Saturday, January 28, 2012


     Don Francisco has been writing and performing quality Christian songs such as 'Jehoshaphat' and 'Steeple Song' for decades.  Don's latest effort LET IT RIDE (2009, Crack O' Noon Music) continues his tradition of quality songs.
     The title track is the lead off track and features Mike Banta on organ.  It is a Gaither type sing-a-long song about laying down our burdens: "Let it ride on the promise/Of the One Who's always true/Let it ride on believin' that/He's going to see you through/Let it ride on the shoulders/Of the man Who died for you/Just roll it all on Him and then let it ride."  'The Desires of Your Heart' has an innocent feel to it, like early era Love Song.  Don calls it a song about good news.  Some of the lyrics are: "It's a narrow road, my friend/It's the way to trade your old heart in for one that never dies/Where fadin' hopes can live again and dreams can fin'lly fly/Delight yourself in the Lord/And He will give you the desires of your heart (2X)/The heart you'll get from Jesus is spotless and brand new/With the good stuff that was buried by the old one shinin' through/Forgotten seeds'll flourish where those livin' waters flow/In the gentle hands of Jesus all your life will start to grow."  Of 'The Goal is the Journey', Don writes: "The presence of Jesus is your final and unchangeable destination.  You can enjoy the trip when there's no doubt of that."  The lyrics elaborate on Don's thoughts: "Because of My vindication/You'll forget all the shame/And when I turn round your fortunes/You'll worship My Name/Stay away from the highway/From the crowds on the road/From the engines of labor/From the strain of the load/Turn aside to the footpath/To the way of the wise/Where the goal is the journey/Peace is the prize/The goal is the journey/Peace is the prize."
     'Freeze-Dried Life' includes bluesy guitar licks and minces no words when it comes to the dangers of religion: "The blind keep leadin' the blind/The sheep keep stumblin', fallin' down behind/Chewin' the crud that they're all bein' fed/Starin' at the backsides of each other's heads/Like a cheatin' lover who's deceived you and lied/Then calls you names 'cause you ain't satisfied/Well, if you stay and deny what you know to be true/Man, you deserve whatever happens to you."  "My Heart's Pastureland' includes touches of harmonica.  It was written for Don's cowboy friend who had just turned 60, and contains these down to earth lyrics: "In these hard rocky mountains I'll make my last stand/Somewhere in the sunset southwest of Cheyenne/The air in the Rockies right after the rain/Gives peace to my soul and erases my pain/The herd out before me and the reins in my hand/I'm in my blood's country and my heart's pastureland."  'Nehemiah's Song' is one of Don's epic biblical story songs and runs almost seven minutes long.  It is an absolutely wonderful song, featuring Mike Banta on electric guitar, that tells the Old Testament story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall after the Israelites had been in exile: "Now the wall we built was massive, seventeen feet wide and strong/Forty feet from top to bottom, and well over two miles long/Because the pow'r of God was magnifyin' everything we'd do-/The days from start to finish, they were only fifty-two/Then the priests and all the singers and musicians from their towns/They all came up to Jerusalem to make a loud and joyful sound/And two great choirs went marchin' four abreast upon that wall/Singin' songs of joy to the Lord of Hosts, givin' glory for it all."
     Don wrote: 'The Letter He Wrote' about a letter he once received from a minister: "The letter he wrote me was seething with hatred and rage/It's a wonder the handwriting didn't set fire to the page/Threatening slander, then ending by calling me names/If the devil himself sent that letter, it'd have been much the same/But I'm sorry to say that a minister put down those words/Reacting to hearing the Gospel that he'd never heard."  Don concludes: "All I can do is commit him to God and to prayer/That one day he'll find his way out to the light and the air."  'It Will Be Worth It' is about "being fed up with religious hypocrisy and its salesmen."  Don comes out swinging: "Don't try to get in my pockets/Or tell me how much I owe/Don't wanna hear that I'm guilty-I already know/I won't answer your survey/I sure won't give you my phone/I can't take more religion, I'd just as soon be alone/I swear that I've heard every con game that's come down the line/I've been fooled by a few, but I learned how to read all the signs."  'Without a Key' is a plea from Christ to the unsaved person: "Just let the One Who loves you in/I call your name to come and see/I'm still outside, without a key/Holding all you long to be/Until you open up to Me."
     'The Thinner the Veil' is a ballad which features 16 year old Sarah Holbrook on fiddle.  Don says she wouldn't take pay for her work.  The song includes these encouraging words: "For the temple that one day will crumble/It carries a fire that won't fail/And the flame I set burning forever/Shines brighter the thinner the veil/Because you have known Me and loved Me/I'll honor you all of your days/The angels are charged with your guarding/To keep you in all of your ways."  'While You Sleep' is a ballad that ends the album on the same theme it opened with-laying down one's burdens: "Cares and worries, joys and plans-/Time to leave them in His hands/Trust in Him upon your bed/On His promise rest your head/In His peace lie down and sleep/Through the night His watch He'll keep."
     LET IT RIDE is the definition of a masterful album.  It is quite thoughtful.  Fans of Will McFarlane, folk music, and old country, should give this album a listen.  I'm rating it 89%.  The harmony and background vocals by Don and his wife Wendy are well done.  For more info visit and  I look forward to Don's next project!