I’ve been marinating this list for a few months and now that Hope’s semester is done I’m excited to share it. It’s truly an homage to the time that I have spent listening, producing, and enjoying indie worship music this decade. Brett McCracken over at the TGC blog has already listed some of our absolute favorites so this list will lean towards the outer rims of the indie worship scene. One notable theme is the presence of collective’s – local groups of artists pooling their talents and resources together to serve the church’s song. They are listed in no particular order and all of them contribute something wholly unique to the landscape of worship this decade.
Wendell Kimbrough – My old pastor Elliot Grudem and good friend naaman wood both introduced me to Wendell around the turn of the last decade. Then somehow I got him to write a worship song for our 2011 Pentecost compilation and the rest is history. His Psalms record (2016) is now a classic and the gold standard for writing congregational worship songs based in the psalms.
The Sing Team – Brian Eichelberger and his crew came through Hope last year on their tour and shared their impeccable album of hymn retunes and arrangements “Sing On” (2017). You can hear Brian’s work across so many of the other great seattle bands (Citizens, Kings K, The Modern Post, etc). Brian, like Isaac Wardell, is one of the individuals that has hovered in the background of so much great music this decade. So grateful for him.
JG HYMNS – Jonathan Green is a striking talent originally hailing from New England (Berkeley grad I think). Now rooted in Scotland he’s been quietly creating evocative remakes of old hymns for the past decade. His release LOTS from 2012 is a masterpiece that shows off a more wild edge to his earlier retuned hymn records, always punctuated by his signature trumpet arrangements.
Urban Doxology – David Bailey’s Richmond, Va based ministries Urban Doxology and Arrabon have been hosting a summer urban songwriting ministry for the past decade and this is the 1st record they released in 2014. Many of these artists have gone on to contribute to The Porters Gate, IAMSON, and a lot of other great music!
Coastland Commons – Another group of artists based in the PW. This record was the genesis of a Calvin worship grant if I remember correctly. It’s a collection of gorgeous sonic textures and textual treatments of Luke 24.
Calvary Creative – Moving down the coast I have continued to enjoy this record by Calvary Church, Costa Mesa. Led by Madison Cunningham and her dad Scott this is a group of top notch writers, and this record explores themes and content that I don’t typically associate with Calvary.
Wes Crawford – What a beautiful community when one artist dedicates a whole album (and kickstarter) to another artist. Wes Crawford, a church musician with residencies in Kansas City and Austin, TX provides 11 interpretations of Redeemer, Indy songwriter Nathan Partain (whom we love as well!) originals and retunes.
Music from the Gathering Church – I was trying not to double over here from the Christmas list but the Gathering Church’s album of hymn interpretations produced by Jeff Crawford is just so good, featuring contributions from a number of notable Durham, NC area artists (Phil Cook, Ryan Gustafson, Mandolin Orange anyone!!).
Deeper Well Records – Another notable collective of artists producing music this decade is Deeper Well Records from Portland, OR. Josh White heads up this work where Liz Vice got her start. c.f. Josh Garrels, etc.
Resound Worship – Jumping across the pond this 2017 record “Songs for Sunday” is a masterpiece of simplicity. Each song is so well written and produced with small church arrangements in mind. Love the work that Joel Payne, Sam Hargreaves, Chris Juby, et al are doing in the UK!
Matt Scott – currently a worship leader in Hilton Head, SC Matt’s 2013 release “Poets & Saints,” while recorded up in Massachusetts is full of southern charm and swagger. The opening track, “Praise the Lord All Praise and Blessing” was a favorite in chapel last year!
Daniel Bashta – While part of the larger Contemporary Worship world (His song “Drenched in Love” shows up on Bethel’s recent album) I have loved some of his solo records so much. Both his “Praise the Invisible” and “Praise the Lord” off of “For Every Curse” have been significant songs for us at Hope…modern worship songs rich in theology and scripture.
Anglican Artists – While not a collective as such, There are a growing number of artists that have been writing and recording fantastic worship music over the past decade in the anglican church. Marty Reardon ( Trinity Anglican), Ryan Flanigan (Liturgical Folk,),Jamie Brown at Falls Church/Truro Anglican, and Tripp Prince| Peter’s Branch Music to mention just a few of our faves! Zac Hicks (Advent Birmingham) and Glenn Packiam could also be on this list!
Anewliturgy – Love this collection of songs, scriptures, and meditations from Willow Creek artist and pastor Aaron Niequist. Their arr. of For the Beauty has been a fave of ours at Hope the past few years.
The Gospel Coalition – Songs for the Book of Luke – This was a really unique project spearheaded by Mike Cosper (Sojourn Music) to crowd source songs inspired by the gospel of Luke. The musicians were phenomenal and it was a surprisingly broad collection of contributing song-writers.