Cindy Lavonne Morgan was born on June 4, 1968. She released her debut album REAL LIFE in 1992. 1998’s THE LOVING KIND was seen as a creative highpoint for her. It deals with Christ’s final days on earth. Cindy is a two-time Grammy nominee and a 12 time Dove Award winner. She has had twenty-one #1 hits and has written songs for the likes of Amy Grant, Point of Grace, Rascal Flatts, and Francesca Battistelli. BOWS & ARROWS (2015, Lucid Artist) is Cindy’s tenth studio album. Kyle Buchanan is her co-producer on it. The album is said to be “a musical continuation of stories and life observations shared easily, yet intimately, from Morgan’s poetic pen”. Cindy is quoted as saying: “I think what I have always desired to do as a writer and as an artist is to use music, and especially songs, to connect and encourage other people. I feel like that is my spiritual commission in life”.
The album opens with ‘Breaking Heart’ penned by Cindy and Chris Donohue, who also plays upright and electric bass. Cindy is responsible for vocals and ukulele. This pulsating folk/pop song speaks of life’s struggles: “Wait for a rescue, pray for a sign/For someone to read your mind/And you wait and you wonder and you push against the dark/Everyday going under/Wishing someone felt/And you crave and you hunger for a glimpse, just a spark/Everyday going under wishing someone felt the beat of that breaking heart/The devil whispers that he’s your friend/He comes callin’ when the door’s unhinged/Will you let him in?” Gabe Dixon co-wrote ‘Can’t Help Yourself’ with Cindy. He also sings and plays upright piano. Famed bluegrass mandolinist Sierra Hull appears as well on this sad song: “Well the warm wind came and it thawed the freeze/Found the woman locked up she longed to be/They drank deep of love that she now regrets/Cause you can’t forgive what you can’t forget.../Oh the ways of love, they are hard and steep/With no sanctuary, no blissful sleep/But you risk it all for that phantom taste/But the seeds you sow lay the garden waste”. ‘I Know You’ features Andrew Greer on harmony vocal. It is a hand-clapping bluegrass number that finds Cindy conversing in an open and childlike manner with God: “How am I more than a grain of sand?/How does the world fit inside Your hand?/And why do we fall down again and again?/I’m asking You (2X).../Was it Your tears that made the world flood?/Did You cry when they crucified Jesus?/How far will Your arms stretch to reach us?/And why would You?/And why would You?”
The title track ‘Bows & Arrows’ is one of many songs that Cindy wrote alone on this project. It is a beautiful ballad that includes these poetic words: “In haunted woods she’s queen, he’s Pharoah/She slays the dragons, saves the sparrows/Flesh and blood and bone and marrow/We’re the bow and she’s the arrow/Searching for that pot of gold/Everything new’s getting old/And she just wants something real/Something she can feel/Something she can feel”. ‘Wandering Child’ finds Travis Patton on violin and Viktor Krauss on upright bass. It is a story song that deals with grief: “She used to walk along the peaceful streams of home/Memories of falling leaves, her dearest love to hold/But then the winter came and they buried him beneath the bitter snow.../She used to dream her dreams/With eyes lit with hope/Now she lies awake at night and shivers from the cold.../Then came that sacred day when she knelt upon his grave/And she cried ‘Lord you took him/Can you take this pain away and save this wandering child?’”
‘Unbroken’ is a soft adult contemporary song. Cindy sings and plays upright piano and glockenspiel, while Justin Saunders plays cello. The lyrics speak both of being wounded and restored: “When you’ve been cut too deep it never really heals up/And it aches and it bleeds/And finally you bandage it up/And you say this is the way it is/And walk around with a gash wide open/People stare so you just show them/And your heart feels frozen/And you can’t be unbroken/Till the Healer comes when you’re not expecting/And He shines a light on the ghost you’ve been protecting/And the salt in His tears heals the wound/And He gives something back that was stolen from you”. ‘Do You Know Jesus’ features a great harmony vocal by Jonathan Kingham. Cindy wrote the song with Ben Cooper. It is one that is tender and offers a spiritual invitation: “Do you know Jesus?/Do you know who Jesus is?/Do you think Him a liar and His story just a myth?/Did He climb Golgotha?/Did He bleed for you then die?/And was His life a worthy sacrifice?.../Come, Come/And taste the living water that He gives/Come, oh Come/That you’ll know who Jesus is”.
‘The Sound of a Train’ has a country music feel to it with Jerry Evans on pedal steel. It reflects on the end of time as we know it and the beginning of eternity: “Now the wheels are already rollin’/We will hear that trumpet blow/Don’t know exactly where we’re goin’/But until that day, oh I don’t wanna miss out on nothin’/I love my father’s eyes/The good book about the Lion you can’t tame/I love Jesus Christ/When He calls my name/It’s like the sound of a train”. ‘I Want to Live Like Jesus Part 1’ is an acappella selection that runs just 49 seconds. It expresses Cindy’s heart’s desire: “I want to live like Jesus/I want to live like You Jesus/I wanna do all You say/Like you wrote down in red/I want to live like You Jesus/Help me to live like You Jesus”.
‘In The Red’ is a cool bluegrass track written by Cindy, Lucas Thompson, and Kyle Buchanan. The latter plays drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, and dobro. This song expands on the sentiments in the last song: “I gotta live in the red/By the Word, by the deed/Be a sower of good seed/Be the hands and the feet/I wanna do what He said/The way He walked and the way He led/’Have faith like a child’/That’s what He said/In the red”. Lucas Morton provides harmony vocals on the slow country song ‘Bring Balloons’. Cindy reflects on the peaceful hereafter: “I’m going up to a party where no storm clouds ever come/Gonna run when I see Jesus/And I hope that He says ‘Well done!’/And if I should go I know you’ll want to cry/Cause nobody knows how to say goodbye/So say a few words, sing some old gospel tunes/But don’t weep for me, bring balloons/And it won’t be too long, I’ll be seeing you soon/Don’t weep for me, bring balloons”.
‘How Could I Ask For More’ is a terrific new recording of one of Cindy’s most beloved adult contemporary songs ever. Here, it is a duet of gratitude with Andrew Peterson: “There’s nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon/Waking to the sunlight, being cradled by the moon/Catching fireflies at night, building castles in the sand/Kissing mama’s face goodnight and holding daddy’s hand/Thank You, Lord/How could I ask for more?” Last up is ‘I Want to Live Like Jesus Part 2’. Lyrically it conveys the same message as Part 1 does. Cindy is joined by her mother, Lola, on vocals this time.
In the liner notes for BOWS & ARROWS Cindy writes: “Thank you to the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost for beauty and ashes. For the hope of what we cannot fathom”. This particular album is intimate, honest, and well thought out. The lyrics deal both with relationships between human beings and the relationship between God and us as individuals. Hope and comfort in Jesus Christ are themes that shine through on this album that does not shy away from the fact that life on this earth can be arduous, tragic, and a hard go. Fans of folk, bluegrass, and mellow musical sounds will enjoy this album. Cindy’s vocals are strong, passionate, and well textured. This project gets high marks from me for artistry and creativity! It is a real treat. I’m rating BOWS & ARROWS 94%. For more info visit: www.cindymorganmusic.com.