Friday, November 25, 2011


     Clay Crosse achieved great success in 1994 when he won New Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards.  His songs such as 'I Surrender All', 'His Love is Strong', and 'Saving the World', were all over Christian radio.  Following a personal battle with pornography, he and his wife Renee founded the ministry Holy Homes which aims to strengthen marriages and families.  For a time, Clay also led worship at a church in Tennessee pastored by the late Dana Key of DeGarmo and Key fame.  The good news is Clay is still making music.  He describes EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT-AN AMERICANA COLLECTION OF HYMNS AND SUCH (2010, HolyHomes Music) as his "countriest offering yet."  I would agree.  I would also note that Clay's vocals are softer and quieter overall than on previous efforts which had him belting out notes like Michael English.  Clay sounds like a completely different artist here and the new formula seems to work.  The unmistakable talents of industry vet Phil Madeira permeate the album.  He plays acoustic guitar, piano, organ and dobro.
     The album begins with 'There's Power in the Blood' written by Lewis E. Jones.  It is a song of triumph with a campmeeting feel to it: "Would you be free from Your burden of sin?/There's pow'r in the blood, pow'r in the blood/Would you o'er evil a victory win?/There's wonderful power in the blood/There is pow'r, pow'r, wonder working pow'r/In the blood of the Lamb/Yes, there is pow'r, pow'r, wonder working power/In the precious blood of the Lamb."  The title track is next.  It is a traditional black spiritual and includes fiddle by James Pennebaker: "Ev'ry time I feel the Spirit moving in my heart, I will pray (2X)/The Jordan river is chilly an' cold/It chills the body but not the soul/There ain't but one train upon this track/It runs to heaven, Lord it comes right back."  'How Great Thou Art' has an upbeat, old country feel to it, and marvels at God's plan to redeem fallen humanity: "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing/Sent Him to die/I scarce can take it in/That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing/He bled and died to take away my sin."  'In the Garden' written by C. Austin Miles in 1912, is mellow, and depicts an intimate relationship between God and man: "And He walks with me/And He talks with me/And He tells me I am His own/And the joy we share/As we tarry there/None other has ever known."
     The next couple of tracks are two of my favourites.  'From Depths of Woe' is a ballad written by Martin Luther and Luke Smith.  It features the pretty background vocals of Myla Smith, and has Clay crying out to God: "From depths of woe/I raise to Thee/The voice of lamentation/Lord turn a gracious ear to me/And hear my supplication."  'Gotta Serve Somebody' was penned by Bob Dylan in 1979 and was previously covered by Mesa in the CCM market.  It has a funky, groovy, sound with strong background vocals by Ann and Regina McCreary: "You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride/You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side/You may be working in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair/You may be somebody's mistress/May be somebody's heir/But you're gonna have to serve somebody/Yes, you're gonna have to serve somebody/Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord/But you're gonna have to serve somebody."  'O Sacred Head Now Wounded' finds Clay accompanied by Phil Madeira on piano and somberly reflects on Christ at Calvary: "O Sacred Head now wonded, with grief and shame weighed down/Now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thine only crown/How art Thou pale with anguish/With sore abuse and scorn!/How does Thy face now languish, which once was bright as morn."
     'That's Enough' by Dorothy Love Coates is upbeat and finds Clay having church: "So many times I didn't have a dime/Didn't tell nobody but the Lord/He heard my plea, He came to see about me/He's my all in all/You push me down, Jesus picks me up/Sticks by me when the goin' gets tough/I've got Jesus and that's enough."  'Just a Closer Walk with Thee' acknowledges God as Protector and Keeper: "When my feeble life is o'er/Time for me will be no more/Guide me gently, safely o'er/To Thy Kingdom's shore/To Thy shore."  'I Need Thee Every Hour' written by Annie S. Hawks and Robert Lowry in 1872, falls into the easy listening category, and is a song of humility: "I need Thee every hour, Stay Thou nearby/Temptations lose their pow'r when Thou art nigh/I need Thee, oh, I need Thee/Every hour I need Thee/Oh bless me now my Savior/I come to Thee."  The album closes with the modern hymn 'Wonderful Merciful Savior' written by Dawn Rogers and Eric Wyse in 1989.  It is a grateful song of worship given a country touch, which I quite enjoyed:  "You are the One that we praise/You are the One we adore/You give the healing and grace/Our hearts always hunger for/Oh our hearts always hunger for."
     I recommend EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT to fans of Bob Dylan's "Saved" album, Larry Norman's "American Roots" album, Elvis Presley's gospel work, old country, and the Gaither Homecoming series.  I'm rating it 85%.  Clay Crosse has reinvented himself on this project and I'd love to hear a sequel to it.  His vocal creativity is to be applauded.  For more info visit or