Saturday, January 07, 2012


     I will probably always best remember Carolyn Arends for her first couple of albums released in 1995 and 1997.  They spawned such marvelous songs as 'I can Hear You', 'Seize the Day', 'Feel Free', and 'New Year's Day.'  Her latest and tenth album is 2009's LOVE WAS HERE FIRST (2B Records) produced by Arends and Roy Salmond. 
     The album begins with 'Be Still' which is bouncy and features horns arranged by Kent Wallace.  The song reminds us of the importance of being quiet once in awhile in our fast-paced society: "My gears just keep on turning/My fears quickly are burning/My faith down to ashes/My hope up in smoke/I fan the flames/And I stand here and choke/'Til I remember if I want to breathe/Then the only remedy/Is if I will/Be still/And know that You are God."  Next up is a subdued version of 'Standing in the Need of Prayer' featuring the vocal touches of The Sojourners, a 3 man gospel group, and Gayle Salmond.  The song contains this confession: "Not my neighbor, not my teacher/But it's me, O Lord/Standing in the need of prayer/Not the deacon, not the preacher/It's just me O Lord/Standing in the need of prayer."  'My Favourite Lie' has Carolyn delivering a great vocal and speaks of being stuck in a spiritual rut: "I am a pilgrim on a dead-end road/Who refuses to go in a new direction/I am a sucker for my favourite lie:/That you don't have to die/To live the resurrection/I don't wanna die to live the resurrection/I am a creature who prefers my cave/To the light of day 'cause it's what I know/And I am a sailor who will not leave shore/There could come a storm/The winds could blow." 
     'Something out of us' is sultry sounding and has Spencer Capier on bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle and vocals.  The tune talks of God's redeeming power: "You made cosmos out of chaos/You made Adam out of dust/You made wine out of the water/You'll make something out of us/You make light shine in our darkness/You make life to conquer death/You make children out of sinners/You'll make something of us yet."  'I am a Soul' is a nice ballad that reflects on our ultimate immortality: "Molecules and atoms/Just like Eve and Adam/Ashes to ashes, dust to dust/Even still I wonder/When we are six feet under/Will that truly be the end of us?.../You have a body but you are a soul/You see a fraction, it's not the whole/I cannot prove it, but still I know/You have a are a soul."  'Willing' is contemplative and paints a picture of one struggling to draw near to God: "The only place that I am filled is at Your table/And still I starve myself day after day/I cannot choose Your will unless You make me able/That's why You say You are the only way.../I'll send the guards away who keep my heart/I'm making space for You, a place to start/Please pull me close to You."
     'Roll It' is victorious sounding musically.  It reminds believers how to conquer guilt and has The Sojourners on vocals: "When your own sin starts to drag you down/And the devil tells you, you are through/Remember Jesus Christ already paid that price/And even now/He's telling you (3X)/You've got to roll it onto God (2X)/He's your provider, protector, your shelter and rock/You've got to roll it onto God."  'The Last Word (Love was Here First)' is mellow for a title track.  It has Spencer Capier on lap steel and violins and declares that God will have the final word in the battles we experience in the spiritual realm: "Bad day on the hillside, or so it seemed/When love was surrendered and nailed to a tree/But the grave came up empty and death was reversed/'Cause love was here first.../A bad day in the garden could not erase/All that was started with original grace/And though we have wandered, we will find if we search/Love was here first."  'According to Plan' is a fine track with a classic Carolyn Arends sound to it.  It testifies to God's sovereignty: "Yes I am convinced we get one guarantee/There's no situation that He can't redeem/When what we meant for harm, He turns into some good/Where our hearts start changing, then it's understood/He's doing the miracles, only He can/It's going according to plan/Yes it's going according to plan."
     'Nothing can Separate' has Carolyn putting all of her faith in God.  Background vocals are done by Roy and Gayle Salmond and Spencer Capier: "Who can say if the trouble comes from/Above or below or the hands of fate/I just pray when the trouble does come/You help us to remember the promise You make/I know-neither death nor life/Not the past nor the present nor/Things to come/No foe-neither depth nor height/Can separate us/From the love of Christ."  'Never say Goodbye' concludes the album.  Steve Bell is on harmony vocals, while Roy Salmond is on percussion, pump organ and toy piano.  The song includes these thoughtful lyrics: "I know when You were here/Whenever You would speak/The lame would walk, the blind would see/Your talk was never cheap/And when the time had come/You said You had to die/But You never said goodbye/You said 'Lo, I'm with you always/Always know that I'm/Making preparations/In a world beyond all time (2X)/Where we never say goodbye.'"
     LOVE WAS HERE FIRST is for those who tire of much of the overpolished pop on Christian radio today.  It is for those who prefer something more honest and artistic.  In the pictures with this project Carolyn looks beautiful, and mature and innocent at the same time.  I'm rating this her latest effort 82%.  For more info visit