The mission of Good Faith Media is to provide “reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.” Our mission leans into the belief that we can find the fingerprints of God wherever we look, as well as in those places we don’t often think to look. This encompasses artistic realms where discerning creators grapple with profound questions about humanity’s purpose, the essence of love and the search for hope and healing, among many others.

With 2023 coming to a close, we asked our team of writers, editors and contributing correspondents to reflect on the music they found especially meaningful this year. The following is a list of their selections. 

Jaimee Harris: Boomerang Town

In an interview with Good Faith Media, Jaimee Harris said she wanted to create music videos for three songs from her 2023 release “Boomerang Town.” Eventually, she realized all the folks she hired to write and direct them were fellow songwriters. The primary result of this is a handful of thoughtful, artistic renderings of Harris’ stellar singing and songwriting abilities. But an unintended consequence is that many of the songs have found second and third lives on YouTube, as the algorithms take over and people find her work by happenstance. 

The songs on the album are so beautiful they will undoubtedly have far more than three lives. GFM explored some of the more haunting, religion-informed songs in its December interview with Harris. For a brighter angle, listeners will want to check out “Missing Someone” and “Good Morning My Love.”  – CN

Hozier: Unreal Unearth 

Hozier’s latest release is inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Irish history, mythology and other classical literature. Rolling Stone called “Unreal Unearth” his “strongest effort yet.” The lyrics are poignant and emotional, accompanied by heavenly harmonies sung in Gaeilge. Read more about the album here. — CC


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Weathervanes

Following a mixed reception among fans of his 2020 album “Reunions,” Jason Isbell released “Weathervanes,” his best offering since 2013, when “Southeastern” put him on the radar as one of the country’s most gifted songwriters. “Weathervanes” mines much of the same material as “Southeastern” but does so with a more lived-in ease.

The 2013 iteration Isbell was newly sober and learning the world-creating writing chops he began to receive acclaim for as a member of the Drive-By Truckers could be just as powerful without the assistance of alcohol and drugs.  By 2023 Isbell had a decade of sobriety and marriage, a child and numerous accolades under his belt. These have served as muses for music that, a hundred years from now, will be part of the Great American Songbook. 

Each track on “Weathervanes” could stand out as a song of the year. “Cast Iron Skillet” reflects on the bad advice and tragic consequences that can flourish in small towns. Isbell has never shied away from crucial conversations, which is on display in “Save the World,” where he digs deep into his anxiety about being responsible for a child in a gun-obsessed culture. The rockers “This Ain’t It” and “King of Oklahoma” are reminders that Isbell is as much from the streams of Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers as he is from Dylan. 

“White Beretta” will be a must-listen for listeners with backgrounds in evangelical faith. In it, he recalls a time as a much younger man when his girlfriend chose to terminate her pregnancy. It is as much a reflection on his own trauma with the church as it is about abortion. He sings to her, “Raised in the Church/ Washed in the blood/ And we were all saved before we even left home/ I thank God you weren’t brought up like me/ With all that shame and certainty/ And I’m sorry you had to go into that room alone.”

Every Isbell album since 2013 has had to live up to “Southeastern” with his loyal fanbase. With “Weathervanes,” there may be a new standard-bearer. – CN

NF: Hope

NF, a Christian hip-hop and rap artist, is known primarily for his song “Let You Down.” His newest album presents music focused on authenticity and mental health, centering on topics other Christian artists push aside.

By creating a genuine and vulnerable image, NF discusses themes such as hope, feelings and OCD. He stretches the boundaries of what are accepted topics in Christian media, connecting to a younger audience that struggles with the same neurodivergent dilemmas. – DM

Joy Oladokun: Proof of Life

Joy Oladokun, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, grew up in Arizona and was raised in the Church of the Nazarene. After high school, she moved to California to study theology in hopes of becoming a worship pastor. She quickly discerned that her being a queer woman would probably stifle this dream and moved to Nashville, where she has received accolades as a promising young singer-songwriter.

In “Proof of Life,” Oladokun speaks to the anxiety that is palpable all around us. “Was a baby during the LA riots/ And I’ve seen cities burn again/ Cried for the innocent a thousand times/ And people still don’t understand,” she sings in the track “Changes.” Yet like all great protest singers (and Nazarenes), she knows the power of spirit to enact transformation. Throughout the 12 songs on her sophomore album, most notably in the stellar final track “Somehow,” she gives listeners permission to hope. – CN

Semler:  Night Aches

Semler’s latest EP is full of everything their listeners have come to expect from them:  some rock, reflections on love lost, and their experience of what it means to connect with Jesus as a queer Christian. The first three songs explore the ups and downs of friendships and romantic relationships, some of which Semler has grieved since coming out. The fourth song, “Faith,” reached #1 on the Christian iTunes charts on June 29th, just in time to finish out Pride month. The final song invites listeners to reflect on what it means to “Be Like Jesus” when many Christians seem bent on ignoring Jesus’ central teachings about caring for our neighbors. – KCF


Kali Cawthon-Freels, contributing correspondent

Callie Chisholm, creative coordinator

Craig Nash, senior editor

Delaney Metcalf, intern and Good Faith Media contributor

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