Robert Mason ‘Bob’ Carlisle was born on September 29, 1956. Early on he was part of the Jesus music groups Good News and Psalm 150. I first knew him as the lead singer of Christian rock band Allies who put out six studio albums between 1985 and 1992. He would go on to release a handful of solo albums beginning in 1993. In 1997 he took the music world by storm with his crossover hit ‘Butterfly Kisses’, co-written with Randy Thomas. It won a Dove for ‘Inspirational Song of the Year’ and was all over the airwaves. With its father-daughter heart-tugging theme it became a wedding favorite. Fast forward to 2000 and he put out the album NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (Diadem).
Randy Thomas and Rick Crawford wrote the soulful pop song ‘Forgiveness’ on which Kim Keyes is a backing vocalist. It’s about not holding grudges: “Every time I throw that stone/The fate I’m sealing is my own/Do you know how much I need forgiveness, forgiveness?/I can’t live without forgiveness, forgiveness/That’s what love’s about.../Nobody wins when the bridges start burning/Can’t you hear my cry?” Darwin Hobbs and Tabitha Fair are two of the backing vocalists on ‘Lay Your Hands on Me’, a gospel pop song about ultimate healing: “So, I’ve come before the Great Physician/Where I know the medicine is strong and free/Only You can cure this crossed up condition/Yeah, You know the very thing I need.../Lay Your hands on me/I want Your touch/Lay Your hands on me/You’ve got the power/Lord, You know I’ve got the need”. Bob and Randy Thomas wrote ‘Heaven’, a sentimental ballad: “There are moments in this life when it’s hard to carry on/When I think about my father and all the loved ones that are gone/Friends and close relation/Somewhere on the other side/They’ve passed into forever but the love has never died.../I want to see heaven where the faithful carry on”.
‘First, Last & Always’ is a very slow song on which Kirk ‘Jellyroll’ Johnson plays harmonica. It encourages us to focus on God: “So much that glitters and shines/In this world, wild and wonderful/So much that captures my mind/Still all my thoughts turn to You/You should know I think of You/First, last and always (2X)/You gave my life back to me/And forever you’ll be/First, last and always”. ‘The Truth (La Verdad)’ is one of three songs on the album penned by Bob and Regie Hamm. It’s a fun, tropical sounding, autobiographical track: “I never really listened much to rock-n-roll/Grew up on James Brown, Motown and Latin soul and that’s the truth/See all my homies were of serious Latino persuasion/They taught me how to find the groove despite my sole lack of pigmentation/They took a little white boy with shiny shoes/And they anointed me with salsa and rhythm and blues”.
‘River of Peace’ is an adult contemporary ballad featuring The Nashville String Machine. It admits to having times of doubt: “You said we’re all Your precious children/But I must admit sometimes we feel so small/We wonder if You’re there or if You really care at all/Ours is not to question why/Ours is just to live and try/To settle for the answer/Whatever it might be”. Next up is a cover of the Todd Rundgren co-write ‘Love is the Answer’. Here, Bryan Duncan is Bob’s perfect duet partner. The chorus of the upbeat song goes: “Light of the world shine on me/Love is the answer/Shine on us all, set us free/Love is the answer”.
Bob and Tom Hemby wrote ‘Watched by an Angel’. It’s a bit of a sappy mid-tempo song: “I’ve had it harder than some/But I was never one for sympathy/Even when it seemed like my vision was gone/There was someone looking out for me/And when it’s all been said and done/It’s so clear that I was not alone/I’ve got something to say/And I know it might sound crazy/But I swear I’m being watched by an angel/Somebody’s there/There’s no other way to say it”. Amy Grant had a massive hit with ‘Baby Baby’, a co-write with Keith Thomas. It was on top of the Billboard 100 for two straight weeks in April of 1991 and is from her album HEART IN MOTION. The song was inspired by her young daughter Millie. Carlisle’s cover of the song here is slower, longer, and by far inferior. At any rate, it’s still about devotion: “My love for you is true and it will never/Stop for a minute/Baby, you’re mine/And ever since that day you put my heart in motion/Baby I realize that there just ain’t no getting over you”.
‘I Still Believe in You’ is a mellow R & B declaration of faith: “I still believe in You/I still believe what You say is true, yes I do/I still believe in You/My God is alive/I still believe in You/No matter what they say or do/I still believe in You/Lord, I still believe in You”. CCM vet Randy Stonehill co-wrote ‘After All’, an easy listening ballad about God’s love: “After all the heartache and the pain/All the bridges I have crossed/And the ones I’ve left in flames/After all the sorrow and regret/All the times I’ve turned away when You’d call/You still love me after all”.
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH was produced by Regie Hamm and executive produced by George King and Dean Diehl. Bob Carlisle’s soulful vocals will appeal to fans of Michael English and Michael Bolton. His voice is seasoned and mature. Pop, adult contemporary, gospel, and R & B sounds can be heard on this record. It is a very laid back offering and doesn’t really have a central theme so I found it to be disjointed. Certainly Bob is singing about his Christian walk, but not in a cohesive manner. The album is all over the place topically. Sonically, I also found it somewhat boring. I’m rating this one 73%. For more info connect with Bob on Facebook.