Platinum-selling, Dove Award winning recording artist, Mark Schultz, releases his long-awaited, fifth studio album, "Come Alive" on Word Records. One of Christian music's most acclaimed singer/songwriters, Schultz's first new studio album in nearly three years is also his most personal recording to date, inviting listeners to "come alive" through these songs birthed by stories of hope, loss, joy and redemption.
I've been collecting Mark Schultz since his debut self-titled album and his sincere songwriting and pure vocals have always caught my attention. The emotion behind his songs "He's My Son", "When You Come Home", "Letters From War", "Walking Her Home" and "Everything To Me" have all made my regular rotation of my favorite songs of the past 10 years in CCM. "Come Alive", Mark's 5th studio recording, is his crowning achievement in my opinion. From the emotional power behind first single "He Is", a great follow-up to hit song "I Am", to his story-song of encouragement "Live Like You're Loved" and the gospel-choir backed "Love Has Come", this album had me singing along in praise to my God and Savior from start to finish.
Opening song "All Has Been Forgiven" gets this great album going with an upbeat reminder of what it means to live in the freedom of God's grace. That theme continues with the second song "Grace Amazing", another upbeat anthem that could be sung in churches as a great new version of "Amazing Grace". Both songs have solid musical arrangements and signature guitar parts that fans of bands like MercyMe, Remedy Drive and even Coldplay will enjoy, especially the intro to "Closer Than I've Ever Been", which reminded me of "Viva La Vida".
"He Is," the first radio single from "Come Alive", is an expression of this hope that was inspired by the stories of two families battling cancer." Payton Cram was a girl who came to one of my concerts in Michigan with her dad," recalls Schultz. "I was really amazed at her maturity for her young age, even as she had cancer. When the cancer started to get bad, I flew up and spent a day with her and prayed with her and her family. She was a beautiful girl. She was never going to blame God for her cancer. She never asked Ã¢ Why me?' She just always knew there was a bigger purpose in it." During the same time Payton was fighting cancer, Mark learned from his wife, Kate, about a missionary family whose fourth child was born on a Friday and on Sunday they found out the mother had terminal cancer. "The father of the family said, Ã¢ Well, we can't praise God on Friday and curse him on Sunday…We have to trust that He knows what's going on,' and that's when the idea of Ã¢ He Is' was born," says Schultz. "He is, He was and always will be. It's a pretty important message–no matter what kind of rough road you are riding through."
"What It Means to Be Loved," is "the only song I've ever played in concert that received a standing ovation before the end of the first chorus was over," recalls Schultz. Kate was again a source of inspiration for the song: "My wife said to me, Ã¢ Since you are adopted, I think we should adopt kids too. I think we should adopt kids with special needs…maybe someday we adopt kids with special needs that doctors know are only going to live for a year or two,'" recalls Schultz. Here are some of the lyrics: "I want to give her the world / I want to hold her hand/ I want to be her mom just as long as I can and live every moment until that day comes/ I want to show her what it means to be loved. "
"God of Glory" and "Closer Than I've Ever Been" keep the great musical and lyrical intensity going. "God of Glory" is another song that I can imagine singing in church with fellow believers. "Closer Than I've Ever Been" is one of the songs I keep playing over and over with the musical hook and the personal uplifting lyrics. Title song "Come Alive" was co-written with Matthew West and is another highlight. It is sung in the person of God calling out to "Bring your broken heart to me, Lift it up and you will see, That love can make a heart that's barely beating, Come alive, come alive".
As a father of 3 young daughters, I am very moved by the song "Father's Eyes", which is an emotional parallel for me of what it means for my daughters to know that they are loved by their earthly and Heavenly fathers. The album closes as strong as it starts with a story-song of encouragement "Live Like You're Loved" and the gospel-choir backed "Love Has Come".
This is the best overall album by Mark Schultz and one of the top albums of the year. "He Is", "What It Means To Be Loved", "God Of Glory", "Come Alive" and "Closer Than I've Ever Been" are among my favorite songs ever by Mark and I expect GMA award nominations for this great album.
1. All Has Been Forgiven
2. Grace Amazing
3. He Is
4. What It Means To Be Loved
5. God Of Glory
6. Closer Than I've Ever Been
7. Come Alive
8. Live Like You're Loved
9. Father's Eyes
10. Love Has Come
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