Wayne Watson was born on October 5, 1964 in Wisner, Louisiana. He released his major label debut album WORKIN’ IN THE FINAL HOUR in 1980 (Milk & Honey). Wayne has had 23 #1 Christian radio singles over the course of his long career. On January 1, 2011 he was among seven artists inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. Reflecting on his legacy he states: “I think if I had any accomplishment for my generation I hopefully influenced Christian songwriters to be very transparent and not to be hesitant to writing about things that are going on in their lives-good and bad. I always tried to find a way to artistically shape these things so they could be listened to by others who may be going through the same kind of challenges and hopefully the music would be an encouragement”. In 2004 he put out an acoustic greatest hits type project entitled SIGNATURES (Spring Hill). That is what I will be reviewing here.
‘Almighty’ is a beautiful song of praise: “Almighty, most holy God/You are faithful through the ages/Almighty, most holy Lord/You are glorious Almighty God.../His Spirit still dwells, He speaks it is well/And the hopeless they are offered new birth.../Let the prisoner go free/Join the dance and sing”. This is one of eight songs appearing on this project that Wayne wrote alone, and one of three songs originally from his 1990 album HOME FREE. Next up is ‘Watercolor Ponies’, the title track from his 1987 album. It is a co-write with Paul Mills and will tug at the hearts of parents: “There are watercolor ponies on my refrigerator door/And the shape of something I don’t really recognize/Brushed with careful little fingers and put proudly on display/A reminder to us all of how time flies.../They look a little less like little boys every day/Oh, the pleasure of watchin’ children growin’/Is mixed with a bitter cup of knowin’/The watercolor ponies are gonna one day-gonna ride away”.
‘Somewhere in the World’ is a touching song from the perspective of a loving parent: “And I don’t even know her name/But I’m prayin’ for her just the same/That the Lord will write His holy Name right there on her heart/’Cause somewhere in the course of this life/A little boy will need a godly wife/So hold on to Jesus, baby, wherever you are”. ‘When God’s People Pray’ offers these words of testimony: “He will not turn away when His people pray/When God’s people pray/And take the pains of earth to the doors of heaven/When God’s people pray/There is hope reborn, there is sin forgiven/And miracles you can’t explain away/When God’s people pray”.
‘Friend of a Wounded Heart’ is one of Wayne’s most well known and beloved songs. It was co-written with Claire Cloninger and is the only song over five minutes long on SIGNATURES. It is an inspirational gem: “Caught like a leaf in the wind/Lookin’ for a friend where you can turn/Whisper the words of a prayer and you’ll find Him there/Arms open wide, love in His eyes/Jesus, He meets you where you are/Jesus, He heals your secret scars/All the love you’re longing for/Is Jesus/He’s the Friend of a wounded heart”. ‘Field of Souls’ is the missions minded title track from Watson’s 1995 album: “We work the field of souls, together you and I/Some fields are blooming now and other fields are dry/We are not the same, but differences aside/We’ll work the field of souls, together you and I/One is off to foreign soil to work a distant land/And another anchor’s close to home to hold a neighbors hand”.
‘Would I Know You’ is a great quiet song of reflection: “Would I know You now if You walked into the room/If You stilled the crowd, if Your light dispelled the gloom?/And if I saw Your wounds, touched Your thorn pierced brow/I wonder if I’d know You now?/Would I know You now if You walked into this place?/Would I cause You shame, would my games be Your disgrace?/Or would I worship You, fall upon my face?/I wonder if I’d know You now”. ‘Home Free’ is one of my all time favorite Wayne Watson songs. It is a song of encouragement for those who aren’t healed on this earth and for those who’ve lost a loved one: “We will be home free eventually/I believe at that ultimate healing/We will be home, we will be free/Home free/I believe it’s more than just a feeling/Cause at that ultimate healing/I believe at that ultimate healing (2X)/We will be home/And won’t it be good to be home/Home free”.
‘Walk in the Dark’ is a light pop song of faith: “There will be shadows, but I’m not gonna be shaken/Cause You’ve never forsaken a vow/You’ve never failed me before this I know/I know, Jesus, You’re not gonna fail me now/I know You won’t fail me now/I would rather walk in the dark with Jesus than to walk in the light on my own”. Last up is ‘Beautiful Place’, the title track from Wayne’s 1993 album. It starts off with words we can all relate to: “If I had my way, I must admit/If I called every play of the game/I’d pray for good times-blue sky and sunshine/And I’d avoid with a passion any pain”.
Wayne’s son Neal Watson writes the following words in the album’s liner notes: “By using an extremely simplified recording process (my dad in a room with his guitar or piano and a vocal microphone), no editing and very little production, we were able to put together a record that captures the true heart behind the music of Wayne Watson”. I certainly can’t argue with that! Five of the songs have only piano accompaniment and five have only acoustic guitar accompaniment. This allows Wayne’s wonderful vocals and well thought out lyrics to shine through. This is an album of folk, easy listening, and adult contemporary sounds. The most common theme is putting one’s faith and trust in God. There are also a couple terrific songs that deal with family life. This is a relaxing album that is good to listen to when you have had a stressful day. I recommend it to fans of Steve Green, James Taylor, and Michael W. Smith. For more info visit: www.waynewatson.com or connect with him on Facebook. I give SIGNATURES a perfect 100%.