Friday, April 29, 2016


White Heart released their self-titled debut back in 1982.  TALES OF WONDER (1992, Star Song) is their fifth album with their third lead singer, Rick Florian.  The album was produced by Billy Smiley and Mark Gersmehl, with Brown Bannister serving as production consultant, and Darrell A. Harris as executive producer.  Joining Florian, Gersmehl, and Smiley as group members for this effort are: Brian Wooten, Anthony Sallee, and Jon Knox.  In the liner notes Rick Florian writes: “In the midst of this seriously messed up world, our sovereign God is in control...eternally”.

Leading off this album is ‘Raging of the Moon’, one of eight tracks penned by Gersmehl and Smiley.  This brooding rock song urges us to wake up from our spiritual slumber and apathy: “See the path we take, see the bed we make/Oh, let the Spirit open up our eyes/(We get comfortable with lies)/The Magic’s at an end/The line’s been crossed again/The truth keeps getting further from our lives/It’s all been disguised/The moon is full and red as wine/A symbol of our fallen times/When will the stars come crashing down from our eyes?/It’s the raging, the raging of the moon/Ooh, we must awaken from the raging of the moon/Are we shaken?/For the signs are coming true/Oh, we must awaken/From the raging of the moon”.  ‘His Heart Was Always In It’ is a bright pop/rock number that reflects on Jesus Christ: “Crack open your Bible/Take a look at the heart of a hard-working man/See Him with all the people/See the love in His face and His hands/Even when He was weary/His love shone in the dark, dark world of demands.../His heart was always in it/His heart was always in it every day/His heart was always in it/His heart was always in it each step of the way/Working with a vision/Love was His mission every day”.  ‘Unchain’ is an adult contemporary song that includes these prayerful words: “Unchain me from my poverty/Release my soul/Unchain my life/Let the doubt and the darkness fall from my eyes/Unchain my dreams/Let the heavens of love open up in me/Unchain my life/Unchain”.

‘Say the Word’ is a ballad that shows concern for another: “It hurts to hear your silence, to watch you slip away/I want to wrap my arms around your heart/But I’m lost for what to say/I can say the Word/For every Word He’s sending will never come back empty/It’s His love raining down/Raining down from the sky/Say the Word (3X)”.  ‘Who Owns You’ is an energetic rock song, complete with blazing electric guitar work.  It is about spiritual renewal: “Come stand with me in this holy place/Let the mountain breeze run over our face/Cleanse the shame for what we’ve done/Cause we’ve been livin’ our lives for only one/Gotta wash the wounds of America/Step out of the tombs of America/Find our faith in America/Love one another in America (2X)/Love one another”.

‘Where the Thunder Roars’ is the song of one whose confidence is in the Lord: “I’m walking with the Mighty One/Who raised up His voice to the storm/He’ll keep us safe and warm/Out where the thunder roars/Where the lightning strikes on a distant shore/Out where the thunder roars/I’ll stand in the heart of the storm/Stand with my head held high/Be a voice of hope when the lonely cry/Out where the eagles fly/The wonder of love will light up the sky”.  ‘Silhouette’ is one of two songs penned by the trio of Gersmehl, Wooten, and Smiley.  It includes these lovely words: “If I’m standing in His light He will shine the way.../See the image of a man/On a hill three crosses stand/His shadow covers all the land”.

Anthony Sallee co-writes ‘Vendetta’ with Gersmehl, Smiley, and Wooten.  This is the only song on the album that Jon Knox plays drums on.  All the other songs find studio musician and former White Heart member Chris McHugh playing drums.  ‘Vendetta’ is a hard rocker that serves both as a clear commentary on society and as a call to action for Christ followers: “Count the locks upon your door/Guess Beaver doesn’t live here anymore/A gun for me, a gun for you/Now they’re killing people for their tennis shoes/Young and old share the fear/A violent streak is running everywhere.../Quietly we lose the hope/While the media pushes the envelope/Hear the warning cries, the siren’s blare/I wonder, do we love enough to care/Care enough to stand, heal this broken land/And love the lost at any cost”.  Blair Masters is responsible for percussion programming and synth bass on ‘Gabriela’.  It is a simply beautiful love song: “Gabriela, angel of mercy/She comes to my night on wings full of light/Gabriela, my love and my friend/Come take my hand/May the dance never end/Gabriela..../If we were born to another time and place/Somehow my Lord would lead me to the love and grace/Of my Gabriela”.

‘Light A Candle’ is the longest track on the album at over six minutes long.  This inspirational anthem includes these wonderful words: “The city of faith cannot be hid/Let the fire burn on the holy wind/So if you want to change the world and be a living flame/Light a candle/So on a cold and moonless night/In your window place your candlelight/And let it burn so all can see/Your holy torch of liberty/And pray for love, pray for peace”.  Last up is ‘Morningstar’, a folk song snippet, under 2 minutes, that offers hope: “Beyond the dark horizon, out where the people are crying/A Morningstar will be rising/Rising to show us the way”.

TALES OF WONDER is a terrific Christian rock album.  Rick Florian and Mark Gersmehl skillfully trade off on lead vocal duties, and the instrumentation is superb!  The lyrics acknowledge that all is definitely not well in the world. That being said, the lyrics also offer an answer to the world’s ills.  That answer is faith in God and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t magically take away all of our problems, but He does walk through them with us.  If you are looking for an album to crank up loud in your vehicle in Spring and Summer, this one is worthy!  I’m rating it 95%.  For more info connect with the group members on Facebook.


Thursday, April 21, 2016


Let me start off by saying I am not a Rich Mullins expert. My younger brother Mark is though. I received the movie RAGAMUFFIN from my son Joshua recently for my 42nd birthday. I watched it last night.

What is clear from the onset is that Rich did not have a good relationship with his earthly father. His dad, who was a farmer, tended to be rough, tough, verbally abusive to Rich, and didn’t know how to express any love towards him. This would haunt Rich for most of his life really.  And I suspect many will be able to relate to this element of Rich’s story.

Rich decided to leave home and attended a Bible College. His real passion was writing songs.  One of his friends sent his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord’ to Nashville and Amy Grant who was on the rise in Contemporary Christian Music wanted to record it, and eventually did on her AGE TO AGE album in the early 80’s. Rich was not overly interested in going to Nashville and becoming a Christian pop star, especially if it meant leaving his love interest Jess behind.  He was deeply affected when their romance did not last/work out.  He was distraught. 

Rich ended up in Nashville. He stood out like a black sheep in the CCM industry though. He wasn’t interested in writing cheesy pop songs that just threw the name Jesus into the songs as many times as possible to be popular. This frustrated his producers and this is well documented in the film. Rich wanted to minister the love of God to people more than anything.  He didn’t care about success or money as is made clear in the film.  In fact towards the end of the film and his life he was teaching music to children on a reservation or something like that. He didn’t care about his songs charting or not.  AWESOME GOD would become a massive hit for him though.  It’s a great congregational song.

What I like most about this movie is that it doesn’t gloss over Rich’s struggles, weaknesses, and vices, and unlike in most Christian films (ie Fireproof/Courageous) he doesn’t conquer them all by films end. While he was writing songs about God and spirituality, he was given to smoking, drinking, anger, and what comes across in the film as brattiness frankly. I know that may not be a word. 

Rich struck up a life-changing relationship with Brennan Manning, a recovering alcoholic who was an author and speaker. He wrote the ever-popular THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL, which I must read one day. Manning, a recovering alcoholic, helped Rich thru a series of exercises and through pure friendship, see God as a loving Abba Father whose love was unconditional.  When Rich talked about God’s extravagant love at his shows some religious people didn’t like it. They thought he emphasized grace and love too much. I have experienced this in my own life to an extent.

Rich died in a car accident as he was working on what he viewed to be his most important work, THE JESUS RECORD.  He left a void in Contemporary Christian Music that has never been filled to this day. Michael Koch does a good job playing Rich in the film. The acting is good in this film.  And Koch does a decent job singing Rich’s songs. You will learn the origins of some of Rich’s songs by watching this movie.  The dvd includes a message from Rich’s brother Dave Mullins.

I’m rating RAGAMUFFIN 5 out of 5 stars for its honesty and rawness.  And its message that God loves us no matter what. God can use broken vessels for His glory.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Exodus is the second book in the Old Testament, making it the second book in the Holy Bible.  It is where one can read about God using His unlikely servant Moses to deliver His people, the Israelites, from the captivity they had experienced in Egypt.  According to my Collins Pocket Webster’s Thesaurus Second Edition (2007, HarperCollins Publishers), synonyms for the word ‘exodus’ are: departure, evacuation, exit, flight, going out, leaving, migration, retreat, and withdrawal.  EXODUS is also the title of a multi-artist CCM album that came out in 1998 on Rocketown Records and was mainly produced by Michael W. Smith.

The title track, ‘Exodus’, is an uplifting instrumental written by Michael W. Smith that finds George Cocchini playing guitars.  It runs just over five and a half minutes long and includes vocals off in the distance that praise God.  DC TALK sings, Michael W. Smith plays the B-3¸and Bryan Lenox plays the bagpipes on the beautiful adult contemporary number ‘My Will’, which is about spiritual resolve: “Complexity haunts me for I am two men/Entrenched in a battle that I’ll never win/My discipline fails me/My knowledge it fools me/But You are my shelter/All the strength that I need/It’s my will, I’m not moving/Cause if it’s Your will, then nothing can shake me/It’s my will to bow and praise You/I now have the will to praise my God”.

‘Needful Hands’, by Jars of Clay, cries out to God: “As tears come slowly down/I’m reaching up a needful hand/You are my eyes when I cannot see/You are my voice see, sing through me/You are my strength in weakness be/To find that I could fall/And still Your grace surrounds, pursuing”.  Instruments used on Sixpence None the Richer’s ‘Brighten My Heart’ include the cello, resonator guitar, B3, and lap dulcimer.  The lyrics, which include the following lines, are taken from A BOOK OF CELTIC DEVOTION: DAILY PRAYERS AND BLESSINGS, compiled by Robert Van De Weyer: “My heart is as dark as the soil sodden with winter rains/My soul is as heavy as the peat freshly dug from the bog/My thoughts swirl like willow branches caught in autumn winds/My body is as tense as a cat’s as it stalks its prey”.

Michael W. Smith and Cindy Morgan co-wrote ‘Make Us One’.  Cindy sings lead, while Chris Rodriguez, Chris Harris, and Lisa Cochran provide backing vocals.  This one is an easy listening prayer: “Seasons of rain/Battles unwon/Lead to the fountain/Wash and make us one/All hearts rejoice with mighty voice/Make us a rainbow/Lord, please make us one/Light in the sky/Breath of our life/Unite the rainbow/Lord, please make us one”.  Chris Rice sings ‘Nothin’’, while Wes King, Chris, and Micah Wilshire play guitars on it.  It is a folk ballad in the vein of James Taylor¸ but with decidedly Christian lyrics: “Nothin’ can bring me peace with God (3X)/Nothin’, nothin’/Nothin’ but the blood of Jesus.../Nothin’ can make Your people one (3X)/Nothin’, nothin’/Nothin’ but the blood of Jesus”. 

The Katinas sing ‘Draw Me Close’, while Michael W. Smith plays piano and keyboards, and Jerry McPherson plays guitar on it.  This worship classic was penned by Kelly Carpenter and includes these words of spiritual hunger: “You are my desire, no one else will do/’Cause nothing else could take Your place/To feel the warmth of Your embrace/Help me find the way/Bring me back to You/You’re all I want/You’re all I’ve ever needed/You’re all I want/Help me know You are near”.  Next up is a cover of ‘Agnus Dei’, a terrific praise and worship song penned by Michael W. Smith.  It first appeared on his 1990 album GO WEST YOUNG MAN.  Third Day adds a more southern rock feel to it, with electric guitar, here.  These lyrics will remind you of something from the book of Revelation: “Holy, Holy/Are You Lord God Almighty/Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb/You are holy, holy/Are You Lord God Almighty/Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb”.

Crystal Lewis delivers a great lead vocal on ‘Salvation Belongs to our God’, while Smith provides strings.  Adrian Howard and Pat Turner wrote the song in the mid 1980’s.  It glorifies God in no uncertain terms: “And we the redeemed shall be strong in purpose and unity/Declaring aloud/’Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks/Honor and power and strength/Be to our God forever and ever (3X)/Amen!’”  Last up is a Michael W. Smith cover of Rich Mullins’ ‘I See You’ which runs six and a half minutes.  It is performed here as an inspirational anthem with tons of energy.  Nature lovers will appreciate these lyrics: “And the eagle flies and the rivers run/I look through the night/And I can see the rising sun/And everywhere I go I see You/Well, the grass will die and the flowers fall/But Your Word’s alive/And will be after all/And everywhere I go I see You...”

Some multi-artist projects come across as a hodge-podge of material thrown together for no particular reason at all.  There can be an equal amount of hits and misses when it comes to the material.  EXODUS, however, does not fall into this category.  There is not a bad vocal on this album and the instruments are skillfully played.  This is a mostly adult contemporary praise and worship project that aims to draw individual Christians closer to God and closer to each other, both of which are noble goals.  Jimmy Abegg’s illustrations of the artists in the CD booklet are both playful and remarkable.  I’m rating EXODUS a perfect 100%.  A good companion project to it is 2000’s CITY ON A HILL on Essential Records.


Saturday, April 16, 2016


Michael Whitaker Smith was born on October 7, 1957 in Kenova, West Virginia.  He released his solo debut MICHAEL W. SMITH PROJECT in 1983.  ‘Great is the Lord’ and ‘Friends’ were two of the exceptional songs on it.  MICHAEL W. SMITH 2 came out in February of 1984.  It yielded the CCM hits ‘I Am Sure’ and ‘Hosanna’.  Michael produced the album, with Michael Blanton and Dan Harrell serving as executive producers.  Synthesizers were used on all ten songs.

Gary Chapman, Tim Marsh, and Smith wrote ‘A Way’, while Dan Huff played guitars and Gary sang backing vocals on it.  It is an adult contemporary ballad that speaks of God’s faithfulness: “You find me waiting for a miracle/You hear me praying for a plan/You are the only One prepared to rescue me/Then You take away the distance/Found between the truth and me/And You give a simple reason to my restless rhyme/Woa, hide me in the heaven/You have held within Your hand/And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind”.  ‘I Am Sure’ is one of three tracks penned by the duo of Mike Hudson and Smith.  This light pop song offers spiritual hope: “I am sure there will be a day/But it will not be like the nations say/The Lord will come when this life is through/And His deep desire is to be with you/Hearts will fly when the new world starts/And joy will rise like the morning star/God will meet every cry of the heart/And it’s my prayer/I want you to be there”.

‘End of the Book’ deals with spiritual warfare: “Till He comes/God the Son teaches us to use the sword/And every fight has a light/When you know we win the war/So when hell starts to move/And the enemy marches on you/Hang on, it’s a fight/You’re a part of the army of light/When things get bad and you can’t stand to look/It’s time to read the end of the book”.  Michael W. Smith is responsible for synthesizers, piano, and vocoder on ‘I’m Up’.  It is a joyous, bouncy pop song: “There are times life is so fine I can’t contain it/Everywhere I look I see what God has done/And I don’t have to work and worry to sustain it/When I walk with God His joy will always come (2X)/I am up like the sun is up/I can feel my life on a rise/I am up like the stars at night/I get up on bein’ alive/I am up like the Lord is up/And my life is filled with His life/I was freed and I am saved/I am up (2X)”.

‘Glorious Grace’ is a praise and worship song: “May the God of our Lord the Almighty Father/Give you wisdom and peace, His comforting Spirit/That you may know His hope/You may know His riches/And you may know His mighty strength/To the praise of His glorious grace (2X)”.  ‘Musical Instruments’ is a short, happy sounding instrumental.

Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith co-wrote the light rock duet ‘Restless Heart’.  It encourages us as Christians to reach out to the lost and lonely: “On the street it never changes/There’s a chill in the air/Icy people, empty faces/Not a word, not a soul who cares/Do you give up?/Have you given in to the lie that a heart never changes?/Don’t be fooled by what you see there/Another man with another case of one restless heart/Who never could find love/Too many hurts to reach out again/How can he know love still wants to find him?/One restless shell of a man/Don’t look away/In a moment his life could be new/Just a moment and love could break through”.  Gary Chapman, Amy Grant, and Smith wrote ‘All I Need to Say’.  It is an easy listening tune that in some ways seems like a sequel to ‘Friends’.  Here are the opening lyrics: “Sad goodbye/Never quite got said/Now the time is gone/We’re movin’ on/Even though it hurts so bad/If I could I’d turn back the days/And I’d love again/To be your friend/In a hundred different ways/But we can’t turn back the time, the days/So if I never said all I needed to say/I’ll say it now/You know I loved you once/I love you stronger today/Please love find me a way/Words I still need to say/But I don’t know how”.

‘Wings of the Wind’ is a pleasant instrumental that runs a bit over four minutes long.  Last up is ‘Hosanna’, one of two songs here that Michael co-wrote with his wife Deborah D. Smith.  Ten backing vocalists including Chris Harris, Bridget Evans, and Gary Pigg are used on this praise and worship song: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord/Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!/Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord/Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!/King of Israel, welcome to our hearts/Here to reign in righteousness/Oh Ruler of the world, Ruler of our hearts/Now ascend Your throne/You are the King of Kings/Hosanna!”

To be truthful MICHAEL W. SMITH 2 can’t hold a candle to Michael’s debut album the year before.  Really, only four or five of the ten songs here are memorable.  Why is this?  First off, these songs seem to be directed at adults rather than youth and just don’t have the energy that the songs on his debut project had.  Secondly, Smith likely should’ve waited at least two years before releasing a second album.  It would have allowed more time for crafting better songs.  This just may be Michael’s weakest record ever, but he would more than make up for it in the years to come!  I’m rating MICHAEL W. SMITH 2 a 78%.  For more info visit:



Thursday, April 14, 2016


Steven J. Camp was born on April 13th, 1955 in Wheaton, Illinois.  Larry Norman mentored him early on.  Camp’s first CCM album was 1978’s SAYIN’ IT WITH LOVE.  A decade later he released JUSTICE (1988, Sparrow).  He produced and arranged the album.  Of the album’s titular subject Steve said: “Justice is the holiness and mercy of God in action.  The highest demonstration of this was Jesus laying down His life for the atonement of our sin”.

First up is the title track, ‘Justice’, one of eight songs on this record penned by the duo of Camp and Rob Frazier.  This is a very strong Christian rock song on which Phil Madeira plays organ, Terry McMillan plays harmonica, and Ashley Cleveland, Pam Tillis, and Marty McCall perform backing vocals.  The lyrics are in your face: “Last night I turned on my TV and a preacher said to me/He said ‘Just send me a hundred dollar bill, God will bless you ten times you see!’/Some equate money with holiness/But my friend that is a lie/One man claimed God held him ransom/If he didn’t have enough, he’d die!.../Look through your stained glass window/Sitting right outside your church/There’s a poor man living on the corner/Not a penny in his purse/His clothes are torn and tattered/Got no shoes upon his feet/Have you shared with him your bread and wine?/Have you left him on the street?”  ‘Playing Marbles with Diamonds’ is one of five songs that run at least five minutes.  This one is a smooth adult pop song that serves as a motive checker: “There’s a whole lot more than preaching to the choir/Kneeling at the altar or paying our tithe/We’ve been treating God like He’s happiness for hire/We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds!.../There’s a whole lot more than raising lots of money/Building our churches and spreading our fame/Faith is just the dice that you roll to get lucky/We’ve been playing marbles with diamonds!”

‘Don’t Tell Them Jesus Loves Them’ is an adult contemporary ballad that features strings by the London Symphony.  It urges us to truly care for the lost and hurting: “And a young girl sells herself on 7th Avenue/And you hear her crying out for help/My God! What will we do?/Don’t tell them Jesus loves them/Till you’re ready to love them too!/Till your heart breaks from their sorrow and the pain they’re going through/With a life full of compassion/May we do what we must do/Don’t tell them Jesus loves them/Till you’re ready to love them too!”  Those who are spiritually lukewarm will be able to relate to the opening words of ‘Living Dangerously in the Hands of God’.  They are: “How easily Jesus is forgotten amid the comfort of my life/How the flame’s become a flicker and faith a brilliant disguise/Sunday’s become a holiday, prayer an empty exercise/And the cost of real devotion seems so foreign to my life”.

Steve, Phil McHugh, Rob Frazier, and Steve’s then wife Kim Maxfield-Camp wrote ‘Do You Feel their Pain?’  Vocalists on it include: The Bobby Jones Nashville Choir, Steve Green, BeBe Winans, Margaret Becker, and Petra.  This anthem includes a sax solo and strings and inspires us to be truly compassionate: “We should feel the shame/Allowing fear to close our minds/These are lives we can’t ignore!/Oh, don’t turn away!/Will you see Jesus in each of them?/These are souls He suffered for!/There is hope for them, open up your heart/There is grace for them, or do you think they’ve gone too far?/Do you feel their pain, has it touched your life?/Can you taste the salt in the tears they cry?/Will you love them more than the hate that’s been?/Will you love them back to life again?”  Carlos Vega plays drums on and Michael Landau plays guitar on ‘Hell is Burning while the Church Sleeps’.  It is very catchy and is one of my favourite Christian pop/rock songs of the 80’s.  Frankly, it calls us to get off our rear ends and evangelize: “Oh, we burn away the hours by the light of our TV/While Pat and Vanna tell us there’s a wheel to meet our need/But we’ve got a job to do, we must do it very well/If we live the truth, we can rescue our neighbour from hell/Hell is burning while the church sleeps/Hell is burning while the church is asleep/Ah, we’re stuck in our pews as they’re dying in our streets/Hell is burning while the church is asleep”.

Next up is a lovely cover of Larry Norman’s classic 70’s ballad ‘Great American Novel’.  Al Perkins plays the pedal steel.  The lyrics are sharp and cutting: “We are far across the ocean in a war that’s not our own/And while we’re winning theirs, we’re gonna lose the one at home/Do you really think the only way to bring about the peace is to sacrifice your children and kill all your enemies?/The politicians all make speeches and the newsmen all take notes/And they exaggerate the issues as they shove it down our throats/Is it really up to them whether this country sinks or floats?/Well, I wonder who would lead us if none of us would vote?/And your money says ‘In God We Trust’/But it’s against the law to pray in school”.  Ashley Cleveland, Rosemary Butler, and Marty McCall sing backing vocals on ‘Servants Without Scars’.  It is a pop song with a prayerful chorus: “Lord refine our souls/Let the testing of our faith produce the purest gold/Purify our hearts/Till this truth we clearly see/We can never be Your servants, servants without scars”.

‘Love that will Not let me Go’ is an inspirational ballad of personal testimony: “There is a love that will not let me go/I can face tomorrow because You hold me forever/Stronger than the mighty winds that blow/I’m safe within Your arms/Love that will not let me go!/Lord, You always knew the road that I would take and then You saved me just in time!/What I owe to You I could not repay/So I pledge You my whole life”.  The album closes with ‘I Believe in You’, a pop/rock song of spiritual brotherhood: “If there’s trouble in your life, I’ll face it with you/If there’s mountains to climb, I’ll climb them too/We’re in this together, I’ll see it through/Oh, I believe in You!.../’Cause a friend is always faithful/Through the fire and the rain/I’ll stand by your side/I’ll be by your side”.

JUSTICE is one of my all time favourite Christian pop/rock albums.  Steve Camp’s vocals are gritty and passionate.  The lyrics encourage greater devotion to and love for God, that should in turn, result in us not only meeting people’s physical needs, but also their spiritual  needs, by sharing the Lord’s offer of personal salvation with them.  The instrumentation is great on this album and there is a good mix of slow and fast-paced tunes.  Fans of Kenny Marks and Bryan Adams should acquire JUSTICE, which I’m rating 100%.  For more info connect with Steve on Facebook.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016


White Heart released their self-titled debut album in 1982 with Steve Green as lead singer.  They then put out two albums with Scott Douglas at the microphone.  POWER HOUSE was the group’s first record on Star Song and fourth with Rick Florian as lead vocalist.  It came out in 1990.  Joining Rick on this album are: Mark Gersmehl (keyboards, lead and backing vocals), Mark Nemer (drums and percussion), Anthony Sallee (bass guitar), Billy Smiley (acoustic and rhythm guitars, background vocals), and Brian Wooten (lead and rhythm guitars).  The album was produced, engineered, and mixed by Bill Drescher, and executive produced by Darrell A. Harris.

The first three songs were all #1 hits.  ‘Independence Day’ was penned by Gersmehl, Smiley, and Florian.  It is a cheerful rock song with a great electric guitar solo and is about finding true spiritual liberty: “I have been to the land of me/And I know I was never free/Freedom came when I gave it all away/That’s why I call it independence day/Call it independence day/Let the rockets blaze across the sky, raise the flag of faith up high/Let the doubters call it what they may/It’s independence day”.  The title track, ‘Powerhouse’ was written by all the band members except Rick.  It is an electric guitar and drum driven, headbanging rock song about spiritual revitalization: “Hey, brothers and sisters/Oh, I’m gonna meet you there/You know there’s strength in numbers/When we come to the house of prayer/We’re not looking for weapons, we are looking only for love/We’ve come to hear a message/Let the Word rain down from above/Powerhouse, oh the powerhouse/Come to the powerhouse/Powerhouse, we need the powerhouse/Come to the powerhouse”.

‘Desert Rose’ is one of the most beautiful and intimate CCM ballads ever.  It is meant to encourage those who are lonely: “Lost in a windswept land, in a world of shifting sand/A fragile flower stands apart/And there in that barren ground/You feel like the only one trying to serve Him with all your heart/And you wonder, wonder/Can you last much longer?/This cloud you are under, will it cover you?/Desert rose, desert rose/Don’t you worry, don’t be lonely/Heaven knows, heaven knows/In a dry and weary land a flower grows/His desert rose, desert rose”.  One of the co-writers on ‘Lovers and Dreamers’ is former group member Tommy Sims.  Florian and Gersmehl share lead vocal duties on this song that encourages us to be a people of action: “Open up, oh to the vision/You got a lotta living, living to do/Don’t you take your seat in the stands/Oh, cause what we really need are/Lovers and dreamers/Lovers of the light/We need lovers and dreamers/Dreamers with heavenly sight/We need lovers”.

Dale Oliver is a co-writer on ‘Nailed Down’.  This manly rock number encourages holiness: “Everything you do sure does matter/Oh, there is no little sin/Everything would be a whole lot better/If you gave it all up to Him/Nailed down, get it nailed down, get it nailed down/Stop the turn of the merry-go-round and get it nailed down/Don’t you know that’s where freedom can be found?/Nailed down”.  Mark Gersmehl wrote ‘Messiah’ on which he and Rick Florian share lead vocal duties.  This rock song admits that we need someone to save us: “Me, I got this sick kind of feeling inside/I’m starting to think about all of my pride/Do we know, when are we gonna see that the power to change has got to come from something greater than you and me?/We need a leader, a lover/A pillar of fire/A teacher, a healer/Oh, can’t you see?/We need a Messiah (3X)/Oh, we need a Messiah”.

‘A Love Calling’ is the longest track, running over six minutes, as it ends with an atmospheric musical interlude that leads into the next song.  ‘A Love Calling’ is an adult contemporary ballad about sharing  the hope we have found in Christ with others: “Ah, there’s a new wind blowing/Since we’ve been given this call/When Your Spirit’s leading, ah, it doesn’t feel like a burden at all/There are still lands locked in darkness/There are hearts like an empty room/And we’ll never know how to help them/Until Father, we listen to You/We’ve got a love calling/ A love calling/Oh, we’ve got a love calling/’Cause we hear love calling”.  ‘Answer the Call’ is a splendid rock song that urges us to fulfill the Great Commission: “Now the path is there to take, now the choice is there to make/Don’t let the vision fade/You’d be living in the dark/Running away from your own heart if you just turned away/Answer the call, answer the call/It may be the inner city, maybe your own family/The mission field may lie in you/But you know the Word is true/And it’s staring back at you/So answer, answer the call”.

‘Storyline’ encourages us to help those who are hurting: “She’s the invisible girl, sits at the edge of her visible world/And whispers ‘Don’t touch me, don’t notice me now’/Shadows have left their mark, stole the innocence from her heart/She’s afraid of what she might be/Draws the curtain so the world won’t see/Thinking ‘Who would love the person they would find in me?’/Oh, listen to the storyline/Chapter written in another time/Oh, listen, listen to the storyline/You’ll begin to know the reason why/Pain just seems to haunt their lives/Whoa, listen to the storyline”.  ‘Lay it Down’ is a pretty ballad of spiritual invitation: “So kneel by the healing stream/Let His love keep flowing, flowing/Let it wash you clean (2X)/And lay it down, lay it down/Come lay it down/Oh, lay it down, lay it down/Come to the kingdom”.

POWER HOUSE came out the same year as Petra’s classic album BEYOND BELIEF, and it is every bit as good as, if not better than it.  POWER HOUSE is from an era when Christian bands were putting out actual rock music.  Electric guitars, complete with solos, pounding drums, and passionately delivered vocals that could rival much of what was being put out in the secular market at the time.  Thematically, this album asks individuals to surrender their lives to Christ, find abundant life in Him, and share it with others.  The front cover of a guy bowling is pretty cool too!  I’m rating this CD 98%.  For more info connect with group members on Facebook.




Saturday, April 09, 2016


Steven Curtis Chapman was born in Paducah, Kentucky on November 21, 1962.  He released his debut album FIRST HAND in 1987.  It gave birth to the song ‘Weak Days’ which peaked at #2 on the CCM chart.  In 2013 Chapman released his sixteenth studio album, THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING, which was his first on Reunion Records.  It was produced by Brent Milligan and Chapman.  The executive producer was Terry Hemmings.  It peaked at #27 on the US Billboard 200 and #2 on the US Christian Albums (Billboard) chart.  In a press release Steven said: “I’m more convinced than ever that God does know the plans that He has for us and He will finish what He started.  God is telling an amazing, glorious, epic story.  We have to decide if we will trust Him with it”.

Starting things off is the title track ‘Glorious Unfolding’.  Steven plays acoustic guitar, piano, and mandola on it and there is a string arrangement by Carl Marsh.  It is a stellar adult contemporary song of encouragement for the discouraged: “Lay your head down tonight/Take a rest from the fight/Don’t try to figure it out/Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart/Cause I know this is not anything like you had thought/The story of your life was gonna be/And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it’s just not true/There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold/And this is going to be a glorious unfolding/Just you wait and see and you will be amazed/You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over/So hold on to every promise God has made to us/And watch this glorious unfolding”.  The album’s debut single became a #1 hit.  On ‘Love Take Me Over’ claps, stomps, bass, synth bass, electric guitar, and piano are attributed to Brent Milligan.  This happy pop song has a catchy chorus: “Love, take these words that I’m speaking/Love, take these thoughts that I’m thinking/Love, take me over/Love, fill up all of my space and love, stand right here in my place/Love, hear this prayer that I’m praying/Love, take me/Love, take me over (2X)”.

Steven, Scott Sheriff, and Herb Chapman sing backing vocals on ‘Take Another Step’.  This is one of five songs that Steven’s son Will Franklin Chapman plays drums on.  These lyrics admit that life isn’t always a bed of roses: “Then the lightning flashed, the thunder crashed/And suddenly it began to rain and everybody ran/Then the sky went as black as midnight/And you couldn’t see/Paralyzed by what you just can’t understand/And now here you are/You’re afraid to move/You don’t know where to go/You don’t know what to do”.  On ‘Something Beautiful’ Steven and Luke Brown sing backing vocals.  This cheery pop song uses stomps and claps and speaks of God’s ability to redeem and restore: “And God says ‘I’m gonna turn it into something different/I’m gonna turn it into something good/I’m gonna take all the broken pieces/And make something beautiful like only I could’/So put it all in the hands of the Father/Give it up, give it all over to/The only One who can turn it into/Something beautiful/Something really beautiful”.

‘Finish What He Started’ is a beautiful song that testifies to God’s faithfulness to us: “And it may feel like 40 long days in a hard driving rain/Or 40 years in a dry desert sand/But when He’s finished, we will see a beautiful tapestry/And know that nothing has been wasted in the end.../And we will stand as the ones completed/By the miracle of His love/We’ll sing of His goodness and sing to His glory/As we tell the story of how God has, He has finished what He started”.  ‘Only One and Only You’ is a lovely ballad that uses strings, horns, and cymbals.  It will encourage many females who struggle with self-esteem: “I caught you looking in the window at your reflection and I could see you were unimpressed/I watch you wither like a willow at what you think are imperfections/When you compare you to all the rest/And I wish I could find a way to make you see you the way I do/So I wrote this song for you/You’re better than a Beethoven symphony/And Mona Lisa wishes she could be a masterpiece like you/More than any Michelangelo/When I look at you I know/There’s no other masterpiece like you/You are the one and only you”.

Steven wrote ‘See You in a Little While’ for Grandma Chapman.  It is a sentimental song with substance: “I’ll see you in a little while (2X)/It won’t be long now/We’ll see it on the other side/The wait was only the blink of an eye/So I’m not gonna say goodbye/Cause I’ll see you in a little while/And just one more thing before I let you go/Please tell my little girl I love her/Though I’m sure she already knows/And ask the Father to please tell the Son/That we’re ready and waiting for Him to come”.  On ‘A Little More Time to Love’ Blair Masters plays the dulcimer and Stu Garrard plays electric guitar.  This inspirational anthem encourages us to care for the least of these: “There are little ones hungry for love of a family/So many hungry for bread/On the left and the right, surrounded by the last and the least/And just down the street and just across the table/Hungry hearts are waiting to be fed/Cause deep in our soul we’re all longing to be at the Feast.../We’ve got a little more time to do justly and love mercy/And show the love we’ve been shown”.

Several of Steven’s family members contribute backing vocals to ‘Sound of Your Voice’ including his wife Mary Beth.  It is an adult contemporary number that anticipates Heaven: “And I’ll close my eyes for a moment/When I open them again/You’ll be standing there face to face/And I’ll sing for joy and I will finally hear Your voice”.  ‘Together’ is a moving adult contemporary ballad: “We’ve climbed up mountains higher than were ever in our hopes and plans/We’ve held onto each other’s hands/Watched miracles unfold together/And we’ve crawled on our hands and knees/Through valleys cold and dark and deep/Sometimes not even sure if we could make it out alive together/And if it wasn’t for God’s mercy and His grace/There’s no way we would be standing in this place”.

In 2008 Steven and Mary Beth’s adopted daughter Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman was accidentally run over in their driveway by their son Will Franklin.  On ‘Michael and Maria’ Andy Leftwich plays mandolin and violin.  Sam Levine plays the penny whistle.  The song deals with grief: “We never knew how much our hearts could hurt until we lost you/I know we didn’t really lose you/That’s just how it feels down here/Right now it seems we’ll never understand God’s higher ways/But we are trusting Him until the day we do/And He will carry us, just like He carries you/So Michael and Maria, we’ll see you soon”.  ‘Feet of Jesus’ finds Steven setting a good spiritual example for us: “In the arms of Jesus, I will find my peace and rest/I hear Him calling ‘Come to Me and rest’/Carried by my Shepherd, cradled tightly to His chest/There and there alone, my soul finds rest”.

THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING is a superb adult contemporary album with pop and inspirational influences as well.  This is an album that shows great spiritual maturity.  The lyrics place full and total faith and trust in God even if one’s circumstances in life are less than desirable or even a living hell.  Ultimately Mr. Chapman makes it clear that he has a sure and strong hope in the life to come, in eternity, in Heaven.  There there will be no more sorrow, suffering, or trials and troubles of any kind.  I’m rating THE GLORIOUS UNFOLDING a perfect 100%.  For more info visit:,, and


Friday, April 08, 2016


Newsboys’ 18th overall studio album, and fifth with Michael Tait as lead singer, is LOVE RIOT (2016, Fair Trade Services).  Rounding out the group are: Jody Davis (guitars, background vocals), Jeff Frankenstein (keys, background vocals), and Duncan Phillips (drums).  In the CD credits you will find the following words: “Newsboys would like to thank our wives, families, friends, and loved ones...Thank you for your sacrifices, love, and support!  We could not do what we do without you and we love you all!...And most of all, thanks be to God for His bountiful blessings!  May we continue to honor You in all that we do and say, Amen!”

Hank Bentley, Mia Fieldes, and Colby Wedgeworth wrote the opening catchy pop/rock number, ‘Crazy’.  Like the DC TALK classic ‘Jesus Freak’, this song makes it clear that a Christian shouldn’t care if the world judges them a little off for their beliefs: “Some say strange, some say odd/I say child of the living God/Some say mad, some say wrong/I say child of the living God/Crazy/I don’t care if the whole world calls me/Crazy/I don’t care if it looks like I’ve lost my mind/I’m alive to live a reckless, righteous, foolish life/Maybe I was born to be crazy”.  ‘Hero’ reflects with gratitude on the events of Easter: “Light shattering the darkness/Taking up a cross/You reached beyond my brokenness/Love overturning all the heartache/Taking on a grave, leaving death powerless, powerless/You took the nails/I’m forgiven/Cleared my name/Every sin is washed away/It is finished/You’re the reason I am free”.

The title track, ‘Love Riot’, is a pop/rock song written by Zach Hall, Nathan Barlowe, and Bert Elliot.  It is about fulfilling the Great Commission: “We are an army of the truth/We’re on the march to rescue you/Don’t have to make it on your own/We’re holy rebels and when we yell/The mountains fall, the oceans swell/This is the time to let them know/Oh, what are we waiting for?/Let’s take it around the world/We’ll start a fight and join the fight/In this love riot/Oh, ready, set, here we go/From London to Tokyo/You gotta unite and join the fight in this love riot”.  Juan Otero and Pete Stewart wrote ‘Guilty’, a wonderful adult contemporary ballad that dares us to be Daniel’s: “Even if it gets me convicted/I’ll be on my knees with my hands lifted/If serving You is against the law of man/If living out my faith in You is banned/Then I’ll stand right before the jury/If sayin’ I believe is out of line/If I’m judged because I’m gonna give my life/To show the world the love that fills me/Then I wanna be guilty”.

‘You Hold it All (Every Mountain)’ is a praise and worship song: “From the highest of mountains to the depths of the sea/From the planets in motion/To the breath that we breathe/From the womb of the barren to the rich and the poor/To the dreams of the orphan/Every heartbeat is Yours/You hold it all, every mountain, every valley/You hold it all, every teardrop, every heartbeat/In my weakness/You’re my victory/In my sickness/You surround me/I believe that You hold it all”.  ‘No Longer Slaves’ is a beautiful anthem that declares one’s spiritual identity as a Christian: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God (2X)/From my mother’s womb/You have chosen me/Love has called my name/I’ve been born again, into Your family/Your blood flows through my veins”.

Mark Stuart and Seth Mosley wrote ‘Family of God’.  It is a terrific, rousing anthem that makes good use of the MUSYCA Children’s Choir.  It reminds us that as individual Christians we are a part of something much bigger: “There is no more condemnation/There is only grace/We are family here/Colors and stains disappear/There is no doubt you belong/This is the family of God/No matter who you were when you walked through the door/Here you’re no orphan anymore/Brothers and sisters by blood/This is the family of God/Oh, we are sons and daughters of the King/We are, we are the royal family!”  ‘Committed’ has a chorus with a bouncy beat that gives testimony: “I am committed, I’m not ashamed/I pledge my allegiance to Jesus, my King/I am committed, got nothing to hide/I’m not giving up, not selling out, I’m in this for life/I am committed, to Christ”.

‘Earthquake’ is a techno pop song of spiritual surrender: “I need an earthquake/To shake me until it breaks me down/I’m giving You everything/My pride’s crashing to the ground/Shatter my walls, let my kingdom fall/I don’t wanna wear this crown no more/My heart is Yours to take/It’s You that can save me/It’s You that can shake me/God, I need an earthquake (2X)”.  Micah Kuiper, Juan Otero, and Jason Walker wrote the last song, ‘What I Want Them to Say’.  It reflects on one’s legacy: “What will they think about the things I did?/What will they say about the life I’ve lived?/I want them to say/’He’s the one whose faith didn’t fade/When everything crashed, he didn’t cave/He never lost his awe and wonder/The one that kept me from going under/And he ran a good race’/That’s what I want, what I want, I want them to say”.

It is encouraging for me to see the ministry of the Newsboys, a band that impacted me spiritually in my teens and twenties, continuing to impact the lives of Christians, including myself, today.  The line-up changes over the years have not diminished this band’s passion for Jesus Christ and its ability to put out top quality, relevant Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).  LOVE RIOT will encourage all believers to hold fast to their faith and be bold in sharing the Gospel message.  Michael Tait’s vocals and the background vocals are a particular strength on this record!  There are a couple dandy photos of the band included with the CD.  I’m rating LOVE RIOT 93%.  For more info visit: and



Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Jeremy Camp was born in Lafayette, Indiana on January 12, 1978.  He put out his first studio album BURDEN ME in 2000.  He released his second studio album and first major label studio album STAY in 2002 via BEC Recordings.  It was produced by Adam Watts and Andy Dodd and executive produced by Brandon Ebel.

First up is ‘Understand’, an adult rock song that was his debut single.  This #1 hit finds Jeremy talking to God: “Every time I fall down on my face/I see the One who bore all my shame/Well, to know that You are everything I need You to be/You’re my ever present help in time of need/I know You understand it all/So why don’t I get back on my feet again?”  ‘Right Here’ hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs airplay chart.  This is a song of gratitude for God’s faithfulness: “The many times that I have felt alone/the many times that I have felt the world was crashing down upon me/You always stood here by my side/You were always there/Everywhere I go I know You’re not far away/You’re right here, You’re right here”.

‘Walk By Faith’ was also a #1 hit!  Strings on it were composed, arranged, and conducted by Brandon Roberts.  Jeremy wrote the song during his honeymoon.  It puts full trust in God: “Well, I will walk by faith even when I cannot see/Well, because this broken road prepares Your will for me/Well, I’m broken but still I see Your face/Well, you’ve spoken, pouring Your words of grace”.  The title track, ‘Stay’, is a song of spiritual encouragement: “Come on now stay right here in the light/So that you won’t walk away, away, yeah/Well, come on now stay right here in the light/Throw your burdens all away, away, yeah/Throw your burdens all away”.

‘All The Time’ extols God: “All the time, all the time, yeah/You have given me love more than I know (2X)/All the time (2X)/The way that You have planned it/It’s more than I can see/I’ll never understand it/Until I live with You in eternity”.  Jeremy wrote ‘I Still Believe’ after the death of his first wife Melissa from ovarian cancer when she was 21, and he, 23.  It is a beautiful anthem of great faith in God: “Scattered words and empty thoughts seem to pour from my heart/I’ve never felt so torn before/Seems I don’t know where to start/But it’s now that I feel Your grace fall like rain/From every fingertip, washing away all my pain/Cause I still believe in Your faithfulness/Cause I still believe in Your truth/Cause I still believe in Your holy Word/Even when I don’t see, I still believe”.

‘One Day at a Time’ is a gritty rock song that makes it clear life isn’t always easy, even for Christians:   “I’ve been shut up, shut down, held out, held down/In ways I never knew I would/But I can feel Your fullness in my life/Well, I’ve been burnt out, broken, torn out, torn down/In ways I never knew I would/But I can feel Your faithfulness in my life/In all these things I will press on, yeah/I’ll be with You/I know it won’t be long”.  ‘Breaking my Fall’ includes these poetic lyrics: “How precious are Your thoughts/The many that You think about me/Faithful are Your ways/I always feel Your grace abounding/Quickly will I call, quickly will You answer my cry/Carefully will You bring everything I need in my life/How many times You make the waves calm down/So, I won’t be afraid now”.

‘Nothing’ speaks words of truth: “Well, nothing I can do/Well, nothing I can say/Can make You love me more/Your love remains the same/Well, You gave it all for me/Well, You gladly took my place/Well, to rid myself of all/Well, all my guilt and shame, all my guilt and shame”.  ‘I Know You’re Calling’ is a wonderful song of spiritual invitation: “And I know You’re calling/And I see Your arms stretched wide/And I feel You drawing, drawing me back again”.

‘Take My Life’ was co-written by Camp and Jean Luc Lajoie.  It is a manly rocker of spiritual surrender: “Laying all down before my King/Offering all my everything/Laying all down before the One I serve/I can understand the reasons why/You came on this earth and died/And now I give it all to You/So take my life, well, take my mind/Well, take my soul/Well, take my will/Cause I am Yours now and I give it all to You”.  Finishing things off is ‘In Your Presence’, a ballad of worship: “As I bow my head before You/I lay my burdens down at Your nail pierced feet/Every ounce of You radiates Your glory/With You I know that I’m complete/And I sing ‘Hallelujah, You are my God, Maker of the heavens/Hallelujah, You are my Lord/I bow before Your presence’”.

STAY is a terrific major label debut!  It is the album of one young man who has faced life’s hardships and yet not turned his back on the Lord Jesus Christ.  If anything his faith has been strengthened by walking through life’s trials!  It is this that makes this an album of great encouragement to others going through life’s valleys.  Disappointments in life do not have to rob you of your faith in God and relationship with Him.  The twelve songs here are a combination of rock and adult contemporary music.  Camp is good at both genres.  I recommend this CD to fans of Third Day, Creed, and Kutless, and am rating it 89%.  For more info visit: and


Sunday, April 03, 2016


Zilch formed in 1997.  They got their new name Sonicflood from Revelation 19:6 which reads: “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns’”.  When Sonicflood released their self-titled debut in 1999 on Gotee Records their roster was: Jeff Deyo (lead vocals, guitars, tambourine), Jason Halbert (B-3, keys, programming, vocals), Dwayne Larring (guitars, ebo, noise, vocals), and Aaron Blanton (drums, percussion).  The album won a Dove Award for Praise and Worship Album of the Year.

First up is ‘Invocation’, a short 20 second spoken prayer: “We love You Jesus/Manifest Your presence through this album and through the lives of these men/Who go out commissioned by Your Word to be worshippers for truth God/Making disciples in Jesus’ Name”.  Jeff Searles wrote ‘I Have Come to Worship’.  It speaks of God’s faithfulness and offers a proper response to it: “Many mighty rivers have I crossed/Many barren deserts have I seen/And still my heart beats strong/For You, oh Lord/For You have been my shelter/In all of my need/I have come to worship You/Oh, and I have come to worship You”.

‘Holy One’ is a song of praise: “I could never quite express the beauty of Your holiness/You’re the Holy One/Well, I could never quite define/The way You’ve changed this heart of mine/You’re the Holy One (3X)/There’s no counting all the ways that You remain so true/Faithful to the end/You’re faithful through and through”.  Andy Park’s ‘I Want to Know You’ was a #1 hit for Sonicflood.  It features lyrics that show a desire for a more intimate relationship with God: “In the secret, in the quiet place/In the stillness You are there/In the secret, in the quiet hour/I wait only for You/Cause I want to know You more/I want to know You/I want to hear Your voice/I want to know You more/I want to touch You/I want to see your face/I want to know You more”.

Jeff Deyo, Otto Price, and Jason Halbert wrote ‘My Refuge’.  It leaves no question as to where the band finds their spiritual home and security: “I take my shelter in the shade of Your wings/I take my pleasure in the hope that You bring/I take my weakness to the foot of the cross/I take my refuge where I can get lost/In You, oh Lord, in You, my God/When there’s nowhere to turn/And there’s nothing that’s true/I find my peace here in You”.  Sonicflood took ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’ to #1.  The version here features Lisa Kimmy-Bragg on vocals.  It is a song of spiritual contentment and is poetic.

‘Holiness’ is one of two tracks on the album over seven minutes long.  It features Wilshire on vocals and cries out for purity: “Holiness, holiness is what I long for/Holiness is what I need/Holiness, holiness is what You want from me/So, take my heart and form it/Take my mind and transform it/Take my will and conform it/To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord”.  ‘Carried Away’ is a Deyo/Halbert composition that declares who God is: “You are the open door to freedom/You are the only hope I have/The reason in my reason/The only thing that lasts.../You are the wisdom of the ages/You are the One who stays the same/The power in the wind/The scent left by the rain.../Some say You’re far away/But I know You’re here with me/I could go anywhere/And still You’d be there with me/I know You’re here with me”.

A worship classic from the 1970’s, Bill Gaither’s ‘Something About that Name’, is up next.  It features Kevin Max on vocals.  ‘I Need You’ makes it clear that we are all like open books to God: “You know of my deepest fear/You know when I’m scared/You can read my empty page/You can feel my rage/You’re aware of when I dream/You see when I bleed/You can tell when I need love/You know I’m in need”.

Paul Baloche’s ‘Open the Eyes of my Heart’ makes bold requests of Jesus our Lord: “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord/Open the eyes of my heart/I want to see You (2X)/To see You high and lifted up/Shining in the light of Your glory/Pour out Your power and love/As we sing ‘Holy, holy, holy’”.  Last up is ‘The Heart of Worship’, the song of one properly refocusing on Christ: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship/It’s all about You/It’s all about You, Jesus/I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it/When it’s all about You/All about You, Jesus/King of endless worth/No one could express/How much You deserve/Though I’m weak and poor/All I have is Yours/Every single breath”.

When SONICFLOOD was released in 1999 it may just have been the best contemporary praise and worship project since PETRA PRAISE...THE ROCK CRIES OUT a decade earlier.  Of note, in 2001 when Petra released REVIVAL on Inpop Records, it was produced by Sonicflood alumni Jason Halbert and Dwayne Larring.  SONICFLOOD is a very strong, innovative praise and worship project that is also a pop/rock gem.  There is a good mix of energetic and reflective, quieter moments.  This album no doubt helped draw many youth and young adults closer to God and reinvigorated the faith of many.  Several of these songs remain popular in one form or another to this day.  It should be mentioned that this album benefits greatly from strings arranged by David Davidson.  I’m rating SONICFLOOD a perfect 100%.  It’s a must have!




Saturday, April 02, 2016


Plankeye released their major label debut SPILL in 1994 on Tooth & Nail Records.  At the time the group’s roster was: Scott Silletta (vocals, guitar), Eric Balmer (guitar), Adam Ferry (drums), and Luis Garcia (bass).  SPILL was produced by Pino Squillace and the band.  Brandon Ebel serves as executive producer.  I will begin my review with an analysis of the lyrics.

The opening song ‘Good News’ reflects on God’s goodness: “When I think of You I see a beauty that cannot be described by words.../When I think of You all I want to do is share the good news/And it’s You who makes the love shine in my life/And it’s You who brings a tear to my eyes/And its’ You who picks me up when I fall”.  ‘Revolution’ is a song of spiritual invitation: “The revolution has begun/The time to give your life has come/Christ awaits you with open arms/So open your heart to Him/Blood has been spilled, a prophecy fulfilled/The Lord is coming down, our future is revealed/The time to change is now/The book has been wrote so come on/Hurting people, and jump on the gospel boat”.

‘Power’ offers these words of spiritual advice: “Talk is talk, but you got to walk the walk or you’ll be counted out/Realize that the world’s a wicked place/And Jesus is the only way out”.  ‘Open Eyes’ reminds us that everyone is our neighbour: “Love your brother, any form, shape, and size/Because no one looks perfect in Jesus’ eyes/Take time to know your brothers/See the difference in their eyes/Take time to know your brothers and open up their eyes/We go through this life with our eyes closed/And we turn off the people who need us most/We gotta make time to know one another/We gotta take time to love all our brothers”.

‘Scared’ is a song of human honesty that is addressed to Jesus: “I feel Your presence when I’m on my knees/Asking for forgiveness/Lord, hear my cries and pleas/I know You’re there Lord/I know You care/I know You set me free, but I’m still scared/I know You’re there, but I’m still scared”.  ‘Bold’ shows an interest in the spiritual health of others: “The Lord calls us to make a stand/To be bold and persevere in them/Cause if you do, you will save yourself and those who hear the Word/Just tryin’ to keep you on the right track because I care my friend/Don’t want to see you sliding back”.

‘Step Away’ is a song of spiritual surrender: “I realize what I must do/I set my flesh aside and let You through, yeah/With the flesh aside I let You through/I see all the works You do/I love You Lord and I don’t say it enough/So I just want to give my life to You”.  ‘Free Me’ is another song of spiritual surrender: “Father, I’m down on my knees/Lord Jesus, come and fill me/Without You, I am nothing/Oh Lord, nothing/And I will serve until Your coming”.

Here are the complete lyrics to ‘Know Way’, which are repeated twice: “I don’t know how you can tell me that I don’t understand/I’ve been in those shoes before and made my plan/I don’t want to hear those cries/I don’t want to hear those lies/I don’t want to live that way again (2X)/I found my way out/The Savior from my sin/He takes away all the misery and pain/So you won’t have to live that way again, no!”  Last up is ‘Forever’.  It anticipates Heaven: “I’ll make a promise to you/Someday the Lord will come and take us away/No more suffering, no more hate and sorrow/Just love, sweet love/From a God of mercy”.

SPILL is essentially an album of alternative pop/rock music with influences of grunge throughout.  Overall, sonically the album is fairly mellow, but there are moments of electric guitar driven intensity.  Scott Silletta’s vocals are smooth and warm to the ear.  This album is not a deep theological study lyrically, but the themes presented concerning the Christian life are certainly worthy of reflection.  I’m rating SPILL 87%.  It’s a great debut album!