Skip to content ↓

Top Albums of 2003

2003 was a banner year for Christian music. I had a difficult time sorting through the many excellent albums to choose my favorites. After a lot of consideration, four rose to the top. Why only four? Because everyone else is doing top-five lists and I choose to be different!

A quick note about qualifications. It is difficult to determine what constitutes Christian music, so for my purposes the only qualifications for this list are albums that were released in 2003 and were purchased at a Christian bookstore.

  1. Derek WebbShe Must And Shall Go Free. Derek Webb broke from Caedmon’s Call in 2003 and released an incredible debut album. Many albums seem to be written, recorded and thrown together. Webb’s album is crafted. Each song builds on the last and blends seamlessly into the next. He builds around the theme of the church and God’s love for and relationship with His people. Brutally honest, wonderfully crafted, Christian music has rarely sounded this good. I wrote an in-depth album review of this one.
  2. SwitchfootThe Beautiful Letdown. Switchfoot managed to create an album that is powerful, fun and very well-written. Musically the band takes a step forward, further creating their very own niche in a genre full of imitators. There are some good, loud rock songs for the rock crowd and some piano-driven ballads for those looking for pop.
  3. DakonaPerfect Change. Outstanding song-writing, great choruses and lots of guitar make this album special. Most of all, this album is just plain fun! Though it contains only very subtle Christian content, this album qualifies for my “best of” because it was purchased at a Christian bookstore.
  4. Ten Shekel ShirtRisk. Ten Shekel Shirt’s sophomore album finds the band maturing in their songwriting and musical ability. Though there are not any songs on this album that will find their way into the regular rotation in worship services (like “Ocean” and “Meet With Me” from their first album) the songs maintain a strong Christian theme.

Honorable Mentions

  • PetraJekyll & Hyde. This album almost made my top 5 list, but realized that if it were not a Petra album it likely would not make that list. It is a great album that welcomes back Bob Hartman, the founder of the band.
  • David Crowder BandIlluminate. A solid album, but it uses far too many computerized sounds. It is also over-produced compared to the raw, live sounds of Crowder we are used to accustomed on the Passion CDs.

Disappointments

  • TaitLose This Life. After a strong debut Tait takes a step back with this album. The edginess of the first album has been replaced by a more produced, commercial feel.
  • SkilletCollide. I was promised an album that harkened back to their debut album. Instead we got really loud guitars, really loud vocals, really loud synthesizer combining to make a really average album.
  • Stuart TownendLord of Every Heart. I have several versions of the excellent song In Christ Alone. The one Townend chose to release on this album is atrocious. I simply do not understand how he could release such a poor version of such a powerful song.

Looking Forward

2004 looks to be another strong year for Christian music. We can look forward to the long-awaited and oft-rumored Smalltown Poets album, as well as new albums by Pillar, Third Day and Delerious.


  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 20)

    A La Carte: How hell motivates holiness / The bond of love / How to love our friends in truth, even when it stings / The distorting power of the prosperity gospel / Thinking about plagues / and more.

  • A Difference Making Ministry for Any Christian

    A Difference-Making Ministry for Any Christian

    The experience of preaching is very different from the front than from the back, when facing the congregation than when facing the preacher. The congregation faces one man who is doing his utmost to be engaging, to hold their attention, and to apply truths that will impact their hearts and transform their lives.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 19)

    A La Carte: Courageous pastors or overbearing leaders? / Jesus didn’t diss the poor / 8 qualities of true revival / Why don’t you talk about the sermon? / The idol of competence / The danger of inhospitality / and more.

  • Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come At All

    It is something we have all observed at one time or another and something we have all wondered about. Why is it that those who seem most likely to come to Christ so often reject him? Why is it that those hear the boldest invitations and who have the greatest opportunities so commonly turn away?…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (February 17)

    A La Carte: Think you’re immune to adultery? / One of the most hopeful reminders about sanctification / What do we do with dreams and visions? / Have you ever asked your church elders to visit and pray for you? / The neurodivergent believer / Preaching advice for busy pastors / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Open the Bible)

    This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by Open the Bible. They encourage you to enter to win a series of books from Open the Bible and Pastor Colin Smith! Included in the giveaway are: For All Who Grieve by Pastor Colin Smith. Written with compassion and understanding, yet honestly facing the difficult questions that…