20 Soul-Shaping Songs You Should Be Listening to Right Now
(Originally posted and modified from my post on Catholic Beer Club Blog.)
Looking for some new tunes that are good, true and beautiful? Look no further.
Most of these songs are in the indie/folk genre; some are oldies but goodies worth rediscovering; some are new finds.
1. Tow’rs — “Helm” (and the rest of the album)
This song is about letting go of trying
to control the storms of our lives — and how those very storms, the
circumstances we don’t want, are the things that bring us new life.
“We were waiting like sailors for the edge of the land/taming my life with the ropes in my hands/We thought it so bitter, dark clouds taking clear skies/turns out the rain gave us life.”
But really, you should listen to the entire album, “The Great Minimum.” It’s named after and inspired by G. K. Chesterton’s poem, if that tells you anything about its brilliance.
2. The Oh Hellos — “Dear Wormwood”
The more you listen to The Oh Hello’s, the more you learn about life.
This is one of my favorites off their new album, and it’s based on C.S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters. Basically, the song is addressed to the devil and shouts the truth that we do not belong to him.
3. Strahan — “Feel the Night”
Strahan is an Australian worship artist,
but not your typical one. He’s especially gifted with his hauntingly
This song is about trusting the Lord in our darkness and praising Him in the midst of it.
4. Mat Kearney — “Heartbreak Dreamers”
This is a really different style from
everything else on this list, but Mat Kearney is one of those
“Christian” artists that broke into mainstream radio because nobody can
ignore how good it is.
These lyrics, though:
“This is for the nighttime cereal eaters and the retired elderly Walmart store front door greeters/shake the dust/…for the two year olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God/shake the dust…for the ones who are forgotten.”
5. Amber Run — “I Found”
This song is just purely beautiful. No words are necessary here. Just listen. You’re welcome.
6. Gospel Whiskey Runners — “Hold On”
An oldie, but so good.
“When you call out my name/I won’t just run away/sail across the oceans blue/but I keep sailing home to you/Hold on.”
7. The Hunts — “Make This Leap”
They’re like the folk version of the Von
Trapp family: a group of seven siblings that all play several
instruments and harmonize like nobody’s business.
8. Josh Garrels — “Benediction”
Josh Garrels has been around for a while,
but his latest album is just as good as the old! This is a song he
wrote as a lullaby and blessing for his kids. No big deal.
“As the days unfold/hold your breath to see/life is a mystery/And joy, it is severe, when the way is rough and steep/love will make your days complete.”
9. Ben Rector — “Fear”
Ben Rector is probably the most joyful
man I’ve ever seen perform live, and though this song deals with the
heavier subject of fear, he finds joy in that struggle.
“I remember who I was/And I learned to dance with the fear I’ve been running from.”
10. Rend Collective — “Finally Free”
What do you get when you combine folk
musicians from Northern Ireland with worship music? Sheer, sheer
delight, I tell you. It’s as good as it sounds.
“Your mercy rains from heaven/like confetti at a wedding/and I am celebrating in the downpour/your heart is wild with color/like a never-ending summer/…my soul cries out, holy, holy/my heart is lost in your beauty.”
11. Roo Panes — “Know Me Well”
His lyrics are poetry. His arrangements are beautiful. This is one of those rare artists that few people know about, but when you discover him it’s life-changing. He doesn’t know Jesus, but his songs are definitely about Him. This song in particular shows the beauty of how God sees us.
“Well you know me with that ancient gaze, strip me down with yesterday’s eyes/ you know me as I was, you see me as I will be/…when I think upon my past, I see I loved you many years before you came/ …and you saw what I could be, please teach me how to be what I was made to be.”
12. Judah and the Lion — “Sweet Tennessee”
These guys are such a good time! Little bit of bluegrass, folk, and in their newer stuff a touch of hip-hop. I’m not quite sure what this music video is about, though. But it’s quite good.
13. Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors — “American Beauty”
A touch of folk, bluegrass and soul that makes for a well-rounded listen.
14. NEEDTOBREATHE — “Multiplied”
Lots of people already listen to NEEDTOBREATHE, but their latest album is a grand slam. Most people know the song “Brother,” but this song’s beauty is way overlooked.
“Your love is/like radiant diamonds/bursting inside us/we cannot contain/…God of mercy, sweet love of mine/I have surrendered to your design/may these sufferings stretched across the sky,/these hallelujahs/be multiplied.”
15. Gregory Alan Isakov — “Honey, It's Alright” (but really, every single song of his ever produced)
If you don’t already know this guy, you should just go ahead and probably listen to every single one of his songs. Okay? Great.
This song is about being okay with our brokenness.
“It’s alright/it’s alright to be alone/to be amongst the rubble and stone.”
16. Native Sibling — “Carry You”
This is one of those beautiful songs that apply both to human relationships and our relationship with God.
“I see where you’ve been, stuck in your doubt/I know where you are and I’m coming to bail you out/engulfed in your sin, and what you have known/I know where you are and I’m coming to carry you home.”
17. Austin Basham — “All is Well”
Newly discovered for myself, this song is
about the beauty of proclaiming the truth that “all is well” when the
storms of your life are raging.
“Don’t stop the skies, let them rain, let them pour.”
18. Penny and Sparrow — “Rattle”
This song is about the back and forth within our hearts in our relationship with God. Just listen and let it sink in. Just too deep for words. (But truly, go listen to every single song on both of their albums.)
“I’m no good at waiting/on any kind of talk, at all, from you to me each day/And I’m sorry, I’m so sorry/I never can quite seem to pull my weight.”
19. Joe Gil — “Woodblock”
An oldie. But so much of a goodie. This song is about knowing our own need for God and giving Him control of our lives.
“I’m begging for some answers/I’m a poor man in need/and I’m searching/I’ve found nothing/I’m a blind man trying to see/I’m a woodblock/praying, please, just carve me.”
20. Joseph — “Eyes to the Sky”
Their harmonies are unreal, and this
sister trio’s debut album, “Native Dreamer Kin” deserves listening on
repeat. This song is about seeing the reality beyond our own struggles
and “lifting up our eyes to the sky.”
“Give me grace and give me peace through this pain and suffering/be a constant fire that drives me higher/burn up the despair that’s been sinking me.”
Check out our Spotify playlist of these songs (plus some others) below!