Various Come O Spirit: Anthology of Hymns and Spiritual Songs Vol. 1

It's always a risky proposition to incorporate Christianity into secular music forms, and few artists have done it well. This project, instigated by producers Isaac Wardell and Mason Neely, takes the novel approach of recasting ancient hymns as modern folk pop, and the results are never less than engaging, no matter your beliefs. It helps that the pair received vocal assistance from Damien Jurado, Rosie Thomas, David Bazan, Denison Witmer and others appropriate for the lush, string-laden arrangements of most tracks. The hand of Sufjan Stevens seems ever-present in the album's overall construction as well, even though he only directly contributes to closing track "He Never Said A Mumblin' Word." This isn't a soothing album in the way most gospel music is or attempts to be ― these are performances that are often crying out for salvation, making Come O Spirit sound all the more unnerving upon first listen. It's hard to imagine this album being played in churches, as its creators seemingly desire. Then again, it can't be bad for anything to inspire someone to take a look at Jesus' words and judge for themselves what they mean. (Great Comfort)