Sunday, November 24, 2019

THE DREAM


Sanctus Real formed in Toledo, Ohio in 1996. They released their major label debut, SAY IT LOUD, in 2002. Over the years they became known for such songs as 'I'm Not Alright', 'We Need Each Other', and 'Lead Me'. Fast forward to 2014 and they released THE DREAM (Sparrow), their last album with Matt Hammitt as lead singer. Joining him on this project are Chris Rohman, Mark Graalman, Jake Rye, and Seth Huff.

The album opens with the optimistic pop title track 'The Dream'. It declares: "The dream is alive/I feel it inside/When You're close/I see the light/The dream is alive/And it's right in front of me/It's You (2X)/It's not a place/It's not a thing/It's not a trivial pursuit/The dream is You (3X)". 'I Need You' is a pop/dance track about the importance of God: "I need You/This is serious/I need You more than an experience/I need You cause You're the real thing/I need You".

'Head in the Fight' is an adult contemporary song of encouragement: "You gotta keep your head in the fight/You can't give up in the hardest times/Can't let your spirit die/If you're gonna survive/You've gotta keep love in your heart/A prayer on your tongue". 'Lay it Down' is a spiritual pep talk: "Oh, you can stand up no matter what/March on when times are tough/Be strong and don't give up/All you need now is to shake 'em off and lay 'em down/At the cross where your freedom's found".

'Easier on My Heart' uses synthesizer and includes these prayerful words: "C'mon take, take, take me in Your arms/Don't let me get away/Hold me close to Your heart/Take, take, take me in Your arms/Don't let me fall away/When I'm falling apart". 'Ride it Out' offers these words of assurance: "The wind will take you where you're meant to be/The waves will break when your Creator speaks/And when it's over you will clearly see/That the storm was only there to show you what it takes to believe".

Next up is 'Bend Not Break', a light pop song of friendship: "Take my hand and remember/We may bend but will not break/And if ever you should feel like giving up/Remember that God is with us/And if ever you should fear you may lose/Remember that you don't have to run". 'Same God' is a good pop/rock song about the body of Christ: "All for the One who gives us life/No other purpose, no other pledge/Nobody else has conquered death/Under this banner we are united by the same love".

'One Word At A Time' offers us good advice: "Every morning is a new sunrise/A chance to change the world by living out your life/One word at a time.../Living one word can lead you to freedom/Can make you courageous/Living one word/Can help you discover/Your life direction". '33' is a wonderful adult contemporary ballad: "And now I'm 33/Looking at this path behind me/And all You've brought me through/And I've made my mistakes/I've caused my share of heartache/But I have seen a mother's prayer come true/Oh, Lord my heart still belongs to You".

'On Fire' is a quiet spiritual wake-up call: "You were on fire/And church was more than a place/And people were more than faces/And Jesus was more than a name/Remember when you weren't ashamed/To tell your friends about your faith/A time when you felt the pain of just one lost soul that was slipping away". The album closes with 'The Beginning (Outro)', a short, peaceful, mostly instrumental cut.

If you're looking for the rockier side of Sanctus Real, you won't find it on THE DREAM. This album is mostly adult pop and adult contemporary music. The band performs both well. The three main lyrical subjects are: admitting a need for God in one's life, living the Christian life, and encouraging others. This is decidedly an album of positivity and not negativity. It offers a Light in a dark world. I'm rating it 86%. For more info visit www.sanctusreal.com or connect with the band on social media.








Friday, November 08, 2019

WORSHIP VOLUME ONE: I STAND FOR YOU


In 2000 Tree63 released a self-titled album, their first in the States. It won a Dove Award for 'Rock Album of the Year'. Fast forward to 2005 and they put out WORSHIP VOLUME ONE: I STAND FOR YOU (Inpop). Group members were: John Ellis (vocals, guitars, piano, keyboards), Daniel Ornellas (bass, backing vocals), and Bobby Blazier (drums, percussion).

Starting things of is 'No Other', an energetic pop/rock song that testifies: "Beloved of God, bright, shining Morning Star/How beautiful You have become to me/A treasure so deep/I've given my all to keep/Now that I've found You, I won't let You go". A live version of the popular 'Treasure' follows. Also pop/rock, it is addressed to God: "My heart is where my treasure lies/My great reward is in Your eyes/My every breath belongs to You/You are my treasure".

'I Will Never Be the Same' is a beautiful ballad: "For my eyes have seen Your glory/For my ears have heard Your Name/I have placed my hand in Your hand/I will never be the same". A live version of 'Joy' is next. It includes these requests of God: "Let me be a shining light for You/Let me be a joy to You always".

A new version of 'I Stand For You' comes next. It's a pleasant ballad about spiritual endurance: "Jesus, I've stood my ground/When unbelief was all around/I have felt the sting rejection brings/But Jesus, I still stand for You". 'All Over the World' was written by Matt Redman and Martin Smith. It's an upbeat song that exalts God: "We are the people of God/We'll sing Your song here on the earth/All over the world Your song will resound/All over the world Your praises ring out/We're living to see Your Name and renown/All over the world".

'Lift' is a pop song that includes these words of truth: "Holy, pure and true You are/How we need You Lord/To cleanse us with Your love". Matt Redman is a writer and guest vocalist on 'Nothing But the Blood'. This worship ballad includes these reverent words: "Your cross testifies in grace/Tells the Father's heart to make a way for us/Now boldly we approach/Not earthly confidence/It's only by Your blood".

Next up is a live version of 'King'. It's a bouncy pop/rocker addressed to Christ: "We will give You glory, bring You honour/King above all kings/You deserve our everything/We will lift our voices with Your praises/Jesus, You are our King". 'Have Your Way' is a quiet song of spiritual surrender: "Take me, have Your way/Though I don't feel You/I will believe/Take me Lord I pray/Just have Your way with me".

'Great Kindness' includes words that are very relatable: "How can I repay You?/What can I ever give back to You?/I always will remember/Your great kindness". A live version of 'Look What You've Done' follows. I like these lyrics: "Up to the cross I crawled/Now I'm standing ten feet tall/Jesus, my Saviour, look what You've done for me!" Last up is a live version of 'Amazing Grace', not the Chris Tomlin one with additional lyrics added to the hymn.

WORSHIP VOLUME ONE: I STAND FOR YOU is everything a great pop/rock modern praise and worship album should be. It's full of passion, charisma, and devotion. John Ellis' lead vocals are awesome. This is an album recognizing just how high a price God paid for our salvation. We are His adopted and deeply loved kids. This is an album of gratitude for God's mercy and grace towards us. We don't have to wait till we get to heaven to praise Him with all we've got! Fans of Delirious? and Newsboys will enjoy this album. For more info visit www.tree63.com and connect with the band on Facebook. I'm rating this CD 100%.



Tuesday, November 05, 2019

BUZZ


Guardian released their debut album FIRST WATCH back in 1989. Fast forward to 1995 and they put out their fifth studio album, BUZZ (Myrrh). It was produced by the legendary and quirky Steve Taylor. Group members at the time were: Jamie Rowe (lead vocals), Tony Palacios (guitar and vocals), David Bach (bass and vocals), and Karl Ney (drums and vocals). The CD booklet comes with four interchangeable front covers, all having something to do with the word 'buzz'.

The album starts with 'This Old Man', a pulsating rocker about a spiritual struggle: "This old man/He plays seek and destroy/He comes robbing my joy/He's here spreading the rot/Old man, don't you get it?/What I've got's as good as gold/Good as gold/Better than gold". 'Lead the Way' has some sizzling electric guitar work. It calls out to Christ: "Up we struggle, down we slide/Scared to call on a bigger guide/I'm tired of getting snowed, speed the plow/Lead the way, Lord Jesus, I'm ready now".

'State of Mine' is a rock ballad about depression: "Psalmist with a blues harp/Knew all about the darkest blues/He said his soul was downcast/Lord, I feel the same way too/Won't You tell me why I feel this way, this way?" 'The Lion's Den' is a manly rock song about courage: "Every age at every stage/Lions rage/Pray, stand your ground/They'll lie down.../God wrote the book, He'll fortify/And like the eagles we will fly/We're gonna fly".

'Are You Gonna Keep Your Word?' is a ballad about marriage: "And as we watch our children sleep/I take her hand/I feel her ring/I have been faithful but I know my heart is not above deceit". 'One Thing Left to Do' includes a good electric guitar solo and calls out to non-believers: "God's still calling/You're still stalling/Dead from dry rot/Soul sleep, blood clot/Face it/You've got one thing left to do/Appointed in this life/A single choice for every man/It's time to choose".

Next up is 'Hand of the Father'. It's a slower song offering spiritual direction: "Take the hand of the Father/As He leads you to the land of no tomorrow/Take the hand of the Father/As He leads you to the land/Of no more sorrows". 'Psychedelic Runaway' has a cool groove to it and offers a commentary on seekers: "Reaching up too high, we fell away/Reaching for a sun ray/It happened in the sixties/It happens today/Psychedelic runaway".

'Even it Out' includes these mysterious lyrics: "Silver tongues in God's house/Green the plate/Clean up/Too late/Sugar kingdoms will melt away on judgment day". 'Lift Me Up' is a pop/rock song of one calling out to God: "Can You forgive me?/Just a touch of Your hand/And I'll know that Your love is true/I surrender all I've kept from You/Lord, I'll do anything to be with You".

'Shorty' is a fun pop/rock tune that tells a story: "Shorty likes to play guitar/Shorty likes to drive his car/But Shorty knows/You can't take it when you go.../Shorty knows about true love/Shorty's saved by Jesus' blood/Shorty ain't afraid to let you know". 'Lullaby' is a soothing, quiet number: "Hush/Baby don't you cry/And I will sing a lullaby". Last up is 'Them Nails', a rocker that speaks out against works righteousness: "Why do I keep payin'/On a debt that's already been paid?/Oh, I've got it made/I keep drivin' them nails/Drivin' them nails right into You".

BUZZ is a fun rock album, with some pop influences, to listen to. Jamie Rowe's vocals are well suited to this material. A key theme on the album is the struggle we all face when it comes to choosing whether to do God's will or to do our own. Satan will do anything he can to keep us from finding salvation in Jesus Christ and living a victorious life in Him. Other topics on BUZZ include depression, marital faithfulness, and heaven. I'm rating this one 87%. For more info connect with the band and its members on Facebook.






Monday, November 04, 2019

WHERE I STAND


Twila Paris was born on December 28, 1958 in Fort Worth, Texas. She put out her first full length album, KNOWIN' YOU'RE AROUND, in 1980. Over the years she became known for such songs as 'The Warrior is A Child', 'How Beautiful', and 'God is in Control'. In 1996 she released WHERE I STAND (Sparrow). It was produced by Brown Bannister and executive produced by Peter York.

Leading things off is 'Love's Been Following You'. Brian Hughes plays the oud and the bazooki on this song that speaks of God's faithfulness: "You think that no one cares/Still love is always there/He would go anywhere/Just to find you/Love's been following you". 'Hold On' is a gentle ballad offering words of wisdom: "We can hold on to sorrow/Hold on to pain/We can hold on to anger when there is nothing to be gained/We can hold to a thread at the end of a rope/But if we hold on to Jesus we are holding on to hope/Hold on (2X)". 'Band of Survivors' is a great adult contemporary song that asks some important questions: "Will you stand with the heart of a warrior/By the blood of the Lamb/In the Name of the King?/Will you stand with the band of survivors/Hand in hand 'til the end of the day/Taking the land with the band of survivors/Tried in the fire? (2X)". Two of the backing vocalists are Lisa Bevill and Chris Rodriguez.

'Faithful Friend' is a co-write and duet with Steven Curtis Chapman. The London Session Orchestra is used on this pretty ballad about true loyalty: "I will be an open door that you can count on/Anywhere you are, anywhere you've been/I will be an honest heart you can depend on/I will be a faithful friend/Should it ever come your time to mourn/I will weep with you/And every single time you win/I'm celebrating too/Oh, I will celebrate with you". 'Jesus in You' is a terrific pop song about children: "The eyes are young/I won't deny it/But, oh, the dream of tender youth.../I can see Jesus in you/I see His love on your face/Go in His Name and do all He commands you to do/I see Jesus in you". 

Gordon Kennedy plays electric guitar on 'Honor and Praise'. It exalts God: "Righteous and holy in all of Your ways/We come before You with honor and praise/Here to adore You for all of our days/We come before You with honor and praise/Lord of the heavens how faithful You are/Shine down upon us, oh Bright Morning Star". '(I Am) Not Afraid Anymore' is a pleasant pop song of celebration: "I am not afraid anymore/You have opened all the windows/Opened all the doors/I am not afraid anymore/I feel the wind of freedom/Like I never did before/The light is filling up the corners/Dancing on the floor/I am not afraid anymore".

Next is 'What Did He Die For?'. While this moving song deals with the crucifixion, it begins by reflecting on a soldier in WW2: "He was 21 in 1944/He was hope, and he was courage on a lonely shore/Sent there by a mother with love beyond her tears/Just a young American who chose to rise above his fears/And as I watch him struggle up that hill/Without a thought of turning back/I cannot help but wonder/What did he die for when he died for you and me?/Made the sacrifice so that we could all be free". Jerry McPherson plays electric guitar and Steve Brewster drums on 'House of Cards'. This light rock song gives good advice: "You know the house of cards will tumble/Temporary by design/And all the schemes of man will crumble/Are we wasting precious time?/When there is only one Kingdom/One place to hide/Only one Kingdom/Come and find a place inside".

'I Never Get Used to What You Do' is an easy listening song of wonder: "I never get used to what You do/I never get used to watching You/Take a life beyond redemption/Make it Your's and make it new/I never outgrow the miracle/A heart that was empty flowing full/I never get used to what You do". Last up is 'I Will Listen'. It makes use of piano, viola, and cellos. I love these words: "I cannot imagine what will come/But I've already made my choice/And this is where I stand until He moves me on/And I will listen to His voice/Could it be that He is only waiting there to see if I will learn to love the dreams/That He has dreamed for me?"

WHERE I STAND is quite the inspirational album, I must say! Twila's vocals warm the soul. This album will lead you into God's presence. You will be in awe of His love for you and in return you will want to declare your love, worship, and gratitude to God. What a perfect Heavenly Father He is! He only wants the best for us and that is why He wants to be central in our lives. He wants us to grow and thrive in His presence. He is our shelter in the storms of life. I give this album a 100%. For more info visit www.twilaparis.com or connect with her on Facebook.



Saturday, November 02, 2019

THE GREAT AWAKENING


The Christian band Leeland formed in 2004. They released their debut album SOUND OF MELODIES in 2006. It received a Grammy nomination and two Dove nominations. In 2011 they released their fourth studio album, THE GREAT AWAKENING (Essential Records) which I am reviewing here. It was produced by Paul Moak, executive produced by Jason McArthur, and got a Grammy nomination for 'Best Contemporary Christian Album'.

Leading things off is the pretty adult contemporary title track 'The Great Awakening'. It speaks of revival: "Many awake will cause such a fuss/It finally awakens all of us/One man awakes with dawn in his eyes/Surely then it multiplies (2X)". 'All Over the Earth' is the album's longest song at over eight and a half minutes. It's a great modern worship song: "Oh, we give You praises/For You alone are holy/Jesus, Your Name is greater/For You alone are holy/We want to see Your victory/All over the earth (2X)". I could hear Delirious? recording it. 'Chains Hit the Ground' begins with these words of testimony: "I'm holding on to You/It's all I know to do/When fear has had me bound/When enemies surround/There's freedom in this truth/My salvation is in You/And I remember the nails that You took for me".

'I Can See Your Love' is a pop song containing these lyrics I like: "I see Your kingdom in the middle of hunger and pain/I feel You in the hands of the poor/I hear You in the song of the weak/There is no place too far that You can't reach". 'I Wonder' quietly reflects on Calvary: "Jesus Christ/You bled Your love/Laid down Yourself/And gave me life/In naked shame You hung and You were lifted high/Here I lay in awe and wonder".

Next up is 'Pages', a pop song that includes these words asking God for spiritual transformation: "In Your presence I belong/And without You I am lost/Come and change me from the inside/In my weakness You are strong/By the power of the cross/Come and change me from the inside". 'Not Afraid Anymore' is a cool, energetic, experimental rock cut. It speaks of having spiritual confidence: "I'm not afraid anymore/Cause I am running with Your fire, Lord/I'm picking up my sword/You train my hands and my fingers for war/I'm not afraid anymore".

'I Cry' is an adult contemporary ballad with transparent lyrics: "Fear is far from love/And I feel scared enough to think You've given up on me/But I can't hide my shame/You know my deepest pain/You are well acquainted with my grief/Oh, great God of power/I have lost my strength/This is my desperate hour/I'm calling out Your Name". The rock song 'Holy Ghost' follows. I like these words of assurance: "I will never be forsaken/No, I will never be forsaken/No matter where I go/I'm lost in the flow/No matter where I go, Lord/I'm lost in Your flow/Holy Ghost".

'While We Sing' is a quiet song of reflection and conviction: "We are frozen, we are still/For the call to be a city on a hill/And as our melodies resound/We cannot hear the silent cry this world is screaming out/And we wonder why we feel so empty inside". Ironically, 'Unending Songs' closes out the album. It relates spiritual intimacy: "One true God/You met me in my nakedness and covered me with love/My brokenness I lay before Your righteousness/In glory I am renewed, loved by You/Holy Father".

Really, THE GREAT AWAKENING, is a flawless album! Essentially, it's a mix of modern worship, pop, rock, and adult contemporary music, so the listener will not easily become bored. Leeland's voice is easy to listen to and the backing vocals are a great strength on this project. These songs express wonder and gratitude over the fact that God loves us so much individually that He sent His Son to earth to die on a cross for our sins. The lyrics are very down to earth and don't include lots of big theological terms. It's clear that Leeland Mooring and the band love God and desire to honour Him with all they've got. These tunes will draw you into God's presence. I'm rating this album a perfect 100%. For more info visit www.leelandonline.com or connect with them on Facebook.







Friday, November 01, 2019

HIT ME IN THE HEART


Back in the day Midwest Christian rock band Fighter put out two albums. They were 1991's THE WAITING and 1992's BANG THE DRUM. Their co-lead singer Amy Wolter put out the solo album HIT ME IN THE HEART (WAL) in 1994. It was produced and mixed by Caesar.

Starting things off is the adult rock song 'There Won't Be A Next Time'. It testifies: "I gave so little, but Jesus, You gave me Your best/You took a scheming heart that didn't care/You broke it in two and started from there/I'm free from the past You've erased/Determined to stand in Your grace". Bill Heller plays lead guitar on the rock ballad 'Blue Skies'. It points to God as a sure shelter: "I've heard the thunder crash/A hundred times before/After all is said and done/I know that You're still the One I'm running to". Amy dedicates 'Oils on This Canvas' to her mother whose paintings have inspired her. These opening words speak of Amy being lovingly created: "Many years ago an Artist had a dream/He would paint a picture/That painting would be me/He gathered all the colors that He thought He would need/And He used a perfect canvas so the colors wouldn't bleed". 

Amy co-wrote 'Two Worlds' with Tom Wanca. Mark H. Chesshir plays rhythm guitars on this adult contemporary song. These words are those of one who is hesitant: "Will I go down if I pick the wrong door?/If I walk through will my feet lose their way?/I know I live by the keys that I use/And I'm too afraid right now to choose". Amy penned 'We All Need' alone. This soft ballad shares good news: "Forgiveness comes free to those who turn and ask/We all need His grace like a warm embrace/To make it through this life/And we all need the hope/The mercy to cope with what comes our way".

'Break My Fall' is a great rocker! Morris Hayes plays the B-3 on this song of humility: "But for the grace of God/It could've been bad/It could have been me but/Someone was there to break my fall (2X)". 'New Start' has a rock edge to it and serves as a prayer: "I need a new start/Hit me in the heart/Show me what you want me to see/I need a new start/Hit me where I need it/Fill me with the hope that comes from You".

'The Promise', to me, lacks grace and understanding. It calls out those who can't keep their marriages together: "No morals, no conscience/Leave it all behind/A few hard knocks and we give up/Go and see what else we'll find/The grass seems so much greener across the way". Next up is 'Don't Seem Right'. Mike Bland plays drums and Sonny Thompson bass on this pop song of gratitude to Christ: "And it don't seem right/The way things turned out/The way I'm lyin' here/While You're dyin' there/And it don't seem right/The price You paid/It don't seem right/I got love way too easy".

Bill Heller, Jim Wolter, and Amy Wolter wrote 'Be That Child'. It's a melodic song of spiritual reflection: "When I was a kid I knew that God looked after me and you/I never doubted all the fire and rain in the miracles He'd do/Things back then were yes or no/Black and white was easy to see/I knew when I did something wrong/And the thought of hell scared me". Last up is 'Where My Heart Is', a ballad offering good advice: "The desires of your heart are a gift from God, so hold on/And take the leap of faith".

HIT ME IN THE HEART is a pleasant light rock album with exceptional vocals and instrumentation. Lyrically it chronicles Amy's walk with God. Things aren't always rosy, but in the end things work out for good, for those who love and place their trust in God. He wants to bless and protect us. The songs presented here show Amy working out her salvation. I hope one day Amy does a full on rock album of faith with lots of killer electric guitar solos and pounding drums. I'm rating HIT ME IN THE HEART 88%. For more info connect with Amy on Facebook. To purchase a re-mastered version of this project visit www.roxxproductions.com. According to her current bio, Amy is "a trained Live Music Producer for Tom Jackson Productions". Artists she has worked with include Lecrae, the Band Perry, High Valley, and Francesca Battistelli. Very cool!







Monday, October 28, 2019

FOR THE WOUNDED HEART


Back in 1993 Fear Not released their excellent hard rock/metal self-titled debut album. Fast forward to 2019 and after all of these many years, they are back with a new five song ep entitled FOR THE WOUNDED HEART (Roxx Records). Group members are new vocalist Eddie Green, Larry Worley (guitars), Chris Sorensen (guitars), Rod Romero (bass), and Gary Hanson (drums). Kyle Simpson serves as producer while Bill Bafford executive produces.

First up is the lead single 'Don't Want None (Come Get Some)'. It's a strong rock song about changing one's thought patterns for the better: "The snake's deceived me and filled my head with lies/Made me believe that I had a life to despise/My feet hit the floor this morning/I'm breathing and alive/Everyday is a gift/Every day is a blessing/I'm changing my mind". 'Shadows Fade' includes a hot electric guitar solo and is all about perspective: "Mustard seed moves mountains/Doubt makes it grow/Life and death within the tongue.../Pain lets me know I'm alive/It can't defeat me!" Next we have 'Carry Me', a melodic rock ballad that is prayerful: "You said I'd never have more than I can bear/Carry me now (2X)/You know I can't do this without You/Carry me now (2X).../Please God, save my soul".

'Love is Alright' is a punchy rocker calling out to God for help: "My heart is opened wide/Why don't You come inside?/Love is alright, free me tonight/Love is alright, save me tonight". Last up is 'Shipwrecked Hypocrite' which paints a dismal picture of an individual: "Headed for the rocks/Can't escape the waves/Can't find the truth till the end of days/Alone on your island, solitary castaway/Shipwrecked hypocrite/Can't find your way".

 Scott Waters did a great job on the cover art layout and design for FOR THE WOUNDED HEART. There's great pics of every band member in the cd booklet. Eddie Green shines on lead vocals. He reminds me at times of Holy Soldier's Eric Wayne. This ep has contagious energy and drive. The band conveys their Christian faith in a simple, non-judgmental way. They believe only God can set a soul free. If you like the sound of Daughtry and Nickelback this ep is for you. I hope they put out an all new full length album in a year or two. I'm rating this ep 95%. For more info visit www.roxxproductions.com and connect with the band on facebook.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

FEAR NOT


Back in 1991 Love Life released their one and only album GOODBYE LADY JANE. Fast forward to 1993 and now known as Fear Not they put out a self-titled album on Dino and John Elefante's Pakaderm Records. Group members were vocalist Larry Worley, Gary Hanson, Rod Romero, and new addition Chris Sorensen. In 2017 Roxx Records re-issued the album. The glossy CD booklet includes a good interview with Larry Worley.

Starting things off is 'Give It Up', a hard rockin' song of spiritual invitation: "Give it up, you can't run away/Today's tomorrow's yesterday/If you want to save your soul/You've got to let it go/Give it up, pain is not a crime/If your heart is doing time/And you want to set it free/You have to give it up". 'We Have A God' has a terrific electric guitar solo and truly rocks. It shares good news: "We found a love straight from the top/And it's coming down/Ain't going to stop/Yes, we have a God and His Name is Jesus/Yes, we have a God and His Name is Jesus, yeah, yeah".

'Mr. Compromise' calls for an individual to make a decision for Christ: "Hey, Mr. Compromise/I'm sick of your life/Oh, you've got to believe, you've got to believe/What your heart says (2X)/Stop living a lie and stand on your feet/And know just what, what you believe in". 'Til the End of My Days' is a good rock love ballad: "Now the lonely days are over/And all my dreams I'll share with you/Well, this life won't last forever/But forever I'll be with you".

What follows is the album's longest track at just shy of six minutes long. 'Suicide Sunshine' is a rock ballad encouraging an addict not to take their life: "Your bloodshot eyes and all the lies/Show pain and misery/Just open up your tainted heart/And mercy will set you free tonight.../You've got to fall down on your knees/All you've got to say is please/Don't throw your soul away". 'Money Money' brings the metal and speaks out against greed: "Money money/You can't buy what you get for free/Money money/You don't need no material things/Money, money/You are all I need/Picking up all the pieces/Your love has taken hold/Now I know I'm ready to give to You/Every little bit of my soul".

'Easy Come Easy Go' is a down to earth story song: "Johnny's been a rebel ever since he was five/Spent his life running around, trying to survive/Susie was a dancer on the wrong side of town/Anything goes when they lay their money down". 'There is Love' speaks of life transformation: "Hey, you've got to come to understand/It don't take much to be a different man/There is love/Find room in your heart/Don't run away/There is love". This track sizzles!

'Mad World' is a fast paced rock song that shares problems and offers a sure solution: "Where are the answers to the problems of today?/Bullets fly/A mother cries as the innocent one lies face down on the ground/Burning buildings light the sky/The streets are cold and empty all around.../God is the answer, that's all/That's what this world needs". Last up on the original album is 'Take A Hold'. It's got an acoustic ballad feel to it. It addresses God directly: "Give Your love to me tonight/Hear what I'm saying/Lord, won't You turn my wrong to right/Is what I'm praying/Well, I found out just what it takes to heal this heart of mine/It's Your warm embrace that I feel time after time/And I don't know why I can't resist this love inside".

The 2017 remastered version of the album contains two bonus tracks. 'You Got Love' is from Liberty N Justice's ep LIFE SONGS and asks: "Hey, you got love/But does Love have you?" 'Love is Alright' is a previously unreleased track recorded for this 25th anniversary release of the album. It's a meaty rock cut that finds someone submitting to God: "My heart is opened wide/Why don't You come inside?/Love is alright/Free me tonight/Love is alright/Save me tonight".

FEAR NOT is a memorable hard rock/heavy metal effort. There's a good mix of faster songs and slower ones. Larry Worley's lead vocals have a bite to them that you won't easily tire of. The main theme of the album is that of inviting the lost to come to or to come back to Jesus Christ and enjoy His love and protection. There are songs testifying of God's goodness. Suicide and materialism are spoken out against. If you enjoy Bride and/or Guns N' Roses, you'll eat this album, which I'm rating 98%, up! For more info visit www.roxxproductions.com and connect with the band on social media.




Friday, October 25, 2019

GOODBYE LADY JANE


Back in 1991 Love Life released their one and only album, GOODBYE LADY JANE. It came out on Blonde Vinyl Records and was produced by the now legendary Michael G. Knott. Group members were vocalist Larry Worley, Darin Eby, Gary Hanson, and Rod Romero. What I am reviewing here is a 2019 re-mastered edition of the cd, along with five bonus cuts, released by Roxx Records.

'Real Love' is a great metal track of longing: "I've been cryin' all my life/Never had a place to hide/Real love come and take me/Pull me off the ground/Real love/Got to find some real love". 'Do You Love Me' is a rock song with a melodic chorus: "Do you love me?/Do you want me?/Don't you know that I care?" 'Heart of Fire' is a love ballad: "Now I'm holding on/Thinkin' this will last forever/And I'm on the edge/And I know I won't get over you/Oh girl, my heart is on fire/And you're my one desire/Got a hold of my heart/Don't break it now".

'When Loneliness Comes Knocking' is a rock ballad of gratitude: "When loneliness comes knockin' at my door/I hope that it's next to never/Cause I don't feel lonely anymore/Now that you're here forever". A catchy metal tune, 'Girl Gone Bad', follows. It's a story song: "She's got one bad attitude and she just don't know what to do/Now she makes a lot of money/Wearing those diamond rings/Well, it doesn't even matter/Because they don't really mean a thing". There's a good electric guitar solo on this one.

'Fill 'Er Up' is a fourteen second electric guitar solo. The title track, 'Goodbye Lady Jane', follows. It rocks and anticipates heaven: "Goodbye my Lady Jane, how I will miss you/Goodbye Lady Jane, 'til we meet again/Beyond the big blue sky/Goodbye Lady Jane/Your memory will remain/Now you can fly". It's dedicated to Granny Morgan.

Moving on, 'In Blue Again' is a tough rocker about well, moving on: "My heart is, my heart is on the line/And I've got to, gotta leave the past behind/Oh yeah, yeah/And I've had enough of this loneliness inside/And I've had enough, oh yeah". '1000 Reasons' is worthy of raised lighters or cell phones in a concert setting. It's a song of positivity: "The miracles they seem never ending/They keep coming my way/And you're giving me a thousand reasons, a thousand reasons/You're just what I've been looking for". 

Next, we have a cover of the Beatles' 1964 hit 'A Hard Day's Night'. It's a good one. Here are the opening words to this love song: "It's been a hard day's night and I've been working like a dog/It's been a hard days night/I should be sleeping like a log/But when I get home to you/I'll find the things that you do/You make me feel alright". Last up on the original album is 'Do You Believe in Love?'. It testifies: "High upon the mountain/Looked to the sky above/Put my hands up in the air/Reached out for His love/Now I don't believe in money/I don't believe in fame/Can't believe in riches/I just believe in His Name".

Collectors will quite appreciate the fact that the 2019 remastered re-issued version of this album includes five demos. Three of them were re-recorded and made it on to the album. The other two are entitled 'Believed in You' and 'Lonely'. They're both quite good.

GOODBYE LADY JANE is a splendid hard rock/metal album. Most of the songs deal with male-female romantic relationships. There are songs about loneliness and aching for love. Then there are songs that revel at actually being in a reciprocal romantic partnership. In addition there's a song about moving on when a relationship ends. The two spiritual songs on the actual album are about heaven and seeing God as the ultimate Source of love. I'm rating this one 96% and recommending it to fans of Bon Jovi, Guardian, and Poison. For more info and/or to purchase visit www.roxxproductions.com.



Friday, October 18, 2019

TEN


Michael Harrison Sweet was born on July 4, 1963 in Whittier, California. He is best known as the frontman for Stryper, whose latest album was 2018's GOD DAMN EVIL, which caused quite a stir but was very successful. Sweet released his self-titled debut solo album back in 1994. Fast forward to 2019 and he's back with his tenth solo album, TEN (Rat Pak Records). He enlists an impressive number of mainstream musical guest artists, including Rich Ward (Fozzy), Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake), and Todd La Torre (Queensryche).

First up is the sizzling 'Better Part of Me'. It echoes Paul's words in Romans 7: "Part of me is searching for the holiness in Thee/Part of me is reaching for the worldly things I see/I'm fighting for the better part of me". 'Lay it Down' is about giving all to God: "What will it take for us to see/We're not a mistake or a losing plea if we/ Lay it down? (4X)".

On 'Forget, Forgive' Sweet shares some of his desires: "I want to live/Forget, forgive/Learn from the past/Find what will last". 'Now or Never' is a rock ballad that has this prayerful chorus: "Save me tonight/Here and forever/Show me the light/It's now or never".

The title track, 'Ten', follows. This slow rocker is based on the Old Testament commandments: "You've got to remember the Sabbath day/Honor your father and your mother too, yes/Thou shall not kill or commit adultery/Don't ever steal, bear false witness, or covet". 'Shine' is a rockin' song of encouragement: "You're chosen to be a light within the dark/Never let that go, no/Hey-there's only one of you/Hey-don't let life run you through/Hey-you're one of a kind/You don't have to hide/All you have to do is shine".

'Let it Be Love' is a sentimental ballad: "Love is when there's less of you/And when you help somebody make it through/Ain't it true?.../Love is all we really need to break the chains/And set the captives free/Oh, can't you see?" 'Never Alone' packs a rock punch and finds God speaking: "Never alone/You know I'm with you/Heart and soul and mind/You're never alone/All you've got to do/Say a prayer and find/You're never alone".

What follows is 'When Love is Hated', a hard rock song that speaks truth: "When love is hated/Doesn't mean it's all in vain/When love is hated/In the end it's all that will remain". 'Ricochet' strikes a positive chord: "I've got air to breathe/And a light to see, yeah/And solid ground to walk on/No need to complain about the pouring rain/Cause I get to see another dawn".

Two bonus tracks complete the album. 'With You Till the End' is first. Ian Raposa is a guest vocalist on this straight up heavy rocker that is a love song: "When you love someone/You know it's better or for worse/From the rising sun/Until there's no more time on earth/I'm with you till the end/Cause I believe in love and what we've fallen in". Todd La Torre duets with Sweet on the heavy metal track 'Son of Man'. It's an end times song: "As lightning will come from the East/It's also so clear in the West/Will you take life at the feast/Or die and go down with the rest?/He's the Son of Man/Coming back again/Son of Man (3X)".

I would say that TEN is an all around success! If you like to crank up and/or work out to hard rock and heavy metal tunes there's lots to chew on here. Sweet's vocals are strong as ever. The lyrics make clear without a doubt, Sweet's Christian faith. He's not ashamed of being a believer. His faith is not just a theory. It's something he aims to live out on this earth. I'm rating TEN 90%. For more info visit www.michaelsweet.com and or connect with him on social media.








Tuesday, October 01, 2019

BY FAITH


Kim Boyce was born on March 14, 1961 in Winter Haven, Florida. In 1983 she was Miss Florida. In 1984 she competed at Miss America. She released her debut CCM album (self-titled) in 1986. Fast forward to 1994 and she released her sixth project, BY FAITH (Warner Alliance). Producers used were Bryan Lenox, Bill Cuomo, and Robert White Johnson. Eric Wyse served as executive producer. 

Starting things off is 'Tell Me', an adult pop song that finds God addressing us: "I've loved you for all time/Even when you had no thought of Me/I walked along with you/I've watched you all the while/Longed for you to call on Me". Marty Paoletta plays sax here. 'Oh, What A Love' is directed at Kim's husband, Gary: "I know heaven's speaking to my heart/Cause I feel forever/When we're together/Made it look so easy when you saved me/Have I told you lately/Exactly what you mean to me?/You're my joy, my everything".

The title track, 'By Faith' was written by Chris Rice and Scott MacLeod. It's an adult contemporary ballad about trusting in God: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe/Blessed are the hands that keep giving and never receive/Blessed is the heart that gets broken and keeps holding on/Holding on for another day". Ty Lacy and Steve Siler wrote the hit 'Not Too Far From Here'. It's about caring for others: "Help me, Lord, not to turn away from pain/Help me not to rest while those around me weep/Give me Your strength and compassion/When somebody finds the road of life too steep".

'Just Believe' is an upbeat pop song that spurs us on: "Ain't been easy, worry's on my mind/I get discouraged when I think of it sometimes/But believe me when I say there's gonna be a better day/Hold on, cause help is on the way.../Hey, now people, sing with me/You can make it, just believe/Brothers and Sisters, set each other free/Come together, just believe". 'After God's Own Heart' includes this chorus of confession: "The truth is I have been running from Him/Chasing after things that keep us apart/Now I see how desperately I am needing to be/Running after God's own heart".

Up next is 'Rescue Me', penned by Kim and Tommy Greer. It's a good pop song calling out to God: "I'm sending out an SOS now/I know You`ll hear me somehow/When You see that I am drowning/That's when I feel Your arms around me, arms around me". Kim co-wrote 'Dreams I'm Dreamin'' with Bo Cooper. It was written when Kim was 3 months pregnant: "Dreams I'm dreamin'/Lullabies I'll be singing/When your little face I see/Hopes I'm hoping/All the prayers I'm praying/Baby, hurry now to me". It's touching.

Eric Champion wrote 'Imagine A Love', a pop/dance song that finds God speaking: "I know you well/Before the earth had its form I knew your name/And I can tell something is wrong/Cause right now I feel your pain". Closing things out is 'Shelter Me With Love'. It's a quiet song serving as a prayer: "So shelter me with wings of mercy/And comfort me with arms of love/Then speak to me with words of wisdom/And breathe on me with Your sweet, precious Spirit/Shelter me with love".

BY FAITH contains five adult pop songs and five adult contemporary ones. There are definitely more slow songs here than fast ones. This isn't the energetic pop/dance music of early Kim Boyce efforts. That being said, this is a terrific album for adults. God's love is a central theme. He desires an intimate personal relationship with us and so should we. He is our Maker, Father, and ultimate Lover. We can fully trust Him though we can't see Him. His desire for us is that we help the hurting and lonely we come across. I'm rating this album 87%. For more info visit www.kimboycemusic.com or connect with her on social media.






Saturday, September 28, 2019

IN YOUR FACE


Shout released their debut album IT WON'T BE LONG in 1988. When they released their follow up in 1989, IN YOUR FACE (Frontline), the group's line-up was Ken Tamplin (lead vocals, lead guitars), Chuck King (lead guitars, vocals). Loren Robinson (bass guitar, vocals), and Joseph Galletta (drums). Mark Hugonberger played keys, while guest musicians included Lanny Cordola, Marty Friedman, and Alex Masi.

Starting things off is the sizzling heavy metal track 'Borderline' about living dangerously: "Living life out on the wild side/It's time it's known/We're in a danger zone/Is it too late, oh, to make a change?/Have we sealed the fate before a soul exchange?/Living, oh, you know we're living on the borderline/Living, it's all taking and no giving/See the warning sign". 'When the Love is Gone' speaks of selfishness: "Keep it all undercover/Leave it all to another/Never care for anyone's pain/Turn away, think it's all the same/Live it up for the good life/Ain't giving up, not a single slice/Gonna save it all 'till the day you die/Can't take it there, don't even try". 'Give Me An Answer' is a melodic rocker that gives an ultimatum: "How do I have to get your attention?/I got your number, don't even bother/You've gotta serve just one or the other/Give me an answer now/Yeah, you're taking your chances now".

'Faith, Hope and Love' is a recipe for success: "It's about faith, hope, with love as the key/We've gotta have trust and will to believe/Giving our all, we all have to give/Oh Lord, will You forgive?" 'Gettin' Ready' is about enduring till the end: "We're getting ready/Lord, we're holding steady/Getting ready all through the night/Getting ready/Lord, we're holding steady/Living on borrowed time.../Now, give us the strength and the hope to carry on/We'll raise our voices to the sky". The song builds to a breakneck speed.

The title track, 'In Your Face', won a Dove Award for 'Hard Music Song of the Year' in 1990. This pulsating song serves as a warning: "Evidence is pointing to the truth that must be known/Weather's changing all across the globe/Pestilence and famine shaking life like none before/While Mother Earth is quaking more and more.../Facts in your face/Facts in your face/You know that there are/Facts in your face (2X)". 'Getting on With Life' airs a grievance: "There's so much more to life than sitting 'round talking 'bout who's done me wrong or right/Now gossip may be fine for some, but I can't take that trash/I'm gonna run".

What follows is 'Waiting on You', a sincere ballad addressed to God: "I see the changes come all over me/I pray for Your grace and Your mercy/I never earned the loving that You've shown/Teach me how, Lord, and make Your presence known/Waiting, I'm still waiting/Waiting on You". 'Moonlight Sonata (In 32nd Notes)' is a half minute long electric guitar solo.

'It's All I Need' is a rock song. I like these opening words: "I don't know what people are thinking while they're saying my faith's a crutch/I can think of lots of different things that's keeping folks in their clutch/Ain't living life for houses on the hill or yachts in my backyard/Moving on up, never gonna stop, believing who holds the cards". Last up is 'Ain't Givin' Up (The Pay the Bills Song)'. It's about being determined: "Now is the time I'll take you by the hand/Together we'll climb to the promised land/We're gonna steal away the night with the dawning of the day/Taking my hand/We'll do what we can/Make a better way".

IN YOUR FACE is a competent hard rock/metal album that stands the test of time. It doesn't promote drugs, alcohol abuse, promiscuity, or anything of a vulgar nature. It does start with the premise that there is a God who wants to be involved with each of us personally. The choice is given to the listener whether they want to enter into such an agreement or not. Ken Tamplin's lead vocals are second to none and the harmonies are great too. The musicianship is of the greatest quality. I'm rating this album 88.5%. For more info visit www.boonesoverstock.com and www.kentamplinvocalacademy.com. Girder Records re-released this album with extra pics this year.





Friday, September 27, 2019

IT WON`T BE LONG




Before forming Christian metal band Shout, Ken Tamplin was in Joshua and Chuck King was with Idle Cure. Shout released their debut album, IT WON`T BE LONG, in 1988 on Frontline Records. Lanny Cordola and Dennis Holt were among the studio musicians used.

The rocker 'Never Stop', which includes a great electric guitar solo, starts things off and is about determination: "Can't you see, oh, that I'm racing time?/It's on with the goal, another uphill climb/Follow the heart, satisfy the soul/I'm moving on, heading along, well you know/In time it'll all work out/I know you know what I'm talking about/Never stop, never stop running/Never gonna stop, nothing's gonna stop us now". 'Winners or Losers' is a melodic rock anthem about unity: "In God's eyes, winners or losers, we're all the same/Can we try loving each other without all the blame?/Oh, let's hold, hold on forever to words of love/And I know, Lord it will show". The title track, 'It Won't Be Long', rocks and anticipates the future: "Won't be long, when all will be made known/Won't be long, yeah, we'll face it one by one/Won't be long, give you hope to carry on/Won't be long/Are you ready?/No, it won't be long/All the clouds roll back and we'll be gone/Yeah, we'll face it one by one/Oh, come on and sing along".

'Find A Way' is a heavenly love ballad: "As I recall the years that all slipped by/I can't deny my foolish pride/Someday I'll hold You forever, never let go/Lord, I'll be Yours (2X)/Love, I know will find a way/Don't make me wait/We'll sail away, sail away".  'Dancin' Round the World' is a party song: "Everywhere you look they're dancin' 'round the world/They can't get enough, oh no, what they call rock and roll/Ain't no surprise to me/I love to play and sing/Get in the rhythm and we'll let those guitars ring/There's grooving, dancing to the beat tonight/Oh, and we will set those feet to flight". 'Shout' is a terrific rocker about overcoming: "We won't take it/Lord, we've gotta shake it/Running for our lives/We'll raise our voices so loud and clear/Like thunder and lightning for all to hear/Shout it out, never let it take you down/Shout it out, live, it's what it's all about".

Up next is 'Showdown' which deals with the end times: "Showdown is coming around/Running for cover when the trumpets all sound/Yeah, a ghost town is what'll be found/Searching for ways to blame it on another/Showdown's making its rounds, like a thief in the night/Where will you be found?/Ghost town died with a sound/We better slow down". 'Timeless Love' is addressed to God: "You never failed/Oh, how Your love prevailed/Nothing I could say/I want to be with You someday/I cry at night needing just to hear from You/But in the morning, always come through, oh You do". Last up is 'Without You', a rock song of testimony: "Without Your love/I know I'm never gonna make it home/Without Your love, I'll be alone/Can't imagine a thing that could replace it, oh no/If I had tried, I'd be kidding myself/Let's face it, oh".

IT WON'T BE LONG is one heck of a good rock/metal album that points to God as the giver and sustainer of life. He never fails us and truly cares about our well-being. He hears us when we talk to Him. His praises on this album are powerfully delivered by Ken Tamplin's superb vocals, and some top notch electric guitar work. I'm rating this album 90% and recommending it to fans of Stryper and Guardian. Collectors will appreciate a 1987 four song demo included on the 2019 Girder Records re-release of the album. There are also several great pics included with this project. For more info visit www.boonesoverstock.com and www.kentamplinvocalacademy.com.




Tuesday, September 24, 2019

DOPPELGANGER


Daniel Amos released their self-titled debut album in 1976. They are perhaps best known for a series of four albums known as The Alarma! Chronicles, released between 1981 and 1986. Here, I will be reviewing the second of those albums, DOPPELGANGER (Alarma!, 1983). According to one online dictionary the word means "an apparation or double of a living person". At the time, Daniel Amos was: Terry Taylor, Jerry Chamberlain, Tim Chandler, and Ed McTaggart. Tom Howard and Derri Daugherty are among the guests on the album.

Starting things off is 'Hollow Man', a spooky sounding cut about emptiness: "One finds no eyes here/In this empire of dying suns/In this vacant kingdom/This scattered realm of false empires/In this final assembly/We stumble together and are silent/Collected on the shores of the river of disturbance, the barren men". 'Mall (All Over the World)' is a great rock song about materialism: "How come you're sad?/How come you cry when golden arches cross your sky?/They're reminders of sweet by and by/This could be heaven when we die". 'Real Girls' includes chant like vocals and these not so hopeful lyrics: "Who are the real girls?/What's happened to virtue?/What's happening to people?/Some females, they don't see heaven/And he-men deflect their vision/Angels grieve their indecision/God escapes their imagination".

Bill Colton plays sax on 'New Car!' It's a hilarious old school rock 'n' roll number making fun of the prosperity gospel: "Well, I know what I want/I know what I need/I want a miracle/I know what I need/I know what I want, I know what I need/Give me a new car!/I'm one of the King's kids/I do deserve the best". 'Do Big Boys Cry?' is about humility: "Do big boys cry?/Do they come down from their place on high, to the dirty ground?" 'Youth With A Machine' is fast paced rock music. It speaks to parents: "Youth with a machine/He needs to know how to handle it all.../He needs you now (2X)/He needs you now, now more than ever".

Next up is 'The Double'. It's 'out there' in a good way: "My double's sitting in another world/My double's laughing in the heavenly places/I am his double here/I can expect we'll be together when time is no more/That's not so strange/You've got one, too/Behind your eyes killing you/Behind your eyes, killing me". 'Distance and Direction' is a song of reflection: "We're putting on our make-up but we never make-up/We're the beauty and the beast/We're the dead men telling tales/Sleeping through our wake-up/Two of me, two of you, two of us, two by two/The double life we live/Distance and direction run straight ahead to your better world". It's a good ballad. 'Memory Lane' rocks and warns of spending too much time in the past: "You take another trip down memory lane/You go down there once too often and you're likely to remain.../You make a list of all your failures/You count all your heartaches/Please sit up straight at the table and eat your words".

'Angels Tuck You In' is a pop song touching on Calvary: "You've been a wide-eyed innocent/Come to the garden, come to the hill/Come to the tree/Come to the kill/Won't break your bones, but it can break your will". 'Little Crosses' speaks out against Jesus trinkets: "Little crosses, I see on my T.V./Take my money and give me some of these/Little crosses with lots of color and sound/I'm in heaven with all these treasures around". 'Autographs For the Sick' is a short, weird track with lines like: "Phonographs for the deaf, they can't hear you/Gloves for the amputees, they can't cheer you".

What follows is 'I Didn't Build it for Me'. It's aimed at televangelists: "There's a plaque in the hall/My name's on the wall/And a statue of my family/It wasn't my decision/It was all in a vision/I didn't build it, I never would have built it/I really didn't build it for me". 'Here I Am' is a ballad about the distance between rock stars and their fans: "You want an autograph/What is your need?/Mine is for you to know that I really bleed.../Moving about in our own exclusive spheres/We touch not, we are not even near". Last up is 'Hollow Man (Reprise)'. It includes these words: "For me, therefore, everything has a double existence/Both in time and when time shall be no more.../My Lord and my God, having seen Thy salvation/I am a hollow man/I am his double here".

DOPPELGANGER, to the average CCM listener today will sound foreign and alien like. The lyrics are far deeper and require much more thought and interpretation to decipher when it comes to meaning. This is not a worship record. It is a commentary and a critique on the world and Christianity and the church, that is just as relevant today as when the album first came out. This is an energetic alternative Christian rock album which I'm rating a perfect 100%. The deluxe two cd version of the album includes a bunch of alternate takes, live versions of songs, etc, that collector's will eat up. It also includes writings by Terry Taylor in the cd booklet. For more info visit www.danielamos.com.

Friday, September 13, 2019

SOUNDS OF HEAVEN


Kathleen 'Kathy' Troccoli was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 24, 1958. Her debut album was 1982's STUBBORN LOVE. Fast forward to 1995 and she released SOUNDS OF HEAVEN (Reunion). It was produced by Peter Bunetta, Rick Chudacoff, and Brown Bannister. In the liner notes we read: "All around us the world is crying out for truth to set them free. Sometimes they don't really know that's what they're searching for, but that's what it is". At the time, Kathy was a supporter of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

First up is 'I Will Choose Christ', an inspirational ballad written by Tom Booth and Kathy. Nine backing vocalists are used on this song of spiritual determination: "Some days are hard and I fight to see the truth/But I'm gonna take a stand in all I say and do/I will choose Christ/I will choose love/I choose to serve/I give my heart/I give my life/I give my all to You". 'That's How Much I Love You' includes an acoustic guitar solo by Dann Huff and finds God speaking to us: "I died for you/I'd do it all over again if I had to/To show you what you really mean to Me/I cried for you/I hung on the cross so you wouldn't have to/I made a way to set your spirit free/That's how much I love you/That's how much I want you".

'Go Light Your World' is one of three songs penned by Chris Rice. It became a popular adult contemporary anthem about sharing the Gospel: "So carry your candle, run to the darkness/Seek out the hopeless, confused and torn/Hold out your candle for all to see it/Take your candle and go light your world". Kathy and Robert White Johnson co-wrote the title track 'Sounds of Heaven'. It's an upbeat pop song of praise and worship: "I will lift my heart and sing with the sounds of Heaven/Praises to the only King/The sounds of Heaven/In my weakness I get strong/Cause there is power in their song/I will lift my heart and sing with the sounds of Heaven".

Shane Keister plays piano and Cindy Morgan, Lisa Cochran, and Michael Mellett provide backing vocals on 'Hallelujahs'. Nature lovers will appreciate these opening words: "A purple sky to close the day/I wade the surf where dolphins play/The taste of salt, the dance of waves/And my soul wells up with hallelujahs/A lightning flash, my pounding heart/A breaching whale, a shooting star/Give testimony that You are/And my soul wells up with hallelujahs". 'I'm Gonna Fight For You' is an adult contemporary ballad that asks us to persevere: "He has said His ways are not our ways/And His thoughts are not our own/He's more than just a man, oh He's God/Let Him hold the things you cannot understand/Cause faithful is the Lord/In the darkest hour of night/To keep the flame of hope alive".

'Each Moment' is one of two songs written by Kathy and Bill Montvilo. Gordon Kennedy and Jerry McPherson play guitars on this easy listening number. I particularly like these lyrics: "May there never come a time/When I lose my hunger for Your love/And may there never be a time/When I don't remember where I'd be without You". 'Fill My Heart' includes these prayerful words: "Give me faith to move those mountains/Give me hope when times are hard/Give me love to conquer all/Give me You to fill my heart".

Kathy and Madeline Stone wrote 'May I Be His Love'. It's a quiet song desiring to lead others to God: "May I be His love for you/May I lift your eyes toward heaven/May I come to you and lead you to His light/May I cry His tears for you/May I be the place that you can run to/Where you'll hear His voice/And see Him in my eyes/All your life/May I be His love". Last up is 'Missing You', a pretty song about heaven: "I dream about Your promise to return/And I wake up hanging on Your every word/But for now my feet are planted here on earth/So I'm missing You".

SOUNDS OF HEAVEN incorporates easy listening, inspirational, adult contemporary, and pop songs. The majority of the songs are ballads on which Kathy's vocals shine. God's love for us is a main theme on this album. He is to be praised and worshiped for His creation and His care for us. This album encourages us to live wholeheartedly for God. We should also desire to share God's love with our fellow man. The pictures of Kathy accompanying this CD are beautiful. I'm rating this album a perfect 100%. For more info visit www.kathytroccoli.com and connect with her on social media.






Monday, September 02, 2019

WE BELIEVE


Steve Green was born in Portland, Oregon on August 1, 1956. He put out his self-titled debut solo album in 1984. Over the next few years he became well known for such inspirational songs as 'He Holds the Keys' and 'The Mission'. In 1991 he released his eight studio record, WE BELIEVE (Sparrow). It was produced by Greg Nelson. In the liner notes Steve shares: "With gratitude for those God has used to mold and shape my life..."

First up is the beautiful ballad 'All Across the Sky'. It's a song of praise: "His love is written all across the sky/As brilliantly the stars all testify/For the glory of the God who reigns on high/Is displayed in the world He has made". It was written by Jon Mohr and Michael W. Smith. 'Sing Children Sing' is an inspirational song desiring intimacy with God: "Father, Abba Father/We humbly come before You/Hear us and draw near us/As children at rest in Your arms/We find peace and safety secure from all fear and alarm/Sing children sing, let all His children sing".

The title track is 'We Believe', penned by Nathan DiGesare and Dan Scott. It's an anthem of great faith: "We believe in the Spirit who makes believers one/Our hearts are filled with His presence/The Comforter has come/The kingdom unfolds in His plan/Unhindered by quarrels of man/His church upheld by His hand/We believe". 'I Will Serve the Lord' speaks of martyrdom: "And though their journey led them/Through the shadowlands of death/The song of their commitment/They rehearsed with every breath/'I will serve the Lord/I will serve the Lord my God/And if God should choose and my life I lose/Though my foe may slay me/I will serve the Lord'".

Kelly Willard wrote 'Hidden Valleys', an inspirational ballad that speaks of the benefits of going through troubles and trials: "Hidden valleys produce a life song/Hidden valleys will make a heart strong/Desperation can cause you to sing/Hidden valleys turn shepherds into kings". 'Heaven' is one of four songs composed by Jon Mohr and Randall Dennis. It anticipates the future: "One day I'll complete my journey/I'll arrive at my destination/A city like no one living has ever known/The Spirit at work within me/Creates such an awesome hunger/To finish the race and turn for home".

'Let the Walls Come Down' uses strings and is almost six minutes long. I quite like these strong words: "Walls not born of government nor strife amid the nations/But walls within our churches and between denominations/Stones of dry tradition carved in fear and laid in pride/Become a dismal prison to those withering inside/Let the walls come down (2X)". 'Search Me, Oh God' serves as a quiet prayer: "Search me, oh God/Reveal my heart/Expose my sin that it may be confessed/Search me, oh God/Unveil each thought/And leave no hidden motive unaddressed/Uncover every action born in pride/Show me the worldly ways I still embrace".

'I Am The Vine' is a cheery sounding, upbeat song of spiritual wisdom: "I am the Vine/You are the branches/And if You remain in Me/Fruit will abound, abundant in measure/Come, children, taste and see!" Closing off the album is a medley of 'A Chasing of the Wind/Why Do We Live Without Jesus'. Witness these words: "Apart from the Vine/A branch bears no fruit/For Christ is the source of all life/And all He demands/As we keep His commands/Is to faithfully cling to the Vine".

With the exception of one song, WE BELIEVE, is an inspirational, easy listening album of ballads. It's a good album to wind down and relax to. It will help you draw near to God and enjoy all He is and all He has to offer. It brings attention to how empty life without God is and how full and vibrant our lives can be with God in them. He is to be praised for His love, creation, and peace, and for keeping us safe in His arms. Unity in the body of believers in Christ is encouraged, as is endurance through trials that can help us grow. I'm rating this album 96%. For more info visit www.stevegreenministries.org and/or connect with him on social media. 








Sunday, September 01, 2019

FOUND A PLACE


FFH (Far From Home) put out six independent projects before releasing their major label debut, I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU, in 1998. It included the hit 'One of These Days'. In 2000 they were back with FOUND A PLACE (Essential). Group members were: Jeromy Deibler, Jennifer Deibler, Brian Smith, and Michael Boggs. In the liner notes the group shares: "It's amazing how the Lord can take four very average, undeserving people and use them to further His Kingdom. Thank You, Jesus, for letting us be involved in Your work".

Starting things off is 'When I Praise', a fast paced pop song with good harmonies. It's about glorifying God: "And I throw my hands up in the air/Here's my heart 'cause I don't care what they say about me/I gotta praise/I throw my hands up in the air/And I know that You will find me there/Find me when I praise". The title track, 'Found A Place', follows. It's about finding satisfaction in God: "I've found a place where I can hide/I've found a place that gives me strength/I've found a place where I am servant and You're the King/I've found a place that I call home/I've found a place that I know well/I've found a place where I am less and You're everything". 'Why Do I' is a pop ballad with very relatable lyrics: "I find myself awake again/Thinkin' bout eternity/How I am just a grain of sand and that You've got a plan for me/That You would choose to love me just amazes me".

'Lord Move, or Move Me' is an adult contemporary cry for Divine assistance: "Lord, I know the only way is through this/But Lord, I know I need You to help me do this/Lord, move in the way that I've never seen before/Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door/I'm drifting away/Waves are crashing on the shore/So Lord move, move, or move me". 'Daniel' is an upbeat pop song that looks to the Old Testament for inspiration: "I want to be like Daniel in the lion's den/Waiting for God's love to save him/I wanna be, I wanna be/I want to be like Moses when he raised his hands/And all the winds and seas obeyed him/I wanna be, I wanna be".

'Your Love is Life to Me' is a pretty, inspirational song: "Your love is a river flowing to the sea and the river runs forever and washes over me/Your love is life to me/My truest longing, my deepest need, yeah/Without it one moment I don't know where I'd be/Your love is life to me". 'Because of Who You Are' is a catchy pop number of praise: "I know You Lord 'cause You reached out Your hand/To rescue me and show me how to stand/In truth and love, more than I could ever ask for/I love You, Lord, because of who You are.../You are the start, You are the end, You are the Savior and my Friend".

Next up is 'Be My Glory', a ballad that includes these heartfelt lyrics: "How I long to be conformed in You Jesus/In my weakness be my strength/Hear my prayer as I kneel before You now/Break me till You're all they see". 'I'm Not Afraid to Love You' is all about trusting: "Well, it hurts as You're remolding my dreams/And as You're reshaping all my attitudes/It's hard to bear but every change means that little by little I am more like You/So I embrace Your vision 'cause when I see what You've done/I can't deny Your wisdom or how far I've come/So, I am not afraid to love You anymore".

'It's Been A Long Time' is about coming back to God: "I've been running, I've been hiding from You/Now I know there's only one thing I can do/So I throw my hands up in the air and I will pray/That You carry me away/All I have to do is call/You come running to my side/Then I look at You and You say/'It's gonna be alright'". Closing things out is 'Every Now and Then', a tender song that includes these great words: "Every now and then/You whisper peace to me/With Your tender words/Unexpectedly".

FOUND A PLACE is a mix of pop, adult contemporary, and inspirational sounds. Fans of Avalon and 4Him should give this album a listen. There's a good mix of slow and fast cuts. God's extravagant love for us is laid out here, as is His faithfulness. He is to be praised for His creation and salvation among other things. God always has a listening ear, so we should not hesitate to ask Him for help. He is trustworthy and wants to be in right relationship with us. There are some nice pics of the foursome accompanying this CD. I'm rating this one 90%. For more info connect with the group on social media.




Saturday, August 31, 2019

GOLDIE'S LAST DAY


The Joel Hanson Band was founded in Minnesota in 1989. By 1991 they changed their name to Inside Out and signed with Brown Bannister's new label, Vireo Records. They then changed their name to Pray For Rain and in 1992 released their self-titled debut which included 'Do You Want to Know Love'. An instrumental group of the same band name threatened a lawsuit, so the band shortened their name to PFR. In 1993 they put out their second album, GOLDIE'S LAST DAY (Vireo). Group members were Joel Hanson, Patrick Andrew, and Mark Nash. The album was produced by Jimmie Lee Sloas and executive produced by Brown Bannister.

First up is the sizzling pop/rock song, 'Walk Away From Love'. It's addressed to non-Christians: "Maybe I'm right and He's waiting at the table/Maybe it happened when I saw it was my sin/Maybe He's waiting for a chance to show you true love/Maybe you'll never get this chance again/I can't understand why you would walk away from love". 'By Myself' is a song of self-reflection: "I got here by myself but I know that I will never leave the same way/I got here by myself but how many more will I have led astray?/It's not long before I notice there are no doors to be seen/I can see I'm going nowhere, somewhere that I've already been". 'That Kind of Love' is a beautiful ballad with these poetic words: "And, oh, I would give anything to see Him face to face/And, oh, He gave us everything to make the world a better place/And, oh, where does that kind of love come from?/They say that it runs in His blood".

'Dying Man' testifies: "Now I've found freedom/Now mercy holds my hand/It took the grace of One living to save this dying man". 'Spinnin' Round' is simply a fun, catchy pop/rock cut: "Some people say we're crazy, but we're all spinnin' round/But you and me, we've got something to say/We're all spinnin' round, all spinnin' round.../But you and me, we've got something inside/I think we're gonna make it, yeah, yeah".

Next, we come to the title track, 'Goldie's Last Day' inspired by the death of group member Patrick Andrews' golden retriever. This novelty song begins with these thoughts: "Puppy love, puppy love/Yes, she gave all she had/Not like a brother or sister, more like a Mom or a Dad/We never asked her, never gave her a choice/We just barked out commands/'Sit, stay, don't beg, stop licking my hands'/Those days are gone now/I wish Goldie would come out and play". 'Satisfied' is upbeat rock 'n' roll musically. It desires spiritual growth: "Winter, Spring, or Summer, Fall/The seasons never cared at all/That I was never changing/My colors stayed the same/But when days go by and I'm not growing/The leaves fall off to bare what I'm not showing/That I've never had my feet wet/And for that I am to blame".

'I Don't Understand' reminds us God's ways are higher than ours: "I retreat by myself at the back of my brain/I cannot see what You're showing me through this pain/I have found that I have found nothing for so long/I don't understand, I don't need to/I know You've a plan You will see through/It is in Your hands/I believe You". 'Mercy Man' is a good rock song about having hope in Jesus: "He said that all could be forgiven if I could trust in One who'd risen/And that's when His mercy came to me/I was saved by the mercy Man/He touched my heart/He helped me understand that there was shelter in unfailing love if I'd just take the hand, hand of the mercy Man".

What follows is 'Shine', a bouncy pop song about witnessing: "Since He's come into my life He's brought sunshine to my day/I will let my light shine, no more shadows/I will let my light shine/Darkness, run away/I will let my light shine for a bright tomorrow/I will let my light shine". Last up is 'Wait for the Sun' a ballad of encouragement: "So wait for the sun to come out again/Storms always come but they blow away with the wind/So wait for the Son is coming again/Winds of trial blow hard, so we got to hang on, hang on to Him.../He's won greater battles before/What makes you think He won't fight now?"

GOLDIE'S LAST DAY is mostly fast paced pop/rock songs, with two or three ballads mixed in. If you like the vocal stylings of Phil Keaggy and/or The Beatles, this album should appeal to you. God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness are central on this CD. Listeners are invited to leave the wrong spiritual paths they are on and come and follow Jesus. He can help us all grow spiritually by His Spirit. We can also share God and all He offers with others. I'm rating this fun, 'summery' sounding album 87.5%. For more info connect with the group on social media.








Friday, August 16, 2019

READY TO FLY


FFH (Far From Home) released their major label debut, I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU, in 1998. Fast forward to 2003 and they put out their fourth album READY TO FLY (Essential). It peaked at #5 on the Top Christian Albums chart. Group members were Jeromy and Jennifer Deibler, Brian Smith, and Michael Boggs. In the liner notes, the group writes: "Our music is who we are. We are honored to have been given a few moments in your hectic schedule. We pray that God would speak to you through what you hear".

Starting things off is one of seven songs Jeromy wrote alone. 'You Found Me' finds Lincoln Brewster and Jerry McPherson on electric guitar. It's a great pop song of testimony: "In the pit of despair/I was all alone there/I wasn't looking for You/But You found me anyway/You put Your hand on my face/Then You changed my name/Nothing can separate me from You". 'Good to Be Free' makes use of trumpet and portrays Jesus as Savior: "I spent so long living in a cell that I thought was home/I didn't know it wasn't for me/I let the Lord search my soul with a fine tooth comb/He showed me everything that I could be/Now I see it's good to be free".

Michael Boggs and Tony Wood co-wrote 'It's A Good Day'. Byron Hagan plays the B3 on this cheery pop song of contentment: "Circumstance and situations change/You know life can turn on a dime/But there's a constant hope and peace/That I have come to find/And it's all because of who God is/And that He is alive and I am His". The title track, 'Ready to Fly', utilizes the Nashville String Machine. It's a pop ballad longing for heaven: "I'm ready to fly, I'm ready to soar/I'm ready to leave this world behind/I'm ready to open up the door/I'm ready to fly/I'm ready to spread my wings across the sky/I think it's time/I'm ready to go/I'm ready to fly".

'I'll Join the Rocks' is a song of praise: "Your song goes on and on and I must testify/I know that I was born to worship/So if all the singing stops/I'll join the rocks.../Hallelujah!" Jeromy co-wrote 'Follow Love' with Scott Krippayne. Tambourine and B3 appear on this pretty ballad appropriate for a young person going off to college or university: "I've got a heart that's full of dreams/And a little bit of crazy/I can feel it pulling me to somewhere I have never been/I'm packing up and leaving home/To travel into the great unknown/It's time, I have to go".

Next is 'Never Gonna Be Alone', a bouncy pop song about God's goodness: "Jesus came and gave His life away/And rose again on that day/So we could say/'I'm ne ne never gonna be alone/Cause He's around". Michael Boggs and Jeromy Deibler co-wrote 'Ready for a World'. Mark Hill plays bass on this happy pop song anticipating heaven: "I am ready for a world/Where I will kneel before Your throne/And I will hear the words/'You are finally home'/I am ready for that world/But for now and until then/I will try and comprehend/How my world will be made new/I'm ready (2X)".

'Waltz for Jennifer' includes the use of accordion and bouzouki. It's a pretty love song: "We belong together, you and me/Holding on tight like lock and key/Going strong, the way this love should be/A fantasy/And I'm so glad that God made me for you and you for me". 'His Love Goes On Forever' is one of two songs solely written by Michael Boggs. It's an energetic praise and worship song: "His love reaches to the highest mountain/His love stretches to the lowest valley/His love will never fail me/It's always there, surrounding me".

'If Not For Christ' is a beautiful ballad of gratitude: "It was for me He bled and died/It was my sword that pierced His side/It was my name that Jesus cried/When on that tree He bled and died/It was for me He bled and died/And now to Christ I owe it all/He is to me a tower strong/Salvation does to me belong/It is to Christ I owe it all (2X)". Last up is 'Here I Am', a touching song that begins with these words of spiritual surrender: "Here I am, my knees are on this floor again/Take away my pride, reveal this heart within/And send Your rain of mercy, let the healing begin". 

READY TO FLY is a terrific pop album of fast and slow songs, that showcases the tight vocal harmonies of FFH. Thematically, this album spends a lot of time reflecting on the goodness of our God. He loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to Calvary to die for our sins, saving us and purchasing our freedom. He is a faithful God Who deserves our praise and our worship. We should give our entire lives to Him. FFH also longs for heaven. What a grand place that will be for eternity! There's also a nice love song and one song about pursuing one's dreams. For more info visit www.ffh.net and connect with the group on social media. I'm giving this one 100%.