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 www.elizabethsouth.com.