There’s a lot of music that you wouldn’t know at first listen is pretty profound and deeply Christian in its message. Whether the artists themselves are Christian (some explicitly so, some not), their music speaks to deep truths that become a breath of fresh air for ears tired of Top 40 beats that don’t exactly resound with the true, good, and beautiful.
We present our playlist ‘Truth Bombs, Vol. 1’: twelve songs —some you may know, some you may not and in no particular order— that illuminate some of the truth, beauty, or goodness we experience in life.
Hard Love – Needtobreathe
At first listen, it just sounds like a jammin’ pump up song to listen to while you work out. (I don’t pretend to work out much, but I think it’s a great one to add to that playlist.) But the lyrics go a bit deeper — into the heart of the Christian life, the daily battle of loving and being loved by God and the work it takes to become like Him. It’s “a hard love,” but it’s worth fighting for.
When the wolves come and hunt me down
I will face them all and stand my ground
Cause there’s a fire burnin’ in me
They will see my strength in this love I found.
Sleeping at Last – Sight
Ryan O’Neill of Sleeping at Last is an artist in every sense of the word, from the sound of his music, the profound words he sings and his creative process. While all of his songs are breathtaking, his latest project, “Atlas: Emotions” brings us this gem, a hymn to wonder and beholding beauty in all the places where it makes its home.
“Without assurance, without insurance you believe
Without condition or the promise of heaven
You see the Holy Ghost in broad daylight
And I see the reflection in your eyes.”
Penny and Sparrow – Makeshift
Last year, Penny and Sparrow came out with their second album, “Let a Lover Drown You,” which gently asks, through its songs, what kind of love you will settle for. You know, pop hit material. These guys are hilariously goofy in person, but their music will hit you in the figurative soul gut with the way their songs use the metaphor of romantic relationships to reflect our relationship with God.
“You crown emotion instead of holding me as king
It’s only thin, it’s only pain
It didn’t make or give your name
…I haven’t left, you haven’t tried
I haven’t changed, and I won’t tonight
Sit and talk, stay with me, it’s alright.”
The Anchor – Bastille
Bastille’s not really Christian in their music, but their music is really true, good and beautiful. This song in particular is a cry of hope in the midst of a struggle, a reminder of who God is for us.
Bring me some hope by wandering into my mind
Something to hold onto
Morning, or day or night
You are the light that is blinding me
You’re the anchor that I tie to my chest
Cause when it feels like I’m lost at sea
You’re the song I sing again and again.
Joseph – Whirlwind
If you haven’t heard of Joseph, this is your lucky day. The harmonies of these three sisters are soul-crushingly beautiful, so no song of theirs is a bad one. This song reminds me of Elijah finding God in the whisper, and how that whisper feels like a storm…and it doesn’t hurt that they borrow a bit of Pslam-style lyrics in their praise.
“Have you held the mallots drumming thunder
Or filled the clouds with rain?
Have you opened the skies above you
And seen a desert wake?
Have you given orders to the morning
Or shown the dawn its place?
Can you grab hold of the earth’s four corners
And shake shake shake out the darkness.”
Holly Arrowsmith – Mouth of the Morning
Holly Arrowsmith is a folk singer from New Zealand whose music sounds like a Western painting with peaceful tumbleweeds and the quiet of a breaking dawn, and much of it sounds like a hymn. This song especially.Noteworthy lyrics:
“From the mouth of the morning out poured the dawn
Waking the valley with her silent song
To tell of mercy that’s new with each morning.”
Levv – Arrow
Levv is Audrey Assad’s side projects and usually sounds a bit more on the electro/new-wave pop side than her usual music, and this song is the winner. New tunes from Levv are coming soon, so stay tuned!Noteworthy lyrics:
“I ran from him into the west
He had no fear of death or darkness
Like a lion on the open planes, He pursued
I never saw him coming
He put an arrow in my heart
And I don’t mind it at all.”
Jon Bellion – The Good in Me
If you don’t know Jon Bellion now, you will; he’s going on tour with Twentyone Pilots, another fellow artist whose music style you really cannot define. I won’t bother here. Just know that most of his music is really, really good. Other songs can be explicitly not-so-good, so be warned. But this song is a keeper.
“Your heart’s a vine that I’ve bled trying to climb
Yeah you’re making a ruin of me
Try to survive, keep my spirit alive
Like a knife in the woods
Yeah, you hunt down the good in me
…All of your good is mine.”
Roo Panes – Where I Want to Go
This song came out in Roo’s second album last year, and both albums never cease to amaze me with just how eerily they apply to our relationship with God. This one in particular is a reminder (again) of the Christian journey, how following God takes us to Himself.
“Well I found what I need/In your arms
And there’s nothing for me
Outside your arms
…There’s a sweet disarray
To the way you pave
Oh come on love, call me your own!
Because I know you’ll take me where I want to go…
I don’t need to see the end
To follow you all the way, my friend.”
Tow’rs – Two Sparrows
Tow’rs (for fans of The Oh Hello’s if you’re unfamiliar) has another album on its way soon, but in the meantime, give a listen to their last one, “The Great Minimum.” (Title based on a G.K. Chesterton poem, no big deal.) This song is a beautiful reminder of the care of our Father for us.
“The hound of Zion seeks your heart
And calls for you
…Should you find yourself at sea
The palms of your hands empty
Though the way is steep and turns
Oh there is a heart that burns
and burns for you…
Yet two sparrows in his thoughts
Says the river blood that bought and runs for you.”
James Spaite – Effort
This is a beautiful song about wrestling with the enemy and the fact that we don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. (Older son in the Prodigal Son story, anyone??) It’s a message that we’ll need to hear again and again.
“Slow down, child
You don’t have to work for love anymore
Blood as sweet as honey in exchange for bitter wine
From three nails it flows and it gives me life
A little bag of money and I couldn’t decline
I traded Love for a worthless lie
Things can be restored.”
Flannel Graph – Apple Pie
Speaking of Prodigal Son, this song is about the younger. Another side to the story that we’ll never grow tired of hearing.
“But all the party lights went out
And I was left alone
And the amount of money that I had
Was the amount of love I was shown
And I had nothing…
Oh, I had something…
And I hitchhiked to a town where my dignity had died
And he was waiting
And he ran and kissed me.”
Listen to Truth Bombs, Vol I on Spotify and YouTube:
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