Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania.  She is right up there with Britney Spears as my favourite female artist of all time.  She has won 7 Grammys, 11 American Music Awards, 7 Country Music Association Awards, and 6 Academy of Country Music Awards.  Her first three studio albums were TAYLOR SWIFT (2006), FEARLESS (2008), AND SPEAK NOW (2010).  I would cite the latter as my favourite.  It contains such great songs as ‘Mine’, ‘Back to December’, and ‘Mean’.  It served as the soundtrack for my trips to and from counselling when I lived in Flesherton.  Taylor’s latest album is RED (2012, Big Machine Records).  Here I will be reviewing the two disc deluxe edition.

Disc One consists of sixteen new songs and runs 65 minutes and 16 seconds!  A nice pop song, ‘State of Grace’, starts things off and is one of nine tracks Taylor wrote alone.  It contains these lyrics of great depth: “Love is a ruthless game/Unless you play it good and right/These are the hands of fate/You’re my achilles heel/This is the golden age of something good and right and real/And I never saw you coming/And I’ll never be the same.”  The title track, ‘Red’, is a colorful song: “Losing him was blue, like I’d never known/Missing him was dark gray, all alone/Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met/But loving him was red.”  It should be noted that several men who have worked in the Contemporary Christian Music industry appear on this track: Nathan Chapman (acoustic guitar and percussion), Dan Huff (bouzouki, electric guitar), Jimmie Sloas (bass), and David Huff (digital editing).  

I’ve got a feeling that many young gals will be able to relate to ‘Treacherous’, the next song: “I’d be smart to walk away/But you’re quicksand/This slope is treacherous/This path is reckless/This slope is treacherous/And I, I, I like it/I can’t decide if it’s a choice getting swept away/I hear the sound of my own voice/Asking you to stay.”  A terrific pop/rock song, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, is next.  Written by Swift, Max Martin, and Shellback, it speaks of how insensitive a guy can be: “No apologies, he’ll never see you cry/Pretends he doesn’t know that he’s the reason why/You’re drowning (3X).../And I heard you moved on from whispers on the street/A new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be/And now I see, now I see, now I see/He was long gone when he met me/And I realize the joke is on me/Hey!”

‘All Too Well’ is a co-write with Liz Rose.  It is a delightful song that talks about heartbreak: “There we are again in the middle of the night/We’re dancing round the kitchen in the refrigerator light/Down the stairs, I was there/I remember it all too well/Well maybe we got lost in translation/Maybe I asked for too much/But maybe this thing was a masterpiece/Till you tore it all up/Running scared, I was there/I remember it all too well/And you call me up again/Just to break me like a promise/So casually cruel in the name of being honest/I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here.”  ‘22’ has a party sound to it.  It reminds me vocally and musically of Ke$ha and offers a glimpse into the mindset of many a young lady: “Yeah, we’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time/It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.”

Next up is a wonderful ballad, ‘I Almost Do’, that shows a vulnerable side of Taylor: “I bet you think I either moved on or hate you/Cause each time you reach out, there’s no reply/I bet it never ever occurred to you/That I can’t say hello to you and risk another goodbye.”  ‘We are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, co-written with Max Martin and Shellback, has to be tied with Carly Rae’s ‘Call me Maybe’ as the catchiest song ever!  Taylor sings the following sweetly: “I used to think that we were forever, ever, and I used to say ‘Never say never’.”  Then in her sexy speaking voice she says: “So he calls me up, and he’s like/’I still love you’ and I’m like, ‘I mean this is exhausting/You know, like we are never getting back together, like ever.’”

‘Stay Stay Stay’ is an upbeat country song that would have fit nicely on Taylor’s first album.  Nathan Chapman plays mandolin and Eric Darken plays percussion.  This song reveals that Taylor is looking for much more than a one night fling: “You took the time to memorize me/My fears, my hopes, and dreams/I just like hanging out with you/All the time/All those times that you didn’t leave/It’s been occurring to me/I’d like to hang out with you/For my whole life.”  ‘The Last Time’ features vocals by Gary LIghtbody of Snow Patrol and makes use of an orchestra.  This song is about seeking a permanent reconciliation: “I find myself at your door/Just like all those times before/I’m not sure how I got there/ All roads, they lead me here/ I imagine you are home/In your room all alone/And you open your eyes into mine and everything feels better/And right before your eyes/I’m breaking/No past, no reasons why/Just you and me.”

Despite its title ‘Holy Ground’ is not a gospel song: “I left a note on the door with a joke we’d made/And that was the first day/And darling it was good/Never looking down/And right there where we stood/Was holy ground.”  ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ finds Nathan Chapman on ukulele and is on the quiet side.  It is, as the title suggests, about the end of a human love relationship: “We had/A beautiful, magic love there/What a sad/Beautiful, tragic love affair/In dreams, I meet you in warm conversation/We both wake in lonely beds, different cities/And time is taking its sweet time erasing you/And you’ve got your demons and darling/They all look like me.”  

‘The Lucky One’ reflects on the downside of fame: “Now it’s big black cars and Riviera views/And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you/And your secrets end up splashed on the news front page/And they tell you that you’re lucky, but you’re so confused/Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used/And all the young things line up to take your place.”  An adult contemporary duet co-written with, and featuring Ed Sheeran, is next.  ‘Everything Has Changed’ is about infatuation: “Cause all I know is we said hello/And your eyes look like coming home/All I know is a simple name/Everything has changed/All I know is you held the door/You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours.../And all I feel in my stomach is butterflies, the beautiful kind.”

‘Starlight’ finds Taylor hopelessly daydreaming to a danceable beat: “I met Bobby on the boardwalk/Summer of ‘45/Picked me up late one night/Out the window, we were seventeen.../The night we snuck into a/Yacht club party, pretending to/Be a duchess and a prince.../Oooh, oooh, he’s talking crazy/Oooh, oooh, dancing with me/Oooh, ooh, we could get married/Have ten kids and teach them how to dream.”  ‘Begin Again’ is a moving ballad that makes use of steel guitar, mandolin, accordion, and B-3 organ, to name a few instruments.  It ends the standard sixteen track edition of the album on a hope-filled note: “And you throw your head back laughing/Like a little kid/I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny cause/He never did/And I’ve been spending the past 8 months/Thinking all love ever does/Is break and burn and end/But on a Wednesday in a cafe/I watched it begin again/You said you never met one girl who/Had as many James Taylor records as you/But I do.”

Disc Two contains the bonus tracks and runs 25 minutes and 21 seconds.  Swift and Liz Huett perform backing vocals on ‘The Moment I Knew’.  It is a sorrowful song: “What do you say/When tears are streaming down your face/In front of everyone you know?/And what do you do when the one/Who means the most to you/Is the one who didn’t show?”  ‘Come Back...Be Here’ is one of my favourites.  It is a co-write with Dan Wilson and uses strings.  It is another great sad song: “Taxi cabs and busy streets/That never bring you back to me/I can’t help but wish you took me with you/And this is when the feeling sinks in/I don’t wanna miss you like this/Come here, come here”  ‘Girl at Home’ is a fine song that serves as a warning to a two-timing fellow: “Don’t look at me/You’ve got a girl at home/And everybody knows that/Everybody knows that/Don’t look at me/You’ve got a girl at home/And everybody knows that/I don’t even know her/But I feel a responsibility/To do what’s upstanding and right.”  Original demo recordings of ‘Treacherous’ and ‘Red’ and an acoustic version of ‘State of Grace’complete the second disc with a more intimate feeling.

I recommend RED to fans of well executed contemporary pop and country music.  I do wish Taylor would have included a couple of rock songs to add even more flavour.  The photos of Taylor reveal a beautiful fashion model.  Taylor is maturing into an elite group of singer-songwriters whose music will far outlive themselves.  She is a true talent with substance and poise!  I’m rating this deluxe edition of RED 93%.  For more info visit and

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


The Beach Boys formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California.  They released their first album, SURFIN’ SAFARI, the next year.  Initially the group was comprised of brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine.  They have had thirty-six US Top 40 hits and fifty-six Hot 100 hits, including four number-one singles.  I have been a fan since my childhood.  On December 16, 2011 it was announced that Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks would reunite for a new album and fiftieth anniversary tour in 2012.  When they performed at the 2012 Grammy Awards it was their first live performance with Brian since 1996!  On June 5, 2012 the Beach Boys released their twenty-ninth studio album THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO (Brother Records).  It was produced by Brian Wilson and executive produced by Mike Love.  It was the first to feature guitarist David Marks since 1963.  This album reached #3 on the Billboard 200.

‘Think About the Days’ is a brief, beautiful piece that features the Boys harmonizing, kind of like they’re warming up.  ‘That’s Why God Made the Radio’ is the pleasant, easy listening lead single with Chad Cromwell on drums.  It should not be taken to be a literal theological statement: “Feel the music in the  air/Find a song to take us there/It’s paradise when I/Lift up my antennae/Receiving your signal like a prayer/That’s why God made the radio/That’s why God made/So tune right in everywhere you go/He waved His hand/Gave us rock and roll/The soundtrack of falling in love/Falling in love/That’s why God made the radio.”  ‘Isn’t it Time’ finds Jim Peterik on ukulele and percussion.  This song has a Caribbean feel to it and is about rekindling romantic passion in a relationship: “The good times never have to end/And now’s the time to let them happen again/And we can have ourselves a blast/The good times they aren’t only in the past/Isn’t it time we danced the night away?/How about doing it just like yesterday?/Every time I think of you/All of those things we used to do/Remember those nights we spent just you and I/Little did we know how the time would fly/Isn’t it time?”

‘Spring Vacation’ is a strong track that is about the group’s latest reunion: “As for the past, it’s all behind us/Happier now, look where life finds us/Singing our songs is enough reason/Harmony boys is what we believe in/Some said it wouldn’t last/All we can say is we’re still having a blast/Spring vacation/Good vibrations/Summer weather/We’re back together/Easy money, ain’t life funny/Hey, what’s it to ya?/Halleluia.”  ‘The Private Life of Bill and Sue’ is a great story song.  It is a tongue-in-cheek look at our obsession with celebrities that ends with this radio report¨”Bill and Sue/Stars of the once popular reality show/The Private Life of Bill and Sue/Were reported lost at sea today/Along with their camera crew/While filming an episode on vacation in Catalina Island/Skeptics speculate that the once popular duo/Whose ratings have been tumbling since leaving the network/Actually faked their demise.”  ‘Shelter’ is one of several tracks where Jeffrey Foskett lends vocals.  This track which includes the use of trombone and harpsichord, speaks of spending intimate time with one’s romantic partner: “Shelter from the sunlight/Shelter from the cold night/Just where I wanna be/Baby just you and me/Staying at home/Summertime/Take a few calls/Make a little love/Thank God for shelter.../Do you ever still think of me/And the way that we used to be/When the world was just you and me/Hanging out in our shelter?”

‘Daybreak Over the Ocean’ was penned by Mike Love and includes some vocals by Christian Love, Hayleigh Love, and Adrian Baker.  This soft ballad is a plea for a lover to return to his or her partner: “Will my love be returning/Like the sun to brighten up my life?/And as day breaks over the ocean/Moonlight still on the sea/I pray the waves gentle motion/Will bring my baby back to me/(Bring back) Won’t you bring back/(Bring back) Bring my baby back?”  ‘Beaches in Mind’ has an appropriately carefree, laid back sound to it.  It finds the Beach Boys young at heart: “Southbay surfing again/Haven’t been this way in I don’t know when/If I have my say we’ll be back again/Where the good times never end/We’ve got beaches in mind/Man it’s been too much time/Not a care in the world is where I wanna be/With the surfers, sand, and the sea/We’ll find a place in the sun/Where everyone can have fun.”  ‘Strange World’ has Michael Rhodes on bass and Gary Griffin on accordion.  It begins with one of the heavier Beach Boys lyrics: “On Santa Monica city pier/We watch the people who gather here/The uninvited who’ve lost their way/And now we’re all here to stay/And it’s a strange world/There’s nothing to it/Strange world/I’m getting through it/Strange world/Thinking it over/It’s a strange world after all.”

The last three songs are thought to be a PET SOUNDS and SMILE inspired suite.  ‘From There to Back Again’ makes use of tack piano, flute, violins, and cello.  Strings are arranged by Paul Mertens.  Lyrically it deals with the ups and downs of a love relationship: “Why don’t you run away and spend some time with me?/On this summer’s day/There’s nowhere else I’d rather be/Why don’t we feel the way we used to anymore?/There’s a place along the way/That maybe we could stay/Listen to the waves at my front door.”  ‘Pacific Coast Highway’ is about aging while on this journey we call life: “Sometimes I realize/My days are getting on/Sometimes I realize/It’s time to move along/And I wanna go home/Sunlight’s fading and there’s not much left to say.”  ‘Summer’s Gone’ was penned by Brian Wilson, Jon Bon Jovi, and Joe Thomas.  It’s about the passage of time: “Summer’s gone/It’s finally sinking in/One day begins/Another ends/I live them all and back again/Summer’s gone/I’m gonna sit and watch the waves/We laugh, we cry/We live then die/And dream about our yesterday.” 

In the liner notes for THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO one finds these words: “After 50 years The Beach Boys want to thank their families, friends, and of course, all the fans.”  This latest effort from the group is a decent one, but truth be told, there are only a handful of memorable songs on it.  While the harmonies are second to none, what is missing is lyrics about pretty girls, fast cars, and surfing; all of which one thinks of when hearing the name The Beach Boys.  The mellow tracks far outnumber the faster paced ones.  This project is more suited to listen to while sitting on your porch sipping a cooler in the evening, than for cranking up at a beach party.  I’m rating it 80%.  For more info visit

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


2011’s DO IT AFRAID presented Elizabeth South as an inspirational pop/worship artist somewhat akin to Twila Paris.  Her website says the following about her newest effort I LOVE YOU which was released in 2012: “This album is different than the rest of Elizabeth’s albums, being inspired and dedicated to the elementary students she teaches.  It’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, with songs based in some of the top 40 styles today like Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum.”

The album begins with ‘Superstar’, one of seven written by the duo of Elizabeth and album producer and former White Heart guitarist Billy Smiley.  On this song Elizabeth sounds like Alanis vocally.  It is musically very much inspired by Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’.  The lyrics speak to the fact that we were each created uniquely and with great potential: “Don’t need your name in lights to know what you’re worth/Let the light shine in you until it bursts/Don’t be just like all the rest/Just stand out and shout it out/Don’t have to be a Superstar/To show the world just who you are/You only have to be just you/Just believe in what is true/Don’t have to be a Superstar/It’s not the size of fame but the size of your heart.”  ‘Undone’ is a pop song that I could hear Miley Cyrus covering.  It contains these words of vulnerability: “Can’t wait forever/Have you left me here alone?/I can feel the tears/Rolling down my face/Ever closer, ever further/Lost in time and space.../Will you love me as I am/Abandoned and alone?/There’s no more time to waste/To find my way back home.”

Elizabeth wrote the bad-ass electric guitar driven rocker ‘Kiss Hello’ alone.  It pictures the day this beautiful princess finally meets her prince: “You’re the one/You’re the one/I’ve been waiting my whole life for/You’re the dream/The dream/The one that I’ve been praying for/When we finally meet/I’m gonna give you a kiss hello.”  Elizabeth was married in 2006 but it was annulled.  In an interview with Christian Music Zine’s Joshua Andre she said: “Several years have passed.  I have found it harder and harder to find the right guy to love.  So this song is my hope and prayer.”  The song she is referring to is the title track, a bona fide country duet with twenty time Grammy winner Vince Gill.  Those who like the purity message of Rebecca St. James’ ‘Wait for Me’ will appreciate these lyrics: “I love you/Even though I’ve never met you/I’ve prayed for you/That you’ll come my way.../I’m saving all the best of me/With no regrets/I do believe/Hurry now it’s getting late.”

‘Change’ was penned by South, Smiley, and Mark and Jill Boliek.  It is a wonderful song in the new country vein of Taylor Swift that talks about the incredible power of our thoughts and actions in shaping our destinies: “Grab the wheel and let it take you/To where you feel alive/Whether you can or you can’t/Or you will or you won’t/That’s where you’ll find what you will be/Whether you win or you lose/Or you try or you fail/Just be the change you want to see/If you think you can or you can’t/Or you will or you won’t/That will decide what you will be/Whether you win or you lose/Or you try or you fail/Just be the change you want to see.”  ‘Waiting’ is a song she wrote with her brother Mark.  It dates back to 2005.  This version features harmony vocals by Christine Dente of Out of the Grey.  The words have Elizabeth pining for love: “I am waiting/And it’s only a matter of time/And I know it won’t be forever/Everything is going to be fine/When I’m close to you/My thoughts are sublime.”

A mesmerizing techno/dance cut ‘Fascination’ is next.  It finds Elizabeth head over heels for a guy: “It’s like infatuation/The spell of you/Is it a fixation/This allure of you?/Is this my destination?/I’ll see it through/This fascination/I’m caught up in this moment/Don’t know if this is real/Or my imagination/This fascination/Is it love or captivation?”  You’ll think you’re hearing Alanis singing a Christian song when you give ‘Let Love Shine’ a spin!  It is the most spiritual song on the album and is a song that exalts humility: “I wish we all had freedom/I wish we all could think/Without tearing each other down/No matter what we believe/I don’t have all the answers/I can’t begin to preach/No, I’m not perfect/Just forgiven/And loving is what I’ll be.../Shine like the stars that are up in the heavens/Shine like a beacon and show the way/Let love/Let love/Let love shine.”

I first heard ‘Don’t Give Up’, a Madonna-like dance number, on DO IT AFRAID.  It is a song of encouragement for the disheartened: “You’ve got that cynical look/You’ve lived by the book/You wonder if love has passed you by/Don’t believe all the lies/Don’t compromise/You simply got to renew your mind.../Love will keep you running/Always keep you turning/Love will keep you yearning/Don’t give up/Don’t you ever give up.”  ‘Never Too Late’ is another great dance track.  Elizabeth says: “It deals with my frustration with the music business and being told I’m either too old or can’t do certain things because I’m not on a label.”  The lyrics to this album closer are ones of both optimism and determination: “I’m not waiting around for anything/Sometimes you have to do it on your own/Won’t let you hold me back/Can’t dream too big/It’s not a mistake/I’ll get up/I’ve got music to make/It’s never too late/I won’t back down/No matter how hard you push me down/It’s never too late/I’ll beat the odds/It’s mine to take.”

Growing up Elizabeth was influenced by the likes of Julie Andrews, Led Zeppelin, U2, White Heart, and Les Miserables.  Her love of musical diversity, vibrancy, and creativity, comes through loud and clear on I LOVE YOU.  These ten songs are contemporary and relevant.  She also has a voice that is nice to listen to.  Teen girls looking for great music with a good moral message need look no further.  Someone please sign this girl!  I’m rating I LOVE YOU 90%.  Elizabeth looks amazing in the accompanying photographs and three music videos included with this deluxe edition.  Being a Christian and being fashionable at the same time is very much possible.  For more info visit

Thursday, March 07, 2013


Carman Dominic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey.  He became a Christian at an Andre Crouch concert.  Carman’s first album was 1980’s GOD’S NOT FINISHED WITH ME.  The next year he was invited to tour with The Bill Gaither Trio.  Over the years he has released some truly great albums including 1989’s REVIVAL IN THE LAND, 1991’s ADDICTED TO JESUS, and 1993’s THE STANDARD.  His latest offering is ANTHEMS OF A CHAMPION (2013, Sparrow Records).  It is essentially a greatest hits with four new recordings of old favourites and one new song. 

‘Great God’ one of four songs from THE STANDARD starts things off.  On this track Carman has vocal assistance from Dale Thompson of Bride, Ashley Cleveland, and Music City Mass Choir.  This rock anthem describes many of God’s unique characteristics: “God holds up the universe/God sustains the soul/God exalts and God puts down/God is in control/God’s glory is eternal/God is love and grace/God knows all, sees all, is all/God is to be praised/He’s a great God, a righteous King/Ruler over everything/He’s a great God, we will proclaim/Honor and glory to his name.”  ‘Mission 3:16’ musically should be the theme song to an intriguing spy movie!  This song is lyrically in accordance with  Jesus’ Great Commission: “He did not come into the world/But to save us/He came so He could set us free/Not enslave us/Freely we received/Freely we must give/The message of salvation to live/Yes to live/We’re on, we’re on, we’re on a mission/And we’ll go/Where the brave dare to fly.”

The beautiful song of praise ‘Serve the Lord’ is from 1993’s THE ABSOLUTE BEST.  It was produced by Canadian icon David Foster who has also produced for the likes of Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston, and Shania Twain.  This song finds Carman testifying: “I believe the Son of God/Was crucified upon the tree/Laid within a borrowed tomb/Not far from Calvary/I believe He rose up from the dead/Alive for all to see/That is why all the more I will serve Him/I have made my decision/I have staked my claim/I have drawn a line in the sand/And I’ll not be ashamed/With the world behind me/And the cross before/By the grace of God/I will serve the Lord.”  ‘Who’s in the House’ finds Carman putting his cool on and rapping: “When He’s in your life you want to dance, dance/We’re kickin’ it for Christ/Dance, dance, we’re kickin’ it for Christ/Ya’ll tell me who, who, who, who, who?/Tell me who’s in the house? J. C. (4X)/Jesus Christ is in the house (2X)/Jesus Christ, He’s in the house today.”  George Cocchini plays guitar and Phil Madeira the organ.

‘A Witch’s Invitation’ one of Carman’s signature talking story songs is up next.  The song appropriately features eerie instrumentation.  Carman receives a letter from a male witch, Isaac Horowitz, inviting him over.  Carman’s first instinct is not to go, but the Holy Spirit tells him he needs to go and witness.  Isaac’s house has pentagrams, horoscope signs, a Ouija board, and a dungeons and dragons game.  Isaac brags of everyone he’s cured and cursed and asks Carman: “What can your God do?”  Carman warns him “The time will come when you’ll be lying in bed wheezing like a dying animal and those spirits lay claim to the rights they own to your soul.”  Carman goes on to say that he is bought with the blood of Jesus and that his name is in the Lamb’s book of life.  Nervously Isaac asks Carman to leave.  Carman ends this tale with a bit of humour: “Next time think twice before you rumble with a man of God!/And by the way, thanks for your uhh…witch’s invitation.”



The quirky ‘No Monsters’ was co-written with Tommy Sims and is from 1995’s R.I.O.T.  This song is about taking authority over the forces of evil: “Don’t want no monsters in my house tonight/Don’t want no monsters in my house/You won’t get me screamin’/You’re nothing but a demon/It’s time for you to go now/I am a temple of the Holy Ghost/And I’m protected by the Lord of Hosts/Get out in the Name of Jesus Christ/I don’t want no monsters in my house tonight.”  A new recording of ‘I Feel Jesus’ featuring Hope Loftis is next.  It is a reverent song of worship: “I feel Jesus (3X)/I feel Jesus in this place/Yes my soul does burn within me/I feel Jesus in this place/I feel Jesus (2X)/I feel Jesus in this place.”

Another new recording follows.  ‘Radical Suite’ is comprised of two songs that both have a groovy sound.  ‘That’s my King’ declares who Christ is: “The Bible says/He’s King of the Jews/King of Righteousness/King of Glory too/He’s enshrined as sovereign King in every way/He’s King of the Heavens/Of the ages and more/He’s King of all Kings/And Lord of all Lords/Now that’s my King/And I wonder does anybody know him today?”  ‘Radically Saved is a song that shows Carman is proud and strong in his faith: “Jesus Christ is Lord/And God’s still on the throne/There is power in the blood/And I’m saved to the bone/If the devil comes against me/He’s gonna feel some pain/I can bind him, bruise him, cast him out/By the power of Jesus’Name/No longer on the outside/On the inside I now stand/I’m sold out/The whole route/Completely born again/I believe on the third day/Jesus rose from the grave/The world thinks I’m crazy/I am just radically saved.”

Carman wrote the words and music to ‘America Again’, while Michael Omartian provides the underscoring.  This song is quite a monumental undertaking and is part spoken word, part singing.  Lyrically, it laments the drifting away of the U.S. from Christian values and morals: “But something happened since Jefferson called the Bible the cornerstone/For American liberty then put it in our schools as a light/Or since ‘Give me liberty or give me death’, Patrick Henry said/Our country was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ/We eliminated God from the equation of American life/Thus eliminating the reason this nation first began/From beyond the grave/I hear the voices of our founding fathers plead/You need God in America again.”  This song is most definitely not politically correct.  It takes aim at pornography, homosexuality, and premarital sex.  While Carman does not do so in a hateful manner, one wonders if he couldn’t have exercised a bit more compassion in his delivery.

Music City Mass Choir and Christ Church Youth Choir appear on the next song ‘Sunday School Rock’, while Dan Huff plays guitar.  This song has a cheery old school rock and roll feel to it with a sing-along chorus: “I love Jesus (I love Jesus)/Yes I do (Yes I do)/I love Jesus (I love Jesus)/How ‘bout you? (How ‘bout You?)/I love Jesus/Yes I do/ I love Jesus/How ‘bout you?”  A new recording of an emotional golden oldie from 1984, ‘Lazarus Come Forth’ follows.  It begins with Christ speaking: “I am the resurrection and the Life/He that believeth in me/though he were dead/Yet shall he live.”  What hope-filled words!  The majority of the song is about Lazarus’ experience in the afterlife where a testimony meeting breaks out.  Abraham says God gave his barren wife a child.  Solomon was granted wisdom.  Job was healed.  Jonah was given a second chance.  Daniel was saved from lions.  “The Holy Ghost hit King David/He just started to dance.”  As Lazarus is testifying of all he’s seen the Lord do, he is dramatically called back to earth by Jesus!

‘Addicted to Jesus’ is a funky hip-hop song featuring DC TALK.  It speaks of how people are addicted to TV, booze, and drugs, and offers an alternative: “Stand tall, stand tall, stand strong, stand strong/Say it loud, say it loud, say it long/Bust the devil up in pieces/Get alive with God/Addicted to Jesus.”  A remake of Carman’s best known story song ‘The Champion’, which originally bowed in 1985, is next.  It is over seven minutes long and essentially describes a cosmic battle for souls in the heavenlies in the form of a boxing match between Satan and Christ with God the Father overseeing.  God says: “Now here’s the rules.  He’ll be wounded for their transgressions, bruised for iniquities.”  “When He said ‘By His stripes they’re healed’, the devil shook!  He screamed ‘Sickness is my specialty.  I hate that healing junk!’ God said ‘You shut your face, I wrote the book!’”  I love that line!  Satan sneers “You’re dead meat, Jesus, I’m gonna bust you up tonight!”  Jesus says: “Go ahead, make my day!”  I like that line too!  Satan and his demons rejoice when Christ is killed and then are bewildered when He is resurrected!  Carman joyfully ends the song: “Captivity has been set free/Salvation bought for you and me/Cause Satan is defeated/And Jesus is the Champion!”

‘Faith Enough’ from 2000’s HEART OF A CHAMPION is a pop/dance song with a highly inspirational message: “Don’t say it can’t be done/You can do anything with God/There by your side/You’re gonna fly/If you believe tonight/Storm down the doors/Tomorrow is yours/Say it, long as you have faith enough/Pray through the night/You’ll be alright/Say it, long as you have faith enough.”  A new song, ‘The Flag’, ends the album.  If you don’t like the patriotic nature of John Schlitt’s song ‘Faith and Freedom’, you won’t like this song either!  It begins with words from the Pledge of Allegiance and continues: “Red stands for courage/White stands for truth/Blue for perserverance to a call/This flag sends a message to friend and foe alike/That America’s still the greatest land of all…We’re Americans, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

Shortly after releasing ANTHEMS OF A CHAMPION Carman announced he is currently fighting myeloma cancer which is incurable.  He says: “I will not leave this world quietly and I want the devil to know that he put cancer on absolutely the wrong Italian.”  This latest collection of songs, some updated to sound more contemporary, is a good way to introduce this talented and varied artist to a new generation of listeners.  It is also a great nostalgia trip for long time fans.  If you are looking for music to help you in spiritual warfare this is an album for you.  I’m rating it 90%.  For more info visit and