jonny Macintosh and JT Daly stirs something fresh in me every time I listen - a passion for the real Jesus unclouded by the restraints of religion, a passion for the Body of Christ to be delivered "from every dark disease and every broken dream", and a passion for the Son of Man to come Suddenly so we can Behold the Lamb.
If I haven't motivated you to get this project yet, just GET IT!
While you are at it, get The Sounds of Daniel Bashta as well.

#3 Rend Collective Experiment - Campfire

I love, love, love Rend Collective from Ireland. They are free, fresh, and alive. This LIVE recording around a campfire came out this year after two amazing studio albums - Organic Family Hymnal and Homemade Worship by Handmade People. I didn't think I could love them any more. They proved me wrong. Their new versions of Desert Soul, Build Your Kingdom Here, Alabaster, & Praise Like Fireworks are SO GOOD! They broke these songs down for every small group to be able to worship with them.
You have to experience Rend. Just experience them.

We saw them open for Tenth Avenue North in Tyler last year and they blew us away. Their lyrics are so real, fresh, and their use of acoustic instruments and new sounds is so freeing. I encourage you to experience Rend Collective Experiment if you haven't already. I would rather they tell you their story and the story behind this project, so watch this short video when you have time.

#4 Bryan & Katie Torwalt - Kingdom Come

No one writes to invite the presence of God into a room and our hearts like Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Their amazing songs Holy Spirit, Glorious, I See Heaven and more from their first project, Here On Earth, captured my heart last year, the heart of our community, and others around the world.  As a church, we do so many of their songs and that is one of the biggest complements that I can give them.
This new project Kingdom Come in 2013 is just as amazing. Our family's favorite song is the epic When You Walk into the Room. Mind-blowing second verse on that song is all I am going to say. Just listen to it.

We also love King of All the Earth, Shores, Spirit of the Living God, It is Finished and more.
I love that the Torwalts write congregational worship songs that are unique, relationship oriented, and musically compelling. They are capturing a sound from heaven and we are thankful for their revivalist hearts and desire to see the Body of Christ come into the tangible presence of God for real change to occur in our lives. Thankful beyond words for them.

#5 Jonathan & Melissa Helser - On The Shores

A main staple for this year - this album is another one that has impacted my soul in deep places. Just like Melissa Helser sings in Explode My Soul  "the wind of His Spirit is wiping the dust off my feet".
This married duo - worship leaders and ministry leaders- have a revelation on the Holy Spirit, raising up dynamic leaders, and true intimacy with Jesus. Their hearts come through in every song of this project.
They also put out extended versions of their songs where they just let the recording continue. I have been listening to the extended versions over the last few months in prayer and meditation and I am addicted even more to the deep thoughts of God that are found in the Helser's music.
Grab everything you can get a hold of from these indie artists. Their song Abba on this album has been a life-saver for so many in our community. They are truly fathers and mothers for this new generation of worshippers. I love them and pray I meet them someday!
"Just one drop of your blood, and my sins are gone
Just one thread of you robe, and I'm made whole
Just one glimpse of your face is all I dream of
Just one moment of your favor, is so much greater

You are the One who was, you are the One who is,
You are the One who will always love" - Just One
Download the 2 extended version projects

#6 Kim Walker-Smith - Still Believe

"SPIRIT BREAK OUT!!"  I cry as I listen to this majestic live recording from Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture. This girl blows me away on this project.
Kim's worship vocals are some of the best in the world and this girl knows how to bring people into the presence of God and let Him touch their spirits.
Spirit Break Out was also just chosen as one of the songs on the new Noah movie coming out next March starring Russell Crowe.
I love so many of these songs - Still Believe, Waste It All, The King is Here - let me go on...
Vocals, instrumentation, anointing, great songwriting...above all - presence of Jesus - all of the reasons why this is one of the best albums of the year.

#7 Bethel Music - Without Words

A creative instrumental has filled my life this year in times when I couldn't have lyrics going on in the background. This album by Bethel Music takes their powerful songs and transforms them with different sounds, instruments, and a feel that makes you want to linger with God.
Songs like For the Sake of the World, Come to Me, To Our God, and What Does It Sound Like come alive in a new way through the artists who made this album.
Watch an example of this glorious music and you will be hooked.
This is God, I Look to You on Without Words.
Download on ITUNES

Also check out their current studio album - Tides.

#8 Phil Wickham - The Ascension

Consistent is a great word to use for the ministry of Phil Wickham -  consistently great songs, consistently passionate, and consistently great productions. The Ascension is another great worship album from Phil Wickham - a man who blows me away with his vocals, his guitar playing, and his songwriting.
We just saw him again live at Christ for the Nations in November - just him and a guitar. He consistently commands a room and awakens the hearts of people through his pursuit of God. We also got to see him live this year at First Baptist Dallas with his band.
Our church has already started doing Glory from this album (which is a great congregational worship song) and we were already doing This is Amazing Grace that he co-wrote with Jeremy Riddle from Bethel Church.
The song that takes me over the edge on this project is THIRST.  The haunting music, the over the top vocals, and the passion and hunger in Phil's heart while he sings this song takes my breath away. Worth getting this project just for THIS SONG.
Thankful for this consistent worship warrior. Thank you, Phil, for your heart for the Body of Christ.
If you like Phil on a stage with his guitar - check out Singalong 1 and Singalong 2.
I love these records!
I also just downloaded his brother Evan Wickham's new album - Make Us One. Loving it!

#9 Caroline Cobb - The Blood + The Breath: Songs That Tell the Story of Redemption

I discovered this local Tyler, Texas artist through Facebook posts from other DFW Worship leaders. I downloaded it because it was the songs on the BIBLE and was hooked. Caroline's rich writing and melodies make these biblical songs come alive.

I am of the opinion that not enough songs are being written about the actual Bible and it is refreshing to hear a project like this. It has inspired me in my own writing and Bible study this year.
Going from songs about the Garden to Abraham to the Passover to Jesus...they are all great!

My favorites are All the Stars, The Passover Song (featuring Sean Carter), Everything You've Heard, Wake Up, and From Him, To Him.
We were privileged to host Caroline in August for a house concert and then saw her do a full show at another location this year. We have become fast friends and share similar heart cries for the worship community and for artists in this area. You can read out our house concert here on my blog.
You will LOVE Caroline! Just check her out and be inspired to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

#10 Will Reagan & United Pursuit - Endless Years (Released the end of 2012)

I am putting Will Reagan & United Pursuit at #10 just because their project - Endless Years - was released right after I finished my list last year. (I know...I am breaking my own rules again, but I had to honor this songwriter and these worshippers.)

I am behind the times and just discovered these guys this year - listening to their live house project - Live at the Banks House OVER AND OVER again. This kind of free flowing passionate worship music is where we are as a church community (Reality Community) and Will Reagan and his group of crazy Jesus freaks (I love them!) are the best at it.

How I love Reach for Me, Take Back, Give Me a Song, Set a Fire and so many songs off Endless Years.  There are no words to describe - Live at the Banks House - I am just so in  love with the whole thing.

Thank you, Will and crew - for giving us authentic and free worship.

"I can feel Your heart as You reach for me." - Reach for Me

"It's in the blood of the One who is worthy." - Turn Back

"Sink or swim, I am diving in to the passion of Your heart" - Give Me a Song

Their website:

Download Endless Years on ITUNES (2012)

Download Live at the Banks House on ITUNES (2010)

EP of the Year


Harvest - Curtains

Once upon a time, I heard this angelic voice of passionate pursuit of God. The first time was on Daniel Bashta's The Invisible album singing a song called Deliver Me.

I found out it was his sister, Harvest Bashta (now married - Harvest Grace Parker), and the rest is history.
I found her EP Make Us Ready and listened to her 3 songs over and over again. Singing Make Us Ready at our church solidified in my heart again that God is calling His Body to actively pursuit His presence and life and that I cannot be ashamed of that message.
When Harvest did a Kickstarter to fund this new EP - I was one of the first to sign up.

Haunting melodies, instrumentation, and angelic vocals is the only way I can describe this masterpiece of an EP. She remakes Daniel's Praise the Invisible, remakes her own Make Us Ready and creates some amazing new songs - Dwell, God Demonstrates, Curtains, and Only One.
One of the most incredible prophetic psalmists out there right now - Discover her today!
"There's this man who I see dimly but it's enough to give Him everything." - Curtains
"I was deep in sin, deep in sin, but your love was deeper." - God Demonstrates

Single of the Year


Bethany Stephens - I Have to Know You

How I love this girl, how I love her music, and how I love her heart for Jesus and the Body of Christ.
Now a worship leader at Cross Timbers Church in Denton, Texas, a former Christ for the Nations songwriter and vocalist, this is a girl who will never be content for anything less that the authentic expressions of the heart of Jesus.
"There is much more to Your bride than religion has conveyed..... We are searching for the deeper things of You.... I have to know You, I have to know You, Jesus."
I hope you have enjoyed my top 10 projects of 2013 (plus extras this year - EP & Single)

My top 10 list from 2012 is here.

My top 10 list from 2011 is here.

 **I would love to hear your thoughts - comment, email me at, or follow me on TWITTER.
For information about our house church network in Dallas/Fort Worth - Reality Community, check out our website Come visit us sometime if you are local.


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