Monday, August 28, 2017


In 1990 two Christian music legends, Glenn Kaiser (Resurrection Band/Rez) and Darrell Mansfield joined together to release TRIMMED & BURNIN’ (Ocean/GRRR Records).  Kaiser writes in the liner notes: “Blues speaks to hurts, struggles, and desires in a powerful, emotionally passionate way.  In a time when the world is so full of turmoil, I am of the opinion that true Christians must learn to do the same.  Jesus did and does and He is ultimately my reason for living and singing”.  Kaiser sings, plays guitar, dobro, dulcimer, and a bit of harmonica (harp).  Mansfield sings, claps, stomps, and plays harmonica.  Rob Glickman plays dobro and guitar. 

First up is one of three Rev. Gary Davis compositions (1896-1972), ‘Great Change Since I’ve Been Born’.  Glenn sings and plays guitar on this spirited song of testimony: “Lies that I used to would tell, I don’t tell no more (2X).../People that I used to would hate, Lord, I don’t hate no more.../Been a great change, Lord, since I been born.../A new song been sung since I’ve been born”.  ‘Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burnin’’ is one of five Blind Willie Johnson compositions (1897-1945).  It’s a song of encouragement: “Brother, don’t get weary/Sister don’t get weary/Ever don’t get weary/For the work is almost done”.  ‘Shaky Ground’ is one of six penned by Glenn Kaiser.  Curt Bley plays upright bass.  It speaks of how we can be deceived: “I thought I’d been livin’ in the light of day/I thought I’d been redeemed/I prayed my prayers but I went my way/Livin’ just like I’d been/Standin’, standin’ on shaky ground”.

Darrell takes the lead on ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, a song about taking responsibility: “Well, nobody’s fault but mine/Nobody’s fault but mine/If I don’t read my soul be lost/Nobody’s fault but mine/I have a Bible in my home (2X)/If I don’t read my soul be lost/Nobody’s fault but mine (2X)”.  The song has a definite twang!  ‘Go Tell Pharaoh’ is a fast paced number that draws from Exodus: “Go tell Pharaoh let my people go! (2X)/ I am the God of the Israelites, that I’ll surely show/Power in the water, power in the sky (2X)/Woe to those in Egypt/That’s the apple of my eye!”  ‘You Got to Move’ has simplistic lyrics: “You may be high, you may be low/You may be rich, child/You may be poor/But when the Lord gets ready/You gotta move”.

‘In the Light of the Morning Star’ anticipates heaven with joy: “The moon comes down/Shinin’ on the earth/It’s a wonderful thing to behold/But someday I know we have been foretold/We will walk on streets of gold”.  ‘Celestial Shore’ is a nice ballad on the same topic: “It won’t be long, but it’s for sure/Soon I’ll be walkin’ through that special door/There’ll be no more cryin’, fightin’, or war/When we gather together on that celestial shore/When we all come together (3X)/On that celestial shore”.  ‘Jesus is Comin’ Soon’ is upbeat musically and has bold lyrics: “God is warnin’ the nation/Warned us in every way/Turn away from the evil/Seek the Lord and pray/We been told/God has warned us/Jesus a comin’ soon”.

‘God Don’t Never Change’ speaks of His faithfulness: “God in creation/God when Adam fell/God way up in heaven/God way down in hell/He’s God/God don’t never change/Always will be God”.  ‘What You Did’ reminds us of the importance of our actions/deeds: “What you did for the least you did for Me/What you did for the least (3X)/You did for Me/You ask/When was this?/How could this be?/What you did for the least/Child, you did it to Me”.  Glenn and Darrell share vocal duties on ‘I Belong to the Band’, while Glenn plays guitar, and Darrell harp.  It is cheerful: “When I get to heaven gonna sit right down/Ask my Lord for my starry crown/I belong to the band, hallelu/Hallelu! Hallelujah!/I belong to the band/Hallelu (2X)”.

Rob Glickman plays the 12-String Slide Guitar on ‘You Got to Die’, which offers frank advice: “Sinner man, you just as well to get ready, you gotta die (2X)/Well, it may be today or tomorrow/Well, you can’t tell a minute or hour”.  ‘Cornerstone’ offers an acapella invitation: “He is the Cornerstone (3X)/Come under Him, the cornerstone/Come unto Him, the cornerstone/Come unto Him, the living stone/Rejected by men, the cornerstone/But chosen by God, Precious Stone”.  Last up is ‘We Shall See the King’ which offers hope: “There’s a blessed time/It’s comin’, comin’ soon/Maybe even  mornin’ night or noon/The wedding of the bride united with the groom/We shall see the King when He comes”.

TRIMMED & BURNIN’ is one of the finest CCM albums ever put out!  Both Kaiser and Mansfield are talented musicians and have raspy, seasoned voices.  This is a raw, stripped down, rootsy, passionate album of both fast and slow selections.  The most common topic is anticipating the joys and glory of Heaven and being with God-no more troubles in sight!  The second most common theme is how Christ changes our lives and the importance of having a personal relationship with Him and living for Him.  A third theme is the coming judgment.  I’m rating TRIMMED AND BURNIN’ (49 min, 50 sec) a perfect 100%.  For more info reach out to the artists on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Tourniquet is a Christian metal band formed in the late 1980’s in California.  The band’s theme verse is Psalm 147:3 which states: “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds”.  In 1990, STOP THE BLEEDING, their debut album was released.  Two of my favorite albums are PSYCHO SURGERY (1991) and VANISHING LESSONS (1994).  1997 saw them release CRAWL TO CHINA.  Here, I am reviewing the 2009 re-release of the album on Pathogenic Records.  At the time of the original release the band was: Ted Kirkpatrick (drums), Luke Easter (vocals), and Aaron Guerra (guitar and vocals).  The re-release was produced by Bill Metoyer and Tourniquet, with artwork by Rex Zachary.

‘White Knucklin’ the Rosary’ is a splendid rock track that comments on how many of us view prayer: “Don’t even try to tell me what prayer is for/My Genie in a bottle needs to give me some more/And when this mess is over I don’t need Him anymore/I’ll put my God back on temporary ignore.../White knucklin’ the rosary/I know my God by what He does for me/Open only in case of emergency/White knucklin’ the rosary”.  ‘Going, Going...Gone’ is pro-environment: “Is it greed or ignorance or is it both?/As the bulldozer trashes a thousand years growth/Clearcutting with a clear conscience/A burning desire to burn/If a tree falls and no one’s around/The wildlife still hear it crashing down”.

According to the liner notes: “Proprioception has to do with our sense of direction when we’re upside down-the sense a cat uses to land on its feet or a gymnast to perform a back flip”.  So, the next song is ‘Proprioception: The Line Knives Syndrome’.  Here are some of the lyrics to this metal track: “Like the feline that finds the floor on all fours/Is the house built on rock that the devil abhors/Build your house on sand to find/A cat with one life instead of nine/Proprioception/Balance correction/Innate sense gives direction”.  The title track, ‘Crawl to China’, was a #1 hit for the band.  It’s an awesome hard rock number about calling: “Is God asking you to crawl to China or just to cross the street?/To trudge through the desert through Arabian heat/Or to accomplish the impossible, an Herculean feat/Or maybe just trade in bad thoughts obsolete?”

‘If I Was There’ is a reverent easy listening ballad about Calvary: “As He marched up that hill I can picture Him still in my mind/All the blood and the sweat on His brow/As He passed me on by/I could see in His eyes/That His pain was a gift of His love/He was the sacrifice, the Lamb/And He is the great I AM/And He paid the price for me/The price for you and me, you and me”.  ‘Tire Kicking’ rocks hard and is about spiritual pride: “I know many verses and have studied many years/Can’t you see how holy my exterior appears?/Armor All on all 4 tires/You sure are looking good/But you will be bent out of joint if I lift up that hood”.

‘If Pigs Could Fly’ calls us to action: “But wait-on the horizon-land-land ho!/Will you sit there and pray or will you get up and row?/The next time you are quick to say/’I’m just waitin’ on the Lord’/Just make sure that you remember where we all have been before”.  ‘Stumblefoot’ reminds us we need God: “The consequence of diligence without Him will show all the dents/That’s why our eyes are always on the throne/What’s wrong with me?/What’s wrong with you?/How many times we’ve fallen through/The thin device of foolish thinking/All along our pride is sinking”.

‘Enveloped in Python’ is a strong metal track partly sung, partly spoken, and includes an Indian recorder solo.  It’s about sin’s grip: “The coiling is fast, this time it’s your last/Your soul asphyxiated/Final chance for escape terminated/Enveloped in python/Constriction complete”.  Next up is ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ based around Edgar Allan Poe’s short story first published in 1843.  The song reminds us our sins will find us out: “I thought I’d committed the perfect, fool-proof crime/I never knew how heavy this would weigh upon my mind/Things done in secret under cover of night/Have a funny way of being brought into the light”.

‘Bats’ is a fun sounding song musically and includes good theology: “The God Jehovah is not feathers, wood, or stone/The Word became flesh and ascended to the throne/He walked the earth like you and me/And dwelling in our hearts is where He wants to be (2X)”.  ‘Crank the Knife’ speaks of relationship tensions: “Distance makes my heart to fester in self-inflicted pain/If I can’t face the consequences of my actions/I’ll find somebody else to blame/I greet you with a brother’s kiss and crank the knife another...twist”.

Tim Gaines (of Stryper fame) plays bass on ‘Claustrospelunker’ which is a mix of metal and Tony Bennett like swing!  It asks good questions: “Are you afraid that where He takes you is a cold, dark, lonely place/Where it’s hard to find His face, hard to find His face/In a world that is not your own?”  ‘Imaginary Friend’ tells a story: “Sitting in a corner admiring the sunbeams/With an imaginary friend he frolics and plays/But he’s forgotten the only One who can take away the pain/Trading in what’s real for a figment/A cashed in life locked up in his brain/They don’t give diplomas from catatonic state”.

Two instrumentals close out the album.  Of ‘America’, the liner notes say: “We must remember that the Lord’s hand is powerful enough to bring peace to any land, if the people will only call on Him”.  The song makes use of banjo, guitars, and marching drums creatively.  Last up is ‘If I Was There’ which you could sing along to as a solo in church.

Fans of Deliverance and Skillet, as well as heavy metal and hard rock music, will enjoy this project!  It is executed with great precision and artistry musically.  The CD booklet of this re-issue includes Scripture verses, revealing liner notes, and pics of the band too.  Many themes are touched upon lyrically.  The importance of prayer and action in good and bad times, God’s calling on our lives and our trust in Him, environmental and wildlife concerns, Calvary, and sin’s dangerous and deadly nature are just some of the song topics.  I’m rating CRAWL TO CHINA an outstanding 97%.  For more info visit:

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982.  Her debut album was 2003’s THANKFUL.  PIECE BY PIECE (2015, RCA/19) is her seventh studio album.  It was produced by Greg Kurstin, Jason Halbert, Jesse Chatkin, and Chris DeStefano.  In the liner notes of this Deluxe Edition I’m reviewing, Kelly writes: “Thank you to all of my fans reading this who have supported that 19 year-old girl who auditioned for ‘American Idol’ and have been with me ever since.  It’s been quite a ride and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Starting things off is ‘Heartbeat Song’, the album’s lead single, penned by Kara DioGuardi, Jason Evigan, Audra Mae, and Mitch Allan.  It hit #1 on the Billboard US Dance Club Songs chart.  This energetic song includes these earthy lyrics: “You, where the hell did you come from?/You’re a different, a different kind of fun/And I’m so used to feeling numb/Now I’ve got pins and needles on my tongue/Anticipating what’s to come/Like a finger on a loaded gun/I can feel it rising/Temperature inside me/Haven’t felt it for a lifetime”.  Oliver Kraus plays violin, viola, and cello on ‘Invincible’, the second single.  It hit #2 on the same chart as its predecessor.  It’s  a song of great confidence: “Now I am invincible/No I ain’t  a scared little girl no more/Yeah, I’ m invincible/What was I running for?/I was hiding from the world/I was so afraid, I felt so unsure/But now I am invincible/And I’m a perfect storm/Now I am a warrior/A shooting star”.

‘Someone’ follows.  It’s an adult contemporary ballad addressed to a former lover: “I hope you will find/Someone to cry for/Someone to try for/Someone to turn your crooked roads into her streets/Someone to fight for/Someone to die for/Someone whose arms will hold you tight enough to be the reason you breathe/The reason you breathe”.  ‘Take You High’ uses an orchestra arranged and conducted by Joseph Trapanese.  It includes these cheesy lyrics: “When your angels fall out of the sky/I’ll be the wings that make you fly/When you come down/I’ll take you high/If I’m dreaming don’t roll over yet”.

Kelly and Greg Kurstin wrote the album’s third single and title track, ‘Piece by Piece’.  It peaked at #6 on the US Billboard Adult Top 40 and #6 on the Billboard Canada AC Chart.  It’s a moving autobiographical song: “Piece by piece he filled the holes that you burned in me at six years old/And you know he never walks away/He never asks for money/He takes care of me/He loves me/Piece by piece he restored my faith/That a man can be kind and a father could/Stay”.  Jerry McPherson plays guitars on ‘Run Run Run’, a strong duet with John Legend.  It’s an emotional song: “Tell me how you closed the door knowin’ nobody could love you more/Tellin’ all your friends that this love was just made for bleedin’/Hung up underwater but still we keep on tryin’ to breathe in.../Our lust for fighting/Tied up in silence”.

Fred Martin and The Levite Camp sing backing vocals on ‘I Had a Dream’, a terrific adult pop song with a great message: “Remember that the footprints you’re leaving will tell us all who you really are/It’s too bad you can’t see what you’re worth/Spreading your legs ‘stead of using your words/Character is shown by the things that we do/The one thing you’re never gonna hide is the truth”.  Sia Furler and Greg Kurstin wrote ‘Let Your Tears Fall’, which offers comfort: “Watch a tear fall/Let them fall, fall and I’ll make the seas calm/Take you in my arms/You cry/Let your tears fall/It’s not a crime to fall apart sometimes/It’s not a crime/To ask why (2X)”.

‘Tightrope’ is a pretty ballad that finds Kelly being honest: “And maybe you and I will fall in time eventually/Maybe we’ll both die trying but I can’t bring myself to leave/Cause I’ve looked and I ain’t seen nothing like you/The way you light up every room tonight so easily/And I have moved mountains babe just to stumble into your good grace/And I, I still can’t compete/You’re on the tightrope”.  On ‘War Paint’ Jason Halbert and Eric Olson play keyboards and bass, while Aben Eubanks plays guitars.  This pop/rock song cries out for peace and intimacy: “Why in the hell do we fight on the front line/When we both know that we’re here on the same side?/We can be beautiful without the mistake of our war paint.../Hold me close and kiss my skin/Don’t be afraid, let me in/I’ll hold you close/And take your hand to my heart/Here I am”.

Dan Rockett wrote ‘Dance with Me’, while Nicole Hurst sings background vocals.  It’s all about having fun: “And when the music starts and the lights go down/We will all be found/No one’s fighting anyone/We’re all dancing on the ground/Come on and dance with me (2X)/Feel the music like a lover’s kiss/Feel the rhythm like a warm embrace/Come on and dance with me (2X)/I’m wide awake, yeah/It’s 4 AM and the room won’t stop/My heart is pounding, how your body rocks/My lips they quiver on your skin/Let’s take this dance and just breathe you in”.  ‘Nostalgic’ is a pop/dance number: “When I’m sleeping I still kiss your face/I can’t have it when I’m awake/Even though we lost it, I still get nostalgic/Even if we wanted/You can’t turn back the hands of time”.

The standard edition of the album ends with ‘Good Goes the Bye’ on which Tony Lucido plays bass.  It’s about a relationship ending: “Slam goes the door, hush goes the phone/Out goes the flame/And I’m standing here alone/Burn goes the drink/Down go the tears/Drip goes the sink/And I’m missing you like hell/Break goes the heart/Wrong goes the right/Good goes the bye”.  The Deluxe Edition of the album includes 3 Bonus Tracks.  ‘Bad Reputation’ is a funky R & B number that uses The Regiment Horns.  Many women will relate: “Well, I tell ‘em, tell ‘em yeah, you’re nothing to me/I tell ‘em that you’re just another/You’re just like any other/Well, I try to sell ‘em but they ain’t buying it/Baby, they see me start to stutter/When they ask if I’m your lover”.

‘In the Blue’ was written by Kelly, Jesse Shatkin, Anjulie Persaud, and Fransisca Hall.  It’s about longing: “I see your face in every stranger/Footsteps down the hall/Warm breath, back of my neck/Shadows on the wall/And your voice is loud as thunder, hey/I can hear it crashin’ in my head, yeah”.  One of the co-writers on ‘Second Wind’ is country’s Maren Morris.  Chris DeStefano plays pedal steel on this song that finds Kelly being direct: “You can hate me, underestimate me/Do what you do cause what you do don’t phase me/Just when you think I’m at the end/Any second I’m a-catch my second wind/Na, na, na, na/Na, na”.

The sixteen track Deluxe Edition of PIECE BY PIECE has eight ballads and eight faster paced songs, although I would have interspersed them more.  The most frequent theme for sure is relationships not working or not working out at all.  Second to this is the theme of personal strength and aspiring to greatness.  Unfortunately here, Kelly doesn’t tie those things to God.  There is one song about a happy relationship, one about partying, and the standout title track about the importance of being a good father and good husband.  The pics of Kelly in the booklet are modest and beautiful.  I’m rating this pop/dance album 88%.  It’s a good album, but not her best.  For more info connect with Kelly on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Jacquelyn ‘Jaci’ Davette Velasquez was born on October 15, 1979 in Houston, Texas.  She released two independent albums and then put out her major label debut HEAVENLY PLACE in 1996.  It birthed five hit songs.  She won a Dove Award for ‘New Artist of the Year’.  Jaci’s second album was released in 1998.  It was self-titled, with a gorgeous picture of her on the front cover.  In 1999 and 2000 she won Doves for ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’.  In the liner notes Jaci thanks “All of the songwriters for such incredible songs, and all of the players.  You guys were incredible”.

Starting things off is one of four #1 hits from the album, ‘God So Loved’, written by Chris Eaton.  It was nominated for a Dove for ‘Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year’.  It shares the Gospel message: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son/That whosoever believes in Him/Will not perish but have everlasting life/I try so hard to find the words to say/To let you know how great is this God to whom I pray/Nothing can or ever will compare/To the peace that flows in your soul when He is living there”.  Jackie Street plays bass and Jaci and Michael Tait sing backing vocals on ‘Show You Love’, a soulful pop song about witnessing: “I won’t convince you with anything I say/But maybe you will see His love in how it is portrayed/An act of kindness, a loving sacrifice/Simple little things that have the power to change your life”.

‘Little Voice Inside’ is a ballad that finds Phil Madeira on the B-3 and uses the Nashville String Machine.  It’s about the Holy Spirit: “Little voice inside keeps calling/Little voice inside it cries/Little voice inside keeps calling/Little voice-oh won’t You be my guide?”  Michelle Tumes provides backing vocals on ‘You’.  She also wrote this ballad of testimony: “You make everything good/Everything wonderful/You grace my days and heaven fills my view/Let’s forever sing/You make everything pure/Everything beautiful/You make me see the only thing that’s true/It’s You who makes the waters of my sorrows part and leads the gladness into my heart”.

The third ballad in a row is ‘Look What Love Has Done’.  It finds Michelle Tumes on backing vocals and uses the Nashville String Machine.  This pretty song speaks of God’s transforming power: “Where once each breath was just a sigh of aching emptiness/Where once I hardly felt the beating in my chest/Now each breath feels like a precious kiss of life/Now inside me beat the wings of a thousand butterflies”.  Mark Heimermann sings backing vocals on ‘Child of Mine’, a pop song that finds God talking to a prodigal: “I know you so well and I can tell when you’ve been hiding something from Me/Just let it go/Let My love flow/Let it bring you release/I have come to breathe new life into the heart of a child of mine/I have come to give you peace/So lift your head and believe/You were made in a beautiful way/Born to be holy and sure of your faith/Something inside you has led you astray”.

Mark Heimermann and Toby McKeehan wrote ‘Speak for Me’, while Dan Needham plays drums on it.  It opens with words Moses could’ve uttered: “What have I to offer to a world in need?/Yet for some unknown reason You have chosen me/Lord, You’ve set my journey/You’ve prepared the way/Still I’m desperate for the words to say/All I am is willing/All I have is in Your hands”.  Next up is ‘Glory’, a pop song of positivity with Anointed on backing vocals: “I went for the horizon and I found the glory of Your love/I see the glory/There’s glory all around in the world/And glory has been found/It surrounds me/And opens my mind and heart”.

Dann Huff plays guitars on ‘Sweet Surrender’, a quiet love song to God: “And with a single leap of faith I’m fallin’ into Your loving arms/Showing no resistance/There’s a peace that flows over me/Sweet surrender/Love me tender/You have captured my desiring heart completely/Sweet surrender/Yours forever/I will gladly give my all to You/Receive me/Oh Lord, I am ever Yours”.  ‘Paper Tigers’ was penned by Heimermann, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and George Cocchini.  It’s a cool song that tackles fear: “They are only paper tigers following me/In the wild imagination of the make believe/And there’s a fighter, a survivor arising in me/I’m not afraid of paper tigers/Night brings creepy things and I hide away/False fears disappear in the light of day”.

Jaci and Melody Chambers sing backing vocals on ‘Made My World’, a happy pop/rock song about how God gives meaning to our lives: “I never thought of what I could be/Where I’d go/What I’d do/I never thought of what I should be/Until You/You came into my life/When I was all alone/You came down and saved my soul”.  Chris Eaton and David Velasquez wrote the closing track ‘Al Mundo Dios Amo’.  Chris Harris co-produced this splendid Spanish version of ‘God So Loved’ with Mark Heimermann.

JACI VELASQUEZ is a really good album of adult contemporary and light pop songs for the most part.  What a beautiful young lady she is and what a wonderful voice!  God’s love for us comes through clearly on this project.  There are praise and worship songs about God’s goodness and surrendering to Him.  Listening to the Holy Spirit and sharing God’s love with others are also stressed.  There’s a great song about overcoming fear.  Jaci would go on to star in the movie ‘Chasing Papi’ and to co-host a Christian radio show.  I’m rating JACI VELASQUEZ 91%.  For more info visit:

Friday, August 04, 2017


Jars of Clay put out their self-titled major label debut back in 1995.  Over the years they became one of CCM’s most creative bands, producing such songs as: ‘Flood’, ‘Crazy Times’, ‘I Need You’, and ‘Dead Man (Carry Me)’.  In 2009 the band released their ninth full length album, THE LONG FALL BACK TO EARTH (Gray Matters/Essential).  It was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album’ and won the Dove for ‘Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year’.  It peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Albums chart and at #29 on the Billboard 200.  Jars of Clay is: Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, and Matthew Odmark.

First up is ‘The Long Fall’, a beautiful instrumental shy of two and a half minutes.  It’s one of eleven songs penned solely by the band.  ‘Weapons’ is a pop/rock song that uses a choir comprised of the band, Ben Shive, and Joshua V. Smith.  It urges kindness: “Hallelujah, we can finally see/How the bitterness was bruising on our skin/We didn’t notice that grace had run so thin/Till we’re falling apart and the cracks in our hearts let the truth sink in/Lay your weapons down (2X)/There are no enemies in front of you”.

The album’s lead single, ‘Two Hands’, was nominated for a Dove for ‘Song of the Year’.  It’s one of three here written by the band, Jeremy Lutito, and Gabe Rushcival.  It’s one of my fave Jars of Clay pop songs!  I love these words: “I have a broken disposition/I’m a liar who thirsts for the truth/And while I ache for faith to hold me/I need to feel the scars and see the proof/I use one hand to pull you closer/The other to push you away/If I had two hands doing the same thing/Lifted high, lifted high”.  The album’s second single is ‘Heaven’.  Here’s the chorus to this rock song: “And find, glowing on the inside/Heaven’s not that far/Glowing on the inside/Showing on the inside/It’s growing where we are”.

‘Closer’ is a cool love song: “I’ll drop out of the race for more personal space/Cause the rockets we’re in get so cold and I miss your skin/It’s just how I’m feeling/If you need more love, well you’ve gotta get close to me/If you want my love, well you’ve gotta get closer to me/No unreachable itch, if you hemorrhage I’ll stitch/You are tears, I’m a cheek/I’m a pail on your boat with slow leaks/Out to sea for weeks”.  ‘Safe to Land’ is a wonderful ballad about relationships: “I’m coming home, I’m waking you up/In the middle of the night, I’m not giving up/I’m gonna stay till we make it work/We’re not going down even if it gets worse/We’ll work it out/Yeah, we’ll work it out/I need your light/Guide me in/Is it safe?”

Katie Herzig contributes vocals on the next two songs.  ‘Headphones’ is a sad commentary on society: “I don’t have to hear it if I don’t want to/I can drown this out, pull the curtains down on you/It’s a heavy world, it’s too much for me to care/If I close my eyes, it’s not there/With my headphones on (4X).../I take in the war-fires and I’m chilled by the current events/It’s so hopeless, but there’s a pop song in my/Headphones on”.  ‘Don’t Stop’ is a terrific sounding 80’s pop number.  It includes these words: “My recurring dream of you/Starlight in your eyes and music everywhere/I am dancing close to you/There are no days or nights we’ve left behind”.

‘Boys (Lesson One)’ is a touching song from father to son: “Lesson one-do not hide/Lesson two-there are right ways to fight/And if you have questions we can talk through the night/So you know who you are/And you know what you want/I’ve been where you’re going/And it’s not that far/It’s too far to walk/But you don’t have to run/You’ll get there in time/Lesson three-you’re not alone”.  ‘Hero’ acknowledges spiritual need: “We need a hero to save us from ourselves/Save us from ourselves/Save us from our fear/When the sirens wail we need a hero here!/We hide on our knees in silence/Maybe God doesn’t hear at all/And the wait overtakes the violence/And we watch as the giants fall/We’re not gonna let it end this way”.

Next up is ‘Scenic Route’, a nice pop song.  I like these lyrics: “We’re just sitting like novels we’ve picked up but never read through/You think you know my ending/i think I know yours too/You see, nowhere in these conversations is there anything new/Even though we know the sun will rise/Every ray of light still takes us by, by surprise”.  ‘There Might Be a Light’, a song of romantic longing, is next: “There is no delusion/To you I don’t exist/I am only shadow/Only a ghost can wait as long as I have for this/And I, I can’t wait much longer/Cause there might be a light/Somewhere in your mind/When you think of you and I/I know there will be a light/It might not burn very strong/But I know it’s coming on”.

‘Forgive Me’ is addressed to one’s partner: “For every town there is a crier, like a thief in every choir/And when I think of the mistakes I’ve made/All my transgressions on a big parade/As far as the eye can see/As deep as the heart can be/Such an impossibility that you would forgive me/Forgive me”.  Last up, on this standard edition of the album is ‘Heart’, which almost runs six minutes long.  It’s a light pop song with these nice thoughts: “One flag left to burn, one country to fall/One soul to pour out, one love to catch all/No walls to defend, wars to align/Give me your heart, you already have mine/No mountains to climb, papers to sign/Offer your heart/I’ve given you mine”.

THE LONG FALL BACK TO EARTH is an artistic success and a real treat for the ears.  It`s alternative adult pop/rock music accompanied by Dan Haseltine’s stellar vocals.  Songs about spiritual themes and spiritual growth are equal in number to those about male-female relationships.  Other themes covered are: isolation, loving our fellow man, and the relationship between fathers and sons.  There are so many terrific songs here!  It’s one of my favorite Jars of Clay albums.  I’m rating it 100%!  For more info visit: