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.