Tuesday, August 31, 2010


     Cheri Keaggy released her third album WHAT MATTERS MOST on Sparrow Records in 1997.  It opens with a bouncy, pop number 'What a Privilege' which features her uncle, Phil Keaggy by way of guitar solo and backing vocals.  The song is about intimacy with Father God: "I'll drink from Your cup/And You can fill it up/I know there'll be enough."  Next up is the title track, a ballad featuring album producer Phil Naish on accordion.  This song is decidedly about priorities: "What matters most/Is how much we love/What matters most/Is how much we give/What would it matter/If we just lived/Without loving our God/Without loving each other?"
     'Overture to Freedom' is a gorgeous instrumental track with Cheri on piano, accompanied by The Nashville String Machine and Concert Master Carl Gorodetzky.  The strings are arranged and conducted by the late Tom Howard.  When I listen to this, I can picture the graceful movements of ice skaters or dancers.  'Freedom Calling' is an inspirational anthem featuring The Soul Children of Chicago.  It shares the essence of the Gospel with these words: "There's only One who can give breath to life/Dead on a cross and then risen alive/So I could know freedom/And you could know freedom/And we could have freedom in Christ."  'Part of Your Story' is pretty and compels the listener to enter into a relationship with Christ: "Can you not sit at my table/We could be the best of friends/If you would just let me in/But you won't/'Cause you don't think you're in need."  Handing the reigns of one's life over to God strongly clashes with much of what today's society says is important and desirable.
     'His Banner over Me' and 'Glory Be' are great, original praise and worship songs.  I recommend this project to fans of Erin O'Donnell, Sara Groves, and early-era Amy Grant.  I'm giving it an 85%.

Friday, August 13, 2010


     Given the creative title of, and the theatrical pictures in the booklet for Mercy Me's latest project on INO Records, THE GENEROUS MR. LOVEWELL (2010), one is led to believe that it is a concept album that tells a story.  This does not seem to me to be the case though.  That being said, some of the songs would fit nicely on a concept CD.
     There are several good songs on this project.  The title track is a pop song, with Beatles influence.  It wouldn't sound out of place on Randy Stonehill's WONDERAMA.  THE GENEROUS MR. LOVEWELL  is about the importance of doing small acts of kindness that benefit others: "He wakes up every day the same/Believing he's gonna make a change/Never wonders if but when/I guarantee he can find a way to reach out and make somebody's day."  'Crazy Enough' is slow and groovy and continues on the same theme: "Call me crazy/But what if we learned to love our brother for nothing in return."  One of my favourites is 'Beautiful', a song for when one is weary and downtrodden.  The message will ring true with everyone from the lonely college girl away from home to the overbooked soccer mom.
     Fans of Mercy Me's more worshipful tunes like 'I can only Imagine' and 'Word of God Speak' are not left out on this latest disc.  'All of Creation', already a Christian radio hit, and 'Only You Remain' will satisfy. 
     The problem with THE GENEROUS MR. LOVEWELL as an album is that there are three or four forgettable songs such as 'Move' and 'Won't You be My Love'.  The latter is similar thematically to Casting Crowns' 'If we are the Body', but is inferior to it.  While a new band might be forgiven this many average songs on an album, Mercy Me has been around the block enough times that expecatations should be higher.
     I'm giving THE GENEROUS MR. LOVEWELL a 70 percent!

Monday, August 09, 2010


     GOD'S POLITICS-WHY THE RIGHT GETS IT WRONG AND THE LEFT DOESN'T GET IT was written by Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, and published by HarperSanFrancisco in 2005.  This book is a thoughtful examination of personal faith and how it should influence one's politics.  Though Wallis writes mainly about the U.S. political scene, the faith principles he lays out can easily be applied to other countries as well.
     It doesn't take long to figure out that Mr. Wallis is not a fan of the Religious Right, represented by suich televangelists as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and Focus on the Family head James Dobson.  He is an evangelical Christian though.  He feels, as do I, that the Religious Right has hijacked American Christianity.  In their version of Christianity, it almost seems like abortion and homosexuality are the only issues Christians are interested in.  Dangerously, this is often combined with a strong support for war as God's means to bring about peace.  Wallis, thus, was not a big fan of President Bush either.  Walllis sees no Scriptural proof that Jesus would support war, especially an unjustified one. Can  you say 'weapons of mass destruction'?"
     The Republicans are not Wallis' only target however.  He criticizes Democrats for not being willing to discuss spiritual and moral issues more openly.  He makes a strong case that neither party is properly addressing to the full the problem of poverty on home turf-this while millions are being spent on war.  Both parties need to tackle the environmental issues of our day as well.
     Wallis believes one can be morally conservative, but liberal when it comes to social issues.  One can support 'civil unions' but not 'marriages' when it comes to homosexuality.  There should be room in both political parties for people who hold these beliefs.  Furthermore, various faith groups in the U.S. must join together to fight for a better America.
     My only complaint with GOD'S POLITICS is that there is a fair bit of repetition when it comes to Wallis' major points.  This should not deter one from reading it though.