Best Albums & Songs of 2018 (So Far)

2018-08-05T23:11:42+00:00

For those who love meaningful, authentic, faith-fueled music, the first half of 2018 has been a banner 6 months. However, it’s not even easy for us to keep up with all the influx of high-quality music, so we know that the average music consumer is likely struggling to know how to wade through all the new releases. We are here to help you find the cream that rises to the top. We have assembled our UTR Critics Panel to nominate the albums and individual songs that won over their ears and hearts in just the last half of year. The result is this list – which is not an exhaustive list – but a great starting place to dive in and rediscover your soul-connection to music!  (These are listed in no particular order.)

[Music qualified for consideration if it was released between 12/1/17 and 6/15/18 and is from a Christian songwriter/artist.]


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BEST GOURMET ALBUMS OF 2018-A

  • Bigger Than Your Box – Joy Ike (“The writing, music, and production here make this a contender for one of the best records of this year“)
  • The Broken Seasons – Adam Whipple (“7 years in the making, but worth it – a superb release”)
  • (I Am) Origami Pt. 2 Every Power Wide Awake – John Van Deusen (“An absolutely gorgeous record of honest longing and devotion”)
  • The North Star – Remedy Drive (“Another extraordinary album inspired primarily by their passion for ending human trafficking”)
  • Resurrection Letters: Vol. 1  – Andrew Peterson (“Expertly handles the death and resurrection of Jesus with poignancy”)
  • Songs From The Valley – Sandra McCracken  (“Sparse, warm, inviting – these songs stand strong without the need for excessive production”)
  • Velveteen by Christa Wells (“These are the most transparent, vulnerable, and authentic songs I’ve heard in quite a while”)
  • Providence  – Phil Madeira (“Among the strongest songs in Madeira’s deep and stellar catalog”)
  • The Table – Ian Zumback  (“Wonderfully written and performed Scripture based songs of life and faith“)
  • AWOL –Kevin Max (“Adventurous but accessible, might be his best solo work yet“)
  • Conversation Hearts –Nick Flora (Thoughtful, fun and full of heart”)
  • Between the Hills – Eufaula (“There’s beauty in the simplicity of her approach to worship”)
  • Bloodshot – The Choir  (“This raw and heartbreaking album hearkens back to the earlier sounds of the band“)
  • Save Me – Liz Vice (“Liz Vice is back with a fully realized and flat-out stunning set of songs”)
  • Crazytalk – Mat Kearney (“Combines hip-hop flavored pop with a songwriter’s soul”)
  • Come To Me – Wendell Kimbrough (“Beautiful interpretations of the Psalms. This is life-giving music”)
  • Evergreen – Audrey Assad (“A soundtrack to the hardest roads on the journey of faith”)
  • Every Seed Must Die – The Promise Is Hope (“Beautiful, simple instrumentation brings out the best here”)
  • The Search – Shawn McDonald (“Dripping with emotion – lyrically and in the arrangements”)
  • Midnight Morning – Hannah Miller (“Miller’s voice and songwriting instincts just keep getting richer and richer”)
  • The Acceptance of And  – Mitch McVicker (“Top-notch – some of Mitch’s best work to date”)
  • Ultraviolet – My Epic (“My Epic consistently releases extraordinary faith based music, and this is no exception”)
  • Moment of Bliss – Katie Herzig  (“Smart & relevant pop that wakes up the tired soul”)
  • Notos – The Oh Hellos (“Foot-stomping celtic folk rock that will get your heart dancing”)
  • When the Light Flashes Help Is On The Way  – Charlie Peacock (“Brilliant & boisterous instrumental offering”)
  • The Venture – Drakeford (“A riveting sophomore release with thought-provoking songwriting”)
  • Slugs and Bugs Sing the Bible Vol 3 – Randall Goodgame (“Clever, creative, fun & enjoyable. NOT just for kids!”)
  • Say Hello – Smalltown Poets (“This melodic rock band is still running strong 20+ years after making their debut”)
  • Blackout – Steffany Gretzinger (“These songs are memorable, personal, and worshipful”)
  • Early Days – Lowland Hum (“It’s only a matter of time until the word really gets out about Lowland Hum”)
  • Psalms, Volume II – The Corner Room (“Superbly composed music for Psalms to strengthen your faith”)
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BEST GOURMET SONGS OF 2018-A

  • “Down Down Low” – Christa Wells (“A playful and catchy reminder to be quiet and listen in turbulent times”)
  • 8:31” – Nick Flora (“This song about the cost of life long love moved me like no other this year”)
  • Is He Worthy?” – Andrew Peterson (“A breathtaking reminder of the truth of Christ”)
  • “Ring The Bells” – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors + Johnnyswim  (“An anthem full of grit”)
  • “Ever Stay” – Joy Ike (“Music close to perfect affirming God’s perfect faithfulness”)
  • “Murderer a Messenger” – Ian Zumback  (“Refreshingly clever and thoughtful twist on expressing our redemption”)
  • “Drawn to You” – Audrey Assad (“Reflects on the lovely light of God that draws us back, no matter how far we wander”)
  • “House on Fire” – Wild Harbors (“An ode to the hard but rewarding work of love”)
  • “Freedom” – The New Respects  (“Soulful verses morph into a power-rock chorus”)
  • “His Heart Beats” – Andrew Peterson (“This is what Easter sounds like – triumphant joy turned up loud”) 
  • “Summer Rain” – The Choir (“Has a perfect melody and all of the things we love about a Choir song”)
  • “One Day” – Christa Wells (“Only Christa Wells writes a song of hope as poignant like this”)
  • “The Year of the Locust” – Andrew Osenga (“Painfully honest, yet resolutely hopeful”)
  • “Revival” – Every King and Commoner (“Exposive blues-rock-gospel music with powerful vocals”)
  • “Crooked Heart” – Ashley Cleveland (“An honest song about our broken selves. Ashley at her songwriting best”)
  • “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way” – U2  (“This meditation on grace is simple and profound”)
  • “Old Friends” – Ben Rector (Oozing with charm and fun, but also full of heart”)
  • “Less Traveled Road” – Ryan Clair (“Old time gospel sound but with singer-songwriter aesthetics”)
  • “76” – Von Strantz (“A fierce anthem with 80s groove, think The Call or The 77s”)
  • “Deliver Us From Evil” – Eric Lee Brumley  (“A vocal performance that has to be heard to be believed”)
  • “Settled Down” – Giants & Pilgrims (“Wonderfully crafted & passionately presented”)
  • “Marjorie” – Andrew Osenga  (“A poignantly beautiful story of grief and healing”)  
  • “Forever Alone” – Nick Flora (“Humorously heartbreaking and instantly infectious”)
  • “Glow” – Brooke Annibale (“Amazing production and one of the coolest arrangements”)
  • “Last Words (Tenebrae)” – Andrew Peterson (“Meditatively simple yet extremely poignant”)
  • “Face of the Clock” – Bill Mallonee (“Bill Mallonee’s songwriting brilliance and chillingly relevant for today”)
  • “Healing On Planet Earth” – Mad At The World (“The lyric on this song could not be more true”)

Be sure to listen to Episode #17 of the Gourmet Music Podcast (available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or this site) for an audio overview of this “Best of 2018A” list – including 17 songs. And like any good “best of” list, these are good discussion starters, so tell us below — (a) What are the songs and albums from 2018(A) that you would have added to this list? – OR – (b) What albums or artists do you plan to dig into after reading this list?

4 Comments

  1. Josh June 29, 2018 at 6:44 am - Reply

    (a) Songs: “Brighter Than Apathy” – Remedy Drive, “She Waits” – The Gray Havens, “Monument” – Wild Harbors
    Albums: Liars – Hidden Hospitals, Give Me the Truth – Dominic Balli

    (b) Kevin Max – AWOL is definitely on my must-listen list. Now I’m curious to hear Lowland Hum.

  2. Mary Helen Christian July 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I have been following Mitchell McVicker since his days with Rich Mullins. The first time I heard The Acceptance of And, I was blown away by the music and the message. It is without a doubt the best work of his career. And, the lyrics challenge the listener to step outside the box and re-evaluate what it means to be a believer. On June 14, 2018, he performed at my church in Roanoke, Virginia. He played a mix of songs from the new album as well as some of his older work. As I was helping him sell CD’s after the concert, The Acceptance of And was flying off the table. Many in the audience had never heard Mitchell before. People cannot stop talking about this album! Very happy to see the album recognized by you.

  3. josh July 3, 2018 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Glad to see John Van Deusen get some love. I agree on Mat Kearney, Kevin Max, The Corner Room, Andrew Peterson, and Smalltown Poets. I have a few here to catch up on. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Vonda July 31, 2018 at 2:59 am - Reply

    I always look forward to you best albums/songs lists. Here is my list:

    Top albums in order
    1. Steffany Gretzinger – Blackout
    2. Chris August – Seasons
    3. Sarah Reeves – Easy Never Needed You
    4. Dave Barnes – Who .knew It Would Be So Hard To Be Myself
    5. Audrey Assad – Evergreen
    6. Paul Zach – God is the Friend of Silence

    Top Songs in no particular order
    1. Brooke Annibale – Glow
    2. Needtobreathe – Bridges Burn
    3. Christa Wells – Down Down Low
    4. Sarah Reeves – Feel the Waters, Something About You
    5. Romantica – Harder to Hear
    6. Dave Barnes – Big Ole Love
    7. Chris August – Moonlight, Delivery
    8. Drew Holcomb/Jonnyswim – Ring the Bells
    9. Kevin Max – Half of the Better One
    10. The Choir – Birds Bewildered
    11. Cory Asbury – Reckless Love
    12. Steffany Gretzinger – Sing My Way Back, Confident, This is the Sound, Blackout, Save Me
    13. Elenowen – You’ll Never Know
    14. Paul Zach – Restire Us Again, I Will Never Leave You Alone

    I wanted to also include Ben Rector – Duo, I Will Always Be Yours, Extraordinary Magic and Matthew Perryman Jones – Anything Goes, but they were released too late for this list. Also Karyn Hawthorne – Won’t He Do It (it was released earlier as a single but is on the new album that just released).

    I have explored your list and think John Van Deusen’s album sounds phenomenal. It has jumped to the top of my wish list. I also want to give Hannah Miller and Andrew Peterson’s albums a more thorough listening.

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