Sunday, June 30, 2019
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He released his debut studio album in 1973 entitled GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J. My favorite album of his is 1984's BORN IN THE U.SA. Fast forward to 2007 and he released his 15th studio album, MAGIC (Columbia). It features his E Street Band, of which two members have since passed on-Clarence Clemons (sax, backing vocals), and Danny Federici (organ, keyboards). The album peaked at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and was produced by Brendan O'Brien.
Starting things off is the album's first single, 'Radio Nowhere'. It won Grammys for 'Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance' and 'Best Rock Song'. It's a song of disillusionment: "I was tryin' to find my way home/But all I heard was a drone/Bouncing off a satellite/Crushin' the last lone American night/This is radio nowhere/Is anybody alive out there?.../I want a thousand guitars/I want pounding drums/I want a million different voices speaking in tongues". 'You'll Be Comin' Down' is a rock ballad about reality: "Like a thief on a Sunday morning/It all falls apart with no warning/Your cinnamon sky's gone candy-apple green/The crushed metal of your little flying machine".
Soozie Tyrell plays violin on 'Livin' in the Future'. It includes these apocalyptic lyrics: "The earth it gave away/The sea rose toward the sun/I opened up my heart to you/It got all damaged and undone/My ship Liberty sailed away on a bloody red horizon/The groundskeeper opened the gates and let the wild dogs run". 'Your Own Worst Enemy' isn't exactly uplifting: "The times they got too clear/So you removed all the mirrors/Once the family felt secure/ Now no one's very sure.../Your flag it flew so high/It drifted into the sky".
'Gypsy Biker' rocks and states things in a matter of fact way: "To the dead it don't matter much 'bout who's wrong or right/You asked me that question/I didn't get it right/You slipped into your darkness/Now all that remains/Is my love for you brother/Lying still and unchanged/To them that threw you away/You ain't nothin' but gone/Our Gypsy biker's comin' home". The album's second single was 'Girls in their Summer Clothes'. It's a ballad that uses violins, violas, and cellos. Doc Walker covered it on their 2009 album GO. These words remind me of the Beach Boys: "And the girls in their summer clothes/In the cool of the evening light/The girls in their summer clothes, pass me by".
Next up is 'I'll Work For Your Love', a sacreligious number: Pour me a drink Theresa/In one of those glasses you dust off/And I'll watch the bones in your back/Like the Stations of the Cross/'Round your hair the sun lifts a halo/At your lips a crown of thorns/Whatever other deals gone down/To this one I'm sworn/I'll work for your love, dear/I'll work for your love". Jeremy Chatzky plays upright bass on the short title track, 'Magic'. It's a quiet Americana tune. It includes these mysterious lyrics: "I got a shiny saw blade/All I need's a volunteer/I'll cut you in half/While you're smiling ear to ear/And the freedom that you sought's/Driftin' like a ghost amongst the trees/This is what will be (2X)".
'Last to Die' is a rock song. It tells a story: "We took the highway till the road went black/We'd marked Truth or Consequences on our map/A voice drifted up from the radio/And I thought of a voice from long ago/Who'll be the last to die for a mistake, the last to die for a mistake?" 'Long Walk Home' is an optimistic tune overall, complete with a sax solo: "Here everybody has a neighbor/Everybody has a friend/Everybody has a reason to begin again/My father said 'Son, we're lucky in this town/It's a beautiful place to be born/It just wraps its arms around you/Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone'".
Daniel Lauffer plays cello on 'Devil's Arcade', a pretty ballad. It includes these words: "You sleep and dream of your buddies/Charlie and Jim/And wake with the thick desert dust on your skin/A voice says 'Don't worry, I'm here'/Just whisper the word 'tomorrow' in my ear/A house on a quiet street, a home for the brave/The glorious kingdom of the sun on your face/Rising from a long night as dark as the grave". Some versions of MAGIC include a hidden track entitled 'Terry's Song'. It's dedicated to Bruce's long-time assistant Terry Magovern who died on July 30, 2007. It's a folk ballad that uses harmonica. I like these lyrics: "Sometimes something comes along and you know it's for sure the only one/The Mona Lisa, the David, the Sistine Chapel, Jesus, Mary, and Joe/And when they built you brother, they broke the mold".
There's no question that musically and vocally this is a great rock album! The lyrics however are oft problematic in that a lot of the time I don't have a clue as to what Bruce is singing about really. The lyrics are often cryptic. I'm sure they hold deep meaning for Bruce and those close to him, but as for me, a lot of the lyrics fly over my head and are way too open for interpretation. Bruce does sing about life and love and perhaps older listeners will gravitate towards this record. I'm rating MAGIC 80%. For more info visit www.brucespringsteen.net. The CD packaging and booklet are great!
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Big Tent Revival formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1991. In 1995 they released their self-titled major label debut. Fast forward to 1998 and they released AMPLIFIER (Ardent). Producers on the album included John Hampton and Dana Key. It was nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Rock Gospel Album'. Group members were: David Alan, Randy Williams, Steve Wiggins, Spence Smith, and Rick Heil.
The album opens with 'Still Breathing', a strong rock song with a joyful chorus: "I'm still breathing/I wanna live like this air was given to me/I'm still seeing/I want to live like these eyes were given to me/To see the Glory". 'Lovely Mausoleum' is a ballad of spiritual invitation: "Sunrise, open your eyes/When are you gonna see?/New day coming your way/What is it gonna be?/Your choice, your voice/You are in control/Jesus, Jesus/He will make you whole". 'God Made Heaven' is a great rock song calling out to unbelievers: "It might take a lifetime and it might take a minute/If God made Heaven, then He wants you in it/Ever been lonely?/What am I saying?/We've all been lonely/I'm here to tell you/My Lord Jesus/He's the One and only". There's sizzling electric guitar work here".
'Someday (Time and Space)' looks forward to our eternal home: "Someday we're gonna live forever/Someday we're gonna be together/Someday with our Lord in Heaven, I pray". 'Jimmy' is a fun song about a young guy who goes to a big tent revival and is saved: "From the time that he walked in that place/There was a burnin' in his soul/When he heard about Heaven and God's grace/That Jimmy was a holy rollin'". 'Star in the Book of Life' is a rock ballad addressed to a Christian living in sin: "There's a star by your name in the book of life/Angels are watching you all the time/They can't understand why a child of the King/Would be happier living with swine/There's a star in the book of life.../Rise up out of the mire/Know you are God's desire/Come home, baby, please come home".
Next up is the rocker 'Wouldn't it Be Cool'. It's about coming to God: "Your information-investigation/Brings you to your praying knees/The god you made, where is he now?/The Lord Jehovah stands alone/Tonight the prayer you prayed aloud/The Holy Spirit took directly to the throne". 'Psalm 72' is a quiet song that shares positive news: "My Lord will soon be coming down/Like the rain on new mown grass/Showers falling on the thirsty land/The righteous man will flourish in those days/And for as long as the moon runs 'round/Peace will abound". 'What Would Jesus Do?' really became a rally cry for a generation. It's a rock ballad. Here's the chorus: "What would Jesus do walkin' in my shoes/Workin' at my job and goin' to my school?/And I hear people say 'Jesus is the way'/I believe and that is why I'm asking you/What would Jesus do?"
'Ready, Steady, Go' encourages us to: "Give it all to Jesus/Ready, steady, go!" Track #11 is called 'Thanks'. It finds group members reading out album credits and thanking many people who've helped them along the way. Unfortunately, this runs over ten minutes long!/This is followed by four unlisted songs, the first of which is 'Real Thing'. It's a rocker: "I want the real thing (3X)/I want Jesus Christ/Without lies, disguise, and compromise".
'Rivalry' also rocks hard and speaks out against division in the body of Christ: "We're all God's children/We're all God's kids/Love each other like Jesus said". It references other bands including Jars of Clay and Stryper. 'West Memphis Lawyer' is a bluesy rocker that reminds us one day we will each personally face the Lord and give an account of how we lived. Last up is 'Come On People'. It encourages testimony: "Come on people, get out your seat/Listen to me/Tell me are your sins removed?/Does your spirit move?"
If you're a fan of Mark Stuart era Audio Adrenaline and/or of Third Day, you should add this terrific rock album with lots of stellar electric guitar work to your playlist. Several of the songs invite people to come to Jesus and live for Him alone. Other songs encourage Christian unity, celebrate life, and testify to God's goodness. God is a life-changer. I'm rating AMPLIFIER 100%. For more info connect with the group and its members on social media.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Holy Soldier released their self-titled debut album in 1990. It won two Dove Awards including 'Hard Music Album of the Year'. In 1992 their second album, LAST TRAIN, came out. Their final studio album, PROMISE MAN (1995, Forefront) featured a new vocalist, Eric Wayne. The rest of the band was: Michael Cutting (electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, vocals), Andy Robbins (bass), and Scott Soderstrom (electric and acoustic guitars). It won a Dove for 'Hard Music Album of the Year'. The album was produced by David Zaffiro and executive produced by Dan R. Brock and Eddie DeGarmo.
Starting things off is 'Promise Man', the title track, which won a Dove for 'Hard Music Song of the Year'. It points people to Christ: "There's a promise of peace, a promise of truth/A promise to me, a promise to you/He knows us by name/Like each grain of sand/The Promise Man". There's a great electric guitar solo incorporated. 'Mumbo-Jumbo' is a good rock ballad about looking for meaning in life: "I found Mumbo-Jumbo and I've lost something here/I found Mumbo-Jumbo, make it all disappear/I found Mumbo-Jumbo, somehow Lord, it's not right/I found Mumbo-Jumbo, someone turn on the light".
'My World' speaks of the afterlife: "When heaven and earth collide/One day, hello, goodbye/Across the divide/We take a step, it opens wide". 'Rust' is about grief: "Sitting on a weathered bench in the middle of a park/The names can barely still be read/Where two lovers carved a heart/I wonder where they are today/Are they together still/Or does only one return to trace/The heart that never healed?"
Next up the group pays tribute to Larry Norman by covering his 1970's classic 'Why Don't You Look Into Jesus' in a bluesy manner. It doesn't mince any words: "HIV on Valentine's Day/And you're still looking for the perfect lay.../Shooting junk till you're half insane/A broken needle in your purple vein.../Why don't you look into Jesus, look into Jesus, look into Jesus?/You know He's got the answer". 'Break it Down' serves as a stern warning to us: "The idols we raise/We fall on our knees and praise/Spin us around with a slap in the face/Who's ready to dance/And who's flying 'round by the seat of their pants?"
'Cover Me' rocks. It touches on lust and cries out to God: "The color magazines/They violate my eyes, trying to sell me compromise/A perfect figure on the television screen/Even the dirt looks very clean.../Rain on me, shine on me/Lord, rain on me/Cover me, yeah". 'Grind' sizzles and is a call to action: "Let's do some soul searching, dare to look inside/It's time to lock it down tight/We can strike the match, others will ignite".
Chris Kent plays bass on 'Love Conquers All', an adult contemporary ballad that finds Jesus calling out to a prodigal: "'Come to me, child you're my own', said a voice from out of nowhere/'I'll give you rest, please come home', and suddenly He was there/Love conquers all, it conquers all/Surrender it in His hands/Love conquers all, it conquers all". Last up is 'Sand', a cry for revival: "He holds the mysteries in His hands/He knows our life is but a grain of sand/Oh yeah/Burn, burn inside of me/Bring me to my knees".
PROMISE MAN is an absolutely terrific album with nine rock tracks and one adult contemporary one! There's an equal number of fast and slow songs. Eric Wayne's deep vocals are well suited to the grunge-rock material presented here. The main message here is that Jesus is the only One who can bring us true meaning in life. We should put our hope in Him. He is trustworthy and can deliver us from Satan and temptation if we only call on Him. We ought to be lights for Christ in a dark world. I'm rating this project 100%. For more info connect with the band and its members on social media.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Jeremy Thomas Camp was born in Lafayette, Indiana on January 12, 1978. His first major label studio album was 2002's STAY. It included the hits 'Walk By Faith' and 'I Still Believe'. Fast forward to 2009 and he released SPEAKING LOUDER THAN BEFORE (BEC). It entered the Billboard 200 at #38 and was nominated for a Dove for 'Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year'.
Starting things off is 'Slow Down Time', a rock song on which Jeremy shares His desires: "I wish I could slow down time/I wish I could wait here at Your feet/Cause with You is the only place that I wanna be/I know I should take it all in stride/I know You are there with every reach/Cause with You is the only place that I wanna be". 'Capture Me' is a modern worship song of testimony: "You brought me joy that words can't speak/You gave a truth where lies will never reach/I won't fight no more/You gave me peace from this life of fear/Never alone, at every grasp You are near/Now there's life more abundantly".
'Speaking Louder than Before' rocks and encourages us to be witnesses: "Take every chance that you can/Move together taking a stand/Never losing heart, we'll speak as one/We need to be the image of Christ/Show love and serve at all times/We can make a difference in this land". 'There Will Be a Day' was a #1 hit for Jeremy. It anticipates heaven: There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears/There will be a day/When the burdens of this place will be no more/We'll see Jesus face to face/But until that day/We'll hold on to You always".
'I Know Who I Am' is modern worship: "I know who I am and I know I'm not able/To stand on my own/I can't live all alone/So I'm taking my hands and I'm reaching them out/And I fall down, for You I fall down". 'I'm Alive' is an energetic rock song of testimony: "My whole life changed/When You saved me and forgave me now/I'm alive, I'm alive like I've never been/Been revived from the lies that were deep within/It's the past now, it's the past/Cause Christ has given life/Where I'll never thirst again".
'You Will Be There' is next up. It's an adult contemporary ballad that uses strings to good effect. It praises God for His faithfulness: "I begin the day/With the faith You fashion my ways/And I cannot escape/For Your hand it leads/Your right hand holds me/When I wake, You will be there/When the sun goes down in the night/You will be there". 'Healing Hand of God' is a nice ballad of encouragement: "I have walked through the valleys, the mountains, and plains/I have held the hand of freedom that washes all my stains/If you feel weight of many trials and burdens from this world/There's freedom in the shelter of the Lord/And I have seen the healing hand of God/Reaching out and mending hearts".
'So In Love' is a song of worship that is quiet: "The only words that I can bring are these very words I sing/So, I sing to You now/'Cause I am so in love with You/There's nothing else I'd choose/You've stolen my heart/Yes, I'm all for You". Jacob Sooter helped write the music on 'My Fortress'. It's a worship ballad: "I'm running fast to seek Your face, oh yeah/Head first I dive into Your grace/You are my fortress/You are the refuge where I hide/You are the strength when I can't fight/You are the only One I rest my life in".
'Giving You All Control' is a great rock song about submitting to God: "I'd set myself up for the lies that this world satisfies/But You're all that I need/And I have peace inside/So keep tearing out all of my pride/Take all of these impurities/I'm giving You this wretched soul/I'm giving You these insecurities/Giving You all control". Last up is 'Surrender', on which Scott Dente plays acoustic guitar. It's a heartfelt song: "I surrender to Your throne/Oh, I surrender to Your throne/And I will make my heart Your home/Oh, I surrender to Your throne.../Soften up this hardened clay/To be a servant, this I pray".
SPEAKING LOUDER THAN BEFORE is a gem of an album. Musically, it incorporates modern worship, rock, and adult contemporary sounds. There are eight slow songs and four fast ones. Surrendering our lives to God is the main theme of this album. We should strive for intimacy with Him. God is to be praised for salvation, peace, healing, and His faithfulness. As believers we have a charge to share our faith in God with those who do not know Him yet. Eventually His people will enter heaven, a place beyond words. I'm rating this record a perfect 100%. For more info visit www.jeremycamp.com and connect with him on social media.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Holy Soldier formed in California. In 1990 they released their self-titled debut album via Myrrh and A & M Records. It was produced by David Zaffiro and won a Dove for 'Hard Music Album of the Year'. Group members were: Michael Cutting (guitars), Jamie Cramer (guitars), Steven Patrick (lead vocals), Andy Robbins (bass), and Terry 'The Animal' Russell (drums). What I am reviewing here is a remastered 2019 version of the album. It was released by Roxx Records and executive produced by Bill Bafford. It includes two bonus cuts.
The album opening 'Stranger' won a Dove for 'Hard Music Song of the Year'. It speaks of our Lord's earthly mission: "They didn't understand Him/Though His words were plain to see/Because of this they made a plan to kill Him brutally/He was different, He was heaven-sent/And for this they took His life/But in the end He rose again/His Name was Jesus Christ". 'See No Evil' is a pro-life ballad: "I float inside her womb/Oh mother, I am coming soon/Suddenly fear and dread/When mother says she wants me dead/Oh, how can you do this to me?.../God hears them cry/We hear the lie/And we simply look the other way".
'The Pain Inside of Me' runs over six minutes long. It's a sorrowful song addressed to God: "The days are long, the night's eternity/I think of how it is and how it used to be/When You were here with me/Where are You?/When my tears are falling down/Where are You?/You're not around". 'Cry Out For Love' is a hard rock song longing for God: "I looked around this Tinseltown/It was just make believe/But there's a world within our world/The naked eye can't see/The Spirit of the Ancient One/That was, is, and shall be/His love is ringing in my ears/Crying out to me/Cry out for love/I can't find what I'm looking for/Cry out for love/I got a little, but I need some more".
Next up is the fast paced rocker 'Tear Down the Walls'. It points to Christ as the ultimate Answer: "Run, but there's nowhere to hide/Run, from what you feel inside/Jesus is all we really need/He can release us and set the captives free/He wants to/Tear down the walls (2X)". 'When the Reign Comes Down' waxes apocalyptic: "Desire conceived/In the mind it breeds/Till it's giving birth to sin/Sin brings death/And the wicked won't rest/Will we ever see the end?/When the reign comes down/Death, the beast, the liar/When the reign comes down/They all will burn with fire".
'Lies' tells of a dangerous woman: "She's cold as ice/She burns like fire/Many faces/Oh, but one desire/She leads you in/As you admire, oh, her many graces/She's a silent liar.../The web she weaves is so receptive/But beauty fleeting/Oh, and charm's deceptive/She leads you into the fire/To fan the flames of her desire". 'Eyes of Innocence' is a ballad of reflection: "Remember how we used to laugh and play/All the things we used to say/How come hearts can grow so cold/Just because we grow old?/Things were simple then/Why does it have to end?/Can we be little children again?"
'Love Me' is a rock song serving as a prayer: "I've died inside/Open my eyes/God, are You still there?/I need to know if You still care/Love me, bring me back to You/Love me, hold me close/Show me love that's true/Love me, love me/Don't ever let me down/Love me/Until I come around to You". Last up on the original version of the album is 'We are Young, We are Strong'. It's about spiritual determination: "The winds of change/The likes of which no man can tame/Who will remain to carry on in Jesus' Name?/We are young, we are strong/We are strong/We were sent to carry on".
Two bonus tracks are included on the 2019 re-mastered version of the album. The first is a 60 second radio spot/commercial. The second is 'In the End' which is a good rock ballad of endurance: "We've been enticed by every vice/Blown around like chaff within the wind/But still we follow Jesus Christ/And I hope to see You in the end".
HOLY SOLDIER is a good debut Christian rock album with touches of heavy metal thrown in. I especially like the electric guitar solos throughout. Jesus is clearly shown as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We are to long for His presence, love, and the innocence He can bring us. There are a couple songs warning against wicked women. There's also an anti-abortion song and one song about the end times. The CD booklet contains numerous great photos of the band. I'm rating this one an 87% and recommending it to fans of Whitecross and King James. For more info connect with the band on social media and/or visit www.roxxproductions.com.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Carmen Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was saved at an Andrae Crouch concert. His debut album was 1980's GOD'S NOT FINISHED WITH ME. What I am reviewing here is his landmark eighth album, REVIVAL IN THE LAND (1989, Benson). In the liner notes, Carman writes: "And most of all thanks to the Lord, Who gave me the songs, the ideas, the strength, and the wherewithal to carry it out. I'm ready for war!"
Starting things off is 'God's Got An Army', one of eight songs penned solely by Carman. Tom Hemby and Jerry McPherson play guitars on this great rock song that begins with these bold lyrics: "God's got an army/Not afraid to fight/Soldiers of the cross/And children of the light/Warriors of righteousness with healing in their hands/God's got an army marching through the land/Let me hear your war cry, 'Hey!'" 'I Got the Joy' has an upbeat black gospel feel to it and is a song of celebration: "Lift your praises to the sky/We're gonna get down with some church tonight/We gonna dance and we gonna shout/We gonna turn this whole place inside out/Come on gimme a shout of victory/Overcomers and conquerors are we". Appearing on this song are Carlton Pearson (Carman's pastor at the time) and The Higher Dimensions Sanctuary Choir.
'A Witch's Invitation' is one of two co-writes between Carman and Keith Thomas. It's a stellar story song over six minutes long about a Christian's encounter with a warlock. The Christian is victorious. He says: "My friend, one day they're coming for you/The soft associates in your incantations/The friendly demons you think you now control/The time will come when you'll be lying in bed wheezing like a dying animal when those spirits lay claim to the rights they own to your soul". He adds: "Next time think twice before you rumble with a man of God". Ashley Cleveland, Kim Fleming, and Vicki Hampton are on backing vocals on 'Get Your Business Straight With God'. Horns are used on this pop/rock number about purification: "He's pulling back the curtain/Revealing what's inside/Cleaning house from prejudice/Sinfulness and pride/There's a cloud of glory coming/And you better make some room/There's a glow on the horizon/Cause the Son is coming soon/And He's holy".
'This Blood' features the Christ Church Choir and also strings arranged by Don Wyrtzen. It's a moving adult contemporary ballad about the atonement: "And this blood can save the soul, heal the sick, mend the heart/This blood can give you access to the very throne of God/And it still can go the distance through the pain to where you are/This blood is for you, the blood of the Lamb". Susan Ashton, Mark Heimermann, and Chris Harris sing backing vocals on 'Saved, Delivered and Healed'. It's a ballad of encouragement: "Night and day He thinks of you/He hurts to see you cryin'/He wants for you and He hopes for You're always on his mind/So trust His heart and lean on Him/And let the Father lead the way".
Mark Douthit plays sax on 'Jesus is the Light', a cool pop song drawing from the Bible: "In John chapter one, the one 'bout God the Son/Tells us why the Lord He was sent/It says in Him is life, the life is the light/That shines on the darkness in men/There was one sent from God, whose name was John/Who came as a witness you see/He said 'I testify that Jesus is the light'/So everybody might believe". 'The Resurrection Rap' is a fun hip-hop song of testimony: "Now Satan was behind the attack/Cause he wanted to be at the top of the stack/But he'd soon learn the truth we've found/That you just can't keep this good Man down/Word up, it's fresh/Christ will rise from the dead!"
Next up is 'Shine Through Me', a ballad of spiritual compassion: "Let the light of Your Word light my pathway/Let the love of Jesus flow through me/It's the love of God that draws the wayward children back to Calvary/They're in my heart, they're all I see/They're like kidnapped royalty/But I can win them if Your love will shine through me". It's beautiful! Last is the title track, 'Revival in the Land', a creative story song that finds Satan delighting in abortion, tv violence, false religions, suicides, etc. He trembles at prayer, the Word, and revival! In the end Satan is defeated: "Lift your hands in victory/This is our finest hour/For this sleeping giant called the church is rising up in power!/Cry loud, spare not/This lion's got a roar!/We may have lost some battles but we will win this war!.../The Spirit of God is being poured out on all flesh and/There is revival in the land!" The Nashville String Machine is used.
REVIVAL IN THE LAND is quite a diverse project with story songs and various musical genres (pop/rock, gospel, adult contemporary, and rap). The cross and the blood shed at Calvary are central themes. So is the resurrection. God is love, life, and light. It is through Christ we have spiritual authority over the devil and his demons. We can stand up for God, do His will, and live in victory. Carman urges us to celebrate, and to be a witness to a dying, entrapped world. I'm rating this album a perfect 100%. For more info visit www.carman.org or connect with him on social media.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Sanctus Real formed in Ohio in 1996. In 2002 they released their major label debut, SAY IT LOUD (Sparrow). Fast forward to 2010 and they released PIECES OF A REAL HEART (Sparrow). It was nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Contemporary/Pop Gospel Album' and was also nominated for a Dove Award for 'Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year'. In the CD booklet the band thanks "All our families and friends who have supported us over the years and prayed for us as we've made this record and most of all our loving Savior Jesus Christ who is constantly keeping our hearts alive and making everything new".
Up first is 'Forgiven'. It was the album's first radio single and peaked at #6 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. This adult contemporary ballad is one of testimony: "When I don't fit in and I don't feel like I belong anywhere/When I don't measure up to much in this life/Oh, I'm a treasure in the arms of Christ/'Cause I'm forgiven". 'These Things Take Time' is a pop song with very relatable lyrics: "Hey, we all want to understand why evil lives and good men die/On the way to Heaven the truth unwinds/These things take time (2X)/Yeah, these things take time". 'The Way the World Turns' uses a kids choir and speaks of God as a refuge: "You're the hope of a new sunrise/Breaking over a desperate life/And I keep turning to you/I keep turning to You".
'Lead Me' hit #1 on Billboard's Christian Music chart. It was also nominated for Dove Awards for 'Song of the Year' and 'Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year'. It's a sentimental adult contemporary song that includes these words of a wife speaking to her husband: "Lead me with strong hands/Stand up when I can't/Don't leave me hungry for love/Chasing dreams, but what about us?/Show me you're willing to fight/That I'm still the love of your life/I know we call this our home/But I still feel alone". 'The Redeemer' puts trust in God: "I'm still a dreamer, a believer/Oh, I've lost my faith in so many things/But I still believe in You/Cause You are the answer, the Redeemer/Oh, I've given up on too many things/But I'm not giving up on You/Cause You can make anything new".
Next up is 'Take Over Me', a fast pop/rock song that cries out to God: "I want You to take over me/I want You to take over me/I don't wanna be part of the resistance/I wanna be part of the release/So I want You to take over me". 'I Want to Get Lost' again calls out to God: "I wanna get lost/I wanna get lost in Your arms/I wanna get lost/And lose my way into Your heart/Cause there's so many voices/Telling me how to get lost in this life/So right now I wanna get lost in You/Before I lose myself".
''Til I Get to Know You' is a melodic pop song about God's grace: "Yeah, I was always worried/I was gonna let You down/Oh, it felt like I was standing in between the lost and found/'Til I got to know You, You/I was out of place when You found a way/To break through, it's true/I was just a skeptic 'till I got to know You, You". 'Dear Heart' is a song of reflection: "Heart, you let me down/Chasing love where it can't be found/And heart, we've fallen out/All of your emotions have led me to doubt/Only Jesus can save us now".
'I'll Show You How to Live' tugs at the heart: "I heard the sound of your first breath/A brand new life on your mother's chest/A beating heart, expectant eyes/On the first day of your life/I saw you take your first step/And I watched you run with no regret/To chase your dreams and find true love/And the best is yet to come". Last up is 'Keep My Heart Alive'. It's a quiet ballad that serves as a prayer: "Jesus, keep my heart alive, keep my heart alive/Only You can save me/When my world is breaking right before my eyes/Jesus, keep my heart alive, keep my heart alive/Only You can save me when my hope is fading and I'm losing the fight/And when the world wears me down/You're my lifeline".
PIECES OF A REAL HEART contains seven pop/rock numbers and four adult contemporary selections. There are six fast songs and five slow. God is pointed to as the Answer to life's problems. He is our hope and shelter and is full of love and grace. If we surrender to and put our faith in Him, He forgives us and makes us new. The importance of being a loving husband and father is also expressed here. I'm rating this album 88% and recommending it to fans of Jeremy Camp and Audio Adrenaline. For more info visit www.sanctusreal.com and/or connect with the band on social media.
Monday, June 03, 2019
Mark Mitchell Schultz was born on September 16, 1970 in the state of Kansas. He was adopted when he was two weeks old. He released his self-titled debut album in 2000. Fast forward to 2009 and he put out his fifth studio album, COME ALIVE (Word/Curb/Warner Bros.) In the liner notes he shares: "Thank You God for giving me a gift and for filling me with joy when I use it! I love writing songs about You and I hope that it makes You proud". The album was nominated for a Dove for 'Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year'.
'All Has Been Forgiven' is a wonderful pop/rock song that finds God speaking awesome words to us: "All has been forgiven/Every sin is lifted/Let your chains fall away/All has been forgotten/Buried at the bottom of the sea/You are free/And all has been forgiven/And all your guilt, and all your shame/Let it go in Jesus' Name/Lay it all down at His feet". Luke Brown and Missi Hale provide backing vocals. 'Grace Amazing' was written by Mark and MercyMe's Barry Graul and Bart Millard. Shaun Shankel plays keyboards on this song about coming alive spiritually: "Open wide the gates tonight/Jesus, come and flood my life with grace amazing/Now I know in letting go/What it means to be set free by grace amazing/I've been forever changed/I heard You call my name".
Mark co-wrote 'He Is' with Brown Bannister. This adult contemporary number speaks of God's faithfulness: "He lives, He loves/He's always with me/Even when it feels like there is no one holding me/Be still my soul/Through every fear/And every doubt/And every tear I shed/Down every road/I'm not alone/No matter where I am". 'What it Means to Be Loved' is a great story song that uses strings. It includes these loving words: "I wanna give her the world/I wanna be her Dad/I wanna hold her close for as long as I can/And I wanna live every moment until that day comes/I wanna show her what it means to be loved".
Next, we have 'God of Glory'. It includes these prayerful words: "Open up the heavens, Lord, and show Your glory/God of glory, open up the heavens now/Open up the heavens, Lord, and rain down mercy/God of mercy, let Your love come raining down". Mark co-wrote 'Closer than I've Ever Been' with Bernie Herms. Dan Needham plays drums and Joeie Canaday plays bass on this pop/rock song that also is prayerful: "Don't let go until I am closer, closer than I've ever been/Until I find myself in all Your glory/Until I'm weak enough to seek Your strength/Until I know that I am held by mercy/Until I am closer, closer than I've ever been".
The title track, 'Come Alive', is one of two co-writes with Matthew West. It's a melodic pop song that finds God calling out to prodigals: "My love is stronger than your weakest moment/My grace is greater than your worst mistake/No matter where you've been/I'm waiting at the end of every road/So bring your broken heart to me/Lift it up and you will see/That love can make a heart that's barely beating/Come alive, come alive". 'Live Like You're Loved' is one of two songs solely penned by Mark. Paul Moak, Pete Stewart, and Luke Buishas play guitars on this adult contemporary ballad. It finds a parent speaking to their child: "Live like you're loved by the Lord up above/Spread out your wings and never give up/Cause you can do anything/Be who you're meant to be/Always remember to dream and keep your head up/And live like you're loved".
'Father's Eyes' was written by Mark, Ben Glover, and Joy Williams. Blair Masters plays piano and keyboards on it. It begins with these words very relevant today: "Tomorrow she'll be turning seventeen/But somehow now the mirror has become her enemy/Feelin' like she'll never measure up/Feelin' like she'll never be enough/In her Father's eyes/He is taken by her beauty/And captivated by her every time/In her Father's eyes/He is longing just to tell her/She's never been more lovely in her life/If only she could see herself one time/In her Father's eyes". Last up is 'Love Has Come'. It uses the B-3 organ and a choir. It anticipates things to come: "Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess/That God is love and love has come for us all/Every heart set free, every one will see/That God is love and love has come for us all/Oh, and on that day we will stand amazed/At our Savior, God, and King/Just to see the face of amazing grace".
COME ALIVE really is a great album! There is a mix of pop/rock and adult contemporary music presented, with a nice mix of fast and slow songs. A main message on this album is that every individual on earth has great value. Jesus went to the cross for us and God offers us His grace, love, and forgiveness. He pursues us, seeking us out. We should desire an intimate and personal relationship with Him. There are also a couple of good songs here about parental love. Good parents want what's best for their children and encourage them to reach their full potential. Mark Schultz is the cream of the crop when it comes to his generation of artists. I'm rating this project a perfect 100%. For more info visit: www.markschultzmusic.com and/or connect with him on social media.