Friday, May 31, 2019
The band Tree released two albums. They were 1997's OVERFLOW and 1999's 63. They hailed from South Africa. When they discovered an American band was also called Tree, they changed their name to Tree63 (coming from Psalm 63). In 2000 they put out their self-titled TREE63 (Inpop Records). It won a Dove Award for 'Rock Album of the Year'. Group members were: John Ellis (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Darryl Swart (drums, percussion, backing vocals), and Martin Engel (bass, backing vocals).
First up is 'Treasure', a bouncy pop/rock song that greatly values 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". 'Joy' is a pop/rock song that includes these words of reflection: "No superman/I'm no hero/I'm just a man in Your eyes/But through Your Son/I've overcome the father of all lies".
'Look What You've Done' is a song of spiritual devotion: "What can I do for You my Lord?/I want You to know my heart is Yours/It's not a question of what You can do for me/But what can I do for You, my Lord?" 'Sacrifice' is a pop/rock ballad of confession: "So as I come to worship You/I know that something has to die/And as I bring my sacrifice just let it die".
Next up is 'Earnestly', a peppy pop/rock song that speaks of faithfulness to God: "In the darkest night of the desert/In the deepest hole of the valley/My soul, my soul clings to You (2X)/Through the freezing chill of winter/In the furnace of Your fire/My soul, my soul clings to You". 'Anthem' is a quiet ballad of worship: "I love You, I love You Lord/There's nothing above You Lord/I am not my own/And I am not alone/I am waiting on You Lord/And this is my desire/To go deeper into You".
'A Million Lights' is a pretty adult contemporary ballad of devotion: "Could I walk out to sea way beyond these breakers?/We have no place among the movers and the shakers/Yours is the only throne I'll ever get down on my knees before/You have the whole of me/Lover come away/Come away my Lover". '1*0*1' includes these words of praise: "Before the foundation of the world/And way beyond the end to come/You're shining brighter than the sun/You'll always be the only One".
'Can I See Your Face?' is a pop/rock song of one wanting to connect with God: "Standing in the cold/Searching the stars trying to figure out just where You are/Get me on my knees/Shake me to the bone/Leave a message on my answer phone.../Can I see Your face?" Last up is 'Worldwide' which includes these unique thoughts: "Virtual reality/Just not real enough for me/Jesus Christ is still alive/I'm waiting for Him to arrive/An interactive courier/Above all multimedia.../You don't need to understand/You just need to take His hand".
Eight of the ten songs on TREE63 are pop/rock, while two are adult contemporary. There are just three slow songs presented. A main theme here is that of wanting to please, serve, and live for God. We should love Him completely, dying to self daily. We can have joy in the Lord! He saves us and gives us victory over Satan. He never fails us. I recommend this album, which I'm rating 86%, to fans of Delirious?, Kevin Max, and Newsboys. For more info visit www.tree63.com or connect with them on social media.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
According to her website "Lynda Tait Randle...was born in the inner city of Washington, D.C. She is the middle child of seven and feels blessed to have had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home". She and her husband have two daughters, Patience and Joy. Michael Tait, lead vocalist for Newsboys, is her brother. What I'm reviewing here is TIMELESS; FAVORITES FROM THE HOMECOMING SERIES (2002, Spring House Productions). It was produced by Bill Gaither and Woody Wright and executive produced by Bill Gaither.
First up is the upbeat Southern Gospel number 'Down at the Cross'. It is a song of spiritual invitation: "Come to this fountain so rich and sweet/Cast thy poor soul at the Savior's feet/Plunge in today and be made complete/Glory to His Name!" 'God on the Mountain' was penned by Tracy Dartt in the mid 1970's. It's a pleasant ballad about God's faithfulness: "Don't lose faith for you're never alone/For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley/When things go wrong/He'll make them right/And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times/The God of the day is still God in the night". 'Leave it There' is a ballad of concern for others: "If your body suffers pain and your health you can't regain/And your soul is almost sinking in despair/Jesus knows the pain you feel/He can save and sure enough can heal/Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there".
'If the Lord Wasn't Walking By My Side' doesn't even hit the two minute mark. This toe-tapping Southern Gospel cut offers testimony: "I was drifting/I was drifting on the sea of despair/And I was wand'ring/I was wand'ring in this old world of care/But Jesus found me/Jesus found me in my sinful plight/He heard me praying/Heard me praying on my knees at night/So now I'm singing/Now I'm singing a glad new song/Because I'm happy/'Cause I'm happy as I go along". Andrae Crouch's classic 'Through it All' is next up. This gospel ballad also testifies: "Through it all (2X)/I've learned to trust in Jesus/I've learned to trust in God/Through it all (2X)/I've learned to depend upon His Word".
'Mine, All Mine' gives all praise to God: "He gave me grace at my very worst/He rescued me from bondage/He showed love I don't deserve/He paid my debt on Calvary's tree/Promised me a robe and crown/And you can't take that from me". 'I'm Free' was penned by Bill and Gloria Gaither in the 1960's. It's a Southern Gospel ballad of celebration: "I'm free from the fear of tomorrow/I'm free from the guilt of my past/For I've traded my shackles for a glorious song/I'm free, praise the Lord, free at last".
'Day Three' was written by Suzanne and Barry Jennings. It's a story song fit for Easter: "Surprised when my heart recognized/That no grave could hold this man down/I'm so amazed/What He did in 3 days/Turned this whole crazy world upside-down!" The song has a cool musical vibe to it. 'One Day' is a gospel song about Jesus coming back: "One day Jesus will call my name/As days go by I hope I don't stay the same/I want to get so close to Him that it's no big change/On the day that Jesus calls my name". Jessy Dixon sings on the track.
What follows is the classic hymn 'Farther Along'. It encourages us: "Farther along we'll know all about it/Farther along we'll understand why/Cheer up, my brother/Live in the sunshine/We'll understand it all by and by". 'To the Other Side' looks ahead to life on the other side: "Over Jordan, what do I see?/A band of angels waiting for me/All the saints who washed their robes in white/Some fine day I'm gonna take my place/Glory light shining all over my face/That's the day He's gonna take me to the other side". It's a great duet with Marshall Hall!
Squire Parsons wrote 'Sweet Beulah Land'. This Southern Gospel ballad pines for heaven: "I'm kind of homesick for a city/To which I've never been before/No sad goodbyes will there be spoken/For time won't matter anymore". Last up is 'Going Home', on the same theme as the previous song: "Going home, I'm going home/There's nothing to hold me here/Well, I've caught a glimpse of that heavenly land/Praise God, I'm going home!"
TIMELESS is a wonderful treasure of an album! Lynda's vocals are a strength here for sure. There are eight Southern Gospel and five gospel songs on the album. There's a decent mix of slow and fast songs. Lynda sings about Calvary (the cross, the blood, forgiveness, redemption, and Jesus' resurrection). She reminds us God is always with us and encourages us to press on in life no matter what. Jesus' return and heaven are eagerly anticipated. In heaven we'll find true peace and happiness. This project, which I'm rating 97%, will give you a spiritual boost when you need it. For more info visit www.lyndarandle.com and/or connect with her on social media.
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Meredith Frances Andrews was born on January 19, 1983 in North Carolina. Her debut album was 2005's MESMERIZED. She followed this up with 2008's THE INVITATION (Word/Curb/Warner Bros.). It was produced by Jason Ingram and Rusty Varenkamp and executive produced by Conor Farley. To her audience, Meredith writes: "To you, the invited: May you know the nearness of God as you listen to these songs and come boldly into His presence. He welcomes you in just as you are". The album received a Dove Award nomination for 'Praise & Worship Album of the Year'.
Starting things off is 'You Invite Me In', one of four songs co-written by Meredith and Jason Ingram. It's a beautiful adult contemporary anthem: "You invite me in/Doesn't matter where I've been/Your arms are open wide/There's nothing left to hide/You invite me in/Doesn't matter who I've been/Your arms are open wide/Pulling me to Your side". 'Lift Up Your Head' is a song of spiritual encouragement: "Lift up your head and throw off every chain/Lift up your eyes/To the One who doesn't change/Lift up your hands/The broken He will mend/Lift up your head".
Next up is 'You're Not Alone', one of three songs penned solely by Meredith. This lovely ballad assures us of God's presence in our lives: "You're not alone for I am here/Let me wipe away your every fear/My love, I've never left your side/I have seen you through the darkest night/And I'm the One who's loved you all your life/All of your life". 'Treasure' lifts God up above all others: "My treasure is You/There is no other/My treasure is You/Worth more than gold/Heaven and earth/They have lost their luster/You alone are the treasure that I hold".
'Show Me What it Means' was penned by Meredith, Jason Ingram, and Matt Bronleewe. This upbeat pop song reflects on what God desires of us: "You don't want my perfection/All You ask of me is that I show up broken at Your feet/You don't want my religion/You are looking for devotion that is more than just routine/So show me what it means/To take up my cross and count it all as loss/All for the sake of knowing You". 'Deeper' is a pretty ballad about wanting to be closer to God: "Take me through the desert places/For the chance to see Your face/And take me past the breaking waves/Into the depth of Your embrace".
'The River' begins with these blunt words: "Everyone is broken and in need of a Savior/So He came and was broken for the mocker, for the shamed/Still our eyes are blinded by the culture, by the lies/We can't see that we're filthy, we're fallen, and so dry". 'New Song We Sing' is an upbeat pop number of gratitude: "We who were once so far away/Are brought near by Your blood/The barrier has been destroyed/By Your grace we freely come (2X)".
'Who is Like You' will relate to many of us: "The thought of You is baffling/My mind can't wrap around You/This human cup cannot contain/Heaven's glory flood/Who is like You, Lord?/Who was and is to come". Meredith co-wrote 'Draw Me Nearer' with Michael Farren. It's a worship ballad: "In Your nearness there is healing/What was broken now made whole/Restoration in its fullness/Lasting hope for all who come". Last up is a quiet acoustic version of 'You're Not Alone'.
THE INVITATION is a marvelous album that blends adult contemporary, worship, and pop sounds to good effect. God is depicted as the One who frees, saves, and heals us, if we let Him. His love for us is so very great! He is holy and akin to a precious jewel. Our God will never leave us or forsake us. These songs also invite us to pursue an intimate, personal relationship with God. We should desire to follow Jesus Christ and live for Him. Fans of Natalie Grant, Avalon, and Cheri Keaggy will like this album which I'm giving 100%. For more info visit www.meredithandrews.com and connect with her on social media.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Mark Mitchell Schultz was born on September 16, 1970. He was adopted when he was two weeks old. He released three CCM albums from 2000 to 2003. He became known for songs such as 'He's My Son', 'I Have Been There', and 'Letters From War'. In 2006 he put out BROKEN & BEAUTIFUL. It was nominated for a Dove Award for 'Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year'.
'40 Days' is a fast paced adult contemporary song that speaks of being in a spiritual wilderness: "And it's like 40 days out in the desert/Feeling like I'm lost forever/And crying out for You/But in these 40 days I'm going to seek You/With my heart because I believe You have brought me to this place/These 40 days". Mark and Matthew West co-wrote the wonderful title track 'Broken & Beautiful'. It speaks of spiritual transformation: "We all fall short/We all have sinned/But when you let God's grace break in/It's beautiful, beautiful/Come as you are/Surrender your heart/Broken and beautiful". 'Walking Her Home' is one of six songs Mark wrote alone. It's a terrific adult contemporary story song: "A nursing home/At eighty-five/And the doctor said it could be her last night/And the nurse said oh, should we tell him now/Or should he wait until the morning to find out?/When they checked her room that night/He was laying by her side/Oh, he was walking her home and holding her hand/Oh, the way she smiled when he said this is not the end/And just for a while they were eighteen". Johnathan Yudkin plays violin, viola, cello, and bass.
'Until I See You Again' includes backing vocals by Perry Coleman and Lisa Cochran. It's a bouncy pop song that has God speaking to us: "Live with the wonder of a child/Pray with your arms thrown open wide/Love with a love that has no end/Until I see you again". '1,000 Miles' is a beautiful ballad of spiritual dedication: "If I write 10,000 songs/10,000 songs it's true/If I write 10,000 songs/I'll sing them all for You.../And if I live 100 years/Before my life is through/And if I live 100 years/I'll spend them loving You".
Mark co-wrote 'Lord You Are' with Shaun Shankel. It's a modern worship song: "And I sing to You/You are the song within me/And I long for You/Lord, You are/The Living One, the Holy Lamb/The Son of God, the Son of Man/Who always is, who always was/Who's always gonna be". Mark wrote 'Everything to Me' with Cindy Morgan. It's a lovely adult contemporary song about adoption: "You gave life to me/A brand new world to see/Like playing baseball in the yard with Dad at night/Mom reading 'Goodnight Moon'/And praying in my room/So if you worry if your choice was right/You gave me up but you gave everything to me".
Mark and Ian Eskelin wrote 'God of Life'. Joy Williams sings background vocals on this song that could be congregational: "God of life, oh, Lord of truth/Oh, let me live to worship You/So all may hear and all may know/That You are God, the God of hope/Yeah, let this life down here on earth/Echo in return". Matt Rollings plays piano on 'Now That You've Come Into My Life', an energetic pop song: "Now that You've come in/Now that You've come into my life/All that was broken is like the way it was meant to be/Like a feeling/I've been set free/In the end (2X)".
Next is 'She Was Watching'. It's a moving ballad about how we pass our faith on to our kids: "Faith can't be taught/It's just something that is caught along the way/No faith is never taught/It's just something that they catch from watching you along the way". Last up is the Ballad Version of 'Until I See You Again'. It makes use of mandolin, violin, viola, cello, arco bass, and piano.
If you're a fan of Michael W. Smith and/or Bob Carlisle, I recommend BROKEN & BEAUTIFUL to you. Adult contemporary, pop, and praise and worship are the three main musical genres here. God's greatness, faithfulness, and restoring power are celebrated. We are invited to give ourselves completely over to God, who is truly good. Mark does a great job as well presenting songs that have to do with human relationships. Romance that lasts, adoption, and good parenting are applauded here. People who are young adults and older should appreciate this album which I'm rating 87%. For more info visit www.markschultzmusic.com or connect with him on social media.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
1993's SONGS FROM THE LOFT (Reunion) contains eleven songs that were part of a four year ministry in the top of an old red barn on the back of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman's farm. These are songs meant for youth. This album is a multi-artist recording. It won a Dove Award for 'Praise & Worship Album of the Year'.
Michael W. Smith starts things off with the upbeat pop song 'What We've Come Here For'. It's a song of intent: "Truth is what we've come here for/The kind that won't be fading/The kind of truth that can set a man free/The kind I want my heart to see/Truth is why we've come/Truth has a name, Jesus (2X)/Truth has a name". Donna McElroy sings the groovy pop tune 'I Got the Want To'. It offers great spiritual advice: "Walk in the light as He is in the light (4X).../Love one another because He has loved you (4X)". 'Seek First' finds Susan Ashton singing lead. These lyrics are scriptural: "Seek first the Kingdom of heaven/And all shall be added".
Wes King sings 'Joy!', a pop/country song of testimony: "I got the joy, joy, joy/Down in my heart (2X)/Down in my heart to stay!" 'Where Do I Go' is an Ashley Cleveland/Gary Chapman duet about finding a safe spot in life: "Where do I go when I need a shelter?/Where do I go when I need a friend?/Where do I go when I need some helping?/Where do I go?/Back on my knees again". Jerry Dale McFadden plays piano.
Amy Delaine sings 'Salt and Light', a nice song about being a witness: "We can be a little salt, be a little light/In this darkened world/We can shine, oh oh, shine so bright/Shine, oh oh, just like the starlight". Kim Hill sings the short pop/country number 'How Do You Know'. It reminds us of the amazing things that God can do: "Lazarus was dead and cold/Three days in the grave/Jesus called him back to life/Daylight he found".
Michael James delivers 'We Come to Praise', a lovely praise and worship song. I like these opening words: "Lord, we come into this place tonight/None of us is worthy, none is right/Take a hold of our wandering hearts/There is no other place to start/What we need only You can bring/Meet us as we sing/We come to praise You (2X)/You are God/You are holy". Amy Grant and Wes King wrote 'We Believe in God'. Amy sings lead on this beautiful adult contemporary ballad of assurance: "If you believe in God/If you say you need Jesus/He'll be where you are/And He never will leave you".
Gary Chapman sings 'Hope Set High'. It includes this great statement: "When it all comes down/If there's anything good that happens in life it's from Jesus". Amy had previously recorded it as the last track on her very successful 1991 album HEART IN MOTION. Last up here is 'Hey Now'. Amy sings lead on this ballad about caring for each other spiritually: "Hey now, I will be praying for you/Hey now, you're gonna pray for me/Cause what we have been through together/Is changing us now, can change us forever".
Pop, adult contemporary, country, and praise and worship sounds can all be found on SONGS FROM THE LOFT, which clocks in at 33 minutes and 54 seconds. It comes across as an intimate set of eleven Christian campfire songs. God is praised for His holiness and goodness. Jesus is seen as giving us love, hope, and refuge. We should desire to live for Him. It will bring us joy! As well, we should witness to, and love others, ultimately desiring them too to come into personal relationships with Jesus Christ. I'm rating this project 90%. For more info connect with the artists on social media.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Gold City Quartet started releasing Southern Gospel albums back in 1981. Fast forward to 1996 and they put out PREPARING THE WAY (RiverSong). At that time Gold City was: Jay Parrack, Jonathan Wilburn, Mark Trammell, Tim Riley, Adam Borden, Doug Riley, and Randy Matthews.
Starting things off is one of three songs penned by Sandy Knight. 'You're at the Well' is an upbeat Southern Gospel song of celebration: "You're at the well, draw the water/You're at the well, drink the wine/You're at the fountain springing life eternal/Cleansing everlasting water so fine". 'Pray' is one of two Kyla Rowland compositions. This Southern Gospel ballad is one of encouragement: "When you don't feel like praying, pray/And when you think you just can't get through, pray/Precious to the Father's ears are three words/'Lord, I'm here'/When you don't feel like praying, pray".
'Hello in Heaven' is a fun, carefree song: "Saying hello, hello/Hello, saying hello/I've been longing to say hello, hello in heaven/Walking and talking on streets of gold/Just wanna say hello in passing by the sparkling rivers of life/There's a lot of things I wanna know/First things first, hello". Niles Borop, Luke Garrett, Mike Harland, and Buddy Mullins wrote 'It's Still the Cross', a moving ballad that shares the Gospel: "It's still the cross/It's still the blood of Calvary/That cleanses sin and sets the captives free/It's still the name/The Name of Jesus/That has power to save the lost/It's still the cross". Daniel Riley is a guest vocalist.
'Higher than the Moon' is a toe-tapper anticipating heaven: "Soon I'll leave this planet for that golden shore/Where there waits a mansion and a whole lot more/Everything is ready and I'm A-O-K/I'm going higher than the moon some day". 'I'm Going Over' also looks ahead to the next life: "Don't worry about me/I'm going over/Don't take a second thought to where my soul is bound/Don't worry about me/I'm going over/He'll lift me over, set my feet on higher ground".
Next up is 'He's Still on the Throne', a great ballad of contentment amidst difficult times: "He's still on the throne/So what could be wrong?/It's well with my soul/Let the stormy winds blow/I'm reminded today/Thank God I am saved/Salvation's sweet song while ages roll on/He's still on the throne". Terry McMillan lends his harmonica prowess to the song. 'Every Moment' was arranged by Terry and Barbi Franklin. It's a quiet song that testifies: "There's not a season that life has to bring/That Jesus has ceased to provide everything/His grace alone is sufficient for me/But He's given much more than I could ever have dreamed".
'When the Lamb Becomes the Light' describes our heavenly home: "This place of perfect peace that's everlasting/Where death is gone forever and where no one will grow old/And the sun is overshadowed by the Lamb in all His glory/Oh, what a vision we too, will behold". The song builds in intensity. Last up is the Marlene and Shannon Childress composition 'God Unlimited'. This peppy song minces no words: "God, the same today, forever He will never change/And if you need a miracle even that He can arrange/If you think He doesn't do today what He did in days gone by/Then you need your faith rekindled by that pentecostal fire".
PREPARING THE WAY is a great Southern Gospel record. It contains six slow and four fast songs. The vocal harmonies are splendid. Heaven is a common theme here. There, Christians will live eternally in a place without pain or sorrow. We'll be re-united with loved ones, walk on streets of gold, and live in mansions. Most of all, we'll meet and worship Jesus. Christ made all of this possible by dying for our sins at Calvary and rising from the dead three days later. Gold City also reminds us our God is faithful, in control, and is our Helper on this earth. I'm rating this project 95%. For more info visit www.goldcityministries.com or connect with the group on social media.
Friday, May 17, 2019
Mark Alan Lowry was born in Houston, Texas on June 24, 1958. He is best known for being a Christian comedian and for his stints with the Gaither Vocal Band. In 2013 he released UNFORGETTABLE CLASSICS. In the liner notes Lowry writes: "I have loved these songs, and many more like them from the American Songbook, all of my life. My mother first introduced me to Nat King Cole when I was just a little boy. I used to walk around the house at four years of age with my favorite Andy Williams record". The orchestrations on this album were arranged and conducted by Steve Maudlin and performed by the Nashville String Machine, contracted by Carl Gorodetzky.
First up is the easy listening number 'The Very Thought of You'. It's the song of one who is smitten: "The very thought of you and I forget to do/The little ordinary things that everyone ought to do/I'm living in a kind of daydream/I'm happy as a king/And foolish though it may seem/To me that's everything". 'Unforgettable' is a great duet with Charlotte Ritchie. It's very sentimental: "Like a song of love that clings to me/How the thought of you does things to me/Never before has someone been more/Unforgettable in every way/And forevermore/That's how you'll stay". 'Nevertheless' features the Booth Brothers and Bill Gaither. It reminds us that we are taking a risk when we open up our hearts: "Maybe I'll live a life of regret/And maybe I'll give much more than I get/But nevertheless, I'm in love with you".
'It Had to be You' has a faster paced big band feel to it. It declares one's love for a special someone: "Some others I've seen/Might never be mean, might never be cross/Or tried to be boss/But they wouldn't do/Oh, nobody else/Gave me a thrill/With all your faults I love you still/It had to be you/Wonderful you/It had to be you!" 'Fly Me to the Moon' is a quiet, innocent tune: "Fly me to the moon/And let me play among the stars/Let me see what spring is like/On Jupiter and Mars/In other words, hold my hand/In other words, darling, kiss me".
'Glow Worm' features the Martins. This swing song is fun: "Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer/Hey there, don't get dimmer, dimmer/Light the path below, above/And lead us on to love!" 'Smile' is a beautiful song of encouragement: "Smile, though your heart is aching/Smile, even though it's breaking/When there are clouds in the sky/You'll get by/If you smile through your fear and sorrow/Smile and maybe tomorrow/You'll see the sun come shining through for you".
'They Can't Take that Away from Me' is a big band song with some cheesy lyrics: "The way you wear your hat/The way you sip your tea/The memory of all that/No, no, they can't take that away from me/The way your smile just beams/The way you sing off key/The way you haunt my dreams/No, no, they can't take that away from me". 'Stardust' is a sleepy, forgettable song: "Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely nights/Dreaming of a song/The melody haunts my reverie/And I am once again with you/When our love was new/And each kiss an inspiration/But that was long ago/And now my consolation is in the stardust of a song".
'Our Love is Here to Stay' is a nice duet with Joyce Martin Sanders. It's a happy song: "Oh, my dear, our love is here to stay/And together we're going a long, long way/In time the Rockies may crumble/Gibraltar may tumble/They're only made of clay/But our love is here to stay". Last up is a duet with Michael English, 'What a Wonderful World'. It's a soft song of wonder: "I hear babies cryin'/I watch them grow/They'll learn much more than we'll ever know/And I think to myself/What a wonderful world".
UNFORGETTABLE CLASSICS is comprised of seven slow songs and four faster ones. The main musical genre by far is easy listening, but there are a bit of big band and swing sounds too. The main theme explored here is romantic male-female relationships. Most of these songs either pine for, or celebrate, love. It should be stated that for the most part the kind of love spoken of on this record is puppy love and very feeling based. I'm not saying that's wrong, but if you're looking for something deep you won't find it here. Some of the instruments used are sax, clarinet, harmonica, and acoustic and archtop guitar. I'm rating this album 89% and recommending it to fans of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday. For more info visit www.marklowry.com or connect with him on social media.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
In 2003 Sonicflood released CRY HOLY (m2 communications). Group members were: Rick Heil (vocals, guitar), Todd Shay (lead guitar), Brett Vargason (drums), David Alan (keyboards), and Tom Michael (bass guitar). Heil shares: "Most of all thank You, Lord, my God, for salvation and healing. You have given me abundant life and perfect peace. Everything I could ever need or want You have given me. All glory to the Lord most high! You alone are worthy of all praise! You are truly the Famous One".
First up is the title track 'Cry Holy' penned by Marc Byrd, Andrew Thompson, and Rick Heil. It's pop praise and worship: "Let the earth rejoice/Singing with one voice/Let the people cry/'Holy, holy, Lord!'/Every creature sing/Praises to the King/All creation cry/'Holy is the Lord'!" 'Shelter' is a pop song about God's faithfulness: "You never change/You stay the same/You are my hope of glory/I will never have to be afraid/Through the course of my time and all my life/You've been my place of shelter/Here beneath Your love I will remain/I will sing that You are my refuge". Joel Houston wrote 'Everyday'. These words speak of making a spiritual commitment: "Everyday, it's You I live for/Everyday, I follow after You/Everyday, I walk with You my Lord".
Next up is the ever popular 'Here I Am to Worship'. This adult contemporary ballad testifies: "Light of the world/You stepped down into darkness/Opened my eyes, let me see/Beauty that made this heart adore You/Hope of a life spent with You". Marc Byrd and Steve Hindalong wrote 'Unconditional', an upbeat pop song that also testifies: "Your peace it floods my soul/It's supernatural/And Your amazing love is unconditional/Your joy it overflows/It's supernatural/And Your love for me is unconditional, unconditional".
'Famous One' is a melodic number. I like these lyrics: "Every eye is watching You/Revealed by nature and miracles/You are beautiful (2X)". Chuck Butler wrote 'Rushing In', an adult contemporary ballad that includes these honest words: "I feel like I've gone astray/Just like a runaway/From the grip of Your love/It's not that I wanted to/It's not like I tried to do it that way/I've found there's no distance too far/That could change who You are/That could turn You away/Your love comes rushing in/Pouring over me".
'God is Great' is an energetic pop praise song: "God is great and His grace fills the earth/Fills the heavens/And Your Name will be praised through all the world/God is great/Sing His praise/All the earth, all the heavens/'Cause we're living for the glory of Your Name". Michael Merritt and Jackie Anderson co-wrote 'I Will Exalt the One', a slow ballad that starts with these very relatable words: "What can I say?/What can I do?/What can I bring to offer You?/There is no gold/No precious pearl/Nothing on earth that compares to You/Lord, here I stand with empty hands". It's very pretty and includes some nice female vocals.
'Satisfied' sounds like a PFR song. It desires God's presence: "How many times I've longed for You/I long for You once more/One moment in Your presence, Lord/Is all I'm asking for/I will seek You till I find You/Just to touch You is what I'm living for". Scott Faircloff and Jenn Thune wrote 'Love of My Life'. It speaks of God's saving power: "Knowing my heart would fail/You made a way for me/You died to set this captive free/In this You've shown Your love/Within my darkest hour".
'Everything to Me' is a love song to God: "You are my cup/You are my bread/You're the spotless Lamb/My truest friend/You are my King/You are my peace/You're the air I breathe/You're everything to me". Last up is 'I Will' written by Rick Heil and Todd Shay. It's a mostly quiet song of worship: "You took the stripes and You took the pain for me/So now I sing a song of hope/I'm free!" It's over six minutes in length.
CRY HOLY is a vibrant, joyful modern praise and worship record. Pop and adult contemporary music blend together to create sounds pleasing to the ears of listeners. There's a good mix of fast and slow songs here. God is lifted up for being Creator, holy, faithful, loving, and our refuge. He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He alone frees us from sin. It is also clear on this record that Sonicflood desires an intimate, thriving relationship with God. I'm rating CRY HOLY a perfect 100%. For more info connect with the band on Facebook.
Monday, May 13, 2019
The Christian metal band Whitecross formed in 1985 in Illinois. They released their self-titled debut album in 1987. What I am reviewing here is a re-recording of it called NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN GOLD EDITION. It omits the ballad 'You're Mine', but tags on three bonus cuts. It was released in 2015 by Retroactive Records. Scott Wenzel sings lead, Rex Carroll plays guitars, Michael Feighan plays drums, while Rex and Antonio Acevedo play bass.
Starting things off is the metal tune 'Who Will You Follow' which encourages us to be wise when it comes to our spiritual lives: "Who will you follow/Satan or the Author of life?/Jesus paid the price/God made the sacrifice for you.../Day by day you are making a choice/Listening to someone's voice/Will you be defiled or be God's child?" 'Enough is Enough' is about making the choice to live sold out to God: "I can't pretend to walk in the Light/While all the while, I live for the night.../Enough 'nuff, enough is enough/No more foolin' with compromise".
'He is the Rock' keeps the metal going strong. It speaks of spiritual warfare: "There is a way that seems right to a man/That many have traveled before/You must choose between the jaws of hell/Or find life through the narrow door/He is the Rock (3X)/On which I stand". 'Lookin' For A Reason' points directly to Christ: "I know the Way, yes I do/His loving arms, oh, they are reaching out to you/He knocks at your heart's door/He longs to come in/And when He forgives/He forgives all your sin".
'No Way I'm Goin' Down' calls out the devil: "Heard you callin', yeah, you hypnotized/Had me going with your big disguise/You thought I'd never get wise/It's no wonder they call you the father of lies". 'Seein' is Believin'' is a hard rock song that includes these words from a seeker: "Still I'm wandering around in a daze/Can't seem to find my way out of this haze/This old world's a merry go round/Won't someone show me to solid ground?"
Next up is the metal sizzler 'All I Need' which looks ahead to the future: "Now I live each day for Jesus/For soon He will return/He's bringing His reward with Him/And Satan, he's going to burn/We will all stand before Him/On the judgment day/He promised that He will defend us/He'll carry us all away". 'Nagasake' is an awesome electric guitar instrumental by Rex Carroll!
'Signs of the End' offers advice we all should heed: "You can't wait/Don't hesitate to find your place in life/You weren't put here on this earth to live your days in strife/You've got to realize this world will fall away/But God sent His Son, the Word, to guide you on your way". 'Love on the Line' was the title track of the band's 1988 ep and runs over six minutes long. This metal ballad offers hope: "Jesus carried your sorrows and your grief He has known/His love for you has no limits/He wants to call you His own/So reach out for love on the line/Reach out for love on the line". 'Re:Animate' is a fun, playful instrumental. The bonus cut 'Angel's Wing' is a cool electric guitar solo. This is followed by some short studio outtakes.
NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN depicts a spiritual world that is black and white. Each person on earth has an important decision to make. Will he or she live for God or for the devil? God is life and love, while Satan is a liar and deceiver who wants us to die a second death. Following God leads to heaven, while living for the devil and rejecting Jesus leads to hell. Living for God on this planet also brings one peace and comfort in the midst of trials. Living for the devil brings confusion. The musicianship and lead vocals are top quality here. For more info connect with the band and its members on social media. I'm rating this project 96%.
Monday, May 06, 2019
Raymond Howard 'Ray' Boltz was born on June 14, 1953 in Muncie, Indiana. In 1992 the compilation album MOMENTS FOR THE HEART-THE VERY BEST OF RAY BOLTZ (Diadem) was released. It includes material from Ray's first five CCM albums that came out from 1986 to 1992.
First up we have 'Thank You', one of seven songs on this project written by Ray and Steve Millikan. This inspirational song was the title track of Boltz's 1988 album and won a Dove for 'Song of the Year' in 1990. It's a touching ballad of gratitude: "Thank you for giving to the Lord/I am a life that was changed/Thank you for giving to the Lord/I am so glad you gave". 'The Altar' was the title track of Ray's 1989 album. This adult contemporary ballad is about getting right with God: "People at the altar are kneeling down to pray/Some are finding mercy/Forgiveness for their sin/Some are fighting battles and they're struggling to win/The time has come to give them to the Lord/That's what this altar is for". 'Here Comes A Miracle' tells of Jesus' ministry on earth: "The lame could walk, the deaf could hear/Blinded eyes could see/And those who had been bound for years/Were suddenly set free/They came in desperation/The hurting and the poor/But when they saw Him through the crowd/They knew what was in store/Here comes a miracle (2X)".
'The Hammer' has a gospel groove to it and includes these powerful words of admission: "I nailed Him there/This Child of peace and mercy/I nailed Him there/I am the guilty man/I nailed Him there/With my sins and my transgressions/I cried 'Oh, my God, now I understand'/When I turned and saw the hammer in my hand!" 'Watch the Lamb' is one of three songs written solely by Ray. It was the title track of his 1986 debut album. It's a terrific Easter story song: "'Daddy, daddy, what have we seen here?/There's so much that we don't understand'/So I took them in my arms, we turned and faced the cross/And then I said/'Dear children, watch the Lamb!'"
'Shepherd Boy' is an adult contemporary ballad drawing inspiration from the story of David: "But when others see a shepherd boy/God may see a king/Even though your life seems filled with ordinary things/In just a moment He can touch you/And everything will change/When others see a shepherd boy/God may see a king". 'Always Be A Child' tells of God's care for us: "I was there the first time that you prayed/And I heard all the promises you made/And when you fell before Me/Crying 'Father, I have sinned'/I picked you up and held you close again".
'Let's Begin Again' comes from 1989's THE ALTAR. It's a pretty duet encouraging marriage commitment: "Let's begin again/Trust in Him and not our feelings/Let's leave the loneliness behind/Take my hand and then/We can find a new beginning/Let's begin again/While there's still time". 'I Will Praise the Lord' was inspired by Paul and Silas' time in jail: "But I will praise the Lord/I will praise the Lord/No matter what tomorrow brings or what it has in store/I know I will praise the Lord".
Next up is 'Feel the Nails', a great sentimental song: "Does He still feel the nails every time I fall?/Does He hear the crowd cry 'Crucify!' again?/Am I causing Him pain?/Then I know I've got to change/I just can't bear the thought of hurting Him". Closing things out is 'Take Up Your Cross' penned by Steve Millikan, Jane Johannson, and Ray. It's got a gospel feel to it and uses a choir. Here's the wonderful chorus: "Take up your cross and follow Jesus/Take up your cross every day/Don't be ashamed to say that you know Him/Count the cost/Then take up your cross and follow Him!" It's the most energetic song on this project.
This 11 song collection is prominently adult contemporary, although a couple of the songs have gospel influences. 10 of the 11 selections are slow ballads. If you like the mellower sounds of Steve Green and Sandi Patty, you'll enjoy this CD. The cross and God's love and healing abilities are central to this project. God sees our true potential. Our response should be to submit to the Lord and follow Him and praise Him daily. For more info visit www.rayboltz.com and/or connect with him on Facebook. I rate this CD 90%.
Saturday, May 04, 2019
Christian hard rock/heavy metal band Ransom put out their self-titled full length debut on Intense Records back in 1991. Ransom was: Michael Ciado (bass, backing vocals), Lisa Faxon (vocals, backing vocals), Randy Kantor (drums), and Tony Ortiz (guitars, backing vocals). In 2010 Intense Millenium Records released a 20th Anniversary Edition of the album with four bonus tracks. That is what I'm reviewing here.
Starting things off is 'Lasting Love', a hard rocker desiring God's presence in one's life: "Shine down Your love on me/The never ending, lasting love/That brings me to my knees/The time I spend alone with You/Means more than words could ever say/You're all I want/You're all I need". 'Rumors' is about gossips: "What's the story line?/What's the news today?/What rumors air about us this time?/Like a bird of prey/Watching every move you make/Yet they can't see the light of day/You without sin/Cast the first stone". 'Memories of You' is a rock ballad about suicide: "What could have been so wrong to end it all that way?/The questions still arise/We tried to deny/Why did you do what you did?/In our hearts you're still alive/You were too young to die".
What follows is 'Fool That I Am' that speaks of God's great love for us: "He'll never leave or forsake me/His love is everlasting/They say that love must be tough/But fool that I am/Right before my eyes/A love that won't deny me for eternity". 'Break Into Their Darkness' is a headbanger about rescuing someone who is in trouble: "Lost in a world where there's no way out/Silence is your pain/Only shadows of doubt/The only cry heard is in your mind/Those tears that you shed are an act of your own crime/Break into their darkness!"
'Tonight' is a pretty ballad that serves as a prayer: "Each time I hear Your voice/I want to do the things You ask of me/Tonight, tonight/I long to be with You/Tonight, tonight/I long to see You" 'Etched in Stone' is a rock song that confirms God's love: "You tried to be tough/Tried to rough it up/You know you can always/Can always run back to Him/Your name is still etched in stone, in stone/A promise is a promise (2X)".
Next we have 'Fallen Angel', a powerful song about the devil: "Rolled the dice to make it all your own/To be like the Most High/Ambush His throne/Fallen angel/You can't stand against your enemy/The Prince of Peace/Fallen angel/Now You realize His sovereignty/Because of Calvary/Hell beneath is moved to greet you/The coming of their fallen king". 'Your Broken Heart' is a rocker about being stuck in heartache: "Your broken heart/Does it have to be a cold hearted one?/Your broken heart/Does it have to be as hard as stone?/You just can't let it go/Play it in your mind over and over/There you go again".
'I'll Never Leave You' points to God as the ultimate Source of pure love: "Seeking for that one true love/Your desperate search has blinded/What you're really in need of/You're not aware, you can't see/His arms are open wide/Just waiting patiently". Last up on the standard edition of the album is 'When I Die'. It's a quiet song but has these controversial lyrics to some: "When I die and if I find it was all a story/I would not change a thing/Knowing how You changed me".
The standard edition of RANSOM proved that a female, in this case Lisa Faxon, could successfully front a Christian hard rock/metal band. Her vocals and the guitar work here are memorable. There are six fast and five slow songs. The band desires to do God's will and have an intimate relationship with Him on this earth and beyond. God's love for us is shown to be faithful and strong. Satan is shown for what he is-a defeated enemy. There are also tracks about heartache and suicide. As Christians we should reach out to those who are hurting. The 20th Anniversary Cd re-issue of this album includes four bonus tracks, drawing heavily from their 1988 demo ONCE AND FOR ALL. I'm rating this CD 86.5%.