Carman Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey. He became a Christian at an Andrae Crouch concert and in 1980 released his debut album GOD’S NOT FINISHED WITH ME. Carman’s bio says he “is an enigma in Christian music, often described as part evangelist, part Vegas showman”. Some of his best songs over the years have been: ‘Lazarus Come Forth’, ‘The Champion’, ‘Revival in the Land’, ‘Satan, Bite the Dust’, and ‘America Again’. NO PLAN B (2014, Norway Avenue Records) is his latest and 22nd album! It was produced by Carman, Tedd T, and Tre’ Corely. In the liner notes Carman writes: “This project is dedicated to all those incredible and generous people who gave to the Kickstarter campaign. You took a man with a terminal diagnosis of cancer, a dormant music ministry and gave him not only the funds to launch a new CD and tour, but most importantly helped him find a renewed reason to fight to see what life holds in Part 2”. “Today I stand here healthy and ready to serve”.
The album’s title track ‘No Plan B’ is up first. It is in the pop/rock vein musically and is a bold declaration: “I walked away from Krishna, Kabbalah had me bored/Buddha’s not my cup of tea/Muhammad’s not my Lord/There is no other option, the Holy Bible say/Jesus is the Son of God and still the only way/He’s what we’ve all been wanting/He’s what the public craves/He’s the King of everything/He’s the One who saves.../He’s been my plan A/So everyone can see/I’m living for the Lord and there’s no plan B”. Musically ‘Time 2 P.T.L.’ is a soulful song. It shares the Gospel and advises one proper response to it: “It’s time to praise Him/Lift up His holy Name/Let everyone proclaim/That He alone is King of Kings and Lord of Lords/Praise Him for everything He’s done/For sending His only Son/Who lived and died, was crucified and rose again”.
‘I’m Coming Home’ is a ballad of willful spiritual surrender: “Lord, I’m coming home (2X)/Lord, I’m coming home to stay/Lord, I know I need to be whole and clean/Lord, I’m coming home today/Jesus take my heart/Jesus take my hand/Jesus take all of me, everything I am/Lord take everything I am/I’m coming home”. ‘God Made Man’ includes a cameo by Jim Labriola. This catchy story song is about spiritual transformation and utilizes street lingo to get its message across: “So I ratted out the devil/Now I’m a witness in protection/With a whole new direction/I want to shout it/I got a new life and a new route/A new name and a new suit/So did he offer me a good deal?/Ay, Forgettaboutit!/I got good news for all you crooks/You get a little sit-down/He’ll open the books/Ya takin’ the oath/And then you be/A blood bought member of the family”.
A duet with Hope Loftis entitled ‘Peace of the Lord’ follows. It is a song of testimony: “Like the force of the thunder or the roar of the beast/Fear is drawing me under and it gives no release/But my worries are taken by the Word in my soul/And my faith is awakened with my God in control/The peace of the Lord is keeping my soul/God’s Word will forever hold my mind together”. ‘Jesus Heal Me’ uses piano, B3, and orchestrations. It is a deeply personal song given Carman’s battle with cancer, and includes these spoken words: “Lord Jesus, I believe that You are touching me right now/For the Scripture says that You not only forgive all my sins/But You heal all my diseases/For I believe that as the Bible says we will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover/So now I give You praise for providing everything I need to recover and walk in complete wholeness/I thank You for satisfying me with long life/For I shall live and not die”.
‘It’s All in His Hands’ has a black gospel meets rock ‘n’ roll feel to it and places total confidence in God: “I know Satan is a liar/It’s all in His hands/He belongs in the lake of fire/It’s all in His hands/I can feel God’s holy heat/It’s all in His hands/He’s on my side and I can’t be beat/It’s all in His hands.../My life, it’s all in His hands/My health, it’s all in His hands/My future, it’s all in His hands, my world.../Everything’s gonna be alright/Everything’s gonna be ok”. ‘Another Day’ has a Caribbean atmosphere about it. This song encourages us to be a patient people of prayer: “Cuz I know not now don’t mean never/So I’ll just do what I must do and trust You forever/An answer soon will come my way, but it may come another day/The wind will blow the clouds away, but it may blow another day/God’s promises are always true/A rainbow somewhere waits there too/But until then, You’ll see me through another day”.
‘Yes, Yes’ has a Latin music flavour to it. It incorporates several of Carman’s past song titles into a strong statement of faith: “No way, I’m not ashamed/I love to say His Name/I’ll always be addicted to Jesus/I’m not timid like a mouse/I know Who’s in the house/I say it as I rock the microphone/The God in whom I trust makes Satan bite the dust/He’s still the one and only Champion/Yes, yes, yes, yes, I know Him/Yes, I’m born again/He’s my Lord, He’s my Savior/Yes, yes/He’s my Friend”. ‘I Did my Best’ is an intimate conversation with the Father: “Lord I did my best/In spite of all my faults/You know I tried/Whether I was right or wrong You saw inside/And knew that You had all of me/Lord I did my best/Though often times mistakes would be there too/I just did what I believed You wanted me to do/When I’m finally laid to rest/I can say/I faced the test/And pressing toward the mark/I did my best”.
‘That’s My King/Radically Saved’ is a particularly rousing track that draws from Carman’s back catalogue. It finds Carman very confident of what he believes: “Jesus Christ is Lord and God’s still on the throne/There’s power in the blood and I’m saved to the bone/The devil comes against me/He gonna feel some pain/I can bind him, bruise him, cast him out/By the power of Jesus’ Name.../I believe on the third day Jesus rose from the grave/The world thinks I’m crazy/I am just radically saved”. The last track is ‘The Flag’ which is very patriotic: “Red stands for courage, white stands for truth/Blue for perseverance to a call/This flag sends a message to friend and foe alike/That America’s still the greatest land of all.../I pledge allegiance to the flag/Of the United States of America/And to the republic for which it stands/One nation under God/Indivisible/With liberty and justice for all”.
This album will no doubt please long time fans such as myself who grew up listening to Carman. On NO PLAN B Carman in no way cloaks the Gospel message, but eagerly shares it with one and all. He, true to character, experiments with a wide variety of musical genres. He makes good use of a choir and many backing vocalists including long time Petra vocalist Greg Volz. I’m rating NO PLAN B 87%. For more info visit: www.carman.org.