Monday, December 12, 2011


     I had the privilege of seeing Ron Moore live in concert in Tillsonburg, Ontario in 1987 when I was just thirteen.  At that time I bought his DAUNTLESS cassette tape and I played songs such as 'Givers and Takers', 'Master Plan', and 'The Road Forever' over and over on my stereo.  Fast forward to 1998 and Moore released MYSTERY on Airborn Records.  Of his music career he recently wrote to me: "Musically, I have always done crossover albums.  Even though they credit me with naming Contemporary Christian Music, I have always felt more comfortable on the boundaries of that genre.  It seems the calling for me is to not only write and share music with the faithful, but also general market audiences, full of seekers and lost folks."  MYSTERY benefits from the capable guitar talents of Ron Moore, Colin Sapp and Randy Gancarz.  It has a fuller sound than say 1991's CHANGE THE WORLD. 
     Ron also talked to me about his faith journey: "MYSTERY is the first album I produced during a musical and spiritual transition.  Spiritually, my Methodist pastor became Eastern Orthodox, and respecting him highly, I studied and visited, and was happy to find a body of Christianity that has not (and will not) changed from the earliest Church; liturgy from the 5th century, full of Scripture, and reverence, along with the depth of teaching from the early church fathers who gave us the Nicene Creed, and with the Holy Spirit gave us the canon of Scripture (The Bible) we hold so dear."
     MYSTERY begins with 'Horeshoe Bay' which has a very accessible sound to it and contains these playful lyrics: "Climb the hill to the chapel/See the lake stretched out below/I 'baptized' you in the fountain/You turned around and you 'baptized' me...I remember we took that walk in the rain/Like school kids off on a holiday/Laughing and splashing in the stream/I replay that memory/It's a healing dream."  'Let's go Shopping' is a satirical look at America and benefits from Ron's harmonica playing: "Three inches from being born/Another baby is aborted/Thirty million killed in the U.S.A./In the world 150, 000 a day/Let's go shopping/Let's go to the malls/Hey, let's go shopping/Before the axe falls/Now comes this ape from Babylon/He says he has all of your answers/He will promise you your promised land/If you take his mark upon your forehead or your hand."  'The Wrangler' is a catchy story song: "Late one night/A lady scared to go out/I walked her to her car/And got her all loaded in/She handed me a ten/I said 'No thank you Ma'am/When you got nothin's/When it's most fun just to give...Someday I'll stand in Heaven by some rich man/He'll turn slowly and say/You had it better than me."
     'Storm' is very creative and has John Cassidy utilizing some unique sounds, including the doombek, woodblock, chimes, and a cymbal dipped in a bathtub while ringing!  The song written in 1985, speaks of a coming storm: "Now this problem's clear to me/One foot in a timeless dimension/The other foot on the street/Things seem all too normal on the surface/While overhead the cloud begins to form/And the storm is just beginning to blow."  'Full Moon in Romania' is another story song and has smooth vocals and nice harmonies: "Terry and Pamela/Leaving suburbia/Went to be missionaries in Eastern Europe/Stopping for border guards/Smuggling Bibles in/Followed around by the securitade/Full moon in Romania (2X)."  'Mary' is easy listening, with Carrie Pierce on cellos, Kat Moore on vocals, and John Cassidy on congos.  This song is likely the most controversial on the album.  Witness the following lyrics: "Gabriel's grand announcement/Mary's own humble acceptance/As you received Him/May our hearts receive Him too/Virgin and Holy Spirit/Mystery and conception/Chosen and willing/Bore the Savior of the world...Theotokos, pray for us (2X)."  'Theotokos' is God-bearer in Greek.  Ron explains the notion of having Mary pray for us: "May I assure you, only the Trinity is worshipped in Orthodoxy.  But Mary is honored for her direct role in the salvation of the world.  Just like we ask friends, and our church to pray for us, we can also ask those who are part of the cloud of witnesses to pray for us too since they are absent from the body, and now present with the Lord."
     'Friends of Mine' from 1980, is the oldest song here.  Ron wrote it for a college friend, Nancy: "Sorry to hear about your trip to the city/I heard you got robbed it's a pity/Bad times, hard things, and all those days/Can change you I hope in not too many ways."  'For the Bride' again has Carrie Pierce on cellos, and is a beautiful song about the Church: "Like a beautiful woman lying on the globe/Like a beautiful woman stretched across the globe/Stronger than the gates of hell (2X)/We are already mystically connected/With Christ in heaven/Where Christ is/There His body is also."  'The Son is Up' from 1991's CHANGE THE WORLD here is re-worked as 'The Sun is Up', a joyous song about Easter featuring tambourine and bass drum: "The sun is up, the sun is up/No more darkness, no more fear/The sun is up, the sun is up/The sun is here/There's a sound of running feet/There's a loud voice when they meet/There's a stone that's rolled away/A stone that's rolled away."
     Two live tracks are up next.  First is Moore's 1983 classic 'Kooties' which is "in celebration of love, marriage, and family."  It is a light hearted song: "Then one day in the lunch line/Right by the mystery meat/She asked me about the new giblet stew/I spilled jello all over my feet/She grinned at me with her friendly eyes/I felt all funny inside/I thought 'If this is what kooties can feel like/I'll let them come for a ride'."  Ron ends the tale with the two sixteen year olds dreaming: "Both of us wanted to know/If ten years from then we'd be married/With children all over the floor/Raising the new generation/To spread kooties around by the score."  'Jamie's Blues' is the second live track.  It is a seriously well performed blues jam that runs over eight minutes.  A twelfth, unlisted track called 'Window on the Wall' concludes this project.  It has Ron singing: "Prayers and incense rise around the rafters above/Angels, martyrs and heroes/Come and surround us."
     I asked Ron who his musical influences were.  He wrote: "I really wasn't looking for a replication of anybody's sound or style.  In my early years I played a lot of Neil Young, and people say I sound like him.  Others would be Beatles, Tom Petty, Sting, Steve Miller, Crosby Stills and Nash, Bruce Cockburn, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Beach Boys, David Wilcox, and Jimi Hendrix (And 20 more probably)." 
     MYSTERY is a strong, current sounding album from one of CCM's pioneering artists.  If you enjoy skillfully performed pop and rock music be sure to check out Ron's website at and like him on Facebook as well.  I'm rating MYSTERY 90%.