Wednesday, April 13, 2011


     HELLO HURRICANE (2009, lowercase people records) won SWITCHFOOT a Grammy Award this year for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album.  I'm recommending this one to fans of other guitar based rock acts such as Foo Fighters, The Tea Party, Third Day, and Sam Roberts. 
     Several of the songs are about life as a spiritual journey.  'Enough to Let me Go' boldly addresses God: "Do you love me enough to let me go?/To let me follow through/To let me fall for You."  'Mess of Me' is a driving, pulsating song about the struggle a Christian has with their flesh: "The sickness is myself/I've made a mess of me/I want to get back the rest of me/I've made a mess of me/I want to spend the rest of my life alive."  'Free' is about a person who is in trouble but believes in God's power: "I've got my back against the wall/But I still hear the blue sky call/The chains that hold me back inside/Are the prisons of my mind/Free/Come set me free/Down on my knees/I still believe/You can save me from me."  'Sing it Out' is a quiet ballad, nicely orchestrated: "My world is a lie that's come true/And I fall in love with the ones that run me through/When all along all I need is You."  'Red Eyes' is an open invitation for the prodigal to return home to God: "Every now and then I see you dreaming/Every now and then I see you cry/Every now and then I see you reaching/Reaching for the other side/What are you waiting for?"
     Love is a common theme on the album.  'Your Love is a Song' is a ballad with these poetic lines about God's love: "Your love is a symphony/All around me/Running through me/Your love is a melody/Underneath me/Running to me." 'The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)' has a passionate shouted vocal and is an anthem to love and it's relevance in our broken world.  'Hello Hurricane' is more pop oriented (think Newsboys or U2) and is a tribute to the prevailing power of love amidst hard times.  On 'Bullet Soul', lead singer Jon Foreman gets his scream on: "Love is the one true innovation/Love is the only art/Don't let 'em blow it apart."
     'Needle and Haystack Life', the album's opener, reminds us that we are here on this earth with a purpose: "The highs and lows/We call it living/In this needle and haystack life/I've found miracles there in your eyes/It's no accident we're here tonight/We are once in a lifetime."  'Yet' is a ballad about relationship troubles: "It's when you're breaking down/With your insides coming out/That's when you find out what your heart is made of/And you haven't lost me yet."
     HELLO HURRICANE is a highly relatable solid rock record.  I'm giving it a 90%.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


     The Proverbs have been a favourite gospel music group of mine since I was less than half my current age of 37.  In 2008 the group released their nineteenth album in forty-one years, GIVE IT AWAY.  It was also at this time that Karyl Tymciw rejoined the group, joining core members Dave and Kathy Daw, her brother and her sister-in-law. 
     GIVE IT AWAY begins with the upbeat, horn accentuated title track that suggests the only path to true happiness is to give of oneself: "If you want less lonely and a lot more fun/And deep satisfaction when the day is done/Throw your heart wide open and give it away."  'Come See Me' has a slow, country feel to it and is about a person who has a relationship with Christ and wants to share Him with others.  'Power in the Name of Jesus' is a powerful, moving ballad that describes the plight of a young single mother, the imprisoned, a widow, and a church needing revival.  The following solution is offered: "There is power in the name of Jesus/There is hope, there is strength and victory to claim/There is healing in His holy presence/There is power in His Name."  'Ghost in this House' could quite easily be a Carman novelty song.  It speaks of the fact that one never quite knows when and how the Holy Spirit will move: "It's a hidden mystery just when it will take place/But when it does get ready church, this place is gonna shake."  Next up is Loretta Lynn's upbeat country tune 'Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven.'  It reflects on our attachment to this world.
     'It Ain't Over when it's Over' is an happy gospel number that celebrates life eternal: "It ain't over when it's over/When that final day arrives/Oh this body may get colder/But our soul will never die."  'It is Well with my Soul' is given a beautiful acappella treatment.  'Great is our Reward' will please bluegrass fans and has great instrumentation.  It is a lyrical rendering of the parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  'Even in the Valley' is an inspirational ballad.  It is a song for the storms of life: "Even in the valley God is good/Even in the valley He is faithful and true/He carries His children through like He said He would."  'River of Jordan' by Jeff and Sherri Easter is done Johnny Cash style.
     'The Shepherd's Call' is a ballad about the Father heart of God: "Though I went astray/I never once left His heart."  'Walkin' with Jesus' sounds like a Happy Goodman's tune and is about life as a celebration with a sure heavenly destination: "Yes I'm walkin' with Jesus to that land so fair/Saints'll be singin'/Joybells ringin'/When we all get there."  The album closes with 'God Only Cries for the Living' that reminds us when a loved one who knew Jesus passes away, they are at peace.
     GIVE IT AWAY is a solid contemporary gospel project.  The vocals on this record are some of the best the group has ever produced.  If you're a fan of good harmonies, you won't be disappointed.  I'm rating this one a 85%.  For more info on The Proverbs visit .  Also stay tuned to this blog in the coming weeks and months for further reviews of some of their newer product. Special thanks to Dave, Kathy, and Karyl.

Friday, April 08, 2011


     Casting Crowns are a staple on today's Contemporary Christian radio stations.  In 2009 they released UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS on Beach Street Records.  'If We've Ever Needed You' speaks of the dismal state we are in before repenting and turning to God: "You called us out, we turned away/We've turned away/With shipwrecked faith, the idols rise/We do what is right in our own eyes/Our children now will pay the price."  The title track reflects on the spiritual warfare involved in winning souls for Christ: "May the powers of darkness tremble as our praises rise/Until the whole world hears/Lord, we are calling out/Lifting up Your Name for all to hear the sound/Like voices in the wilderness we're crying out/And as the day draws near/We'll sing until the whole world hears." 'Holy One' is a guitar driven, upbeat tune I could hear Newsboys doing.
     'At Your Feet' is a ballad that describes where every Christian should want to be: "Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet/Oh, to dwell and never leave/Jesus, Jesus, at Your feet/There is nowhere else for me/There is nowhere else for me."  'To Know You' describes more of the intimacy at His feet: "To know You is to never worry for my life/To know You is to never give into compromise and/To know You is to want to tell the world about You/'Cause I can't live without You."  'Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)' is a triumphant sounding Easter song, describing why we should want to be at Christ's feet: "Living, He loved me/Dying, He saved me/Buried, He carried my sins far away/Rising, He justified freely forever/One day He's coming/Oh glorious day, oh glorious day."  'Joyful, Joyful' is a playful, creative arrangement of the ancient hymn that would fit nicely into a Contemporary Sunday morning service.
     Three of the tracks fall flat.  'Mercy' and 'Blessed Redeemer' feature one of the ladies of the group on lead vocals.  The songs are standard worship fare, with little to separate them from other worship artists.  They also seem aimed at an older audience than the rest of the album.  'Shadow of Your Wings' finds Casting Crowns trying a Third Day style rocker, but Mark Hall does not have the seasoned voice of Mac Powell to pull it off.  In fact, the song almost sounds like a joke!
     UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD HEARS is a good adult contemporary album for the most part.  Fans of Mercy Me and Michael W. Smith should enjoy it.  I'm giving it a 72%.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


          STRYPER is no stranger to controversy.  Remember they were the ones who recorded TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL back in the day.  On THE COVERING (2011, Big3 Records) they pay tribute to some of the bands who influenced them musically over the years.  Yes, some Christian musicians listen to secular music too!
          There are three songs here that are somewhat controversial.  'Blackout' (Scorpions) contains the line: "What the hell have I lost my taste?" 'On Fire' (Van Halen) includes the following lyric: "Good God y'all I'm on fire." 'Highway Star' (Deep Purple) is about love for one's car and/or girl, and could make some Christians squirm with these words: "I love her/I need her/I seed her/Yeah she turns me on/Alright hold on tight/I'm a highway star."
         At least three of the tracks present life as a journey.  'Heaven and Hell' (Black Sabbath) is over six minutes and is a realistic, somewhat pessimistic look at life: "They say that life's a carousel/Spinning fast, you've got to ride it well/The world is full of kings and queens/Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams/It's heaven and hell, oh well."  'Carry on Wayward Son' (Kansas) is more optimistic: "Carry on my wayward son/For there'll be peace when you are done/Lay your weary head to rest/Now don't you cry no more."  'Immigrant Song' (Led Zeppelin) is about a journey to a new land.
         Tracks nine and ten are story songs.  'The Trooper' (Iron Maiden) is about a fallen soldier: "My body's numb and my throat is dry/And as I lay forgotten and alone/Without a tear I draw my parting groan." 'Breaking the Law' (Judas Priest) is about one who is down and out and desperate: "I've had every promise broken, there's anger in my heart/You don't know what it's like, you don't have a clue/If you did you'd find yourselves doing the same thing too/Breaking the law."  In contrast, 'Shout it out Loud' (Kiss) is a party anthem: "Call all your friends in the neighbourhood/And get the party started (get the party started)."
         The album closes with a STRYPER original, 'God', which paints a picture of how hopeless life is without God.  The chorus goes: "God have mercy on us/For we know not what we do/God, dark and blinded/We are burning/Without You God."  I'm giving THE COVERING a 75% rating.  Those who enjoy STRYPER'S hard rocking sounds and Michael Sweet's signature screams won't be disappointed with this one!