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.