Last year I made a major music change in my life. I realized that I was in a rut. A Contemporary Christian Music rut. Everything I bought sounded the same. Even when I chose the “edgier” artists like Jars of Clay and Caedmon’s Call (watch out! That’s edgy!), it was getting to be all the same. So, I decided to have a break. I still bought Christian music this past year (including Charlie Hall, the newest Jars of Clay, and some good ol’ Fernando Ortega), but I no longer made that my exclusive purchase. In addition to finding some really stellar artists out there, I came to appreciate my old collection again.

But that’s not the point of this post. That’s just the intro.

This is the point: I found some incredible musicians out there that taught me more about grace, God’s purposes, and faith. And none of them are available in your local Lifeway Christian Bookstore. (Of course, I’m using the term “found” in the same way Chris Columbus found America. It was already there. People had already found it. But, it was new to him. And  all of Europe.) These artists I’m talking about happen to be Christians & their faith is important to them, so it naturally comes out in the songwriting. But, I didn’t know that until I listened to them and discovered that in their lyrics. They also talk about all parts of life. And I dig their sound. So, the next time you want to buy a CD or a track on iTunes, I say unto you: Break out of the box! And get one of these CDs.

robinella.jpg    Robinella — Solace for the Lonely

sufjan_illinois3.jpg    Sufjan Stevens — Michigan, Illinios, Seven Swans, and anything else he records (He has now become one of my all-time favorite artists.)

pierce-pettis.jpg    Pierce Pettis —  especially his songs Miriam, Just Like Jim Brown, State of Grace, Song of Songs, & I’ve Got a Hope

I’m not going to give a musical review of each of these artists or their songs. If you find a recording of them to listen to, I think that’s enough.