Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Connie Scott was born in British Columbia in 1964. She released her debut album HEARTBEAT back in 1983. Fast forward to 1992 and she released LIVE TO TELL (Image 7 Records) which I will be reviewing here. It was produced and arranged by Roy K. Salmond and executive produced by Grant W. Saip. In the liner notes Connie thanks Jesus "for giving me the privilege of serving a faithful Father...May I always live to tell".
Ashley Cleveland wrote 'Walk to the Well'. Dane Deviller plays electric guitar on this adult contemporary ballad of spiritual invitation: "Take a walk to the well/Taste living water/Live to tell of a faithful Father/Get up and walk". 'Healing Waters' is a cover of a Mr. Mister song. This rock tune directs us to God: "Follow the road/The road that leads us/Where the healing waters flow/Where do we go when the world forsakes us?/Where the healing waters flow". 'Little Joey Run' was inspired in part by Connie's involvement with World Vision. This ballad speaks of a child in need: "He's a cold and lonely child/Who is lost among the night/And it's cold outside/Better find a place to hide/Little Joey run/Little Joey run/Here I am in comfort, not a need of anything/Oh Lord, I'm truly thankful/But what am I to do?/Help me find out soon".
Connie co-wrote 'Angels' with Donny Hackett. It's a sentimental ballad: "May you always be Momma's boy/And if anything comes to harm you in this world/He'll send His angels to watch over you (2X)/He's with you always/When I can't always be with you too/And all His angels watching over you". 'Play this Game' finds a lost soul wanting to come back to God: "I left my first love far behind/Seeking answers from the other side/Got so many questions on my mind/And I'm never ever satisfied/All I know is I want You back/I've got to have You in my life again/Cause You're the only One who can set it right/You're the voice that yearns within".
Connie, Donny Hackett, Peter Wisstoff, and Roy Salmond wrote 'Starting Now', a pretty ballad desiring intimacy with God: "Starting now/Help me find the time it takes to be/Walking closer in communion/You with me/Starting where I am/Starting now". Marc Jordan and Bruce Gaitsch wrote 'Inside My Piano'. Dave Pickell plays acoustic piano on this beautiful ballad dedicated to Connie's late Grandma who helped her learn piano: "I never had a chance to say goodbye to you/And hold you inside of my arms/Just one last time/But I can see you here tonight/Here inside my piano/I can touch you here tonight".
Next up is 'You Were Falling in Love with Me'. It includes these words of honesty: "Heaven knows I had something/Something to give/Heaven knows I was born to be loved.../Do I hear your voice calling like a song in the night?/Oh, I'm wanting so much to believe". 'Waiting in Cars' is a quirky, fun pop/rock song about life being chaotic: "Stuck in the middle of a motorized confusion/I'm sick and tired of waitin' for the light to change/Got to get the kids to school/Bread and milk and meat for dinner/Lord, I never feel the winner when/I'm running so behind a tight schedule".
'Don't Ever Stop Believin'' is a pop/rock track encouraging those burned by love to try again: "We've all had past rejections/Haunting us all as we go/Let your love asleep now awaken/Be strong, most of all be patient/In time you will reap what you sow/And love is a risk that's worth taking". Last up is 'I Lift Up My Voice', penned by Peter Wisstoff and Tim Olsen. It's praise and worship: "I lift up my hands/I lift up my voice to You/I lift up my hands/I lift up my voice to You/Where would I be without Your love?"
LIVE TO TELL clocks in at 50 minutes and 2 seconds. There are seven adult contemporary and four rock songs presented. Seven are slow, while four are faster. I don't know that there is an overarching theme on this record. There are songs about people returning to a walk with God, and songs inviting people to do so. God is our Healer and to be praised. There are relational songs that deal with everything from Connie loving her son and her Grandmother, to her caring for the less fortunate on our planet. The desire to be loved by a member of the opposite sex is also expressed. I'm rating this album 94%.
Monday, April 29, 2019
Tourniquet is a Christian metal band that released their debut album STOP THE BLEEDING in 1990. From the beginning the band has been pro-God and anti-animal mistreatment. Their latest record is GAZING AT MEDUSA (2018, Pathogenic Records). Tourniquet is: Ted Kirkpatrick (drums, bass), Aaron Guerra (guitar, vocals), Chris Poland (lead guitar), and Tim Ripper Owens (lead vocals).
Starting things off is 'Sinister Scherzo', a blazing metal tune with a great message: "Discordant melody/Hearts full of apathy/Discordant melody/But meant for unity/Sinister scherzo/The pull of evil is strong/Sinister scherzo/Led by its hellbound song/Let Him change your song". 'Longing for Gondwanaland' is a terrific metal song about all the divisions in our society: "Once there was a place, united one race/Now, it's not the case/We separate ourselves from those who are different/Silently or often with hateful volition.../Color, religion, and appearance-our distractions.../United we stand/Divided we fall". 'Memento Mori (Remember You Must Die)' is a metal ballad that'll make you think: "I know the plans I have for you/To give you hope and a future too/We are unholy, but think that we're righteous/We are unworthy, but still feel entitled/Yet we can love/We love because He first loved us/Dying means living/Living means dying/Memento Mori".
Next up, 'All Good Things Died Here' picks up the pace musically. It encourages humility: "The power struggle is waged by the strong against the strong/But the paradox is the weakest were the strongest all along/Pride will come before a fall/The merciful shall inherit all/Now we know the score/To elevate ourselves no more/All good things died here". 'The Crushing Weight of Eternity' is over six minutes long. It speaks of the hope God offers: "Reach your hand/He'll reach back/Reach your hand/He'll reach back/The crushing weight of eternity/Deafening moment for you and me/The weight is lifted when we choose to walk the path He offers/Kaleidoscope He hands to us/The focus clear, it's time to trust/The broken lens is paid for/By the blood shed on the cross". 'The Peaceful Beauty of Brutal Justice' reminds us there is a hell: "Appointed unto man to die/And after that the judgment comes/The unrepentant wicked will be cast into damnation/Appointed unto man to die/And after that the judgment comes/Even though His hope is that we all will find salvation".
'Can't Make Me Hate You' speaks of God's unending love: "A heart rages against Him/Days of turning from that gentle nudge/Years of choices apart from His plan/Waving a fist at God just because we can/A still small voice says 'Can't make Me hate you'/A gentle spirit says 'No matter what you do'/A still small voice says 'Can't make Me hate you'/Hardened heart, stubborn mind/Leave them all behind". 'One Foot in Forever' rocks and will resonate with nature lovers: "The beauty of this world carries the hints of eternity/In everything we touch, in everything we hear and see/Let creation inspire you, burn a fire in you.../See the creatures around us/And see the glimpse of His majesty/Keep one foot in forever/Live in the moment with the other". Last up is the title track, 'Gazing at Medusa'. According to Wikipedia.org: "In Greek mythology, Medusa was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed upon her face would turn to stone". Guest lead vocals are provided by Deen Castronovo on this headbanger! This one reminds us that God is most powerful: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (2X)/When my back's against the wall/He will make sure I don't fall/Victory is ours to grasp/So go ahead and gaze/Stare into her eyes ablaze/Gazing at Medusa".
I really don't have anything bad to say about this excellent record of Christian metal material. The vocals are so well suited to the material that it's crazy! The electric guitar playing is stellar. This album is right on par with Stryper's GOD DAMN EVIL. Tourniquet reminds us that with God as our Helper, we can accomplish much. We always have a friend in Him. His love for us is fierce. Tourniquet also reminds us that we can choose not to have a personal relationship with God. If we take that route, hell is a reality as a destination for us. The front cover art by Jason Juta is certainly memorable! Do yourself a favor and pick up this album, which I'm rating 100%. For more info visit www.tourniquet.net and connect with them on social media.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Sandra Faye 'Sandi' Patty was born on July 12, 1956 in Oklahoma City. In 1978 she released her independent debut album FOR MY FRIENDS. A couple of my favorite albums of hers are 1986's MORNING LIKE THIS and 1988's MAKE HIS PRAISE GLORIOUS. Fast forward to 1994 and she released FIND IT ON THE WINGS (Word/Epic). In the liner notes she writes: "For me, this project is full of joy and celebration, full of God's grace and redemption. The joy of the Lord is my strength and I am continuing to learn that His grace is sufficient for me".
Bob Farrell and Tommy Sims wrote the adult pop title track 'Find it on the Wings'. Kid Connection helps on vocals and the lyrics are very optimistic: "For every heart that breaks/There'll be joy that comes along to take it's place/For every time we fall/A voice will pick us up to a higher call/We'll play in the sunshine/We'll dance in the moonlight/We'll sing in the hard times/And find it on the wings/We'll find it on the wings of love". A combo of two songs 'Holy Lord/Carry On' is next. Chris Eaton, Mark Ivey, and Bob Carlisle sing backing vocals. I like these lyrics: "No greater King ever known/Passion was the crimson and stain of Your robe/And I will bow before Your throne/Your love is life to me/You are my destiny/Carry on, carry on/O God of awesome might/You draw me to Your light/Carry on (3X)/My life is in Your hands/Carry on". 'Make it 'Til Tomorrow' is a duet with mainstream artist Peabo Bryson. This adult pop ballad offers words of testimony and uses a choir: "As long as my God is there/And He hears my honest prayer/ I know I can make it 'til tomorrow/And I know that when shadows hide the day/His words are a lamp unto my way/The light I can follow".
Cindy Morgan wrote 'When I Heal', an adult contemporary ballad that uses The Nashville String Machine. It offers hope: "Secrets locked away deep inside/Shadows are never far behind/But what rattles in the closet/Can be driven from the darkness today.../Climbing the stairway of regrets/It's hard to fathom what He forgives, He forgets". 'Where the Nails Were' is a song of gratitude for Calvary: "It should've been my hands where the nails were/It should've been/It should've been my feet where the nails were/It should've been/It should have been my side that was opened/My heart that was broken".
Grant Cunningham and Matt Huesmann wrote 'Build My World Around You', an upbeat pop number about making God the center of one's life: "Build my world around hope/Build my world where there's mercy and grace/Build my world around love/Build my world around all that is true/Build my world around You". Burt Bacharach and Will Jennings wrote 'If I Want To'. Andy Snitzer plays tenor sax on this lovely ballad: "If I want to imagine/Peace on every hand/I close my eyes and dream my dreams/In dreams I make a stand/Any time I start missin'/Human harmony/I listen hard/Until I hear the music inside me/I can sing of a better world if I want to".
Sandi dedicates 'Safe Harbour', penned by Bob Farrell and Greg Nelson, to North Anderson Church of God. It's about comforting people having hard times: "It seems the hardest struggle for any man/Is facing the darkness inside of him/But give them sanctuary, filled up with love/Where the light of God's truth shines within/They'll know a place where they can come out of the darkness/They'll find the grace of Jesus/In the refuge of His arms". 'God is Walking Me Through' is an adult pop song of testimony: "God is walking me through and making me sing/He's turning my whole world around/With the joy that He brings/He's breaking my fall/Lifting me up/Changing my heart's point of view/God is walking me through".
'Through the Eyes of A Child' came about due to Sandi's involvement with World Vision. David Hamilton plays piano and Dann Huff guitar, on this ballad: "Through the eyes of a child there is innocence/Through the eyes of a child all is love/May the light of Jesus help us to see/All the world through their eyes". Closing things out is 'Imagine (How God Can Sing)' penned by John Barlow Jarvis and Phil McHugh. It's a quiet song that includes these words: "Imagine how God can dance/Moving gracefully up to our hearts/To invite us to be intimate and share in His joy".
FIND IT ON THE WINGS contains six adult contemporary, three adult pop, and two praise and worship songs. Eight of the songs are restful, while three are faster. It's really an inspirational album. God is praised for being Creator, Healer, holy, love, and our joy and strength. Sandi desires a peaceful world where all people are loved and cared for. The church should be a refuge on earth. Sandi is thankful for the cross and the hope and new life Christ gives to us. So, if you're in a meditative mood, I recommend this project to you, which I'm rating 87%. For more info visit www.sandipatty.com.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Richard Wayne Mullins was born on October 21, 1955 in Richmond, Indiana, and died on September 19, 1997 as a result of a vehicle accident in Illinois. In 1998 AWESOME GOD: A TRIBUTE TO RICH MULLINS (Reunion) was released. In the liner notes, producer Reed Arvin shares: "This recording is not about Rich Mullins; it's about his songs. I like that. I don't want to worship or idolize him or pretend he didn't have defects. I just want to hear his music because I love it so much and because that's all there is now". Nine of the eleven songs here were penned solely by Rich.
First up, we have Michael W. Smith covering the congregational classic 'Awesome God'. The Nashville String Machine is used to good effect here and Lincoln Brewster provides an electric guitar solo. It's a song about the greatness of our God: "Our God is an awesome God/He reigns from heaven above/With wisdom, power, and love/Our God is an awesome God/And when the sky was starless in the void of the night/Our God is an awesome God/He spoke into the darkness and created the light/Our God is an awesome God". Mandolin and fiddle are used on Carolyn Arends' cover of 'Jacob and 2 Women'. The song draws from the Old Testament: "Jacob, he loved Rachel and Rachel, she loved him/And Leah was just there for dramatic effect/Well, it's right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin/But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick". Billy Crockett is up next with 'Verge of a Miracle', on which Charles Williams plays dobro. It's a quiet song of encouragement: "Someone's waiting to put wings upon your flightless heart/You're on the verge of a miracle/Standing there/Oh, you're on the verge of a miracle/Just waiting to be believed in/Open your eyes and see/You're on the verge of a miracle".
Amy Grant follows with 'Hold Me Jesus'. It serves as a prayer: "I've beat my head against so many walls/I'm falling down/I'm falling on my knees.../Oh, hold me Jesus, I'm shaking like a leaf/You have been King of my glory/Won't You be my Prince of Peace?" Chris Rice covers 'Calling Out Your Name' which finds George Cocchini on electric guitar. It's a song nature lovers will appreciate: "And a single hawk bursts into flight/And in the east the whole horizon is in flames/I feel thunder in the sky/I see the sky about to rain/And I hear the prairies calling out Your Name".
Gary Chapman puts his spin on 'Elijah'. Steel guitar and Hammond B-3 are used. It reflects on passing on: "When I leave I want to go out like Elijah/With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire/And when I look back on the stars/It'll be like a candlelight in Central Park/And it won't break my heart to say goodbye". Jars of Clay cover 'If I Stand' which was written by Rich and Steve Cudworth. Accordion, melodica, and upright bass are used. It speaks of faith: "So if I stand let me stand on the promise that You will pull me through/And if I can't let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You.".
Billy Sprague is up next with 'A Place to Stand'. Aimee Weimer is on backing vocals. These lyrics could be a diary entry: "I've seen a lot of injustice/I've seen sweet mercy too/I was blinded by the things I saw until I looked at You/There's a lot of things this world has hidden/I'm beginning to see/So hold on to my hand/Hold on to my hand/I need a place to run to and a place to stand". Kevin Max covers 'Save Me'. Jimmy A. plays guitars and Otto Price plays bass. The lyrics are relevant for us today: "Save me from Soviet propagandists/Lord, save me from Washington/Please save me/Oh Lord, save me.../Save me from trendy religion that makes cheap cliches out of timeless truths".
Ashley Cleveland presents 'I See You'. The now late Rick Elias is a backing vocalist. It's a song of praise: "Everywhere I go I see You/Well, the grass will die and the flowers fall/But Your Word's alive/And it will be after all/Everywhere I go I see You". Last up is Caedmon's Call covering a tune written by Rich's good friend Beaker, called 'Step by Step'. Like the album opener, it is a congregational number: "Oh God, You are my God and I will ever praise You/I will seek You in the morning/And I will learn to walk in Your ways/And step by step You'll lead me/And I will follow You all of my days".
This tribute album to the late Rich Mullins includes contributions from some of the best known CCM artists as well as some of the lesser knowns. It features eight adult contemporary selections and three praise and worship ones. A drawback is that nine of the eleven songs are slow, making it a bit of a sleepy record. Message-wise there are several songs that cry out to God for help and peace along life's journey. There are also several songs that speak of how wonderful God is. He is a God of wisdom, power, and love. He is also our Creator and Sustainer. Rich encourages the disheartened and makes it known he longs for heaven. The CD booklet is full of memories and thoughts about Rich. I'm rating AWESOME GOD; A TRIBUTE TO RICH MULLINS 85%.
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Connie Scott was born in British Columbia, Canada in 1964. Early on she performed with the Scott Family Singers and later she toured as a duo with her sister Sherri. Connie released her solo debut, HEARTBEAT, in 1983. I quite liked 1987's HOLD ON. Fast forward to 1989 and she released FOREVER YOUNG (Image 7 Records). It was produced and arranged by Roy Salmond and executive produced by her husband Grant Saip. In the liner notes, she writes: "Thanks to all the special people in my life whose love for the Lord and strong belief in this project made it more than I could have hoped for".
Mark Gersmehl of White Heart wrote 'Wild Horse Running'. It's an adult pop song of encouragement: "Deep within the centre of your soul/There's a land where the winds of freedom blow/And there's a wild horse running/Feel the sunlight fall upon your face/And let the Spirit in you dance/He's given you a heart of poetry and grace/So let the life of love/Start a new romance". 'The World's Last Night' is a terrific inspirational anthem about Christ's return to earth: "On wings of a cloud/We'll see Him coming, coming/A trumpet will sound and we'll behold the Lord of light/Creation aloud/Will sing a new day's dawning/Jesus is coming/Wait for the world's last night". A children's choir is used to good effect.
'Who Do You Give Your Heart To' finds Dave Pickell on piano and Harris Van Burkel on lead guitar. Connie co-wrote this adult contemporary ballad with Roy and Gayle Salmond. It invites a friend to become a Christian: "Take a chance/Step from behind your wall of fear/Have courage, friend/To trust in a God who wants to hear your brokenness/Loneliness/The heartache you conceal/The tattered dress of bitterness/The scars that never heal". 'Will You Follow' is a slow adult contemporary spiritual invitation: "Will you follow or will you run away from the One who loves you?/His love is full and free and it's here to stay/Oh, His love is here for you".
Pete Wisstoff and Donny Hackett wrote 'All That He Wants', while the late Tom Howard is responsible for strings and piano. This pop/rock song encourages folks to come to Christ: "Face the truth, forget the lies/It's no use/Leave your alibis/He hears your cries/And it's all that He wants/To give you all you're looking for/That was then, this is now/Make it better than before". Dale Oliver and Billy Smiley wrote 'The Longest Road'. Jim Woodyard plays 12 String Acoustic Guitar. It's a cry for spiritual direction: "You know my heart is true/Oh Lord, I want to live for You/But how many times has my head turned away/From seeing the truth and following You?"
'Cover Feelings' is a relationship song: "If memories could kill tomorrow/Then nothing could be saved/There is such a thing as starting over/Love can give us strength to try". 'When Morning Gilds the Skies' is a hymn dating back to the 1800's. Scott's version is great. It uses a choir and speaks of true refuge: "Does sadness fill my mind?/A solace here I find/May Jesus Christ be praised/Or fades my earthly bliss/My comfort still is this/May Jesus Christ be praised".
What follows is 'The Coming Dawn'. It offers great hope: "Like eagles you shall fly/You'll soar the open sky/Singing heaven's song/Your blood will flow with fire/You'll run and never tire/In the coming dawn". Last up is the title track, 'Forever Young', penned by Bob Dylan in 1973. Michael Hart plays dulcimer and dobro on this classic song of goodwill: "May you grow up to be righteous/May you grow up to be true/May you always know the truth/And see the light surrounding you/May you always be courageous/Stand up right and be strong/May you stay/Forever young!"
FOREVER YOUNG is a fantastic album! It spans several musical styles including rock, adult contemporary, and inspirational. Connie Scott desires to live for God with all she has and invites us all to come into personal relationship with Him. He is a Refuge in times of trouble and has our very best interests in mind. Connie celebrates the life she now lives, but also eagerly awaits Christ's return when everything will be made new. He alone is worthy of our praise. What a strong and awesome voice Connie has. I'm rating this album 98%.
Friday, April 19, 2019
The singer, author, and speaker we now know as Lacey Sturm was born in Homestead, Florida and raised in Arlington, Texas. She sang lead vocals for Flyleaf on three full length albums they put out between 2005 and 2012. In 2016 she released her solo debut, LIFE SCREAMS (Followspot Records). It hit #1 on the US Top Hard Rock Albums Billboard chart and peaked at #74 on the Billboard 200. The album was produced by Evan Rodaniche, Lacey, and her husband Josh Sturm, while JW Clarke served as executive producer. The band on the album is: Lacey Sturm (vocals), Josh Sturm (guitar), Ben Hull (bass), Drew Rodaniche (drums), and Jordan Sarmiento (piano/keys).
Starting things off is 'Impossible', one of three co-writes with Skillet's Korey Cooper. This lead single was a #1 hit. It rocks and speaks of our true potential: "Every morning I see another miracle/I can't believe I'm living the impossible/We are the sign and we are the wonder/Another day of living the impossible/Impossible (2X)". 'The Soldier' beats down on Satan and rocks: "I'm gonna stand my ground/ Even if they back down/Cause I don't care what you say anymore/So what, you raise your voice/I'm screaming back my choice/Cause I sure ain't scared of you anymore!" 'I'm Not Laughing' kicks butt musically and speaks of a lady in an abusive relationship: "She doesn't know she's beautiful/Cause all she ever hears/Is your insecure loud mouth/Feeding off her fears/And all you know is that everyone is looking at her now/You shoot her with your mouth, your gun".
'Vanity' is less than two minutes. It's a spoken word dialogue between Lacey and Propaganda. It includes some strong allegations: "I want to believe what I heard somewhere a long time ago that love is free and kind.../But what you call love is destroying my life and it's destroying your soul if you ever had one/I don't even think you even know what it means to love or to be loved". 'Rot' is an emotional rock track that speaks out against drugs: "I need another fix tonight/Oh my God, save my soul/Beneath her glowing eyes that call like fire to a moth/The most disgusting lies are dressed in beauty that'll rot/Oh my God, You've won the coldest battle we've fought/Deliverance is mine, from more of this beauty that'll rot".
Next up is 'You're Not Alone', which speaks of God's care and concern for us: "His Love will never leave/Truth will not forsake/Eternal thoughts will keep your heart safe/No, Love will never leave/Truth will not forsake/Eternal thoughts will keep your heart safe/You're not alone (2X)". 'Feels Like Forever' is a rock ballad about an encounter with God: "I can't stop shaking as You come close/I want to run but I want You most/Is this what it means to die?/I hold my breath as I wait on You/Longing to follow Your every move/I've never been so alive".
The title track, 'Life Screams', follows. It's a co-write with David Hodges of Evanescence fame. It's another rock ballad. This one offers hope to the hopeless: "Life sings out, calling you by name/Life screams out that all of this will change/Your lungs are only flesh and everything that dies will fade away/Life calls for her lover/You will live forever". 'Faith' is a relationship song: "Will you always chase me like this?/Will time and space leave when we kiss goodbye?"
A live cover of 'Roxanne' is next. It was penned by Sting and released by The Police back in 1978. On Lacey's take, Joel Armstrong plays drums. The song is addressed to a prostitute: "Roxanne/You don't have to put on the red light/Walk the streets for money/You don't care if it's wrong or if it's right/Roxanne/You don't have to wear that dress tonight/Those days are over/You don't have to sell your body to the night". Lacey screams a fair bit on this one. It's an interesting cover. Last up is 'Run to You', a great ballad that finds God addressing a prodigal: "I've always believed in you/You used to believe in Me too/Remember the day that you turned away/It killed Me to lose you.../But call out My Name, I'll run to you".
LIFE SCREAMS is a great rock record! Lacey delivers her messages with emotion and passion. She speaks out against the abuse of women (including prostitution), and she warns of the dangers of doing drugs. She celebrates God's goodness, love, faithfulness, and the hope He gives. We are encouraged to be who we were created to be and to claim our victory over the devil. I hope Lacey does another rock record down the line. I'm rating this one 93%. For more info visit www.laceysturm.com and/or connect with her on social media. This is a good outreach album.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Jacquelyn 'Jaci' Davette Velasquez was born on October 15, 1979. She put out two independent albums in 1992 and 1994. Her major label debut was 1996's HEAVENLY PLACE (Myrrh). She became known for such songs as 'On My Knees', 'God So Loved', and 'Adore'. Fast forward to 2003 and she released UNSPOKEN (Word/Curb/Warner Bros.). It debuted at #55 on the Billboard 200. In the liner notes Jaci writes: "God, what could I ever do without You? You are my best friend!!!!"
First up is 'You're My God', one of four songs written by Jaci, Matthew Gerrard, and Bridget Benenate. This one is a song of praise: "When I'm watching a rose/How it naturally grows/Just takes my breath away/There's just one thing to say/'You're my God/What You've created/So many miracles in every day/You're my God/It's so amazing/It's so incredible I've gotta say/You're my God!'" 'Jesus Is' is an adult contemporary ballad of gratitude: "You never judge me for my faults/Your love is unconditional/Without You I don't know where I'd be/Jesus is the sweet, sweet love of my soul/Jesus is the only thing making me whole/He's everything to me/All I desire to be/That's what Jesus is (2X)".
'Lost Without You' is a slow pop song that testifies: "You're the only One who gets rid of these blues/When I fall You'll catch me every time/The way You give me clarity when I'm confused/Just to hear Your voice can ease my mind". 'Where I Belong' speaks of God's faithfulness: "You're always there to guide me through my mistakes/You've never once left my side/The way You pick me up each time my heart breaks/The way You always stood by".
'The Real Me' is a great pop song on which Jaci admits she doesn't always have it all together: "I've got my bad days and some are even worse/I can be a blessing and you know, I can be a curse/I tremble at rejection/I'm scared to be alone/Sometimes I may be selfish but I always make it home". 'He' is one of two songs written by Hunter Davis and Chris Faulk. Michael Ripoll plays Spanish guitars and sitar on this song about God's care for us: "He is working on me/He never leaves me/He lets me know that I'm not alone in the darkness/He wants me to be happy/He smiles when I'm laughing/He makes me believe/Heaven's a place".
'Glass House' paints a picture of living life in the spotlight: "Sometimes it feels as though my life is like a test/With expectations that I've got to be the best/Feel like everybody's always watchin'/One little slip gets people talking/So many unkind words are spoken/You see my heart is hurting, but it's still open". Jaci co-wrote 'Your Friend' with Jammes Castro, Abel Orta, and Javier Solis. Violin and cello are used on this song about companionship: "I will be your friend who will always care/I'll be the first to catch you if ever you should fall/And hold you in my arms/I will be your friend".
What follows is 'Something', a quiet adult contemporary ballad about the end of a romantic relationship: "Didn't it mean something?/Surely you have to feel something/How could there be nothing in your eyes?/Come on and say something/Baby, you gotta do something/Don't leave me here all by myself". Tobias Gad, Orrin Hatch, and Madeline Stone wrote the upbeat pop title track, 'Unspoken'. It's optimistic: "If we all pray for peace/Change will come, I believe/As we face the unknown/God heals us when we're broken/He is there, use your voice/Reach for Him, make a choice/None of us are alone/Don't leave your heart unspoken".
Jaci, Matthew Gerrard, and Cindy Morgan wrote 'I'm Alive'. It's a love song to God: "I'm alive (2X)/I feel Your arms around me/Your eyes of love surround me/I'm alive/To shine in pure perfection/And wake up every morning/In Your light/I'm so glad I'm alive". 'Shine' finds Pete Orta on electric guitars and includes the vocal talents of The Positive Group. It's a song of thankfulness: "You'll open up your eyes like the sunrise/Your heart will fly and you'll realize/What a gift it is to be alive, be alive/Oh, be alive/Shine, shine on (2X)/On and on".
Genre-wise UNSPOKEN is made up of pop and adult contemporary music. There are about twice as many slow songs as there are fast ones. Jaci's vocals are wonderful. She sings about Jesus being our Friend, Healer, the One who comforts and forgives us, and Who is faithful to us during the good and the bad times. Jaci admits her flaws and insecurities but testifies that God is always working on and in her, and has ample love for her. On more than one song Jaci praises God for loving her and for the gift of life itself. She emphasizes that we should be kind and friendly to others. I'm rating this CD an 89%. For more info visit www.jacivelasquez.com and/or connect with her on social media.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Russell D. Taff was born on November 11, 1953 in Farmersville, California. He released his solo debut, WALLS OF GLASS, in 1983 and followed it up with 1985's success, MEDALS. What I'm reviewing here is the compilation album WE WILL STAND-YESTERDAY AND TODAY (1994, Myrrh). In the liner notes Chris Willman writes of Russ: "No wonder he's considered the voice of Contemporary Christian Music-not just because he was bestowed with a set of chops to make the angels jealous, but because there's no doubting he means every soothing, swelling syllable". This collection spans the years 1979-1989.
1985's upbeat pop/rock cut 'Rock Solid' opens the album. It's a song of spiritual determination: "This is it/I've made my mind up/No more both ways/I have been dancing on the border/Wasting my days/Why was I flirting with a time bomb?/I know what's right/Starting now, no compromising/I'm changing my life/Got my feet back on the solid ground/I'm standing/Rock solid (2X)". Dave Perkins wrote 'Walk Between the Lines', an adult contemporary ballad about finding refuge: "When the days ahead seem full of dread/And I'm afraid of what the future finds/There's this place I know I can go/I'll find the peace to clear my clouded mind/Walk between the lines/Through these life and times/My heart is hitting hard upon the Word".
'Here I Am' is a song of spiritual surrender: "Here I am/Because You love me/Willing to be broken/Here I am/Because You love me/Coming closer to You/Giving You my will/Here I stand/Willing to become as new/Send me out prepared/Covered in Your love/Ready to be a light to the world". Chris Eaton wrote 'Believe in Love', a wonderful adult contemporary ballad of honesty: "Some days I get up in the morning and I wish I wasn't there/Life seems so incredibly lonely/When no one wants to care/But I've found somewhere in this heart/A Friend for life/To hold me close 'til all my fears subside".
'Not Gonna Bow' is a strong pop/rock track about remaining loyal to God: "Ninety feet tall and nine feet wide/Solid gold/'It must be a god'/They were told/'When you hear the music play fall on your knees and begin to pray'/They were told/But when the trumpet sounded/The whole world bowed/Three men stood there all alone/They said/'Not gonna bow to your idols/We won't bow, oh no!/Not gonna bow to your idols/We won't bow, oh no!'" 'I Still Believe' is a cover of a song by The Call. It was penned by Michael Been and James Goodwin. It's a terrific rock anthem of faith: "I still believe (2X)/Through the cold and through the heat/Through the rain and through the tears/Through the crowds and through the cheers/Oh, I still believe".
Next up is 'Silent Love', a pretty adult contemporary testimony: "I walk along the path You trace/I feel Your presence in each place/And if the darkness hides the day/Love's flowing out of You to light my way/Your silent love comes over me/In the stillness of my memory/I feel Your touch/I've heard Your call/Your silent love remains unchanged and strong". 'We Will Stand' is a fave of mine and is quite popular. This inspirational anthem was written by Russ Taff, wife Tori, and James Hollihan, Jr. It's from 1983 and is a song desiring unity in the body of Christ: "You're my brother, you're my sister/So take me by the hand/Together we will work until He comes/There's no foe that can defeat us/When we're walking side by side/As long as there is love we will stand".
'Farther On' is from 1989 and is a quiet country ballad. Here's the chorus: "But a father's eye can always see right through/And a father's heart can tell when tears are true/Now I'm standing on this road/Your hand has brought me to/Your faithful love will lead me farther on". 'Winds of Change' was penned by Danny Tate and Danny Wilde. It's upbeat country and is another all time fave of mine. It offers these words of wisdom: "I've never gone so far that I've forgotten my way home/The best things always bring you back/Again over and over/The hands of time go round and round/They don't slow down when you lose your way/At every turn, the things you learn/You wear them proud like you wear your name".
'I Cry' testifies: "I cry and You're the One who hears me calling/I fall so easily but You're there to catch me/Say the words that heal me/I'm safe when I'm with You/You touch my eyes and I can see". 'Trumpet of Jesus' is from Taff's time with the Imperials and dates back to 1980. It was penned by Michael and Stormie Omartian. This joyful pop song speaks of how believers live differently, with different priorities: "I listen to the trumpet of Jesus/While the world hears a different sound/I march to the drumbeat of God Almighty/While the others just wander around/I'm a member of the Holy Ghost traveling band/We're moving on up to a better land/I hear the voice of the Supernatural singing/Like only those who know Him can".
'Praise the Lord' is also from Taff's days with the Imperials. It dates back to 1979 and was composed by Brown Bannister and Mike Hudson. It's an inspirational classic: "Now Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think/That we are paupers when he knows himself we're children of the King/So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won/We know that Jesus Christ has risen so the work's already done". Last up is a previously unreleased solo song, 'Your Love Stays With Me', on which The Nashville String Machine appears. It testifies: "Oh, how Your love stays with me/When shadows fall and everybody leaves me/I'm not alone/I'll never be, I know I'll never be/Because Your love stays with me". It's a soulful ballad.
WE WILL STAND clocks in at a generous 60 minutes and 6 seconds! Genre-wise, the majority of the songs are adult contemporary, but there are also rock, country, and pop influences. Russ's vocals are second to none. There are several songs about God's love for us. We can take refuge in Him and allow ourselves to be molded by Him. We can also find joy in praising the Lord. Russ encourages us to stand firm in our Christian faith in the midst of persecution and hardship. He also encourages unity amongst believers of various denominations. I'm rating this excellent collection a 90%. For more info visit www.russtaff.com and/or connect with him on social media.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Trevor McNevan's first band was Oddball. They put out one album, SHUTTERBUG, in 1995. Trevor started Thousand Foot Krutch in 1997. Their first album, THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO was released independently in 1998. 2000's SET IT OFF is considered their first studio album. It featured 'Puppet', a fan fave. In 2003 the group released PHENOMENON which included another fan fave, 'Rawkfist'. The group followed that up with 2005's THE ART OF BREAKING (Tooth & Nail Records). Group members were Trevor McNevan (vocals, guitars), Joel Bruyere (bass), and Steve Augustine (drums). The album was produced and mixed by Arnold Lanni and executive produced by Brandon Ebel. Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace appears on two of the tracks.
'Absolute' is a meaty hard rocker that cries out to God: "We want, the truth/Give us the absolute/We need, Your help/Cause we've got nothing". 'Slow Bleed' asks a great question: "All this time we've been misled/Does anyone care at all?" The title track, 'The Art of Breaking', follows. It's a rocker with this chorus: "When I feel numb I'll let you know/I won't become what I was before/You cannot kill what's not your creation/This is the art of breaking".
'Stranger' is a song of one who is disillusioned: "I'm a stranger that no one can see/A stranger to every part of me/I'm a stranger to all that I know/A stranger, everywhere I go/It's so hard when you're a loser/Heaven help us find our way/And it's so hard, cause I'm a loser/Heaven help me feel okay". 'Hurt' is still rock, but slower. It includes these nice sentiments: "Hope you never hurt, hope you never cry/Hope you never lose your way tonight/Hope you never crumble/Hope you never fall".
'Hand Grenade' sizzles and is about submitting to God: "I find it hard to take, sometimes I feel like I could break/And I hope You hear my prayer tonight/Can You hear my cries?.../Take me, make me, break/Watch me get wicked like a hand grenade/Take me, make me, break me/Watch me get wicked and drop like a hand grenade". 'Move' is a punchy rocker about having fun: "Move and show me what you can do/When you step into the circle and shake like we do/Move when you just can't take it/And move if you just feel like breaking it".
Next up is 'Hit the Floor', a good rock song to exercise to: "Oh, oh, let's go/Everyone out the door/So when you hear it go, hear it go, hit the floor/Let's go/Everyone hit the floor/When you hear it go/Hear it go out the door/Oh, oh, let's go, hit the floor/When you hear the sounds, hit the floor/Oh, oh, let's go, hit the floor/Oh, oh, here we go, here we go". 'Go' offers these words of praise: "I love the way You move/You cover me like oxygen/Touched by Your innocence/We come to You with hearts open/I love the way You are/The way You move, the way You speak/And I like the way You heal/The hole inside that's incomplete".
'Make Me A Believer' includes this mysterious chorus: "Make me a believer, let you down/For the first time come undone/If you let me, so don't put me down/And don't let this feeling slip away". Last up is 'Breathe You In'. It's a pretty rock ballad pointing to God: "I took a walk to see all the love that's around me/Through the highs and lows/There's a truth that I know and it's You.../I wanna breathe You in".
THE ART OF BREAKING contains some very good electric guitar work and great vocals. Nine of the eleven tracks are fast rock ones. If you are looking for some energetic, adrenaline rushing music to work out to, consider this album. On it, the lyrics are more on the abstract and vague side of things. That being said, there are cries on this album for spiritual direction, that is, for God to work in one's life. It is He who can make us a new creation. A couple of the songs are about just getting by in life, while two are simply about having a good time. While this isn't TFK's best work, die hard fans should have it in their possession. I'm rating it 80% and recommending it to fans of Skillet and early era Kutless. For more info visit www.thousandfootkrutch.com and/or connect with the band on social media.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Steve Green was born on August 1, 1956 in Portland, Oregon. He has performed with Truth, the Bill Gaither Trio, the New Gaither Vocal Band, and White Heart. In 1984 he released his self-titled debut. Ten years later he put out his 10th album, WHERE MERCY BEGINS (Sparrow). Producers used on it were Phil Naish, Brown Bannister, and Greg Nelson. Of them, Steve writes: "Their sensitivity, helpfulness, and cooperation greatly encouraged me...You each brought a much appreciated gift to this project".
Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the album opener, 'We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God'. It's a pop praise song full of joy: "Oh, glory to the Name/The Name of our salvation/Oh, glory to the Name above all names/The Name of the Lord our God/Some trust in the wealth of things/We trust in the Name of the Lord our God". 'Glory to You' is one of two selections written by Jon Mohr and Randall Dennis. Chris Eaton and Chris Willis sing backing vocals on this pop praise and worship song: "Any strength I have/Any good I do/Comes from the life I found in You/So in all I am and in all I do/I give the glory to You".
Dann Huff plays guitars and Tommy Sims bass on 'Answer the Call'. It's a song of spiritual resolve: "I answer the call/I take my stand/I choose to live my days on earth a faithful man/And to that end/I give my all/And in the strength and grace of God/I answer the call". Phil McHugh, Greg Nelson, and Shane Keister co-wrote 'That's Where His Mercy Begins'. On it, Steve testifies: "And He wasn't surprised at where I had been/He was waiting for me at the end of my sin/And the heaven I found in the hell I was in/That's where His mercy/That's where His mercy begins".
Michael Card and Phil Naish penned 'The Beauty of the Bride'. This inspirational ballad looks ahead to things to come: "We will see Him coming/With His arms held open wide/Captivated by the hidden beauty of the bride/Sooner than we know/And all at once He will appear/And we will finally be made one/At last we'll hear the Bridegroom calling 'Come'". Michael Kelly Blanchard wrote 'Great is the Lord God'. It's an upbeat pop song that testifies: "He has found me in my misery/He has freed me from my shame/He has saved me from self-tyranny/Holy is His Name/He has pulled me out of darkness/He has brought me into light". Horns are used to good effect and Billy Crockett plays acoustic guitar.
Next we have 'Kings Shall Bow'. The Nashville String Machine and a choir are used on this inspirational anthem that speaks of God's ultimate victory over evil: "They mock His Name/And slight His Word as if He were a fable/They taunt my faith and scorn me as if I were a fool.../Soon wrong will be made right/And every suffering sacrifice for the cause of Christ/Will be rewarded on that day". Steve co-wrote 'God Causes All Things to Grow' with Steven Curtis Chapman. It's a lovely duet with Steve's wife Marijean. It's addressed to one's spouse: "You know where I've failed/My weakness has been unveiled/And yet by grace you choose to love and to forgive/So come what may our home is here to stay/A witness to the lasting promise He has made". Lisa Bevill, Michael Black, and Michael Mellett provide backing vocals and a string quartet is used.
'Emmaus' is inspired by a New Testament story and is a song of spiritual invitation: "Somewhere along the way your heart will be burning/Drawn into the holy flame of truth/Right now He may be a stranger to you/What will He be when your journey's through?/Somewhere between where you are and Emmaus/The Savior wants to walk with you". Last up is 'Revive Us, Oh Lord'. This inspirational anthem begins with a prayer: "Oh holy God and King/Hear your people as we sing/Revive us, oh Lord/Grant us this our one request/That we may walk in holiness/Revive us, oh Lord".
Clocking in at exactly 42 minutes, WHERE MERCY BEGINS is comprised of seven inspirational ballads and anthems, and three upbeat pop songs. Steve's vocals are spot on as always! This album gives glory, worship, and praise to God. He gives us good things including strength, mercy, grace, love, and salvation. We should put our total faith and trust in Him, desiring to live pure and holy lives. The importance of being godly husbands and fathers is also stressed. Longing to be re-united with Christ is another theme. 'Emmaus' is a great song that asks each listener what they'll do with Christ. I'm rating this album 86%. For more info visit www.stevegreenministries.org and/or connect with him on social media.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Holy Soldier formed in Los Angeles in 1985. They released their self-titled debut album in 1990. In 1991 it won two Dove Awards. One was for 'Metal/Hard Rock Album of the Year', while the other was for the song 'Stranger' ('Metal/Hard Rock Recorded Song of the Year'). In 1992 the band released their second album, LAST TRAIN. It hit #10 on the Billboard CCM chart. The songs 'Last Train' and 'Dead End Drive' were nominated for Dove's in the 'Metal/Hard Rock Recorded Song of the Year' category, while 'Virtue & Vice' was a #1 hit on rock radio. Band members were: Jamie Cramer (guitars and backing vocals), Steven Patrick (lead vocals), Andy Robbins (bass guitar and backing vocals), Terry Russell (drums and backing vocals), and Scott Soderstrom (guitars). David Zaffiro produced the album, while Bill Bafford executive produced its re-issue on Roxx Records in 2017.
'Virtue & Vice' is a melodic metal tune about an identity crisis, that draws from Romans 7: "It's like Dr. Jekyll meets Mr. Hyde/That's who I really am deep down inside/Virtue and vice, fire and ice/Which one is really me?/Virtue and vice, nasty and nice/Tell me which one will it be?/A civil war is raging in the fortress of my mind/Both sides hate the other/Evil and divine". 'Crazy' is a rock song of despair: "I couldn't help but fall to pieces when you said that we were through/Now I can't believe it's over/I'm going crazy over you/A casualty of broken love/The embers dark and cold/And the deep abyss of emptiness has finally filled my soul.../Without you I, I can't go on/I'll lose my mind before too long". 'Hallow's Eve' is a rock ballad about Christ's return and the resurrection of the dead: "From the east, crimson dawn weaves a scarlet web/As hallowed spirits fill the sky/The earth gives up her dead/I see the last of long ago, though waking from a dream/A thief is coming in the night, the door is opening". There's a great electric guitar solo!
'Gimme Shelter' was penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was track one on The Rolling Stones' 1969 album LET IT BLEED. This sizzling cover has lyrics very relevant still in 2019: "Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'/My very street today/Burns like a red coal carpet/Mad bull has lost its way/War, children, yes/It's just a shot away (2X).../Rape, murder/It's just a shot away (2X)". 'Love is on the Way' is a rock ballad desiring a second chance in a relationship: "I was there, but I was never there to hold you/When you needed love, love was unaware/So, baby, let me love you/I can't stop thinking of you/Run with the wind, the wind in your hair/Love is on the way (2X)/Never leave you lonely/Always by your side/Love is on the way". 'Dead End Drive' is a fast paced metal story song that serves as a warning: "The last thing I can remember/We were flying down Deadman's Curve/The devil, he was laughing with delight as the car began to swerve/Well, I hit the brakes/I was just too late/A cripple at the hands of fate/Dead end drive/Do and die/A drinking, driving suicide".
Next up is 'Tuesday Mourning', a rock ballad of grief: "Staring into the shadows/Lying there, gripped with fear/But you made the monsters disappear.../How I wish for yesterday/Tell me it will be OK/But I miss you still today, oh/Mama/Tears are falling from the skies/I know you wouldn't want me to cry/But you never said 'Goodbye'/Oh, mama". 'Fairweather Friend' is a pulsating metal tune aimed at a writer with evil intent: "My fairweather friend/Hide behind your trusty fountain pen/My-my, my fairweather friend/Casting stones won't save you in the end/He went for the throat but he left a little note/Cause he didn't have the guts/To say the things he should have said in the presence of his prey!" Last up is the title cut, 'Last Train', a thought provoking rock ballad about the afterlife: "No, you'll never find me when I leave the world behind me and take the last train/Destiny will guide me as I climb aboard and finally take the last train/That blood red engine pulls a chain of crimson and takes me home". It's very memorable!
On LAST TRAIN Holy Soldier creatively straddles the musical genres of rock and metal. Five of the songs are fast, while four are slow. The lead vocals and excellent electric guitar work are definite strengths here. This album reflects on the dark times we are living in (rape, war, murder, over drinking, and Satan trying to take over our lives in general). This is balanced though by a couple of songs pointing to a day when Christ will return and take us home to live with Him in heaven. You will also find songs about human relationships. Lost love and grieving the death of a loved one are expressed. I'm rating this album 95% and recommending it to fans of Sacred Warrior and Bloodgood. For more info visit www.roxxproductions.com, www.holysoldier.com, and/or connect with the band members on social media.
Tuesday, April 09, 2019
Sandra Faye 'Sandi' Patty was born on July 12, 1956 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Early on her, her brothers, and parents performed as 'The Ron Patty Family'. Her first solo album, released independently, was 1978's FOR MY FRIENDS. One of my favorite albums of hers is MORNING LIKE THIS (1986). She followed it up with 1988's MAKE HIS PRAISE GLORIOUS (Word), which I'll be reviewing here. It was produced by Greg Nelson and Sandi Patty Helvering, and executive produced by John L. Helvering. Sandi writes: "My prayer is that these songs will encourage you and challenge you to a deeper walk with the Lord".
Bill and Robin Wolaver wrote the album opener and title track 'Make His Praise Glorious'. It's a great pop praise song: "Shout with joy to God all the earth/Sing glory to His Name/Tell aloud His marvelous worth/His righteousness proclaim/Glory and honor and blessing and power be unto the Lord/Come and let us make His praise glorious!" 'Come Let's Worship Him' is a pop song of invitation: "Come let's worship Him/Celebrate Christ the King/The mighty One/Come let's worship Him/Oh, give thanks to the Lord/Great things He has done/Worship Him!"
Gary McSpadden, Billy Smiley, and Chris Christian wrote 'No Other Name', an inspirational ballad that testifies: "There's power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus/Forever He shall reign as King of kings/Lord of all and every living thing/From now on we'll worship Him/And praise the Name of Jesus, Jesus". 'Almighty God' again testifies: "He is excellent in power/All creation speaks His majesty/Jehovah, Father, mighty King/Sustainer of my soul/He reigns in golden splendor/His heaven's filled with wonder/He purchased my forever/Almighty God".
Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the beautiful adult contemporary ballad 'Love Will Be Our Home'. It's sentimental for sure: "Wherever there is laughter ringing/Someone smiling, someone dreaming/We can live together there/Love will be our home/Wherever there are children singing/Where a tender heart is beating/We can live together there/Love will be our home". 'Come Before Him' is a jubilant song of adoration: "Come before Him (2X)/Come unto Him and worship Him with highest praise/Come before Him (2X)/Give honor to His Name forevermore/Come before the Lord!"
Next up is 'Someone Up There Loves Me', penned by Steve Wenger. This upbeat pop/jazz number takes comfort in God: "Someone up there loves me/He's watchin' over me every day/Someone up there loves me/He's watchin' what I do and what I say/Someone up there loves me/Every minute of the day I know that someone's up there/And He's looking out for me". Horns are used to good effect. 'In Majesty He Will Come/Majesty' reflects on Christ's return: "Born of a mighty God/Sent from His heavenly throne/Given to reign over kings and priests/The sins of man to atone/The Messiah will return/The hour unknown to men/A fanfare of praise will inhabit the earth/As creation rejoices in Him".
'In Heaven's Eyes' is a pretty adult contemporary ballad of hope: "In heaven's eyes there are no losers/In heaven's eyes no hopeless cause/Only people like you with feelings like me/Amazed by the grace we can find/In heaven's eyes.../Looking down God sees each heartache/Knows each sorrow, hears each cry/And looking up we'll see compassion's fire/Ablaze in heaven's eyes". Last up is one of three songs written by Dick and Melodie Tunney, 'In His Presence'. It begins with these words of intimacy: "In the quiet of this hour/As I kneel before You now/I believe Your promise to be faithful/I don't always understand/What Your perfect will demands/But I learn to trust You more in Your presence Lord".
MAKE HIS PRAISE GLORIOUS is made up of six slow songs and four fast ones. Four are pop praise, four inspirational, and two adult contemporary. Sandi praises and worships God for being righteous, mighty, the Creator, and the Messiah. He shed His blood so we could have forgiveness of sins. Listeners are invited to come into God's presence and thank Him for His love and care for us, and the peace He gives us. We are to anticipate Christ coming back for His own. We are also to truly love each other. Sandi's vocals are magnificent, as are the backing vocalists who include First Call, Guy Penrod, and Brent Henderson. The Nashville String Machine and Pinebrook Orchestra are nice added touches. I'm rating this album 95%. For more info visit www.sandipatty.com and/or connect with her on social media.
Monday, April 08, 2019
Flyleaf formed in Bell County, Texas in 2002, although they released three Ep's as Passerby. With Lacey Sturm as lead vocalist, they released three full length albums: FLYLEAF (2005), MEMENTO MORI (2009), and NEW HORIZONS (2012). They were known for such songs as 'Fully Alive', 'All Around Me', 'Again', and 'Arise'. In 2014 they released their first album with new vocalist Kristen May, entitled BETWEEN THE STARS (Loud & Proud Records). It was produced by Don Gilmore. It's what I'm reviewing here.
Starting things off is the album's lead single 'Set Me On Fire', written by Flyleaf and Johnny Andrews. It's addressed to a love interest and it rocks: "You are a spark that shines a light/When we could belong together, factionless/Let's keep it burning bright 'til we're floating away/'Til we're ashes dancing inside the flames". 'Magnetic' is one of two songs written by Flyleaf and Dave Bassett. This rock song's also addressed to a love interest: "Pulling me from the other side of the world, magnetic/Filling up the space between the stars, we are magnetic/Nothing's gonna come between us now/Always gonna find each other somehow/Magnetic (2X)/Oh, magnetic, magnetic".
'Traitor' rocks and calls out a deceiver: "Pull your windows down/Tinted glass is hiding your eyes/It's your favorite disguise/You don't make a sound/While you're taking me for a ride/Holding secrets inside/Traitor, this is my life/I'm too strong to lie down next to a mastermind/Traitor, every time/I'll no longer keep you a friend of mine". 'Platonic' has a spooky, techno rock feel to it and these mysterious lyrics: "Pretend like we are more than friends/We'll see where the night ends/I wake up on your floor/You wake up in your bed/Still, I like to think you said/'It's not where the story ends'/We say our sweet goodbyes/Platonic jagged knives". The song includes special guest vocals by Bec Hollcraft who was lead singer for Stars in Stereo from 2012-2015.
'Head Underwater' is a rock ballad that reminds us God's always there for us: "My love is deeper than the stars/And you are bigger than the scars that you feel at night/When you're holding your pillow tight/And you're wishing someone would call you Home/It's you and I alone (2X)/You and I alone". 'Sober Serenade' is addressed to an addict: "You've been wasted all day/But you reach for a pipe in a smoke-filled room/Head to the club and wreck your car again.../Do you see the spell you're under/When you twist the knife that kills your soul/Or the pain you cause the ones you say you love?"
Next up is 'Thread'. It's the album's second single and was penned by Flyleaf and Don Gilmore. This rock ballad includes this cry out to God: "I'm hanging by a thread/I'm waiting for Your call/My hands are turning red/I'm hanging by a thread/I thought I had it all/My parachute's in shreds". 'Marionette' is another rock ballad. It's a song that rejects another toxic force: "You want the strings so you can/Pull at my soul and tear me down/You want it all/I'm not your marionette doll/So let me go, oh/I'm taking back the day that you tried to steal from me/I'm going to make my voice/You'll never get my choice to breathe/This is not a game".
'Well of Lies' serves as a prayer: "All I need is what You've given me (2X)/Don't let me slide/Slip down this well of lies/It's dark inside, oh/Inside this well of lies.../Come set me free tonight". 'City Kids' actually sounds like a Taylor Swift song: "Walking past the house that you grew up in/Man, it looks so different now/Remembering the story of your first kiss/The feeling of my heart ripped out/When we were young, almost in love/Too scared to reach out for what was".
'Blue Roses' is a pop song with this chorus: "Oh, here I go, collecting roses to me from you/Oh, here I go, a dozen red for every wound/Oh, now I stop and smell the roses when they're blue". Last up is 'Home', a good pop song of positivity: "One step closer/We're looking out for brighter days/One step closer/We'll find our way back Home/Time to go Home/Every chance we take will lead us through the unknown/Home".
BETWEEN THE STARS was Flyleaf's one and only full album with Kristen May as lead singer. She left the group in 2016. This is mainly a rock album, with about three pop songs present. There are a handful of songs about people with bad intentions who treat others badly. There are also songs about relationships gone wrong. Then there are songs desiring and celebrating healthy relationships. Flyleaf ultimately, but not blatantly, point to God and heaven as our ultimate hope sources. I'm rating this record 85% and recommending it to fans of Fireflight and BarlowGirl. For more info visit www.flyleafmusic.com and/or connect with the band on social media.
Friday, April 05, 2019
Cheri Louise Anderson, known better as Cheri Keaggy, was born on August 29, 1968 in Los Angeles, California. In 1994 she released her debut album, CHILD OF THE FATHER (Sparrow). It was produced by Charlie Peacock. Cheri was nominated for New Artist of the Year at the 1995 Dove Awards, losing out to Clay Crosse.
Starting the album off is 'Make my Life an Altar', an upbeat pop song of spiritual dedication: "Make my life an altar/Let Your will be my own in whatever I do/This is all I can offer/Let my heart be Your home/Lord, I give it to You". 'Open My Heart' is a light adult contemporary song. Cheri desires to be God's student: "More of You, less of me/I'm finding it hard to accept any less than/Letting You work in me/Teaching me how to live like You/Giving my life up to You/Open my heart (2X)/Show me where I need less of me/Show me where I need more of You".
'Here You Stand' is an adult contemporary ballad of commissioning: "Here you stand at the beginning and not the end/Here you stand and with our blessing we will send you/And though it's hard we will extend to you a smile/It's a journey you must travel/You know we'll miss you/Don't stay away too long". The pretty adult contemporary title track, 'Child of the Father', finds Cheri sure of her true identity: "I am a child of the Father/And I know what that means for me/It means I'm loved and I'm spoken for/It means I'm wealthy in heavenly things/I am a child of the Father/And I know what that means for me/It means I'm redeemed and forgiven/It means I'm holy and blameless and free".
'The Cross that Bears His Name' is a praise and worship song: "I will call upon His Name/With a fervor like a flame/I will fall to my knees/With my eyes looking up/To the cross that bears His Name/To the One who stays the same/To the cross that bears/The Name of the Son". Sam Levine plays recorder. 'You, Oh Lord, Are My Refuge' testifies: "You, oh Lord, are my refuge/It is You I will trust/You're my light in the darkness/You, oh Lord, are my refuge/By Your mercy You cover me".
Next up is 'Worship Medley-We Have Come to Worship Him/There is Joy in the Lord'. It's a delightful praise and worship track: "We have come to worship Him/To lift His Name on high/He is worthy of our praise/So let us lift Him to the sky/He is my Savior/He is the King of kings/He is the Mighty God/And of His awesome deeds we sing/And our highest praise to Him we bring". Brent Bourgeois sings harmony vocals on 'I Want to Follow You'. It's a song desiring to live holy and obedient lives: "Lord, I want to follow and serve You alone/Lord, help me to live right/And bring glory to Your throne/Lord, I am willing to be/Your servant faithfully/Oh Lord, I want to follow You".
'Little Boy on His Knees (Cameron's Song)' is a sentimental adult contemporary ballad about Cheri's son: "He's Mommy's little helper/Learning to comb his hair/And loves his baby sister/Though he doesn't always share/A quarter in the bucket/A memory verse or two/Although he may not know it/He's beginning to follow You". Last up is 'He Will Love You' which Cheri co-wrote with Charlie Peacock. It calls prodigals home: "You say that you've fallen, far, far away/You remember the Father/But you've forgotten how to pray/There is forgiveness/No need to run/The Father is waiting/Won't you go ahead and come?"
CHILD OF THE FATHER is mainly an adult contemporary record, but praise and worship and pop sounds are also heard. Cheri's vocals are sweet and innocent. A main theme here is giving oneself completely and without reservation to God. He should be our foundation and we should long to follow and serve Him. We should desire more and more of God in our lives. Cheri absolutely rejoices in God's forgiveness, mercy, and grace. She recognizes she is God's loved, adopted child. She wants others to come into relationship with God and to grow in Him. The pictures of Cheri accompanying this CD are gorgeous! The majority of the songs here are slow, so it can get a tad sleepy at times. Fans of Twila Paris and early era Amy Grant should acquire this album which I'm rating 83%. For more info visit www.cherikeaggy.com and/or connect with her on Facebook.
Thursday, April 04, 2019
Dallas Holm was born on November 5, 1948 in St. Paul Park, Minnesota. He states: "I became a Christian in 1965 and my life was radically and eternally transformed. My music became the means whereby I could express the dynamics of that transformation and share the reality of Christ with others". In 1977 he won a Dove Award for Song of the Year for 'Rise Again'. Here, I will be reviewing his album BEFORE YOUR THRONE (1999, Ministry Music). Gary Leach produced it and Dallas wrote all the songs himself.
'The Blood Was Red' reflects on Calvary: "Should have been you and me/Hanging on that cruel tree/It was us who caused the shame/We're the ones, we're to blame/But He came and took our place/Bore the load of sin's disgrace/Bound by sin to Calvary's tree/Shed His blood to set us free (2X)". 'Image of a Man' is a song that finds Holm thinking aloud: "Why should I care what others think?/What do I care what others say/When He has won my heart/And I have found my way?/What do I care what it may cost?/Though it may cost my all to walk the narrow path and hear His silent call".
'Our God is a Strong City' is an upbeat country number that shares great news: "The enemy comes to kill and destroy/But he can't match the strength or power of joy/Well, the enemy's army is stormin' the gates/But the Son is risen and they're a little too late/Cause our God is a strong city". The title track, 'Before Your Throne', runs over six and a half minutes. It focuses on heavenly things and is easy listening: "There is a greater mercy than man could ere conceive/There is a stronger faith/Than we would dare believe/There is a place of rest/Where we'll never feel alone/And it's here, yes it's here/Lord, it's here before Your throne".
'You are the Reason' is a pleasant praise and worship tune: "You are the Maker of everything/The Great Creator/To You I sing/Glory and honor and blessing unto the Lord/Wisdom and power/Are in the truth of Your marvelous Word (2X)". 'Here We Are' is a quiet, intimate song: "Here we are in Your presence/Lifting holy hands to You/Here we are praising Jesus/For the things He's brought us through". It dates back to 1978.
Next we have 'Heaven', a fun, light pop song: "Some people say you can be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good/But I don't think that you can be too heavenly minded/In fact I think that thinkin' 'bout heaven is good/So I think about heaven, heaven/Heaven, it's always on my mind". Dallas Holm plays trombone on it. 'Jesus is a River of Love' is a catchy, bouncy pop track. It offers spiritual advice: "If you need a cleansing, children don't delay/There's a mighty river flowin' here today/It can wash and make you clean as you can be/So come on in, the water's fine/And it will set you free".
'Wind of the Spirit (Blow Through Me)' is an adult contemporary ballad that includes these prayerful words: "Breath of the living God/Wind of the Spirit/Blow through me/Currents of holy wind/Rush through my being/Blow/Through me". Last up is 'More Than We've Ever Dreamed', a pretty song about the afterlife: "There's more, more than we've ever dreamed/More, more than we've ever imagined/There's a brand new world that lies before us/Heaven's home is waiting for us/With more, more than we've ever dreamed".
Dallas' vocals are soothing and calming on BEFORE YOUR THRONE. Backing vocals are provided by Annagrey Labasse and Gary Leach. For the most part the material presented here is easy listening and adult contemporary in nature. Touches of gospel, country, and pop music can be heard however. Dallas makes it clear that we need God's presence and power in our daily lives. Because of Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection we have forgiveness of sins and we have salvation. Our old lives are traded in for the new. We are to praise and worship God for His holiness and righteousness and for delivering us from our enemy, Satan. It is with great hope that we can look forward to heaven! I'm rating this album 85%. For more info visit www.dallasholm.com and/or connect with him on social media.
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
According to Wikipedia.org "Àndy Chrisman, Mark Harris, Marty Magehee, and Kirk Sullivan originally met when they sang together in Truth, a Contemporary Christian vocal group..." In 1990 they released their debut album as 4Him. It was self-titled. Their first single, 'Where There is Faith', stayed at #1 for eight weeks. They went on to be known for such other songs as 'He Never Changes', 'The Basics of Life', and 'A Strange Way to Save the World'. What I'm reviewing here is their fifth studio album, THE RIDE (1994, Benson). It was produced by Don Koch, Michael Omartian, and Peter Wolf, and executive produced by Bill Baumgart.
First up is 'Wings', one of three co-writes between Mark Harris and Don Koch. Everette Harp provides an alto sax solo on this upbeat pop song of ambition: "Give me my wings/I'm ready to fly today/Ready to wave my worries goodbye/Give me my wings/I'm ready to ride away/Ready to leave my troubles behind/What's over my head will soon be under my feet/Give me my wings". Steve Camp, Mark Harris, and Michael Omartian wrote 'The Nature of Love', another upbeat pop song. It reflects on the titular subject and uses horns: "Some will say that it's too old fashioned/That love is just a thing of the past/But I believe that only true compassion remains when nothing else will last/We can't deny when the Lord was crucified/He displayed the very meaning of love".
'For Future Generations' is one of three songs penned by Dave Clark, Mark Harris, and Don Koch. This terrific adult contemporary anthem is about witnessing: "I won't bend and I won't break/I won't water down my faith/I won't compromise in a world of desperation/What has been I cannot change/But for tomorrow and today/I must be a light for future generations". The Christ Church Choir is a nice added touch here. The Nashville String Machine is used on the adult pop song 'Shelter in the Rain'. It's a song of assurance: "Those who patiently wait will never wait in vain/For we know God is faithful/He's a fortress to run into in times of trouble/He'll cover us with the wings of His love/Till we make it through".
Vinnie Colaiuta plays drums on 'Between You and Me', an adult contemporary ballad that offers these words of comfort: "In the midst of those times when the world gets so crazy/And life is too much for me to bear/I can rest in the knowing/That You're all I need to get by/Just as close as a prayer". 'Real Thing' reminds us that we as Christians are on this earth with a mission: "Though there's nothing wrong with thinking about forever by and by/All the while millions are still searching for a light/Maybe it is time we take a look at here and now/Maybe we can change the destiny of a world that's crying out/For the truth we take for granted/Is too often left unsaid".
Next up is 'Ride of Life', a lively pop track about friendship: "This roller coaster ride of life lifts you up and lets you down/This roller coaster ride of life/Spins you round and round and round/Heaven knows wherever you go/I will be right by your side/On this roller coaster/Roller coaster ride of life (2X)". 'As Long as my Heart knows it's You' is a sleepy adult contemporary ballad of spiritual dedication: "Lord, there's no price too high for me to pay/Any struggle that might come my way/I'm willing to go through/Just as long as my heart/As long as my heart knows it's You".
Jeff Silvey and Billy Simon wrote 'What Do I Know' which includes these words of noble pursuit: "There's still so much more of You I long to know/And I won't be content until I do". Last up is 'Love Finds You'. Bruce Gaitch plays guitar on this lovely adult contemporary song that includes these thoughts on death: "It was not what we planned to be/We all would change the ending/If the choice was ours to make/For you left us so suddenly/But it's only the beginning/For eternity awaits/And I'll never forget you my friend/For the brotherhood between us has no end/But while you're away I can dream and suddenly you're there".
THE RIDE consists of six adult contemporary and four adult pop songs. Six are slow, while four are faster. The four men perform great harmonies and solos. It is clear that these men desire intimacy with God. He is a shelter and a refuge for us. Living life to the fullest with optimism and hope should be a goal for us.We should also desire to live godly lives and be lights for Christ in a dark world. We can take great joy in the fact that God's love for us is limitless! I'm rating this record 88% and recommending it to fans of Wayne Watson, and earlier era Backstreet Boys and Point of Grace. For more info connect with the group on Facebook.