Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Carman Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey. He became a Christian at an Andrae Crouch concert. In 1980 Carman released GOD'S NOT FINISHED WITH ME. The next year he toured with The Bill Gaither Trio. In 1982 Carman released a self-titled album, later known as SOME-O-DAT. The next year saw the release of the live album SUNDAY'S ON THE WAY. In 1984 Carman released COMIN' ON STRONG (Word/Epic), which I'll be reviewing here. Carman wrote all nine songs himself. The album was produced by Keith Thomas and executive produced by Lynn Nichols. Carman calls this album an assault on Satan's kingdom. Also, in the liner notes, he writes: "To Jim and Tammy Bakker and all my P.T.L. family for helping to keep my ministry alive through some real hard times. I love you all".
1. First up is the great Christian rock song 'Get Outta My Life'. Jon Goin provides a guitar solo while Bonnie Keen, Ellen Dockery, and Keith Thomas are on background vocals. Here, Carman rebukes the devil: "You've tried and you've lost/To be my boss/But devil your tricks are through/Put your sickness and pain on a hell bound train/Your cheating and your lying tongue too/I wanna make this very clear.../In the name of Jesus Christ/Get outta my life!"
2. 'This Thing is Real' is a cool sounding light pop song about an experience with the Holy Ghost: "Frightened in the back row, there I sat/I must admit I was nervous as a cat/Well, I felt the Spirit's groove/I then started to move/The Holy Ghost done showed me there where it's really at/Was it a dream?/Too real it seemed/But you oughta hear me scream/This thing is real (2X)/This automatic, all-fanatic blessing I feel/Well, you may not understand/Why we shout and clap our hands/It's only because this thing is real//Let me tell you how it feels/It's just like fire shut up in my bones!"
3. Next up is a lovely praise and worship ballad 'His Mercy Endures Forever'. Strings are arranged by Bergen White and Mark Casstevens plays acoustic guitar. The song is about redemption: "If your sin has dimmed the Spirit's light/There's forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ/He'll restore your torn and shattered life/That's the reason I can say/That I will confess/That my spirit's at rest/'Cause His mercy endures forever/Though my troubles won't cease/Yet my mind is at peace/Cause His mercy endures forever".
4. 'Spirit Filled Pizza' isn't something you can order at Pizza Hut or Domino's. Terry McMillan plays harmonica and percussion and Tom Hemby plays mandolin on this part spoken, part rock 'n' roll novelty track. It's about getting saved and witnessing-claiming other people's lives for Jesus Christ. Pentecostals will enjoy this one.
5. Keith Thomas plays synthesizers on the easy listening song 'Ask of Me'. It finds God speaking to His children lovingly: "Ask of Me/Don't turn to any other/Can't you see, you'll never be a bother?/Just believe that I can be your answer/My beloved child/Ask of Me/Don't search in other places/Can't you see that I'll be your oasis in that dry and thirsty world you live in?/I'll be your cup of water/If only you will give in and ask of Me".
6. 'Blessed Is He Who Comes' has a warm Caribbean feel to it and is definitely Scripturally based: "On a little donkey two-thousand years ago/Christ rode into Jerusalem/So all the world would know/He was fulfilling prophecy and everyone could sing/And worship their Savior, Messiah, and King/And they sang 'Hosanna, Hosanna/Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!/Hosanna, Hosanna/Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!'"
7. Kim Fleming, Patti Leatherwood, and Keith Thomas provide backing vocals on the pop/rock number 'He is The Son of God'. It shares the Gospel message: "He sacrificed His life on a cross for all our sin/So man could have communion with his Maker once again/After three short days He rose up from the dead/And proved to everyone they should have believed Him when He said/That He is the Son of God/Oh, He is the Son of God/Well, He is the Son of God/Oh, He is the Son of God/I don't care what you've been told or what lies you have bought/He is the Lord/The King of Kings/He is the Son of God".
8. 'Lazarus Come Forth' is one of Carman's famous storytelling songs. It imagines Lazarus, who has died on earth, hanging out with the saints who have gone before him, like Elijah, Moses, Solomon, and Daniel, at a testimony meeting. Carman utilizes humor to good effect here, and of course Jesus eventually raises Lazarus from the dead and he returns to earth to the delight of his sisters Mary and Martha. This one runs over six minutes long.
9. Last up is 'The Light of Jesus to the World' which is dedicated to Jimmy Swaggart. Don Potter plays guitar. This adult contemporary song is about fulfilling the Great Commission and begins with these words: "Who's gonna take the Shield of Faith out into the ghettos and witness to the street gangs of the night?/Who's gonna be the bold one to tell the pimps and prostitutes the affection that they crave is found in Christ?/Who'll take the Breastplate of Righteousness into this country's schools and preach holiness to every boy and girl?/Well, it's you and it's me who'll witness for the Savior/And be the Light of Jesus to the world".
COMIN' ON STRONG is an absolutely terrific album even though it only clocks in at 36 minutes and 35 seconds. The fast songs outnumber the slow ones, and the musical genres you will hear here are: pop/rock, easy listening, adult contemporary, and praise and worship. You will also find two of Carman's signature story telling type songs, one of which is the stellar 'Lazarus Come Forth'. This album makes it clear that God wants us to accept His salvation willingly and to experience the joy that brings. He wants us to be filled with His Holy Spirit and to come to Him with any needs we have. We are to praise Jesus, the Son of God, rebuke the devil in Christ's Name, and live victorious Christian lives. I'm rating this album a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.carman.org.
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Sara Lee Colbaugh was born on September 10, 1972. Today we know her as Sara Groves. According to Wikipedia.org: "Groves received her Bachelor of Science degree in history and English in 1994 from Evangel University, a private Christian university in Springfield, Missouri. Groves spent four years teaching high school in Rosemount, Minnesota before recording her first album, PAST THE WISHING, in 1998." Her second album was 2001's CONVERSATIONS. This was followed by her third album, ALL RIGHT HERE (2002, Sponge Records), which I'll be reviewing here. It was produced by Nate Sabin. In the liner notes Sara writes: "Thank You Lord for the opportunity to feel all these things, communicate them and watch all of this grow under Your care".
1. First up is 'Less Like Scars', one of three songs co-written by Sara and Nate Sabin. Jefferey Roach plays piano and organ on this adult pop song about God's goodness: "And I feel You here/And You're picking up the pieces/Forever faithful/It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation/But You are able/And in Your hands the pain and hurt/Look less like scars and more like character".
2. Lori Sabin and Ashleigh Friend provide backing vocals on 'Every Minute', an easy listening ballad about companionship: "And I can't figure out why you want me around/I'm not the smartest person I have ever met/But somehow that doesn't matter/No, it really never mattered to you at all/And at the risk of wearing out my welcome/At the risk of self-discovery/I'll take every moment/And every minute that you give me".
3. 'Fly' is an easy listening ballad as well. It is dedicated to Sara's husband Troy. John Catchings is responsible for strings. Here are some of the lyrics: "Speak in a summer tone, pause in the afterglow/Tenderly whisper my name/Tell me once again why I am your bride/So I can fly (2X)/Pause in your busy day, look extra long my way/Wink at me across the room/Kiss me longer/Touch my arm when I am by your side/So I can fly" (2X).
4. Jonell Moser and Pierce Pettis co-wrote 'You Did That For Me', a slow country song that references Calvary: "Man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief/Drug down to the city dump/Spread eagle on a cross beam/Propped up like a scarecrow/Nailed like a thief/There for all the world to see". Phil Madeira plays national slide guitar.
5. 'Just One More Thing' is one of eight songs Sara wrote alone on this project. Dave Jensen plays trumpet on this groovy pop commentary on our always busy society: "There's always just one more thing/There's always another task/There's always I just have one more small favor to ask/And everything is urgent and everything is now/I wonder what would really happen if I stopped somehow".
6. Next up is the title track 'All Right Here'. It's a pleasant country/pop number. In the chorus, Sara comments on herself: "And I'm not God, I'm a girl/I confess that I don't have a sea of forgetfulness/No, it's all right here/It makes me stronger, it makes me wince/Makes me think twice when I pick my friends/Oh, it's all right here, it's all right here".
7. 'Remember Surrender' feature Nate and Lori Sabin on backing vocals. It's a beautiful song with a beautiful message: "Remember surrender/Remember the rest/Remember that weight lifting off of your chest/And realizing that it's not up to you and it never was/Remember surrender/Remember relief/Remember how tears rolled down both of your cheeks/As the warmth of a heavenly Father came closing in".
8. Marc Anderson plays bouzouki and Nate Sabin the flute on the over five minute long 'Maybe There's A Loving God'. It's sung from the perspective of a seeker: "I'm trying to work things out/I'm trying to comprehend/Am I the chance result/Of some great accident?/I hear a rhythm call me/The echo of a grand design/I spend each night in the backyard/Staring up at the stars in the sky.../Maybe this was made for me/For lying on my back in the middle of a field/Maybe that's a selfish thought/Or maybe there's a loving God".
9. Matt Pierson plays upright bass on the 'This Peace', a calming song: "No time to grab the camera, no time to write it down/Just time enough to breathe it in/And linger/It's a whisper in my ear/It's a shiver up my spine/It's the gratitude I feel for all that's right/It's a mystery appeal that's been granted me tonight/This peace (2X)".
10. On 'Tornado' Phil Madeira plays the National Reso-Phonic Baritone Guitar and Peter Ostroushko plays the fiddle. This is a folk song of determination: "And every time I find healing, you're making a new mess/And I am learning the real meaning of forgiveness/And it hurts when you hit at the hearts of the ones I love/When everything you touch is rubble and dust/And it gets so hard to know how to trust/But I will not let that bitter root grow/I will not let it, no, no/But, it gets so hard (oh)".
11. 'First Song that I Sing' was inspired by C.S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'. This uplifting adult contemporary tune includes claps by Nate Sabin and Sara, and these words: "I want to praise You/I need to praise You/Let the first song that I sing/Be praises to my God and King/Before the curtains part/Before my day is starting/Before I make up the bed/Before the snooze alarm reminds me that it's morning".
12. Sara dedicates 'You Cannot Lose My Love' which runs just over 2.5 minutes to her son Kirby: "You will lose your confidence/In times of trial, your common sense/You may lose your innocence/But you cannot lose my love". Sara plays piano here.
13. Last up is 'Jesus, You're Beautiful' penned by Nate Sabin. It's a light praise and worship song: "Sweeter than spring time/Purer than sunshine/Ever my song will be/Jesus, You're beautiful to me/Oh Lord, You are so beautiful".
ALL RIGHT HERE is a lengthy album at 57 minutes and 3 seconds. Sara's vocals are smooth and gentle to listen to. There are eight slow songs and five faster ones presented. Easy listening and pop are the main genres here, with adult contemporary, country, and folk also being utilized. An appreciation and love for family and friends is forefront on this project. Also, we learn that God wants to heal us. He will help us grow and give us His peace if we only surrender to Him. We are also reminded to slow down sometimes as society is always in a rush. In addition there are two praise and worship tunes. I'm rating this album 87.5%. For more info visit: www.saragroves.com.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Mandisa Lynn Hundley was born on October 2, 1976 in Citrus Heights, California. On the fifth season of the reality tv show 'American Idol', she finished ninth. She released her first full-length album TRUE BEAUTY in 2007. It debuted at #1 on the Top Christian Albums chart and featured the hit single 'Only the World'. Fast forward to 2011 and she released her fourth full length album, WHAT IF WE WERE REAL (Sparrow). It was produced by Christopher Stevens, David Garcia, Dan Muckala, and Chance Scoggins. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart. In the liner notes, Mandisa writes: "Jesus, thank You for not leaving me as I was at the beginning of this album process; low on hope, dejected, a bit jaded, and feeling far from You. You allowed me to come to You just as I was...and it wasn't pretty."
Starting things off is the album's first single, 'Stronger', written by Christopher Stevens, David Garcia, and Ben Glover. It peaked at #1 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. It's an upbeat pop song of encouragement: "Oh, don't hang your head/It's gonna end/God's right there/Even if it's hard to see Him/I promise you that He still cares/When the waves are taking you under/Hold on just a little bit longer/He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger/The pain ain't gonna last forever/And things can only get better/Believe me/This is gonna make you stronger". The title track, 'What If We Were Real' was penned by Cindy Morgan, Mandisa, and Ben Glover. Blanca Callahan is a backing vocalist on it. It's an energetic pop/rock song encouraging transparency: "I'm over hiding my tears/I think I'm gonna let 'em go/I'm over acting so strong when I ain't even in control.../We keep trying to make it look so nice/And we keep hiding what's going on inside/But what if I share my brokenness?/What if you share how you feel?/What if we weren't afraid of this crazy mess?/What if we were real?"
'These Days' is a catchy pop tune that takes a positive approach to life: "I can see a silver lining/When the sun's not shining/Even when You choose to bring the rain/Oh, but there's freedom believing and trusting Your leading/'Cause You're Lord of all my joy/And all my pain". 'The Truth About Me' is an adult contemporary ballad that contrasts how God sees us with how we see ourselves: "You say lovely, I say broken/I say guilty, You say forgiven/I feel lonely/You say You're with me/We both know it would change everything/If only I believed the truth about me".
'Say Goodbye' points to God as the one who can give us a new and fresh start in life: "There is grace that you can't imagine/There is love that you can't outrun/There is peace you can hold on to/When your world is coming undone/You don't have to give in to the fear/Don't have to let your story stop here/And when that hand tries to pull you back/You don't have to go back (2X).../Jesus came to take it all away". 'Good Morning' is the album's third single and features TobyMac on a nice rap bit. This is a contagious pop/dance track that should get you up and out of bed in the morning, and moving: "It's a good morning/Wake up to a brand new day/This morning/I'm stepping/Stepping on my way/Good morning/You give me strength/You give me just what I need/And I can feel the hope that's rising in me/It's a good morning".
'Waiting for Tomorrow' is the album's second single. It was penned by Ben Glover and Jeff Pardo and peaked at #9 on the Hot Christian Adult Contemporary chart. It begins with words believers in Christ will relate to: "Maybe tomorrow I'll start over/Maybe tomorrow I will finally change my ways/Said the same thing yesterday/Don't know why I'm so afraid/To let You in, to let You win/To let You have all of me". 'Just Cry' is the album's longest track (4:35). It was written by Mandisa, Tony Wood, and Ronnie Freeman. It's a sentimental ballad that builds in intensity: "You don't need to run/You don't need to speak/Baby, take some time/Let those prayers roll down your cheek/It may be tomorrow, you'll be past the sorrow/But tonight, it's alright/Just cry".
'Temporary Fills' is the album's shortest song (2:44). It's a good rock track about a gal who knows what she wants: "They say you gotta buy this, wear this, drive that car/'Cause that's the kind of thing that makes you who you are.../No more temporary fills/I want a love that's real/Take everything I have and fill me up inside/I'm done looking for the quick fix/Jesus, Your love is all I ever need/No more temporary fills". 'Free' features Missi Hale and Mandisa on backing vocals. It's an upbeat R&B number of personal testimony: "Who the Son sets free/Best believe is free indeed/Gonna take it to the streets/My Lord delivered me/Who the Son sets free/Best believe is free indeed/Gonna dance and shout and scream/I'm free indeed". Last up is the melodic, modern praise and worship song 'Lifeline': "You are my lifeline/You are my rescue/Strength in my weakness/Light in my darkness/You are my safety/Lifter of my head/The air that I need when I can't seem to breathe in/You are my lifeline (2X)".
WHAT IF WE WERE REAL is mainly an album of faster paced Christian pop songs. Other musical genres included are adult contemporary, R&B, and rock. There are a couple of slower tracks, but they are the exception. Learning how to see ourselves as God sees us is a prominent theme. He sees us as His beloved children and wants to give us a fresh start in life. If we will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, He will make us into new creations. We can have a positive outlook on life. God is always with us, even in the tough times, making us stronger. Mandisa encourages us to be real with God and with each other and to take off the masks we wear so to speak. I'm rating this album a 95% and recommending it to fans of the powerhouse vocals and pop sounds of Natalie Grant. For more info visit: www.mandisaofficial.com or connect with her on Facebook.
Monday, August 13, 2018
Gregory Alan Long was born on Dec 12, 1966 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He began singing at his Dad's revivals when he was just 2 according to Wikipedia.org. Greg's first two solo albums were CROSS MY HEART (1994) and DAYS OF GRACE (1996). His #1 hits include 'How Long?', a duet with Margaret Becker, and 'Love the Lord'. Greg's third of five solo albums was JESUS SAVES (1998, Myrrh). It's what I'll be reviewing here. In the liner notes, Greg writes: "I hope these songs will draw you closer to Jesus".
Starting things off is 'We Love You Jesus', written by Greg and John Elefante. Background vocalists are: John Elefante, Greg, Jim and Kim Thomas, Jeni Varnadeau, and Sara Paulson. This adult contemporary praise and worship song is almost five minutes long and includes these words: "We love You, Jesus with all our hearts/Our Lord and Savior/You've been so good to us/We love You, Jesus/You are the light in the dark/We'll follow You anywhere/We love You, Jesus". 'First Greatest Wonder' is an adult contemporary ballad of gratitude for God's mercy and love: "It took a heart that was torn from within/Healed the scars and made me feel like a child once again/It saw the hurt, felt the pain, knew the cost/Took the blame just to say/The debt was paid and I was free/So it sure seems like to me/That mercy has to be/The first greatest wonder of the world".
Don Koch, Joe Beck, and Bryan White wrote 'Jesus Saves'. Phil Madeira plays B-3 and a choir called Greg O'Quin 'n Joyful Noyze appears on this fast paced pop/dance track that witnesses: "Jesus saves, I know that Jesus saves, oh/Jesus saves, I know that Jesus saves/There's nothing more that I can say/It's just enough that Jesus saves/He came for the lost and the hurting/Oh and He died for the broken souls/And He lives for the ones who are searching/We've gotta let 'em know". On 'Mercy Said No' Dennis Dearing plays a guitar solo and strings are arranged and conducted by Carl Marsh. It's a lovely adult contemporary ballad of testimony: "Mercy said no/I'm not gonna let you go/I'm not gonna let you slip away/You don't have to be afraid/Mercy said no/Sin will never take control/Life and death stood face to face/Darkness tried to steal my heart away/Thank You, Jesus/Mercy said no/And now when heaven looks at me/It's through the blood of Jesus".
Two of the backing vocalists on 'Man of Sorrows' are Billy Gaines and Nicole Coleman Mullen. It's a soulful song about what Jesus endured to provide us with salvation: "Isaiah's word was true/They stripped You naked/As the day that you were born/And then they laughed at You/And spit into Your face/Your body bleeding/From the whippings and the beatings/As they led You to that crucifying place/You were the man, man of sorrows". 'Everything is Gonna Be All Right' finds Greg fully relying on God even in the dark times: "The Lord is kind/I know He's gonna see me through/Everything is gonna be all right/I'm holding onto the mercy and truth of His plan/I'll weather this storm/Safe in the warmth of my Father's hand/But through the healing stages/I will stand courageous/Though the hurting rages in me".
'Prove that by Me' was penned by Jack Wesley Routh and Randy Sharp and features backing vocals by Russ Taff and Chris Harris. It's an easy listening song that finds God speaking to us: "If the stars lead you astray/And the winds don't hear your plea/I still believe you'll find your way/Back to Me". Greg, Joel Lindsey, and David Browning wrote 'Life', an upbeat pop song of testimony: "Everyday is amazing now/When I think of how He turned my life around/Yeah, I can face what the day will bring/Knowing God is holding everything in His hands/I'm a man who knows the meaning of forgiveness".
'More Like Jesus' is a terrific inspirational ballad that reveals Greg's heart: "I just wanna be more like Jesus/A little more of Him today/A little less of me/I just wanna be more like Jesus/To love the way that He loved me/So unselfishly/Oh, I just wanna be more like Jesus". Last up is 'I Saw An Angel Tonight', written by Chris Harris, Phil Madeira, and Jim Daneker. It's almost five and a half minutes and finds Eric Silver on violin and Susan Demur on backing vocals. It's a peaceful song that seems addressed to one's parent (s): "You prayed for me every night when I was only a child/I can't imagine growing up without your love/Now I believe in the truth 'cause I saw Jesus in you/And I'm so thankful/For the way you brought me up".
JESUS SAVES clocks in at 45 minutes and 21 seconds. Genre-wise this is a mostly adult contemporary and pop album, but there is one rock song and there are a couple easy listening numbers. There are six slow songs and four faster ones. A love for and gratitude towards God come through loud and clear. God is good, loving, merciful, helps us through life's storms, and provides us with salvation through the cross. In return Greg sings of his love for God and his desire to be more Christ-like. There's also a great song about how parents can nurture, pray for and with, and influence their children to grow up and choose Christ as their own Lord and Saviour. I'm recommending this album to fans of Clay Crosse and rating it 96%. For more info visit: www.greglong.com and/or connect with him on Facebook.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Country and Western singer Dolly Rebecca Parton was born on January 19, 1946 in Sevier County, Tennessee. She released her debut solo album, HELLO, I'M DOLLY, in 1967. Her best known songs include: 'Coat of Many Colors', 'Jolene', 'I Will Always Love You', and '9 To 5'. In 2010 Sony Music released THE GOSPEL COLLECTION. Several of the songs on it are noted to have been recorded prior to 1972.
Starting things off is 'God's Colouring Book'. Dolly wrote it, originally recorded it in 1971, and it was released in 2007. It's a pretty folk song that nature lovers will appreciate: "A yellow dandelion, pretty evergreen/And some red and orange flowers growing wild along the stream/As I looked around me/The more that I did look/The more I realized that I was viewing God's colouring book". 'Sacred Memories' is a sentimental, upbeat country and western song: "Sacred memories often take me to the place where I grew up/And that little country church that I love so much/I used to go there every time that old church bell would ring/And I remember how I loved the songs we used to sing".
A rockabilly version of 'Comin' For to Carry Me Home' follows. It anticipates our eternal heavenly home as Christians: "I looked over Jordan and what did I see/Coming for to carry me home?/I saw a whole band of angels coming after me/Coming for to carry me home/Swing low, sweet chariot/Coming for to carry me home". A traditional version of the classic hymn 'How Great Thou Art' is up next. It begins with church bells and includes great backing vocals. Heaven is again anticipated: "When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation/To take me home, what joy shall fill my heart/Then I shall kneel in humble adoration and then proclaim/'My God, how great Thou art!'"
'Golden Streets of Glory' is one of seven tracks solely penned by Dolly on this compilation project. This cheery old country song looks forward to the afterlife: "And when I've reached my journey's end/And if I'm worthy to go in/Golden streets of glory, I'll walk on/And the golden streets of my new home/Will lead me up to the Master's throne/With the angel band I'll sing/'Glory to His Name/Oh, holy, holy!'" 'I Believe' is a powerful, inspirational anthem of faith: "I believe above the storm the smallest prayer will still be heard/I believe that Someone in the great somewhere hears every word/Every time I hear a newborn baby cry/Or touch a leaf or see the sky/Then I know why I believe".
Dolly co-wrote 'Preacher Tom' with Porter Wagoner. It's a toe-tapping country and western tribute to an old-school country preacher: "Your smile is like the sunshine bringing warmth and joy to others/And love controls your understanding heart/And the message that you spread is just like water to the thirsty/A beacon that keeps shining through the dark/So Preacher Tom, come on preach/Let the One of which you speak have His way/Let His precious will be done". 'The Seeker' has a cool vibe sound-wise. The lyrics are prayerful: "I am a seeker, a poor sinful creature/There is no weaker than I am/ I am a seeker and You are a teacher/You are a reacher, so reach down/Reach out and lead me/Guide me and keep me in the shelter of Your care each day".
Dolly and Dorothy Jo Hope wrote a newer song called 'Would You Know Him (If You Saw Him)'. It's a great country ballad: "He might be a little orphan, he might be a crippled man/Oh, would you know Him if you saw Him?/Would you offer Him your hand?/God is all around us/He's never far away". The country and western classic 'Wings of A Dove' was penned by Bob Ferguson and Ferlin Husky. It has a simple, but wonderful chorus: "On the wings of a snow-white dove/He sends His pure, sweet love/A sign from above/On the wings of a dove".
'The Master's Hand' is a pleasant country song about God's goodness and faithfulness: "The Master's hand is always held out to us/And it will lead us to the promised land/And the evil of this world cannot outdo us/If we are holdin' to the Master's hand (2X)". 'Everything is Beautiful (In Its Own Way)' is a ballad nature lovers will again appreciate: "When I see a fountain flow from a mountain/Or see April showers bring flowers to May/I can't help but ponder /Life is such a wonder/And everything's beautiful in its own way.../What my eyes can't behold/Can't be bought or sold/And everything's beautiful in its own way".
A fast-paced duet with Porter Wagoner, 'Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man', follows. Here's verses one and two: "Daddy was an old time preacher man/He preached the Word of God throughout the land/He preached so plain a child could understand/Yes, Daddy was an old time preacher man/He told the people of the need to pray/He talked about God's wrath and judgment day/He preached about that great eternity/He preached hell so hot that you could feel the heat". 'There' includes kids on backing vocals as well as adults. It's a great inspirational song: "A city of riches beyond comprehension/Take me there/Won't you take me there?/Streets are of gold, gates of pearl, brilliant mansions/Take me there/Won't you take me there?"
Tommy Tomlinson wrote 'Heaven's Just a Prayer Away', a gospel music infused song about having a relationship with Christ: "And if you go/If you go to a church on Sunday/You get down on your knees and pray/And give your heart and your soul to Jesus/Heaven's just a prayer away". 'Letter to Heaven' is a bittersweet folk ballad about a little girl hit and killed by a vehicle, reuniting her in Heaven with her Mother who'd gone before her.
'Lord Hold My Hand' is a pretty ballad that serves as a prayer: "Hold my hand, let's not lose my way/Hold my hand and lead me home/Guide each step that I might take/Hold my hand and keep me strong/And let the path I walk be straight/Let the deeds I do be kind". Last up is 'Yes I See God', written by Dorothy Jo Hope. It's a song of testimony: "Yes, I see God where the mountains reach the sky/And I see God when the eagle starts to fly/I see God in a little baby's smile/I see God and He makes my life worthwhile".
On THE GOSPEL COLLECTION, the songs are mostly old country and western in nature, with some folk and gospel influences. Dolly's voice is strong and distinct. Some may find it a bit too shrill, but overall I didn't. There are nine fast songs and nine slow songs presented here. Heaven is most certainly a main theme (being a place where peace, joy, and love never cease). Appreciating God's handiwork in creation is another recurring theme. We are also encouraged to give our hearts and souls fully to Jesus. I'm rating this project 98%. For more info visit: www.dollyparton.com or look her up on Facebook.