Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Fireflight formed in Eustis, Florida in 1999.  NOW (2012, Essential Records) is the band’s fourth album.  It was produced by Jasen Rauch, a founding member of RED.  Fireflight is: Dawn Michele (vocals), Justin Cox (guitars and vocals), Glenn Drennen (guitars and vocals), Wendy Drennen (bass and vocals), and Adam McMillion (drums).  Of their newest album the band says: “NOW is a call to move beyond your circumstances.  To not accept the way things are because life is difficult or you have been hurt in the past.  It points to God as your refuge who not only provides a place of safety and comfort, but who also challenges you to get outside your comfort zone...to join with something greater than yourself.”

‘Stay Close’ starts things off in great rock fashion and contains these words of one in distress: “Every turn leads me to a new dead end/Lost again, I’m screaming your name/Come close, come close/And call my name/How can you turn your back on me/When you know my pain?/Stay close, stay close/Light up the night/Save me from the part of me that’s begging to die.”  ‘Ignite’ is another rocker.  This one teaches us how to overcome overwhelming forces that are piled up against us: “They pour the shame/Till we can’t stand/The sight of our own face/They pin us down/Till we can’t win/It’s a game we can’t escape/But we don’t have to let them beat us/We can take control/In the flames we find our freedom/Don’t hesitate to explode/Burn the pain inside your soul/Don’t hesitate, let it go/Start a fire, embrace the light/And ignite (start the fire)/And ignite.”

‘Escape’ is a motivational song: “This is our time/We can’t let our fear define us/This is our time/From this nightmare we’re reborn/This is our time/This is our time to escape.../You’re not hopeless/You’re not worthless/You are loved/Don’t give up/This is your time.”  ‘He Weeps’ is one of three songs that lists Ben Glover as a co-writer.  This effective ballad shows God to be ever present and compassionate: “Where is God when she won’t eat/When her bones start to show?/Is He there when she’s lost control?/Where is God when a father/Turns his back on his son?/Can someone tell me what He does?.../He weeps, He weeps with you/He weeps with me/When you’re on your knees and you taste defeat/He weeps, He weeps/He weeps with you.”

‘Keeping Me Alive’ is a light pop/rock number that depicts a God who sustains even in the darkest of times: “I don’t trust You to save me/At least I never wanted to/So I dare You to love me/When I can’t even love myself/Cause I don’t want to feel You/Try to break through to me/Oh, I know I’ve done it to myself/I see that You’re the only One left/Who wants to stay by my side/Your love is keeping me alive.”  ‘Stronger than you Think’ is a fist pumping rocker that seems addressed to Satan, our adversary: “I’m tasting freedom/Something you will never know/Just give up now ‘cause/You will never have control/My life is paid for/So what are you here for?/I’m safe inside the light/So leave me alone, alone.”

‘Prove Me Wrong’ is essentially a testimony: “I thought there was nothing left/I thought all my hope was dead/You brought me to life/Your love’s become the air I breathe/You mean everything to me/I am finally free from the lies.”  ‘Dying for Your Love’, one of the album’s heaviest tracks musically, was penned by Fireflight with help from Rob Graves who has produced for the likes of Pillar and Kerrie Roberts, and Jasen Rauch.  The song speaks of the faithfulness of God: “A ray of light cuts through the night/Fire burning, never changing/You’re the only hope for me/Now I’m awake, don’t want to wait/I’m reaching for You/I know I have to/You’re the only hope for me.../If I run to the ends of the earth You will find me/When I fight You, You hold me more tightly/There is no escape from Your love.”

‘Rise Above’ is a light pop song that encourages us to press on in life: “Can’t give up on second tries/Leave the pride that blinds our eyes/No one taught us how to say goodbye/Now’s the time for broken hearts/Embrace today a brand new start/Leave the past and let love lead the way.”  The title track ‘Now’ is a peppy song of encouragement closing the album: “The clock is ticking/The seconds pass you by as you lie frozen/You are petrified of one more failure/A swing and a miss might break your heart in half/Yeah, I know you feel alone/Don’t let it break your back.../You’re not hopeless, you’re not worthless, no/You are loved, don’t give up now/This is your time now.”

I’m recommending NOW to fans of other spiritually minded, female fronted rock bands such as Inhabited and Flyleaf.  Granted Fireflight’s lyrics aren’t as explicitly Christian as some other CCM bands, but that will probably expand their fan base beyond the walls of a church, which is a good thing for a band that wants to share the hope they have found with one and all.  I’m rating NOW 84%.  For more info visit www.fireflightrock.com and www.providentpress.com.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


‘Glory to the King’ will have you envisioning the greatness of heaven: “A sea, a sea of voices sing/Glory to the King, the King of everything/You’re here, lift up your hands and sing/Glory to the King, the King of everything/Awake, as shadows lift from every doubt/With nothing more to figure out/And no more tears to dry/Awake, to loved ones you’ve so dearly missed/The sting of death does not exist/There’s no more wondering why.”  Peter, Wes Willis, Jason Ingram, and Kevin Huguley wrote ‘Never Ending Love Song’.  It is a techno song of praise: “You are the only One who saves/We’ve all been captured by Your grace/We can’t but look upon Your face/And we won’t turn away, no, we can’t turn away/This is the love song that we sing/And it’s never ending/This is the worship that we bring/And it’s unrelenting.”

‘Matter of Faith’ has a sunny sound musically.  These words remind us that as believers we live this life by faith and not by sight: “We all know and believe/There’s more than what we see/Eternity is deep inside our hearts/So we watch and wait, until that day/When in a flash this world will pass away/Heaven and earth will kiss each other/The sun will rise and light a brand new day/Every knee will bow unto Your Name/All the saints will shout and sing Your glory/As a matter of fact, it’s a matter of faith/It’s a matter of faith.”  ‘All in your Head’ aims to motivate us to action: “And you wait/You save your best for last/And you wait/And then the moment’s passed/Whatcha waiting for?/God’s holding the door for you/Where ya hiding out?/There’s so much more for you.../Get up, get off your seat/Move your feet, just do what He said/It’s all in your head (2X)”.  

‘Closer’ features Steve Taylor and Some Other Band, which includes Jimmy Abegg on guitars and John Painter on bass.  This song with a cool groove to it, encourages us to be watchful for Christ’s return: “Another plague, another war/And the earth shakes some more/Then we’re back to sleeping late/Somebody’s knockin’/My Lord’s got His foot in the door/Wish we’d all been ready for/Oh, oh, oh, oh, something’s coming (2X)/Oh, oh, oh, oh, don’t you want in?/Oh, oh, oh, oh, something’s coming.”  ‘Faster and Louder’ proves that Furler is still young at heart: “Slower and softer it goes/Only your lazy boy knows/It sneaks up behind you like sin/The devil, he just wants your spirit/So long, my soul longs/Fast songs, joyful joyful/I wanna make some noise/I wanna cause a stir/Faster and louder/We know what we know/We won’t take it slowly/Kids let me hear you scream/If you concur/Faster and louder.”  Andy Hunter helped with the creative programming on ‘Psalm 23’.  The biblical passage here sounds ready for a Christian nightclub.

‘Hold On’ is a song of encouragement: “If you feel you’re at the end/And your light is fading out/The walls are caving in/Remember deep inside of you/There’s a hope beyond the fight/There’s a faith to pull you through/Just believe, I know you’re gonna make it/Don’t let go.”  The album ends with the pleasant pop song ‘Greater is He’.  It features former Newsboy Phil Joel, and also includes Peter’s dad Bill Furler reading Scripture.  The song reminds us that with Christ we can overcome any difficulty we may be facing: “Surrounded by forces too strong for us/Pressed hard on every side/We don’t look to the left or the right for help/It comes from inside/And we don’t fear the flame/We won’t fear our enemies/And we don’t fear what is to come/’Cause the battle’s already been won/Greater is He that is in us/Than He that is in the world (2X)/Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Point of Grace released their self-titled debut as a quartet of ladies in 1993.  Ten years later they put out a collection of 24 of their number one hits including: ‘I’ll Be Believing’, ‘The Great Divide’, ‘Circle of Friends’, and ‘Wonder of it All’.  Fast forward to 2010 and the group was now a trio consisting of original members Shelly Breen and Denise Jones, joined by Leigh Cappillino who had been with the group since 2004.  2010’s NO CHANGIN’ US won the group a Dove Award for Country Album of the Year.  Their latest effort is A THOUSAND LITTLE THINGS (2012, Word/Curb).

‘Good Enough’ is one of three songs that Cindy Morgan is a co-writer on.  This upbeat country pop song offers solid advice to those who feel their plate is too full: “Upside down and inside out/I think you know what I’m talking about/Oh, my perfect world’s turned into a mess/It’s like you’ve fallen in the dirt in your Sunday dress.../When everything is too much/That’s when you just gotta trust in the way He loves.”  Mike Payne plays electric guitar on ‘Heaven Knows’.  On this song the ladies admit some things are beyond their understanding: “Heaven knows I wonder/Why bad things happen/To really good people/Like airplanes crashing/It’s hard to imagine/There’s a reason for that/And heaven knows I stumble/It don’t make any sense/Why cancer took my daddy/Even though he never smoked a cigarette/Where’s the justice in that?”

The breezy title track ‘A Thousand Little Things’ has Bryan Sutton playing acoustic guitar and mandolin.  The song finds the ladies grateful for life’s blessings: “My life is overflowing/Every dawn I’m thankful for/A thousand little things (2X)/Moments of Your mercy that every new day brings/Sky goes from black to blue/And I’m silenced by the view/I’m hearing ‘I love you’ in a thousand little things.”  ‘Only Jesus’ is an inspirational ballad written by Christa Wells and Nicole Witt.  I like these down to earth lyrics: “A first love teenage heartbreak/A child that’s never found/A family loses everything when their house burns down/An addict hits rock bottom/A couple calls it quits/A doctor tells his patient he’s only got three months to live/What kind of water can soothe like rain?/What kind of heart can heal this kind of pain?/What kind of love can comfort us?.../Only Jesus.”

The quiet number ‘What I Already Know’ with Michael Boggs on acoustic guitar and Tim Lauer on organ, is up next.  This song reveals a faith that is real and includes struggle: “You said You’d never leave me, You’d walk right by my side/But right now all I feel is alone/Cause I can’t see Your angels, watching over me/Oh, but Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so/I don’t need some mountain moved for me/Or some miracle to behold/All I really need is just a little more faith/To believe what I already know.”  One of the co-writers of ‘Might Be Today’ is Jill Paquette.  This song has a joyous sound musically and speaks of the value of perseverance when one’s circumstances suck: “Things can change in an instant/Gray clouds run out of rain/It’s just a matter of time till it happens/Hey, might be today (2X)/So just hold onto Him/He’s holding on to you/There’s nothing so wrong He can’t make it right/If life has taught me anything/It takes you up and drives you down/You hold on tight and ride it out.”

Southern Gospel fans will appreciate ‘Wash me Away’ written by Ian Eskelin, Nicole Witt, and Tony Wood.  It is about old fashioned, but much needed repentance: “I’ve grown tired/Tired of the person I’ve become/The choices I’ve made/The selfish things I’ve done/Oh, I’m going down to wade in the water/Far too long been a wayward daughter/Father won’t You change what needs to change/Wash me away/’Til only You remain/Got a little faith.”  ‘You Be the One’ is a pretty ballad with John Catchings on cello, David Davidson and David Angell on violin, and Kristin Wilkinson playing viola.  It talks of the difference Christ can make in our lives if we just let Him: “With a little grace He can heal the broken past/Help you forgive someone who can’t forgive you back/Speak a word of kindness, a little comfort for their soul/Sit awhile and cry with them and help them let it go/Even when it feels like you can’t take one more step/Surrender all to Jesus and let Him do the rest.”

‘I Believe in You (Dedication Song)’ is a standout track that should be sang at many a baby’s special day in churches across North America: “I believe in angels/I believe in love/I believe there’ll come a time you’ll find what you’ve been dreaming of/Draw or win or lose/Whatever road you choose/I believe in you.../I believe in Jesus/I believe in God.../I believe in sunsets/I believe in prayer/I believe there’s hope, cause/There’s Someone out there who cares.”  Craig Nelson plays upright bass on ‘Saving Jesus’.  I imagine a parent speaking these words to an unsaved teenage or adult child: “How long will this keep going on/’Til you break and just can’t take it anymore?/How long do you have to go/Before your knees finally hit the floor?/What do you think  you’re saving Jesus for?”

The three beautiful ladies of Point of Grace dedicate this record to their children: “May the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 always be deeply engrained in your hearts.  God has great plans for you!  We love you.  Are so very proud of who you are becoming.  And don’t ever forget-whatever road you choose, we believe in you.”  Produced by Ian Eskelin, A THOUSAND LITTLE THINGS is a great Christian country album with touches of adult contemporary included.  I recommend it to fans of Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood.  The harmonies are quite good.  I’m rating this highly relevant CD 85%.  For more info visit www.pointofgrace.net and www.wordlabelgroup.com.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Deliverance’s website says the following: “From the mean streets of L.A. and the early thrash metal scene on the west coast, Deliverance, fronted by Jimmy P. Brown II, has been one of the most influential bands of the past two-and-a-half decades helping shape the early thrash and speed metal scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s.”  In 1989 they released their self-titled debut.  The next year brought us WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE.  The title track was released as a video to MTV.  The band’s third album WHAT A JOKE dropped in 1991.  The line-up of the band at the time was: Jimmy P. Brown II (vocals, rhythm guitar, talk box), Mike Grato (bass guitar), Kevin Lee (drums), and George Ochoa (lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars).

The album begins with this sarcastic comment: “Well, the label wants us to do another record, here we go.”  ‘Prophet of Idiocy’ is a real thrash metal treat.  It reminds us to ultimately put our trust in God, not spiritual leaders: “Who is man to formulate/The way God uses man?/They pervert the Word to indulge in their lusts/You fool, you’re being lied to/In the name of Christianity/Sixty six books tell it like it is/Not an act or liturgy.”

Urbandictionary.com defines pseudo-intellectuals as “people of average intelligence who are enchanted with high intellectual topics and discussions such as philosophy, socioeconomics, destiny of humanity, etc.  Unlike a genuine academic, a pseudo-intellectual’s main reason for being interested in these topics is because it makes him feel intellectually superior to his peers.”  ‘Pseudo Intellectual’ is the album’s longest track at 7:15.  Musically it begins quietly, with soothing guitar work, but soon it really tears it up!  These lyrics have a bite to them: “Blind leading the blind/Professors in our universities/Saying the Bible doesn’t compare/To scientific proof/I got news for you/The Bible is historic literature/Has survived the scrutiny/Of the likes of you/Beware/Pseudo intellectual/You walk in utter darkness/Pseudo intellectual/Professing to be wise, you’ve become a fool.”  ‘Cheeseburger Maker Du’ is so short it’s hardly worth mentioning.

The title track, ‘What a Joke’ is one of the best Christian metal songs ever.  It features heavy guitar work and lyrically unleashes some fire and brimstone: “Want to be intellects spew/’There is no God’/Proving themselves fools, liars, and frauds/Remnant prays this battle against evil/Against those who perceive they are right/They’ve not stolen, murdered, or destroyed/God must let them in!/What a joke/God will laugh at your calamity/What a joke/He will mock when your terror comes/What a joke/Despising knowledge, choosing not to fear/What a joke/Complacency of fools will destroy.”  ‘Chipped Beef’ is, if you can believe it, a recipe read in a monotone manner, set to a heavy metal beat.

A song from Black Sabbath’s 1971 album MASTER OF REALITY is next.  ‘After Forever’ has an evangelical message: “Have you ever thought about your soul/Can it be saved?/Or perhaps you think that when you’re dead/You just stay in your grave/Is God just a thought within your head/Or is He a part of you?/Is Christ just a name that you read in a book/When you were in school?.../Open your eyes just realize that He is the One/The only One who can save you now/From all this sin and hate.”  ‘It’s the Beat’ includes angry guest vocals by Roger Martinez of Vengeance Rising.  The song takes some jabs at critics of Christian metal: “It’s the beat/They say is satanic, ha, ha, ha/It’s the beat/That causes the flesh to give in/It’s the beat/You ignorant fool, study the first eight chapters of Romans…/Why don’t you just tell me what beat did Eve first sin to/And to which did Adam disobey?”

One could mosh to the next song, ‘A Product of Society’.  It urges us to take full responsibility for our spiritual lives and not conform to the world: “I was born this way, can I change/Or will I remain a product of society?/Lust and power, insidious greed/A make up of what I am/I owe society for who I am/A selfish child in the form of a man…/Society’s sick, the one we’re in/Where doing the wrong is right/Pollution of the mind, it’s now time/Rise up against the filth/That’s being fed to you and me.”  ‘Happy Star’ is the album’s shortest track, at four seconds!  ‘J.P.D.’ is a short instrumental, while the only lyric to the next short song is “Pray”.  

‘Silent Night’ finds Catherine Ochoa on harmony vocals.  This version of the Christmas carol quickly becomes amped up, as if on steroids!  Here are some of the familiar lullaby-like words: “Silent night, holy night/All is calm, all is bright/Round yon virgin, mother and child/Holy infant, so tender and mild/Sleep in heavenly peace (2X).”  ‘J.I.G.’ has a prophetic message that is delivered with vigor: “King of Kings, I Am is He/He’s coming back to rule/This land with swift sword in hand/All the gods of gold and stone/Will all fall before Him/When they see His eyes of fire/Jesus is God.”  

These words from the next song are definitely not Catholic friendly: “The doctrine of purgatory is bologna/Therefore I will have a purgatory sandwich with mustard.”  ‘Attack’ ends the original 1991  version of WHAT A JOKE with a bang.  It pointedly reminds us that we are involved in spiritual warfare daily: “Be ready for attack (2X)/Put on the whole armor of God/That you might stand the evil that’s to come/Soon you will grow weary of the fight/Trust God, hold to His hand tight.”  The 2011 re-release of the album on Intense Millenium Records includes one bonus track, a somber sounding song called ‘Strings of Sorrow’.  It includes these words: “Come for me, reach for me/Awake me from my coma/Where are you Christina, Christina?

Jimmy P. Brown II alternately speaks, shouts, and sings his vocals on this project.  The lyrics are confrontational, in your face, and certainly not politically correct.  Fans of Michael Peace and Steve Taylor will appreciate this type of Christian message delivery.  I’m rating WHAT A JOKE 86%.  For more info visit www.deliverancerocks.com and www.roxxproductions.com

Friday, April 19, 2013


A-180 originally formed in the late 1980’s at Kentucky Christian University.  They changed their name and released their self-titled debut as Audio Adrenaline in 1992.  Over the years their songs such as ‘Big House’, ‘Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus’, ‘Hands and Feet’, and ‘Ocean Floor’ have had a tremendous impact on young people.  The band won two Grammy’s but lead singer Mark Stuart’s voice eventually deteriorated and they put out their final project LIVE IN HAWAII in 2007.  Fast forward to 2013 and Audio Adrenaline is back with several new members.  The current lineup is: Kevin Max (vocals, from DC TALK), Jason Walker (keys, vocals), Jared Ryan Byers (drums, from Bleach), Dave Ghazarian (guitar, from Superchick), and Will McGinnis (bass, founding member of Audio A).  Their new album is KINGS AND QUEENS (Fair Trade/Columbia).

The album opens with ‘He Moves You Move’ penned by Jason Walker and Mark Stuart.  Musically it makes me think of a warm summer day.  The song addresses those of us not given to taking risks: “You, you’re scared to take a step, afraid to see what’s next/So you wait ‘til you think it’s safe to move/You tend to think too much/You need to open up your heart to see where He is leading/With a lamp just for your feet, a spotlight just for your path/When He moves, you’ve got to move, you know/You’ve got to lose control, let go.”  The album’s lead single and title track ‘Kings and Queens’ was written by Juan Otero, Joel Parisien, and Chuck Butler.  This inspirational anthem points out the difference we can make by being charitable to or adopting needy children, many of whom are orphans: “Boys become kings, girls will be queens/Wrapped in Your majesty/When we love, when we love the least of these/Then they will be brave and free, shout Your Name in victory/When we love, when we love the least of these/When we love the least of these.”

‘Believer’ is a declaration of sure faith: “I can push back the mountains, can stand on the waves/I can see through the darkness, I’ll hold up the flame/Take me to the ocean, I want to go deeper/I’m not afraid no, I’m a believer/And so I lose this life to find my way and come alive/They can try to deny what’s inside of me/But there is more, can’t ignore all the things unseen.”  One of three songs penned by the trio of Mark Stuart, Seth Mosley, and Kevin Max, is up next.  ‘King of the Comebacks’ is a funkified pop song about the value of perseverance: “Time’s ticking down, we’re on the edge of our seat/Only a mighty good leader gonna make us believe/We’ve  heard all about it, now we’re waiting to see/The end of the story and it isn’t defeat/So c’mon, yeah c’mon/Oh, Oh, all over the world/We wait for the miracle and it’s coming/You know it’s a matter of fact/You’re the king of the comebacks.”

‘Change my Name’ has a chorus that packs a musical punch and asks for spiritual rejuvenation: “Go ahead and change my name/And write a new song with this broken man/I want a restart, so take my old heart/It’s Yours to burn Your brand/Go ahead and change my name/’Cause the old man is deep in the grave/No more chains, no more shame/My God, I’ve been remade/Change my name.”  Blanca Callahan from Group 1 Crew adds some vocal flavour to the next track, ’20:17 (Raise the Banner)’.  The song is inspired by an occurrence in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles: ”Put the armies in the back and the singers in the front/We swore to believe so no matter the chance we sing.../Whom shall we fear?/No one, no one/We put our weapons down/Whom shall we fear?/No one, no one/We raise up worship now.”

Martin Smith and Nick Herbert wrote “Fire Never Sleeps’ which musically reminds me of Michael Tait era Newsboys.  These words should keep us from approaching God without reverence: “Burn all my soul, set me on fire/Burn all my soul, light up my fire, burn all my soul/Stop, I never want to miss You, something new is being born/And we were born for this/Lord, we know our day is coming/When we look into Your eyes/And see a Fire never sleeps/The fire never sleeps.”  ‘Seeker’ speaks of the greatness of our Maker: “This is God, Seeker of the lost/And forever Father to the fatherless/He’s the Hope of the world, every boy, every girl/He’s the Answer/This is God (2X).../Father to the fatherless, Defender of the weak.”  

Track nine, ‘I Climb the Mountain’, is a great song by Anthony Skinner and Ricky Jackson.  It puts me in mind of the artistry of U2.  It also encourages us to share the gift of salvation with others: “Why am I so scared of conversations?/Am I so sure I’ll turn you off?/Maybe if you knew the whole story, you’d understand it all/’Cause Truth has a way of breaking through.”  ‘The Answer’ has concert favourite written all over it.  Many who have wandered away from Christ and came back will be able to relate to its message: “And when I rise and when I fall, You are The Answer/I know it’s true ‘cause I’ve tried it all/You are the Answer../Lights come on, it’s a brand new start/Old illusions seem to fall apart every day, we’re making history/Never the same as we used to be/Flesh and bone, heart and soul/Hard drive upload, reinstall/A new sunrise through these newborn eyes/I’ve found The Way, The Truth, The Life.”

KINGS AND QUEENS is not a Kevin Max solo record.  Nor is it the terrific raspy voiced rock and roll of Audio A’s past.  Instead, this new line-up has released an infectious, contagious Christian pop album.  Sure, there is certainly room for growth both musically and lyrically, but overall it is a good first effort.  Fans of Downhere, Newsboys, and Sanctus Real should give this project, which I’m rating 84%, a listen.  For more info visit www.audioa.com and www.handsandfeetproject.org.