Our choices for the best faith-based albums of 2009 ...

LINDSAY WILLIAMS, EDITOR

1. Leeland, Love Is On The Move (Essential)
A picture of social justice was never painted more eloquently.

2. Steven Curtis Chapman, Beauty Will Rise (Sparrow)
You'll cry buckets upon first listen. Beautifully raw; gut-wrenchingly honest; Chapman's best yet.

3. Britt Nicole, The Lost Get Found (Sparrow)
A surprisingly mature sophomore effort that will delight even those naysayers without a penchant for pop with Britt's thoughtful lyrics and catchy hooks.

4. NEEDTOBREATHE, The Outsiders (Atlantic/Word)
They may be outsiders, but this record solidifies their position as INSANE musicians. We're lucky to have them in our circle.

5. Fee, Hope Rising (INO)
This one took me by surprise—great songwriting, strong hooks perfect for corporate worship.

6. David Crowder Band, Church Music (sixstepsrecords)
They even cover a Flyleaf song! Is there ANYTHING Crowder & Co. won't try?

7. Switchfoot, Hello Hurricane (Atlantic/lowercase people/Credential)
The songs are as catchy as they are thought provoking. Say hello to the re-emerging sounds of the Beautiful Letdown era.

8. Phil Wickham, Heaven and Earth (INO)
If this is the direction modern "worship" is headed, count me in.

9. Christy Nockels, Life Light Up (sixstepsrecords)
Nockels proves her voice is still her best asset and one of Christian music's greatest gifts.

10. BarlowGirl, Love and War (Fervent)
The piano intro on "Beautiful Ending" has haunted me for months. The album is a beautiful new direction both musically and lyrically for the more grown-up Barlows.


ANDY ARGYRAKIS, CONTRIBUTOR

1. Switchfoot, Hello Hurricane (Atlantic/lowercase people/Credential)
A return to the socially conscious tones of The Beautiful Letdown that's once again loaded with crossover appeal.

2. Skillet, Awake (Atlantic/Ardent/INO)
Yet another blockbuster that debuted at No. 2 on the entire Billboard charts. For Panheads and newcomers alike, it's a sing-a-long from start to finish!

3. Sara Groves, Fireflies and Songs (INO)
This is her most honest and heartfelt singer/songwriter record to date. She continues to expose her soul and not be afraid to express personal vulnerabilities and fragilities.

4. Relient K, Forget and Not Slow Down (Mono Vs. Stereo)
Catchy, infectious and a crossover hit waiting to happen. This release also marks the band's Christian market debut on its own label.

5. Derek Webb, Stockholm Syndrome (INO)
Instead of a stripped down affair, Webb pulls off an album of fully produced variety that includes old-school soul, jazz and his most diversity to date.

6. Jars of Clay, The Long Fall Back To Earth (Gray Matters/Essential)
A mixture of acoustic rock, straight-up pop, hints of dance and a remarkably relevant lyrical base puts these original crossover luminaries back on track.
 
7. Manic Drive, Blue (Whiplash Records/Bema Media)
These guys are literally dcTalk for the next generation, switching between modern rock, soul and even progressive worship on occasion.