by Sam Robinson
There’s no doubt that 2013 has been a stellar year for Christian music.
Just a few days ago we announced the Reel Gospel Best of 2013 Readers Poll results, which saw Mars Hill band Citizens take out Readers’ Album of the Year for their wonderful self-titled debut, as voted by Reel Gospel readers.
I have found it such a joy to listen to so many great releases across 2013. I’m very pleased to announce that the inaugural Reel Gospel Album of the Year goes to another Mars Hill band – Ghost Ship – for their debut album The Good King. The album was released in June, and contains eleven beautifully-crafted tracks that focus on Jesus, the King.
The Good King has been a really important album for me this year. It opened my eyes and showed me that Christian music can convey and help explain Scripture in a way that doesn’t take away from the original meaning. It showed me that Christian music can challenge our hearts. And it also showed me that a Christian album can have the focus completely on Jesus. You can mention the Mumford and Sons similarities, the banjo, the melodies, but Jesus is where it’s at.
There are many moments on this record that hit me hard. In the bridge on Mediator, lead singer Cam Huxford yells out: “The man Jesus Christ / Who gave us his life!” – and if you’ve seen the video clip, Cam is shouting it from the rooftop of a Seattle building. Ghost Ship aren’t content keeping to themselves that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
The tracks Orion and Where Were You reflect Job’s cries to God during his suffering, but remind us of God’s sovereignty over all things, including us in the darkest of times. Jude Doxology brings Jesus as part of the Trinity into Old Testament Scripture. Son of David is a retelling of the healing of the blind man in Mark 10, reminding us of spiritual blindness. It’s not just the lyrics and Biblical truth that’s stellar on this record – the musical arrangements are too. The band uses dynamics so well. The organ on Jude Doxology and Holy Holy Holy makes the album even more grandiose.
I think my favourite track on the record is Behold the Lamb of God. It speaks into the character of Jesus in a way that makes you think – yes, Jesus is the Good King! I’ve listened to this bridge a lot but it still has a huge impact on me on every listen:
The God who’s over us; he is here now with us /
The God who reigns above; he is the God who loves /
The God who is our judge; is he who pleads for us /
The God who who gave us life; He is the God who died!
That is what I love about this record. It tells us who Jesus is, what he has done, and how incredible that is.
Although The Good King didn’t take out the Readers Poll for Best Album, I wanted to end this article by sharing with you what one reader who did vote for The Good King said about why it was their pick for best Christian album:
“When I started listening to this album I felt like I was experiencing what real music is (not just Christian music), for the first time in my life. Music, like everything else in this world, is designed to bring glory to God, so I kept feeling this sense that listening to this album was listening to the beautiful proclamation of God’s goodness and glory – the true purpose of music. This album also brings me great joy to hear other Christians talk about their lives with Jesus as King – it encourages me to keep running the race and shows me different facets of life under Jesus’ kingship.”
Congratulations to Ghost Ship for their album The Good King – the inaugural Reel Gospel Album of the Year.
You can catch up on my interview with Cam Huxford from Ghost Ship about The Good King here.