Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Delirious? began as The Cutting Edge Band back in 1992 as a youth oriented outreach worship band in Littlehampton, West Sussex, England.  They played at many events and recorded four EP’s which included such fan favorite songs as: ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’, ‘Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?’, and ‘I’ve Found Jesus’.  The group became known as Delirious? in January 1996 and put out their debut album KING OF FOOLS in 1997.  WORLD SERVICE (2003, Furious?) was their fifth studio album.  It was produced by Julian Kindred and Delirious?  Members of the band were: Martin Smith (vocals, guitars), Stu Garrard (guitars, vocals), Stew Smith (drums and percussion), Jon Thatcher (bass and bass synth), and Tim Jupp (keys, piano, Hammond, and brass).

First up is ‘Grace Like a River’, one of ten co-writes by Stu Garrard and Martin Smith.  It’s a great rock song that fathoms God’s care for us: “Mystery of mysteries that You could love someone like me/In Your hands eternity and yet You have the time for me/A love so undeserved/You held nothing in reserve/Heaven played its symphony/I took Your hand and You rescued me/Grace like a river/Is flowing down (2X)/Grace like a river/It’s flowing down to me”.  ‘Rain Down’ also rocks and was a #28 hit in the U.S.  It’s a cry for revival: “Back to the start, my heart is heavy/Feels like it’s time to dream again/I see the clouds and yes I’m ready/To dance upon this barren land/Hope in my hands/Rain down/All around the world we’re singing/Rain down/Can you hear the earth is singing?/Rain down/My heart is dry, but still I’m singing/Rain down/Rain it down”.

‘God in Heaven’ exalts the Father: “We’ll sing/’To God in Heaven be the glory (4X)/Great things our Saviour, He has done/And greater things are yet to come’”.  Next up is ‘Majesty (Here I Am)’.  According to Wikipedia.org “The song reached the top 15 worldwide and stayed at the top of the Guitar Rock charts for the entire month of October”.  The Hillsong Church Choir sings on the song which offers these words of testimony: “Here I am, knowing I’m a sinful man/Covered by the blood of the Lamb/Now I’ve found the greatest love of all is mine/Since You laid down Your life/The greatest sacrifice/Majesty, Majesty/Your grace has found me just as I am/Empty handed, but alive in Your hands”.

‘Inside Outside’ is a terrific adult rock song about God’s love: “Inside outside, pulling me in/No matter where I run, I know You’ll never give in/I see You in the storm/I see You in a kiss/I’ve been around the world and never found a love like this/And You, You’re all over me, You’re all over me/Your banner is over me/I give it all ‘cause/You still captivate me, fascinate me/You still captivate me/Saturate me”.  Jonathan Thatcher is a co-writer on ‘Free’, a nice ballad that converses with Christ: “Lord, You’ve let me see/I need strength to let You carry me/And love was right on time/When faith and hope were on the line/Cause I’ve got wings so watch me fly/And I’m free to be the man You want me to be/I’m alive when I’m alive in You”.

‘Everyone Knows’ is a beautiful song that begins with these poetic words: “Love grows stronger when you give it away/I’m holding on to see the sunrise, your eyes/You have this wonder and it’s beautiful/It makes my face shine like the sunrise, your eyes/Time to realize/It was love that saved us and love will save again/Only love can save us and love will save again”.  ‘With You’ could be addressed to God or to one’s partner: “You never let me go, you never let me fall/I know you’re in this pain/And when I’ve got it all/And I’m clinging on to you/Cause that’s all that we can do/Cause knowing you is beautiful”.

Martin Smith wrote ‘Mountains High’, a song about grief: “Sorrow came quicker than a fire/Was the longest day, was the loneliest day/I feel your hand, the warmth, your sweetest smile/But you slipped away through the great divide/This mountain’s high, too high for us/Your ways are high, too high for us”.  ‘I Was Blind’ is a praise and worship ballad: “I love Your ways/They are beautiful, so beautiful to me/Your mystery/How you know me, yet You love me/Your kindness, it brings me to my knees/Your kindness, it leads me to say sorry/I was blind, but now I see/I was broken but You carried me/I was lost, but now I’m found/I was guilty but You turned me around”.

‘Feel It Coming On’ is a rock song inviting God’s presence: “Reach inside of me, deeper than before/Would You tear away this old man, bring peace to this old war?/See Your piercing eyes, burn me like a fire/If You have me I will run to finish all that You’ve begun/Oh, I feel, I feel it’s coming on/When You call my name it feels like heaven/Hold me tonight/Will you hold me tonight?”  Last up is ‘Every Little Thing’ which features Daniel Bedingfield on guest vocals and was a #2 hit in part of Germany.  It’s an adult contemporary ballad that includes these words: “If your world is without colour/I will carry you, if you carry me/Every little thing’s gonna be alright/Every little thing is gonna be alright (2X)”.

WORLD SERVICE is a strong effort from Delirious?  If you are a fan of Christian rock and modern praise and worship, you’re going to love this album!  Here you will find songs of Christian testimony, cries for revival, and songs that glorify God.  Balancing things out, there are also three songs about male-female love relationships, and there’s one song about grief.  This album is for those who enjoy both the energetic rock and the quieter sounds of U2 and Newsboys.  Pop influences can be found throughout.  I’m rating WORLD SERVICE 98%.  For more info visit: www.martinsmith.tv.

Monday, February 20, 2017


When Avalon released their self-titled debut album in 1996 on Sparrow Records their roster was: Michael Passons, Nikki Hassman, Janna Potter, and Jody McBrayer.  The latter two had been vocalists with Truth.  The album was produced by Charlie Peacock.  Avalon won ‘New Artist of the Year’ at the 1998 Dove Awards.

Starting things off is ‘Give it Up’ which would become the first of many radio hits over the span of the group’s career.  This one was penned by Mark Heimermann, Avalon, and Rikk Kittlemann and is a pop song about going all in for God: “Your choice is black or white, not a shade of gray/Because in love there’s no such thing as halfway/Devotion can’t be swayed, emotions can’t be torn/He’d rather we be hot or cold than lukewarm/Bring the Father all your soul/There’s freedom in the letting go”.  ‘This Love’ is a dance song which speaks of God’s transforming power: “This love can change a life forever/The only way to start is giving Him our hearts, yeah/His love will piece us back together/This is the way, this is the life/This love.../So don’t underestimate God’s love/It’s power to heal”.

‘The Greatest Story’ is one of two co-writes by Charlie Peacock and Douglas Kaine McKelvey.  This adult contemporary ballad includes The Nashville String Machine and strings arranged and conducted by the now late Tom Howard.  These words assure us that our lives truly count for something: “Your life woven day by day is a new design of the glory God displays/On the canvas of creation, through the poem of history/In the pattern of redemption/Running through the tapestry/Your life in Christ can be/The greatest story ever told/You cannot see the hands of God/Or feel the grace that flows/From Him through you to those you touch in ways you’ll never know”.  ‘Picture Perfect World’ anticipates heaven: “In a picture perfect world, there would be no crime/In a picture perfect world, we’d be free/In a picture perfect world, we’d be colorblind/But it’s alright, I know we’ll be cared for/All right, a place is prepared for/All right, cause sooner or later we’ll be/In the picture perfect world”.

Dennis Matkosky, Madeline Stone, and Tabitha Fair wrote ‘Don’t Be Afraid’.  It’s an inspirational song that finds God speaking words of comfort: “Oh, I hope you will let Me in/That’s when the healing begins/There’s a wall surrounding you/Love alone can make it through/You’re caught up in the circle you drew/And when your world starts tumblin’ down/I’ll pick the pieces off the ground/I wanna be there for you”.  ‘Here to Deliver’ is an R & B pop song with Tim Lauer playing the B-3 and Jerry McPherson playing electric and acoustic guitars.  It again finds God speaking to His children: “Call Me, I’ll hear your cry/I’m as close as a prayer/And I’m here to deliver/Don’t need to ask Me twice/Cause I’m here to deliver you../Call Me, if you’re in need/I’m as close as a prayer/And I’m here to deliver/Don’t have to beg or plead/Cause I’m here to deliver you”.

‘Let it Be Forever’ is an anthem about the greatest Christian virtue: “Love has come from God and in this love we share/People see an image of Him there/It can be an invitation that leads to deeper truth/The kind of love they find in me and you.../Oh, but we can be a witness right before their eyes/A living love that’s rooted in/The very love of Christ”.  ‘My Jesus, I Love Thee’ is a hymn that dates back to the 1800’s.  It is performed acapella here and includes these words of deep gratitude: “I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me/And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree/I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow/O my Savior/If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now”.

‘Saviour Love’ is an easy listening song of testimony: “Confiscated from the darkness and placed in palaces of light/You pursued the very part of me/I didn’t want to sacrifice/You’re the muse my heart is after/You have won the passion of my soul/Now, I find it’s me that’s chasing You/And I never want to let You go”.  Christian music pioneer Andrae Crouch wrote the last song, ‘Jesus is Lord’, which dates back to 1979.  This energetic gospel number declares who Jesus is and what He has done: “Jesus, He was sent from the Father/Jesus, the great Messiah/Jesus, He’s bread for the hungry/Jesus, and He’s water for the thirsty/Jesus, He’s a friend to the friendless/Jesus, and hope for the hopeless/Jesus, He rose from the dead/Jesus, oh, just like He said”.  Horns and piano are used.

AVALON is a noteworthy debut album.  The songwriting and vocals are both strengths here!  The majority of the songs are adult contemporary and inspirational ballads, but there are three upbeat pop songs and one memorable gospel cover.  The two main themes on the album are: encouraging total dedication to and reliance on God even in the hard times, and, celebrating God’s love for us and reaching out to others with it.  There are also two praise and worship songs and one song about heaven.  If you are in need of comfort and encouragement, this album is for you.  I’m rating AVALON 90%.  For more info visit: www.avalonlive.org.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Amy Lee Grant was born on November 25, 1960 in Augusta, Georgia.  She released her self-titled debut album in 1977.  Over the years she became well known for such songs as: ‘My Father’s Eyes’, ‘El Shaddai’, ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord’,  ‘Angels’, ‘Lead Me On’, and ‘Baby, Baby’.  Twenty years after her debut she released BEHIND THE EYES (1997, A & M Records).  It was her tenth non-holiday themed studio album.  It reached #8 on the Billboard 200 and won a Dove Award for ‘Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year’.  The album was produced by Keith Thomas and Wayne Kirkpatrick, and executive produced by David Anderle, Michael Blanton, and Amy.  In a statement Amy said: “These songs are not about life being perfect.  They are not about convincing anybody of anything, but I’m willing to stand behind every one of them and say, ‘Either you like them or not but they are all meaningful to me’”.

Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett wrote the adult rock song ‘Nobody Home’, about a ghost town: “Old man Johnson’s store where we grew up too fast/All that remains today are echoes from the past/Used to be a booming town, yeah/Now all that’s left is either boarded up or broken down.../Used to be a busy town/Now everybody passes through/But they don’t stick around”.  Phil Madeira plays the Hammond B-3 and Lisa Cochran, Tabitha Fair, and Michelle Lewis sing background vocals on the pretty adult contemporary song ‘I Will Be Your Friend’.  It’s about loyalty: “Through the seasons and the years/I will always hold you dear/Never you fear/I’m never gonna walk away/If the walls come down someday/All alone and you feel afraid/I’ll be there when you call my name/You can always depend on me/I believe until forever ends/I will be your friend”.

‘Like I Love You’ was a #10 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.  These lyrics admit to having relationship problems: “Why do lovers drift apart and how does love fade away?/When do the pieces of a broken heart mend again?/You’ve been crying in the dark and you’ve been feeling alone/Don’t be scared of what you’ll find when you turn the light on/Ain’t nobody gonna say goodbye/No, ain’t nobody gonna walk away/This time baby I’m learning how to love you, love you”.  ‘Takes a Little Time’ is one of five songs on the album co-written by Amy and Wayne Kirkpatrick.  It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.  This terrific song offers hope: “It takes a little time sometimes/To get your feet back on the ground/It takes a little time sometimes/To get the Titanic turned back around/It takes a little time sometimes/But baby you’re not going down/It takes more than you’ve got right now/Give it, give it time”.

Tim Lauer plays accordion, melodica, and pump organ on ‘Cry a River’.  It’s a sad song: “How do you argue with a feeling in your bones ‘bout what is and what isn’t meant to be?/Some things you live with and you never let it show/Like the pain I felt/The day I watched you leave.../Cry a river/Flood the sea/Cry a river over me/Take the bitter with the sweet/And cry a river over me”.  ‘Turn this World Around’ offers great insight: “We are all the same it seems/Behind the eyes/Broken promises and dreams/In good disguise/All we’re really looking for is somewhere safe and warm/The shelter of each other in the storm.../The hunger and the longing everyone of us knows inside/Could be the bridge between us if we try”.

John Magnie plays accordion and Jerry Douglas plays the dobro on the rootsy pop song ‘Curious Thing’.  Here is one of the stories it tells: “There was this guy, he was down on his luck/He was truly poverty’s child/Well, he had no home and he had no car and he wore a weary smile/Moved out to L.A./Knocked around for a while/But he was going nowhere/Then he did this movie and it did really well/Now he’s a millionaire/You see life is a curious thing/You see life, ooh life, is a curious thing”.  Wayne Kirkpatrick plays the hammered dulcimer and Greg Leisz plays the pedal steel guitar on the easy listening song ‘Every Road’.  It offers words of wisdom: “Every road that’s traveled teaches something new/And every road that’s narrow pushes us to choose/And I’d be lying if I said I had not tried to leave a time or two/But every road that leads me/Leads me back to you”.

Amy, Will Owsley, and Tommy Sims wrote ‘Leave it All Behind’.  This light pop song is conversational: “Think it was yesterday I called you on the phone/You say you need a change, I recognized the tone/Buy me a ticket please, to anywhere I’ll go/I’m not saying what is right or what is wrong/I’m just thinking you’ve been hanging here too long/So why don’t we just up and leave it all behind/Maybe a change would ease your mind/For a time, leave it all behind”.  ‘Missing You’ is one of two songs solely penned by Amy Grant.  Christine Dente from Out of the Grey sings background vocals.  It’s a strong ballad about grief: “Your smile lights up a room like a candle in the dark/It warms me through and through/And I guess that I had dreamed we would never be apart/But that dream did not come true/And missing you is just a part of living/And missing you feels like a way of life/I’m living out the life that I’ve been given/But baby I still wish you were mine”.

Amy plays acoustic guitar and Sam Levine plays the flute on ‘The Feeling I Had’.  It’s confessional in nature: “I cannot take the heat and so I’ll say goodbye/A million things I never said, didn’t even try/Cause words are cheap and sometimes cruel/And stuff you hear is seldom true/And all I ever wanted was the feeling I had with you”.  Last up is the album’s longest song, ‘Somewhere Down the Road’, which runs over five minutes.  It’s a beautiful ballad that offers hope: “So much pain and no good reason why/You’ve cried until the tears run dry.../Somewhere down the road/There’ll be answers to the questions/Somewhere down the road/Though we cannot see it now/Somewhere down the road/You will find mighty arms reaching for you/And they will hold the answers at the end of the road”.

BEHIND THE EYES is a deeply introspective, personal, autobiographical record from one of the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music.  That being said, this is not a CCM album.  These, for the most part, are not songs about God, so if you believe it is wrong for a Christian artist to make a mainstream album, or that it is a sign of them being ashamed of their faith or completely abandoning it, you’ll want to take a pass on this one.  This album speaks openly about disappointment, heartache, loss, and grief, all of which are part of the human journey.  Amy, however, reassures the listener that brighter days lie ahead and that we can find comfort in one another.  Musically, this album is adult contemporary and light pop.  There are some modest, lovely pictures of Amy included with this CD which I’m rating 100%.  For more info visit: www.amygrant.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Lauren Ashley Daigle was born on September 9, 1991 in Lafayette, Louisiana.  In 2010 and 2012 she tried out for American Idol.  She won ‘New Artist of the Year’ at the 2015 Dove Awards and ‘Artist of the Year’ in 2016!  Her debut full length album HOW CAN IT BE (2015, Centricity Music) hit #1 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart and on the iTunes Christian Albums Chart.  In 2016 Daigle released a Deluxe Edition of the album, which I’ll be reviewing here.  Producers on the album are: Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram, Joe Williams, and Sean Moffitt.  Daigle’s bio says she “has lived a lot of life and those experiences-some challenging and others exhilarating-enrich her perspective and create her heartfelt worship music”.

‘First’ is an adult contemporary song of pure spiritual desire: “Before I bring my need I will bring my heart/Before I lift my cares I will lift my arms/I wanna know You/I wanna find You/In every season, in every moment/Before I bring my need I will bring my heart/And seek You/First/I want to seek You (2X)/First”.  The title track, ‘How Can It Be’, was written by Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram, and Jeff Johnson.  It won ‘Song of the Year’ at the 2015 Dove Awards.  These lyrics from it praise God openly: “You plead my cause, You right my wrongs/You break my chains/You overcome/You gave Your life to give me mine/You say that I am free/How can it be? (2X)”

‘Trust in You’ was written by Lauren, Paul Mabury, and Michael Farren.  Joe Williams plays trumpet on it. It won ‘Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’ at the 2016 Dove Awards.  We all go through hard times and these lyrics are a good roadmap for us to follow: “When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move/When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through/When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You/I will trust, I will trust/I will trust in You”.  ‘My Revival’ is a beautiful and soft worship song: “I will run and not grow weary/I will walk, I will not faint/I will soar on wings like eagles/Find my rest in Your everlasting Name/You are my revival/Jesus on You I wait/I’ll lean on Your promise/You will renew my strength”.

‘Loyal’ declares the goodness of God: “When my world shakes/Your love remains unshaken/So constant, so perfect, unwavering/When my world falls/Your love remains unfailing/So constant, so perfect, unwavering (2X)/Your love is, Your love is/Your love is loyal”.  ‘Power to Redeem’ features All Sons & Daughters.  This easy listening song is one of gratitude for the atonement: “With breath that brings the dead to life/With words that pierce the dark with light/Only by the blood are we set free/With mercy strong to carry shame and nail it to a tree/You alone hold the power to redeem”.

‘Here’s My Heart’ runs over six minutes long.  It is a rousing anthem both of surrender and testimony: “Here’s my heart, Lord (3X)/Speak what is true/’Cause I am found/I am Yours/I am loved, I’m made pure/I have life, I can breathe/I am healed/I am free/You are strong, You are sure/You are life, You endure/You are good, always true/You are light breaking through”.  Next up is ‘O’ Lord (Album Version)’.  Morgan Harper Nichols sings background vocals on this pop song that holds out hope: “O’ Lord, O’ Lord/I know You hear my cry/Your love is lifting me above all the lies/No matter what I face/This I know in time/You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right (2X)”.

‘I am Yours’ is a song about total dedication: “Let the waters rise/I will stand as the oceans roar/Let the earth shake beneath me/Let the mountains fall/You are God over the storm/And I am Yours/I hear the voice of love calling me home to where I belong/It cripples every fear/And the ones who will kneel/Will walk away healed”.  ‘Come Alive (Dry Bones)’ was the album’s fourth single.  It was penned by Lauren, and Michael Farren.  This adult contemporary song includes these prayerful words: “God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love/Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward sons/And by Your Spirit breathe upon them/Show the world that You alone can save/You alone can save”.

‘Salt & Light’ is an easy listening track revealing the desires of Lauren’s heart: “Let my eyes see Your kingdom shine all around/Let my heart overflow with passion for Your Name/Let my life be a song, revealing who You are/For You are salt and light/You are love’s great height/You are deep and wide/A consuming fire”.  ‘Once and For All’ concludes the standard version of the album.  It includes these beautiful words: “O let this be where I die/My Lord with Thee crucified/Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall/Once and for all (2X)”.

The Deluxe Edition of the album includes five additional tracks.  On ‘Now is Forever’ Lauren displays a great attitude: “Take the treasure and the trial/I cast them off/’Til I am holding on to nothing but the cross/Depending on the love that won me over/Surrendering the right to keep control”.  ‘Wordless’ was penned by Lauren, Hank Bentley, and Mia Fieldes.  It finds Lauren speaking to God: “There isn’t any rush here/So I’m just gonna wait on You/And linger longer, woah/’Cause every time I find You/I’m a little more undone/When You come (2X).../You move me and I can’t define it/You consume me, and I can’t describe it”.  Cara Fox plays cello on a stripped down version of the album opener, ‘First’.  Vince Dicarlo plays guitar on a new version of ‘Come Alive (Dry Bones)’.  Closing things out is a live version of the title track with nice audience participation.

At its heart HOW CAN IT BE is a modern worship album.  Strong influences of adult contemporary and easy listening music are heard throughout as well.  Most of the songs are on the slow and reverent side of things.  They will draw you into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These are songs about being in love with God and willingly following wherever He leads us, even through the hard times.  If you enjoy the vocal stylings of Adele and Dara Maclean, I think you’ll like Lauren’s.  The photos of Lauren in the CD booklet are pretty and fashionable.  I’m rating HOW CAN IT BE a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.laurendaigle.com and www.centricitymusic.com.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Sonicflood released their self-titled debut album in 1999.  It peaked at #2 on the Heatseekers Chart and won a Dove Award for ‘Praise and Worship Album of the Year’.  ‘I Want to Know You’ and ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’ were both #1 songs.  By the time the band put out their second studio album, however, entitled RESONATE (2001, INO Records), the group’s roster was completely different!  Rick Heil, formerly of Big Tent Revival, was on lead vocals and guitar.  He was joined by David Alan (keyboards, organ), Tom Michael (bass, vocals), Todd ‘Dr.’ Shay (lead guitar, vocals), and Brett Vargason (drums, percussion).  The latter three were members of the John Cox Band, while Alan had played keyboards for Big Tent Revival.  RESONATE was produced by John Jaszcz and Petra’s John Lawry, and executive produced by Rick Heil and Jeff Moseley.  In the liner notes the band writes: “To all who seek to worship the Lord through song, thank you for your continued prayers and support...May we die so that CHRIST may LIVE!  Praise the Lord, forever!”

Kevin Prosch wrote the opener, ‘Lord of the Dance’.  It’s an energetic pop/dance song that is motivational: “You’re the Lord of the dance, You’re the dancing Lord/Everybody dance now/In the Holy Spirit/Everybody love the One, love the One/Love the One, the One you love the most now/Can’t nobody stop me now/I’m gonna give it all I got/Gonna run to You, run to You/Run to You, just like a child”.  ‘You are the Holy One’ is a pop/rock song of devotion: “I will live to declare Your glory/And my heart is filled with praise/I will shout and I will sing/For all of my days/Wanna walk in Your holiness/Wanna stand for all Your ways/When You call I will say yes/For all of my days”.  The title track, ‘Resonate’, glorifies God: “Let all nature sing/Let the earth rejoice/We will resonate, resonate Your glory/Let all living things praise You with one voice/We will resonate, resonate Your glory”.

Brian Doerksen wrote the classic ‘I Lift my eyes Up’.  Here, it is performed as a duet with an uncredited female vocalist in pop fashion.  These lyrics cry out to God: “Oh, how I need You Lord/You are my only hope/You are my only friend/So I will wait for You/To come and rescue me/Come and give me life”.  ‘Fuel’ is a modern worship number: “You are the faith, the hope, the love/You are the peace, the life, the One/We are yearning/We are burning and we are yearning/We are longing for, longing for You”.

The pleasant pop song ‘Write Your Name Upon My Heart’ follows.  It’s a prayerful one: “Write Your Name upon my heart/Burn Your Word into my mind/Make a temple of this body/Let Your Spirit move inside/I have wandered through the valley/I have wondered who I am/You have come to make Your mark/So write Your Name upon my heart”.  Lead vocalist Rick Heil wrote ‘Dear Lord’.  It’s an adult contemporary ballad that acknowledges spiritual need: “Dear Lord, my heart is breaking/Breaking in two/And Lord my spirit’s torn and crushed without You”.

‘Your Love’ is one of two songs co-written by Kelly Minter and Heil.  It’s a Beatle-esque rock ‘n’ roll song of gratitude: “When I think of all You’ve done/Kept every promise/And made me alive in Your Son/In light of all this/I’ll give my life, I’ll take up my cross/Cause everything else I count but loss”.  ‘Holy and Anointed One’ includes these poetic words: “Your Name is like honey on my lips/Your Spirit like water to my soul/Your Word is a lamp unto my feet/Jesus, I love You, I love You”.

‘Lord Over All’ is a prayerful adult pop song of submission: “Be the fire in my heart/My consuming love and passion/Be the air that I breathe/The song that I sing from my heart and soul/Jesus, Lord over all/Be the Lord over me/Jesus, drawn to this altar I come/Here is my heart/May Your will be done in me”.  ‘In Your Hands’ is a relatively quiet song that comes from a place of spiritual maturity: “In Your hands/For every storm there is a reason/In Your hands/There is a time for every season/Though my tears may fall/You hold me close/And love me through it all/In Your hands...”

RESONATE has a strong, melodic title track.  The lyrics on this record praise and worship God for who He is and what He has done for us.  He is our Source of life, hope, peace, joy, and redemption.  He is our Helper and our Friend.  He is holy, glorious, and righteous.  These songs long for an intimate relationship with God and for Him to work in our lives.  On this project, this entirely new group of musicians prove themselves worthy of carrying on the name Sonicflood.  If you enjoy lively, youthful, upbeat pop and modern worship music, you should pick up a copy of RESONATE, which I’m rating 96%.  For more info visit: www.sonicflood.com.

Friday, February 10, 2017


Steven Curtis Chapman was born in Paducah, Kentucky on November 21, 1962.  His debut album was 1987’s FIRST HAND.  Over the next several years he became known for such songs as: ‘His Strength is Perfect’, ‘I Will Be Here’, ‘For the Sake of the Call’, and ‘The Great Adventure’.  In 1996 he released SIGNS OF LIFE (Sparrow).  The album was produced by Brown Bannister and Steven, and was executive produced by Peter York and Dan Raines.  It won the Dove Award for ‘Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year’.  In the liner notes, Steven writes: “To the Lord of this dance called life, thank You for giving the music for the dance and bringing purpose to every step.  May this recording bring honor and glory to the God by whom and for whom it was ultimately created”.

Steven co-wrote the first song ‘Lord of the Dance’ with Scotty Smith.  It is a rootsy pop song featuring Stuart Duncan on the fiddle.  It makes it clear it is God who gives meaning to our lives: “I am the heart, He is the heartbeat/I am the eyes, He is the sight/And I see clearly, I am just a body, He is the life/I move my feet, I go through the motions/But He gives purpose to chance/I am the dancer/He is the Lord of the dance”.  ‘Children of the Burning Heart’ finds Steven playing slide acoustic guitar among other things.  This one encourages us to be fully alive spiritually: “So let us throw back our heads and run with the passion/Through the fields of forgiveness and grace/We carry the eternal flame/With an undying hope and a blazing conviction/Of a truth that will never fade/We are glowing in the dark/Children of the burning heart”.

The title track, ‘Signs of Life’, is one of nine songs Steven wrote alone.  Steven plays an electric guitar solo on this adult pop song.  Here are some of the words: “These are the signs, these are the signs of life/The love that proves there is a living faith inside/These are the signs, these are the signs of life/The compassion and concern that’s gonna make this world keep turning/These are the signs of life/A love that’s flowing from the heart/Where the grace of God has left its mark”.  ‘The Walk’ is a marvelous rootsy song of reflection on which Steven plays the mandolin: “There’s a man I know/He said He’d come to show us the way/He died on a cross and He rose from the grave/And proved He was more than talk/He taught us the walk.../Am I doing the walk?”

The next song, ‘Let Us Pray’, won a Dove Award for ‘Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’.  It’s a song of encouragement: “Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way/Every moment of the day, it is the right time/For the Father above, He is listening with love/And He wants to answer us, so let us pray”.  ‘Free’ is an adult contemporary song that makes use of The Nashville String Machine and runs over six minutes long.  Of it, Steven writes: “This song was inspired by the lives of free men and women I’ve encountered behind prison bars in my work with Prison Fellowship”.

Leland Sklar plays bass on ‘Only Natural’.  These opening words remind me of Paul’s writings: “Mirror, mirror on the wall/Who’s the biggest fool of all?/You don’t have to answer me/Cause when I look at you I see/A prisoner set free from his chains/Acting like he’s still a slave/To the prison he’s been set free from/You may say it’s only natural for me to act this way/Well, I know, it’s only natural/But I have not been made only  natural, only natural/I’ve got the Spirit of the living God alive in me/Giving me power so I don’t have to be/Only natural, only natural”.  ‘Rubber Meets the Road’ is a great rock track, inspiring Christians to stop being spectators: “I’ve got a Bible on the table/I’ve got five more on my shelf/I’ve got a head half full of knowledge far from what I’d call a wealth/But I know what I do know, better yet I know who knows me/And He’s given us directions and he’s throwing us the keys/Sayin’ ‘Fire up your engines, come on let’s go/This is where the rubber meets the road/It’s time to put in motion everything you know/This is where the rubber meets the road’”.

‘Celebrate You’ is an easy listening love song: “So, tell me what you think, and tell me what you feel/I want to hear the thunder I’m so quick to steal/Listen to the dreams you’re dreaming and celebrate you/Let me show you what a treasure you are/A priceless gift from heaven to this thankful heart/I want to take this lifetime to celebrate you/I want to celebrate you”.  Shane Keister plays piano on the beautiful ‘What I Would Say’, a song directed to Steven’s grandfather: “I’d love to tell you how the lovely girl you married/She’s been my hero and a treasure to us all/I know you’d be proud of the way your name’s been carried/These are things I would love to tell you if I could/And I would say I wish I could have known you”.

Good friend Geoff Moore co-wrote the pop song ‘Land of Opportunity’.  I love these lyrics: “This is a world full of options/It’s like a never ending buffet line/While all that I’m really needing/Is living water and the bread of life.../Seek ye first the kingdom of God (2X)”.  James Isaac Elliot co-wrote the closing ballad ‘Hold On To Jesus’.  It’s about spiritual commitment: “The doubts and questions are rising with the tide/So I’m clinging to the one sure thing I know/I will hold on to the hand of my Savior/And I will hold on with all of my might/I will hold loosely to things that are fleeting/And hold on to Jesus/I will hold on to Jesus for life”.

SIGNS OF LIFE runs a generous 56 minutes and 34 seconds.  Pop music is the main course genre wise, with doses of roots, adult contemporary, easy listening and rock music mixed in.  God is portrayed as the giver of physical and spiritual life and the One who gives our lives meaning.  Several of the songs encourage us to live vibrant, faithful Christian lives.  There are also a couple of touching songs dealing with human relationships.  One is addressed to Steven’s wife Mary Beth, and the other to a grandfather Steven never knew.  This album shows great maturity that comes from life’s experiences and it is performed with excellence!  I’m rating SIGNS OF LIFE 99%.  For more info visit: www.stevencurtischapman.com.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Between 1998 and 2001 Sanctus Real released three independent albums.  After signing with Sparrow Records their first two albums were 2002’s SAY IT LOUD and 2004’s FIGHT THE TIDE.  In 2006 they put out THE FACE OF LOVE (Sparrow).  It was nominated for a Dove Award for ‘Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year’.  It reached #10 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart and peaked at #158 on the Billboard 200.  The album was produced and mixed by Christopher Stevens and the group’s roster at the time was: Matt Hammitt (vocals), Chris Rohman (guitars), Mark Graalman (drums), and new bassist Dan Gartley.

‘I’m Not Alright’ was the album’s lead single and a #1 hit for the band.  It was also nominated for ‘Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’ at the Dove Awards.  These lyrics display great vulnerability: “Can I lose my need to impress?/If You want the truth, I need to confess/I’m not alright/I’m broken inside, broken inside/And all I go through/It leads me to You (2X)/Burn away the pride/Bring me to my weakness/Until everything I hide behind is gone”.  ‘Eloquent’ is an energetic rocker that includes these words of confession: “I am difficult, argumentative/’Bout as thick skulled as the dinosaur bones/On a display in a glass case/I can’t believe you haven’t run away”.  ‘Fly’ is a melodic song that continues the honesty lyrically: “I’m overwhelmed when there’s too much/Hiding the view to all that You’ve done/I step back to see how far we’ve come/And You’re always with me/When I’m trying to fly against the wind/But I keep on falling back to where I’ve been/Yeah, I’m trying to fly against the wind/Start over again”.

The title track, ‘The Face of Love’, is a lovely ballad about Jesus Christ: “I’ve read Your words in the pages of Your life/And I’ve imagined what You were like/And I may not know the shape of Your face/But I can feel Your heart changing mine/And Your love still proves You’re alive/The face of love (2X)/You look more like love everyday”.  ‘Don’t Give Up’ was the band’s second #1 hit from this album.  It’s a terrific rock song about marriages: “Well, I heard you say you would love for a lifetime/And now you complain a lifetime just doesn’t feel right for you/Another casualty of casual love/Another soul out of place, a heart that gave up/Why do we break the promises we make?/Are we living for ourselves?/Don’t give up on love and throw it all away/Don’t give up on love and let it fall away”.

Christopher Stevens plays the Wurlitzer and Paul Moak plays the Moog on the hard rocking ‘We’re Trying’.  It offers the following assessment of life: “Everyone wants reality, so here it is/I believe that nobody is good, nobody is good/We are liars and thieves, we’re destroying the peace/But we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying/It’s the same regression to the lives that we all lead/Everyone makes mistakes, but we find grace/We believe that there’s redemption, there’s redemption”.  ‘Thank You’ is a grateful testimony: “There are new horizons with colors that I’ve never seen/The sky is filled with graces since You have carried me/I felt so far beyond Your reach, but You gave everything for me/I was lost but then You rescued my life/Why in the world did You come after me?/Thank You (2X)/Words aren’t enough, but for now I can say/Thank You (2X)”.

‘Magnetic’ is a quiet song about God’s love: “You’re magnetic/I can’t help it, I’m stuck on You/There’s something magic in the way that You love me/I’m stuck on You/I know I have the freedom to decide/You don’t make me love You/I just can’t deny the force of gravity/And You are the ground that keeps me standing here with You, with You”.  ‘Possibilities’ is a fast paced and optimistic rocker: “Now is the time to make up our minds/And live like this is the last day/That we have a chance to put it on the line/And run away to the best time of our lives/Cause I still believe that we can do anything/We don’t have to live memories/Time can turn our dreams to reality/Oh, the possibilities”.

‘Where We Belong’ is a cry for unity: “Break away the walls/Carry us to where we belong/Make a way for us to follow grace so we can love everyone the same/Can I learn to drop my guard and show someone my heart?/Break the vice of stereotypes that keep us apart/I’m no stranger to the feeling of being insecure and out of place”.  Last up is the reflective ‘Benjamin’: “Rain falls outside/I think the sky must know what’s happening tonight/Children born while fathers die/It’s that circle of life that we all live in time.../And He gives and He takes/And it makes us strong”.

THE FACE OF LOVE is an awesome rock music record!  I love the electric guitar work on it.  Refreshingly, the lyrics are very honest and make it clear that even we Christians go through some very tough times!  As individuals we can feel alone and isolated.  Hope can seem elusive. But these songs don’t leave us in despair.  They point us to a God who loves and cares for us and wants to be in a harmonious relationship with Himself.  He is not far off and aloof.  I’m rating this project a perfect 100% and recommending it to fans of the rock sounds of Switchfoot, Nickelback, and Audio Adrenaline.  For more info visit: www.sanctusreal.com.

Sunday, February 05, 2017


Geoff Moore was born on February 22, 1961 in Flint, Michigan.  In the mid-1980’s he put out three solo albums including WHERE ARE THE OTHER NINE?  Beginning in 1988 and ending in 1997 he released seven studio albums with his band The Distance, including FOUNDATIONS and HOME RUN.  In 1999 he returned to his solo career.  2007 saw him put out SPEAK TO ME on Rocketown Records.  The album was nominated for a Dove Award for ‘Inspirational Album of the Year’.  In the liner notes Geoff writes: “People often ask how I have been able to enjoy my work so much and stay balanced through such a long career.  First, it’s because of God’s unwavering, undying and unconditional love for me.  Secondly, it’s because of the people that have embodied that love and extended it to a guy who doesn’t deserve it”.

First up is the title track, ‘Speak to Me’, penned by Jim Cooper and Phillip LaRue.  This adult rock song begins with these prayerful words: “Speak to me, Lord Jesus/Speak with love and grace/For I am lacking Father/Please restore my faith/To the place when I first met You/A fire bright and clear/Speak to me Lord Jesus/I am listening/Cause Your words they give me life/And their hope keeps me alive/So I’ll wait to hear Your voice”.  ‘Your Day’ focuses on trusting in God: “Oh, I can worry/I can pace and fret/I am letting go to You/And rediscovering it’s true/Even today, Your mercies are new/This is Your day/I’m going Your way/I can hardly wait to see/What You have in store for me today”.

In 2005 Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton had a hit with the Rivers Rutherford/George G. Teren III composition ‘When I Get Where I’m Going’.  Here, Geoff Moore covers the lovely ballad about heaven with Christy Nockels: “I’m gonna land beside a lion and run my fingers through his mane/Or I might find out what it’s like to ride a drop of rain/Yeah, when I get where I’m going/There’ll be only happy tears/I will shed my sin and struggle/I have carried all these years”.  This cover version peaked at #14 on Billboard’s Christian Songs chart.  Joel Hanson of PFR fame wrote ‘Captured’, an adult contemporary song of thanksgiving: “I heard You singing in the silence of a simple melody/Words of love, oh I can hear it/My Father is very fond of me/And I am loved by the Father/And I am loved by the Son/And it is love that has captured/The heart of this grateful one”.

‘Every Single One’ is a tender song that will move you: “Forty pairs of little eyes/Stared into this heart of mine/A memory burned inside my soul/One that never has let go/I looked into the face of need/The least of these looked back at me/I was unprepared and overwhelmed/With little time and much to tell/I’ve seen Jesus standing all alone/I’ve seen Jesus/He was young and He was old/I’ve seen Jesus in the eyes of all His daughters and sons/Every single one”.  Kendall Payne joins Geoff on ‘He Knows my Name’, a praise and worship song from the mid-1990’s: “I have a Maker/He formed my heart.../He’ll never leave me no matter where I go/He knows my name/He knows my every thought/He sees each tear that falls/And hears me when I call”.

Geoff co-wrote ‘That’s What Love Will Do’ with Ben Glover.  It offers these words of testimony: “Love will always be there/Through every lost and broken dream/Love is all you need/Love lifted me up/Opened the world to me/Time and time again/You know love lifted the shame/The shame that laid hold to me/Time and time again because that’s what love will do”.  A subdued version of the classic hymn ‘This is my Father’s World’ follows.  It includes these words: “This is my Father’s world/The birds their carols raise/The morning light, the lily white/Declare their Maker’s praise/This is my Father’s world/I rest me in the thought/Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas/His hand the wonders wrought”.

‘So Long, Farewell (The Blessing)’ is a rocker about friendship: “Too soon, so fast/Time must fly the way it’s passed/And I’m already missing you/So much to say/Of hopes and fears and prayers we’ve prayed/I’ll be remembering you/The miles won’t keep us apart/When you’re in my heart.../So long, farewell/Goodbye my friend/This is not the end/I’ll be there for you/God make His face to shine on you and bring you peace/I pray this blessing for you”.  ‘Erase’, a co-write with Sam Mizell, is a prayer: “Erase all that’s different between us/Until nothing ever separates us/And we love like You love/And we ache when You ache/And our heart is undone/By what makes Your heart break/And we hear what You hear and we see what You see/And the difference is erased”.  A full band version of ‘Every Single One’ concludes things.

SPEAK TO ME is not Geoff Moore’s best album ever, but it’s still a good one.  Lighter rock and adult contemporary sounds dominate this record, with a couple of praise and worship tracks included as well.  A main theme on the album is enjoying intimacy with God and His love for us.  God is hands down who we should be pursuing.  Other subjects on the album include: caring for the poor, friendship, and heaven.  I’m rating this one 86% and recommending it to fans of Bryan Adams and Steven Curtis Chapman.  For more info visit: www.geoffmoore.com and www.compassion.com.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


Larry David Norman was born on April 8, 1947 in Corpus Christi, Texas and passed away in Salem, Oregon on February 24, 2008.  After a stint with the mainstream band People! he released his solo debut UPON THIS ROCK on Capitol Records in 1969.  Many consider his greatest work to be the following trilogy of albums: ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET (1972), SO LONG AGO THE GARDEN (1973), and IN ANOTHER LAND (1976).  In 1977 he recorded SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SON.  Word Records thought the album was too negative and a downer, so they wouldn’t release it.  Norman finally released it on his own Solid Rock Records in 1981.  On the album Norman is credited with vocals, guitars, percussion, piano, harmonica, and saxophone.  Other musicians used were: Jon Linn, Alex MacDougall, Peter Johnson, Dave Coy, Billy Batstone, Tim Jaquette, Randy Stonehill, and Tom Howard.

‘Hard Luck Bad News’ is a blues/rock song with a cool electric guitar break.  These opening words set the tone for the album: “I’ve been having some hard times all my life/I hope things change pretty soon/Hard luck and bad news has followed me from town to town/All my life my luck’s been down/I am getting so weary/I don’t have one friend/Folks turn their backs when I’m around/And where I walk the grass turns brown/No one will come near me/Hard luck and bad news (2X)/If you were in my shoes you’d die”.  On the slow blues track ‘I’m Feeling So Bad’ Larry suspects the worst: “Well, I’m feeling so bad in the middle of love/And it’s easy to see that it isn’t quite me that you’re thinking of/Must be somebody else, but I’m wondering who/I can’t seem to recall anybody at all who’s in love with you/Every night you’ll hear me say/’What a day’”.

‘I Feel Like Dying’ is a short, woeful blues ballad.  You can feel the hurt in Larry’s voice as he sings: “I feel like dying/I’ve done all I can/But I lost my woman/She ran off with another man/I think I’m dying/I’m feeling such pain/My life is trouble/And I cannot take the strain.../Oh, I think I’m dying and this is the end/I need an answer/Oh, I need a friend”.  ‘Born to be Unlucky’ is a great, upbeat story song: “I jumped into the river to try to put myself away/A man jumped in and saved me and spoiled a perfect day/He dragged me to the river’s edge/He said he knew I had a need/Then he pulled out a soggy Bible and that man began to read/Well, he told me things I did not know/I’m glad I did not die/Cause he told me God’s my Father/And my real home is in the sky.../So I repented of my sin/Then he said I must be baptized and he threw me in again”.

‘Watch What You’re Doing’ is one of Larry’s iconic songs.  It’s a funkified blues/rock song that begins with these humorous words: “Mama killed a chicken, she thought it was a duck/She put it on the table with its legs sticking up/Papa broke his glasses when he fell down drunk/Tried to drown the kitty cat, turned out to be a skunk/You gotta watch what you’re doing...”  The song later waxes spiritual: “Some folks say that the good Lord’s dead/That He doesn’t exist ‘cept inside your head/I wonder how many gonna be surprised/When they look straight up and see Him coming through the skies”.  ‘Leaving the Past Behind’ is a happy, danceable blues/rock selection.  These words encourage us to be a witness for Jesus: “Man is born in trouble/Everybody’s got the blues/People praying for an answer, people hoping for good news/So if you know the answer, there is one thing you must do/You must walk, you must talk/You must hurry up and beat the clock/You must tell them to be ready/So they can leave the past behind”.

The next two songs are two of my Dad’s favourites.  ‘Put Your Life Into His Hands’ is a magnificent gospel ballad: “I was blind but now I’ve learned to see/I was trapped but now I’ve been set free/I was lost and alone, so far from home/I was losing sight of me/But now I’m warm and safe as I can be/So put your life in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands/Put your life in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands/You have heard the wondrous story/Now go and tell it ‘cross the land/Tell ‘em, put your life in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands”.  ‘Nightmare #97’ starts off with Larry laughing vigorously as he delivers these lyrics: “I was standing on a corner when I heard my bulldog bark/I looked up into the sky/And saw lights moving through the dark/They were coming down from heaven/Each one was brighter than a star/And I said to my bulldog, I wonder what they are”.  The song ends with great spiritual advice: “Don’t be standing in the darkness like a man who’s lost his way because he let his lamp go out/Because he wasn’t prepared for the undeniable arrival of the Judgement Day”.

‘Let That Tape Keep Rolling’ is a fun, autobiographical, all out rocker about recording: “Well, I woke up in the morning/I said a morning prayer/I washed my face with soap and ran my fingers through my hair/I went down to the studio on Hollywood and Vine/The clock said eleven thirty/Well, I made it just in time/I greeted the musicians/I grabbed the nearest chair/I started playing my guitar and told the engineer/Come on, let that tape keep rolling/Come on”.  The 2009 CD re-issue of the album includes three bonus cuts, the first of which is ‘Twelve Good Men’.  It’s a cool blues track that includes the following thoughts: “Well, a man with a woman is like a lizard on a rock.../I can’t remember what I had here.../Well, I don’t say I understand it/That’s the way Solomon used to talk”.

‘It’s Only Today that Counts’ is a comforting, easy listening song that warns against worrying: “There’s no use dreaming of a perfect future or regretting a troubled past/It’s only today that counts so live it like it might be your last (2X)/Well, it never helps to worry and it never hurts to pray/Tomorrow will come soon enough/You better take care of today/You got to learn to trust your life to God/You know the future’s in His hands/And only faith will help you meet your life’s demands, yeah”.  Closing things off is an over eight and a half minute extended version of ‘Watch What You’re Doing’.

SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SON contains several story songs told to the tune of blues music, which is unique for Christian music.  Being mistreated, heartbroken, and lonely are explored here, as are being in a state of despair and feeling sorry for oneself.  Many Christians like to sweep these feelings under the rug as they feel guilty for experiencing them.  They are though, a natural part of being human!  The electric guitar work is raw and earthy on this project.  Larry does ultimately offer the listener hope, touching on themes of salvation, trusting in Christ and living for Him, and Christ’s return.  If you are a Rolling Stones fan you will appreciate this standout blues/rock album.  I’m rating it a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.larrynorman.com