Monday, June 11, 2012
The album begins with Steve's very mellow signature song, 'People Need the Lord'. It was written by Greg Nelson and Phil McHugh, and is also the oldest song on this collection, having been released in 1984. The song reminds us as Christians to be observant when it comes to the spiritual needs of others: "Every day they pass me by/I can see it in their eyes/Empty people filled with care/Headed who knows where/On they go through private pain/Living fear to fear/Laughter hides their silent cries/Only Jesus hears/People need the Lord." 'We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God' is an upbeat, joyful song written by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is one of four songs on this collection from 1994's WHERE MERCY BEGINS. Ephesians 2:8 says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." The song's lyrics draw from this verse: "Some trust in the work they do/We trust in the name of the Lord our God/'Cause by His grace all the work is through/We trust in the name of the Lord our God." 'That's Where His Mercy Begins' continues with the theme of the goodness of the Lord: "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." The wedding favourite 'Household of Faith' written by John Rosasco and Brent Lamb is next. It is a duet between Steve and wife Marijean that speaks of the good intentions a Christian man and woman have at the start of their marriage: "Here we are at the start committing to each other/By His Word and from our hearts/We will be a family in a house that will be a home/And with faith we'll build it strong."
'Teach me to Love' is from 1994's compilation album PROMISE KEEPERS-A LIFE THAT SHOWS. The song features another former Gaither Vocal Band member Larnelle Harris and is spot on vocally! It is a song of genuine repentance: "There's no power but the power of the cross/That can melt my hardened heart/And show me all the pride and arrogance/That tear our souls apart/For injustice that you suffer/And for our nation's shameful sin/I humbly ask for your forgiveness/We need to learn to love again." 'Love One Another' was written by Jon Mohr and Randall Dennis. It speaks of the kind of love non-Christians should see displayed by us: "Love is always patient, love is always kind and always gives itself away/Love is there to serve, it doesn't seem to mind, never has a harsh word to say/Slow in passing judgment, quick to forgive/It gives its life that the world may live." Nice, soft touches of electric guitar and children's voices are used. James 1:17 reads: "Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." 'Glory to You' a contemporary pop number for the time (1994) echoes the sentiments of that Bible verse: "How do I express/My love and gratitude?/For all I am and ever will be/All depends on You/Where in the world would I be/Had You not reached out to me?/All the good I have in life/Can all be traced to You." 'Sing Children Sing' is a nice, warm song of praise: "Jesus, loving Savior/Constant companion/Creator, yet our brother/We lift holy hands and applaud/For we who were paupers are now sons and daughters of God/Sing, children sing/Let your voices ring/Sing, children sing/A joyous refrain like the sound of a sweet summer rain."
Those who appreciate Petra's song 'Creed' and Rich Mullins' song by the same name will value 'We Believe' written by Nathan Digesare and Dan Scott. This song really shows Green's vocal strength and finds him certain and sure in his faith: "So if the mountains are cast down into the plains/When kingdoms all crumble, this one remains/Our faith is not subject to seasons of man/With our fathers we proclaim/We believe our Lord will come as he said/The land and the sea will give up their dead/His children will reign with Him as their head/We believe." 'Find us Faithful' from 1988 has always been one of my Steve Green favourites. It draws from Hebrews 12:1-3 and is an anthem that exhorts us: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses/Let us run the race not only for the prize/But as those who've gone before us/Let us leave to those behind us/The heritage of faithfulness/Passed on through godly lives/Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful." 'Unto Me' was written by Twila Paris in 1998, making it the newest song on this collection. The song has great background vocals and boils true religion down to the following in a peppy chorus: "Go and find your neighbor/Find a friend in need/Go and find a widow/There's a hungry child to feed/When you help the helpless, that is true Christianity/Whatever you've done to the least of these, you have done it unto me." 'Great is the Lord God' uses horns to good effect and has a happy sound to it It exalts the Lord: "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 who Began a Good Work in You' is a delicate song of promise based on Philippians 1:3-6 and benefits from a pretty female guest vocal: "He who began a good work in you (2X)/Will be faithful to complete it/He'll be faithful to complete it/He who started the work/Will be faithful to complete it in you." 'The Mission' is another great spiritual anthem. The chorus reminds believers in Christ of what one of our key priorities should be: "To love the Lord our God/Is the heartbeat of our mission/The spring from which our service overflows/Across the street/Or around the world/The mission's still the same/Proclaim and live the Truth/In Jesus' name." Exodus 20:4-6 makes it clear that our God is a jealous God. 'God and God Alone', another Green favourite of mine from the 1980's, was written by Phil McHugh and is a song of praise born out of love, not fear: "God and God alone/Is fit to take the universe's throne/Let everything that lives/Reserve its truest praise/For God and God alone/God and God alone/Will be the joy of our eternal home/He will be our one desire/Our hearts will never tire/Of God and God alone."
Steve shares the following on his website: "Today the gospel is more precious to me than ever. I realize that God's grip on me far surpasses my ability to hold on to Him...In the end it will be clear that He alone is the hero of not only my story, but of all our stories."
I recommend PEOPLE NEED THE LORD-NUMBER ONES to fans of great inspirational music and light adult pop music. I also recommend it to those who wonder where all the real singers are these days. I'm rating it 92%. For more info visit: http://www.stevegreenministries.org/.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
In 2010 she released THE MYSTERIES OF OUR MINDS which birthed the successful single 'Have Faith.' Her latest album DO IT AFRAID came out on November 1, 2011. It was produced by former White Heart member Billy Smiley for Northern Shore Productions. Several years ago Elizabeth developed stage fright. These words from the liner notes reveal the key concept behind the album: "The album title and song, 'Do It Afraid', were inspired by Joyce Meyer's book, Do It Afraid. In the book, she shared Elisabeth Elliot's real life story of facing her fears of returning to ministry after her husband had been killed by the very people they had ministered to. Always remember that no matter what you are called to do in life, don't give up, because God will always be with you, even if you have to do it while feeling afraid."
The CD begins with the first radio single. 'I Will Trust You' is one of six songs South and Smiley wrote as a duo. It extols the Lord: "You are love, You died for me/You heal my weary soul/You lift me up and keep me from falling/Forgive and make me whole.../You are the Maker of the heavens and the earth/You are the only One who knew me before birth." It is apparent from the get go that Elizabeth has a pleasant, easy to listen to voice. 'Higher' based on Romans 8:35-39, is a great praise and worship song. Blair Masters who has toured as a keyboard player for Garth Brooks and Casting Crowns is one of the writers: "Fight your battles on your knees/And watch Him do amazing things/Every trial that comes your way/He will hear you when you pray/Nothing will ever separate us/No nothing from the love of God/Neither death nor any powers/Will overcome His love for us." 'Arms of the Savior' is a gentle ballad that finds Elizabeth resting in the Lord: "There's a truth that is seldom known/That I'm in the center of what He's already done/So I'm waiting for what's yet to come.../I'm in the center of Your will/Of Your grace/It can't be erased/I'm in Your presence in this place/I see Your face/In the arms of the Savior."
'Fall to My Knees' is a song of gratitude, inspirational in sound: "Your love is greater than everything in life/The Maker and Healer on high/I will always love You/I will always praise You/Lord, in Your name I'll delight/You brought me from darkness to light/Your ways are perfect/Though I'm not deserving/You brought me to this place/Where You go before me/And lead me to the waters/Of Your unending grace." 'Do It Afraid' is a strong title track that builds in momentum. It doesn't hurt either that White Heart lead vocalist Rick Florian adds his talents to the track! The song speaks of the benefits of having a deep trust in the Lord: "When I am lost, when I am trembling/These steps of faith I will take/And when I obey in spite of my feelings/You'll do amazing things/When You open doors that I need to walk through/There's nothing impossible to do." Fittingly, the next cut is White Heart's classsic 'Desert Rose' from their terrific 1990 album POWERHOUSE. The version here is nicely performed by Elizabeth and even has White Heart bassist Anthony Sallee playing on it. The song admits that following the Lord and His will is not always a happy or easy task: "Lost in a windswept land/In a world of shifting sand/A fragile flower stands apart/And there in that barren ground/You feel like the only one/Trying to serve Him with all your heart.../Sometimes holiness/Can seem like emptiness/When you feel the whole world's laughing eyes/But if it's a lonely day/Know You're on the Father's way/He will hear You when You cry."
'Still' was co-written by South with George Cocchini. He has worked with the likes of Joe English and DC TALK. 'Still' is a soft sounding song of hopeful anticipation: "One day I'll stand on glassy sea/Kneeling down before the/Throne of God, I'll be set free." These words bring to mind Revelation 22:3 which says: "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him." 'Surrender' was penned solely by South and has her coming to the end of her own efforts: "Overcome the world says/Conquer everything/Don't give up/Fulfill your deepest needs/Surrendering is a dark and ugly word/In a world where we must self rely/I have been in control now for so long/I'm ready to surrender, to surrender all.../I am ready to surrender all/To surrender all to Christ."
In Philippians 2:9-11 Paul writes: "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 'Holy Holy Holy' written by Mark Swayze continues the theme of surrender and adds to it praise: "Here I bow in holy awe/I am Yours my life, my all/Here I am to hear You speak/You're my God/And You're my King/Holy, Holy, Holy/Is the Lord God Almighty/Who was and is and is to come (2X)."
A pretty instrumental version of 'I Will Trust You' follows. The album ends with the bonus track single 'Don't Give Up on Your Love'. It was programmed and mixed by Joel Wild and has George Cocchini on electric guitar. The song has been described as "pop/rock/electronic dance style." It could just as well have been released by Madonna or Kylie Minogue. It contains these words of determination: "You gotta take a stand/When the doors slam/Don't let anyone make you lose your ground/Don't give up/Don't give in/Find the freedom that love can give/Don't give up/Don't give in/Fan the flame of the fire within."
In the liner notes Elizabeth writes: "I feel blessed to have the opportunity to create another beautiful album that expresses my beliefs. So many people in this world deal with fears and doubts. It is my hope that this music will inspire faith, courage, perserverance and love." Most of the album finds Elizabeth in the musical vein of Twila Paris and traditional praise and worship music. Musicians that appear include John Catchings (cello), Billy and Brennan Smiley, Ken Lewis, and Scott Dente from Out of the Grey. The photographs of Elizabeth accompanied by a sunflower were taken by Ben Pearson and are absolutely beautiful. Elizabeth should be the next Bachelorette if she is available! I'm rating DO IT AFRAID 84%. For more info visit http://www.elizabethsouth.com/.
Sunday, June 03, 2012
'The Introduction' opens the album with a distorted vocal that presents a mission and a mandate to the listener: "You must find the Truth...Remember, not everything...is what it seems...If you don't stand for something...you might fall for anything." 'We Are' is an electric guitar driven rock song that has the band coming out swinging: "We are the ones, we are the guns/And we will run/We are the voice of a song unsung/We are the change, we are the chains that hold us/We are the choice, we are the strong/We are one/My heart is racin' just like a rocket/Victory looks like a distant dream/'Cause what we're fighting's not gonna stop it/But we can beat it, if we just believe." 'Light Up the Sky' continues the battle theme with these rapped lyrics: "Game time, rippin'/Mint condition/Lights out, stompin' all competition/My utmost to His highest/It gets no flyer/Oh, oh, we set the main frame on fire/Boom! Code red, feel the lead/From the pedal I pushed/To the metal, the dust never settles/F5 Level, kick up the bass, and the/Treble, 'cause faith, that's a rebel/I can show you the devil."
1 Peter 2:11 reads: "Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." 'The End is Where We Begin' is a great rock title track! It is the song of a Christian declaring their true identity: "I'm an alien, 'cause I'm not of this world/I have a name, but I've been changed/And now I can't stay the same...The end is where we begin/It's crawling back, when we run away, run away/'Cause the end is where we begin/Where broken hearts mend/And start to beat again." 'Let the Sparks Fly' features Trevor screaming along to a heavy rock beat. The song speaks of outreach: "Let me take you into the light/There's nowhere to hide/There's nothin' but darkness left here/Shake it off and let's take a ride/'Cause heaven's not far away/And I'm not gonna leave you here." 'I Get Wicked' has the band still rocking hard with heavy guitars, bass, and drums. The message is one of having a very strong faith: "My faith's my life...I am not afraid of this mountain in my way/You can push me to my knees, I believe/And I am now awake, uncontrolled, and unashamed/When it rushes over me, I feel free/Go!" The song draws on Mark 11:23: "I tell you the truth if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him."
'Be Somebody' is a thoughtful ballad of praise: "And You create in me/Somethin' I would have never seen/When I could only see the floor/You made my window a door/So when they say they don't believe/I hope that they see You in me/After all the lights go down/I'm just the words, You are the Sound/A strange type of chemistry/How You've become a part of me/And when I sit alone at night/Your thoughts burn through me/Like a fire You're the only One/Who knows who I really am." 'This is a Warning' is a short instrumental with a dark feel to it. 'Courtesy Call' has the band going another round in spiritual warfare with the devil: "There's a rumble in the floor/So get prepared for war/When it hits it'll/Knock you to the ground/While it shakes up everything around/But survival is a must/So will you stand with us?/Can you feel it?/Make it real and/Make me feel it." 'War of Change' is a very creative song musically, has a catchy chorus, and is a song that tells of spiritual growth birthed via inner struggle: "There's a war goin' on inside of me tonight/Don't be afraid (2X)/Wait, it's just about to break/It's more than I can take/Everything's about to/Change, I feel it in my veins/It's not goin' away/Everything's about to change (2X)."
In Matthew 5:13a Jesus says: "You are the salt of the earth..." 'Down' is an urgent rap/rock number. It is also the song of a man on a mission: "People used to tell me that I'm on my own/They said I'd never make a difference on this microphone/'Cause there's a million other people who could/Sing this song/I said 'Well thanks for the push 'cause you all were wrong'/Let's go/You wanna try to take me under?/I'll never bow till I'm six feet under/Listen to the sound of rolling thunder/You can't break me/You'll never take me down." 'All I Need to Know' is a pretty tune that has Trevor using his falsetto some. The song reminds us that God is faithful to draw near to us just when we need Him to: "There's a moment in the morning/When I feel the most alone/But then I hear Your voice/Whisperin' my name/It's like a wave of understanding/And I never could have planned it/Where the questions and doubts all fade away." 'Fly on the Wall' has a good chorus but is not as good a song as Miley Cyrus' of the same name. It speaks of overcoming the devil and becoming who we were created to be: "I don't think I need you anymore/Take your words and your lies, and just beat it/I don't think I need you anymore/Take the hurt and the pain, I don't need it/I wanna live, I wanna be the change/We can all be kings and queens/If we could just learn to believe (2X)."
Matthew 5:6 says: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." 'So Far Gone' conveys a desire for deep intimacy with God: "I want to be so far gone in You/So far nothing else will ever do/I want to be so far gone/In You, In You." 'Outroduction' ends the album the way it started, with a distorted vocal. We are left with these words of advice for our journey: "Choose your decisions wisely/Change starts with us/Remember if you don't stand for something/You might fall for anything."
THE END IS WHERE WE BEGIN is a dandy follow up to 2009's WELCOME TO THE MASQUERADE. Krutch continues their full on rock assault while sharing a positive, encouraging message. Fans of Skillet should enjoy this album. In the liner notes Trevor McNevan thanks: "My God, Who is my refuge and strength. Without You, there's nothing." Joel Bruyere (bass) thanks: "God who radiates grace, patience, love, peace, and pure understanding. I am in awe every minute of every day." Steve Augustine (drums and percussion) thanks: "God, thank You for all Your promises, for blessing me with a wonderful family, and incredible group of friends." I'm rating THE END IS WHERE WE BEGIN 90%. For more info visit http://www.thousandfootkrutch.com/.