Wayne Watson’s current bio begins: “Wayne Watson is wearing this season of his creative life with the ease of a favorite well-worn leather jacket-relaxed and comfortable. The man whose voice and songs helped define an entire genre of Christian music throughout the 80’s and 90’s is re-connecting with his music with a new passion seemingly born at the intersection of age and wisdom”. Mr. Watson has won 12 Dove Awards, had 2 Grammy nominations, and an impressive 23 #1 Christian radio singles including ‘Friend of a Wounded Heart’ and ‘Home Free’. His new album is SIMPLE LIFE (2016, Five Blade Fan Music).
David Cleveland plays guitar on the title track ‘Simple Life’, and on three other tracks. This one is a great adult contemporary song for us materialistic North Americans to consider: “The flowers of the field, see how your Father cares for these/They hear the symphony/I wanna find me a way to live in that perfect peace/Oh, it won’t take much to be satisfied/Oh, I’ll be good with what the Lord provides/Well, if the answer is easy then why, why is it such a fight to live a simple life?/Wanna set my sights on a life in a peaceful place/Where my heart can find rest in the glow of my Father’s face/In the flow of amazing grace”. ‘I Can Breathe Here’ is an easy listening song that talks of a spiritual place of refuge on this earth: “My Savior built this church with nails from His bleeding hands/This is where I call home/It’s where I come to lay my burdens down/All my failures, all my faults and even any good things/It’s where I come to shake the dust of the world off my feet for awhile and sing/I can breathe here/I can believe here/I can give what I have”.
‘In the In Between’ is a co-write with the legendary Sandi Patty. It speaks of God’s goodness to us: “He was, He is, He always will be/But in the in between sometimes it’s hard to see/In the in between as everyday life happens and the fields of green belong to someone else/In the in between what will be and what has been/Jesus is a faithful Friend in the in between/Grace and mercy have no season”. ‘Heal Our Land’ uses a choir to good effect and is an inspirational anthem of petition and confession: “Hear our prayer, oh hear our prayer/Hear our prayer oh Lord and heal our land/It’s not so much that we’ve forgotten/But that we remember and are cold/And pay too little mind to the voice of God/Still we dare to be so bold/Hear our prayer”.
‘Almighty (2015)’ is a neat re-worked, updated version of a classic Watson praise song: “Well, time marches on, with innocence gone and darkness has covered the earth/Well, but His Spirit still dwells/He speaks ‘It is well’/And the hopeless are offered new birth/He will break the leash of death, it will have no sting/Let the prisoner break free, join the dance and sing/’Almighty, most holy God/You are faithful through the ages/Almighty, most holy Lord/You are glorious Almighty!’” ‘One of Those Times’ is a beautiful song of spiritual reflection that uses strings conducted by David Davidson: “We will sing with a joyful noise, sing as if we have no choice/But to sing to God with heart and voice/This will be one of those times/There’s a time and a place in most every day/A time to move and a time to pray/This will be one of those times/Yeah, this will be one of those times”.
‘Hold You All Night’ is the loving song of a parent to a young child: “I’ve heard stories that people tell/How to raise a child up well/Maybe there’s some good advice/God, I wanna be wise/And oh how fast these days go by/I know for sure that time will fly/And you will change in the blink of an eye/I can hear those pages turn/So, I will hold you all night/Yeah, if that’s what it takes so you know/Here in my arms you’ll be alright/I will hold you all night”. ‘Glorify Your Name’ is a lovely light pop song of praise: “In the shadows of the valley/Oh, I will not fear, I will not fear/You are beside me/Almighty God, how majestic is Your Name!/Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall praise and/Glorify, glorify Your Name/We will glorify, glorify Your Name/And together the redeemed, all forgiven will proclaim/We will glorify, glorify Your Name”.
Next up is ‘The Right Thing’. It is the most modern sounding track on the album. It is a light, atmospheric adult pop ballad with a heartbeat-like rhythm to it. It’s about spiritual discernment: “Why are we wringing our hands?/Some choices are black and white/Is it really so hard to know wrong from right?/So, do the right thing whatever it takes/Do the right thing/It’s never too late/Oh, you’ve known it all along/It’s never wrong to do the right thing (2X).../When nobody sees, when nobody’s there/You’re gonna find out who you really are/The Voice from the heavens is pushing you on and changing your heart”. Erika Johnson skillfully plays cello on ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’. It extols Christ: “Fairest Lord Jesus/Ruler of all nature/O Thou of God and man the Son/Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor/Thou my soul’s glory, joy, and crown”. Last up is an acoustic version of ‘Heal Our Land’.
If you have never before heard a Wayne Watson album, you’re in for a real treat with SIMPLE LIFE. He remains one of the finest male Contemporary Christian Music vocalists of all time. If on the other hand, like me, it’s been a while since you’ve heard new Wayne Watson material, listening to this project will be like catching up with an old friend. Wayne sings about what living as one who is a Christian who puts their faith and trust in God looks like in 2016. He doesn’t preach. The tone he uses makes you feel like you are one of his good friends and are out having a coffee with him. Included are a few songs of praise and one about parenthood. If you are a fan of the likes of James Taylor, Steve Green, and Bebo Norman, you need to acquire this album! It will minister to you. I’m rating SIMPLE LIFE 90%. For more info visit: www.waynewatson.com, or connect with him on Facebook.