Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Patricia Lynn ‘Trisha’ Yearwood was born on September 19, 1964.  She is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2000.  She put out her self-titled debut album in 1991, which spawned her first No 1 song ‘She’s in Love with the Boy’.  REAL LIVE WOMAN (2000, MCA Nashville) was her eighth album.  It reached No 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart.  It followed her second divorce, in 1999.  Trisha: “This is the album I have always wanted to make”.  It was produced by Trisha and Garth Fundis.  In the CD booklet she includes Zephaniah 3:17, which if you look it up, reads: “The Lord your God in your midst/The Mighty One, will save/He will rejoice over you with gladness/He will quiet you with His love/He will rejoice over you with singing”.

‘Where are you Now’ written by Kim Richey and Mary Chapin Carpenter starts things off.  It uses bouzouki, lap steel, and B-3 organ.  It is about lost love: “You used to soothe me/You used to swear with/Heart crossed conviction/That you’d be there/Where are you now?/Well, I’m good, one of a kind/But I would rather be two.../Weren’t we something back then/Thick as thieves/Who would have ever thought that/You and me/Would let forever come to/Used to be?”  Musically, ‘One Love’ sounds like it could be a Bonnie Raitt song.  It uses religious language to describe a human love relationship: “You came to me like a revelation/In your arms I found salvation/One love took me to the mountaintop/Showed me a world I’d never seen/One love took me down to the riverside/Opened my heart and washed me clean/Nothin’ less than a miracle/Sent from Heaven above/One love”.

Next up is Bruce Springsteen’s 1998 composition ‘Sad Eyes’.  It is a soft ballad with Jackson Browne on harmony vocals.  It finds Trisha patiently waiting for her lover to return to her: “Every day here you come walkin’/I hold my tongue/I don’t do much talkin’/You say you’re happy and you’re doin’ fine/Well, go on baby/I got plenty of time/Cause sad eyes never lie/Sad eyes never lie../You show up and then you shy away/But I know pretty soon you’ll be/Walkin’ this way/Cause sad eyes never lie/Sad eyes never lie”.  ‘Some Days’ is a quiet country tune that finds Trisha fighting depression: “And even tomorrow is tinged with sorrow/When one fool longs for another/This can’t last forever, just like the weather/Some days are better than others/If you see dark skies in my sad eyes/It just means that I can’t find no cover/These ghosts that haunt me/Take me when they want me/And some days are better than others/Some days are better than others”.

‘I Did’ includes harmony vocals by Stephanie Bentley.  This song speaks of the ups and downs of love: “I took my chances/Laid my heart open wide/I felt the rush/I lost my head/I learned to laugh/Oh, but then I learned to cry, I did”.  ‘Try me Again’ was penned by Linda Ronstadt and Andrew Gold in 1976.  Trisha’s version includes great electric guitar work by Kenny Vaughan.  This is the song of one desiring a second chance in love: “Well, I drove past your house last night/And I looked in your window/Lately I ain’t been feelin’ right/And I don’t know the cure, no/Still I can’t keep from wonderin’/If I still figure in your life/Could you take me back and try me, try me again?/Could you try me again?”

‘Too Bad You’re No Good’ finds Emmylou Harris on harmony vocals and uses acoustic slide guitar, piano, fiddle, and mandolin.  It is the only upbeat song musically on the album and is a catchy country one about a woman hopelessly drawn to a bad boy: “Call the preacher, call the police/With a man like you, it’s famine or feast/You made me love you so bad (3X)/Too bad you’re no good/Well, I talked to your mother/She knows I tried/I talked to your brother/He was on my side/But the hardest thing to comprehend/If I had it to do over/I’d do it again”.  The title track, ‘Real Live Woman’, was written by Bobbie Cryner and is a terrific country ballad.  It hit No 16 on the Billboard Country Music charts, and takes a shot at the media’s idea of beauty: “I don’t need to be nineteen years old/Or starve myself for some weight I’m told/Will turn men’s heads, been down that road/And I thank God I finally know just who I am.../I’m a real live woman/In love with this man I see lying here next to me/Lost in the way that he’s holdin’/This real live woman/In the arms of a man where I’ll fall asleep knowing/There’s nothing on earth he loves/More than this real live woman”.

‘I’m Still Alive’ makes the point that there is life after love: “Since I let you go/Well, what do ya know/Guess I fooled everybody/Said I’d love you till the day that I die/Even if you didn’t love me/Sorry baby, I guess I lied/You’re gone and I’m still alive/Oh yeah”.  ‘Wild For You Baby’ uses strings arranged and conducted by David Campbell.  It finds Trisha love sick: “Nights I can’t sleep, my tears are cheap/I’m losin’ hold of my senses/And I can’t contain all of this pain/And it’s makin’ me wild for you baby/I’m down on my knees/Hear me cry for you baby/Cold misery/I would die for you baby/I pray you will see/These tears I cry”.

‘Come Back when it ain’t Rainin’’ is a mid-tempo country song that finds Trisha being frank with a man who pops in and out of her life: “Can’t believe the way I let you use me/Can’t believe all the wasted time/For a while baby you confused me/When you said I was your sunshine/But I’m just someone to call/When you need a place to fall/Baby, come back when it ain’t raining/Come back when your skies are blue”.  The album ends with the Matraca Berg/Ronnie Samoset song ‘When a love song Sings the Blues’.  Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick, both familiar names to Contemporary Christian music fans, are on harmony vocals.  This is an intimate, sad song: “I see my reflection on the black keys/Where the tears fell from my eyes/I wanna play out every memory/Every last goodbye/Till the whole world cries/So make it sad, so sad/Like ‘Faded Love’ or ‘Born to Lose’/Cause it’s sad when a love song sings the blues/And I don’t want to cry alone”.

Trisha Yearwood has one of those voices you could listen to sing the phone book.  REAL LIVE WOMAN is a very mellow, contemplative, introspective, album of country music.  It is a mature album with true emotions born out of her life experiences.  Greg Morrow of DeGarmo and Key plays drums on ten of the twelve songs.  The best way to enjoy this record is to turn your lights down, sit in a rocker, and sip on a cold one.  I’m rating it 90%.  For more info visit:


Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Peter Furler was born in McLaren Vale, South Australia, the third of six kids of missionaries.  He is best known for his time as lead singer and drummer of The Newsboys.  His last album with them was 2009’s IN THE HANDS OF GOD.  He put out a great solo CD in 2011 called ON FIRE.  His latest venture is the Peter Furler Band.  Joining Peter are drummer Jeff Irizarry and guitarist Dave Ghazarian.  The latter has played guitar for Church of Rhythm, Rebecca St. James, Superchick, and Audio Adrenaline, as well as releasing some jazz recordings.  The debut project from Peter Furler Band is SUN AND SHIELD (2014).

The title track was written by Peter Furler, Steve Taylor, John Mark Painter, and Jimmy Abegg.  It is a decidedly Christian pop song that points to God as our sure aid: “The future’s an open window/Set in cornerstone/Wash off the ash/Raise up the banner/This your true home/I lift up my eyes/Turn to the sun/This is where my help’s coming from/In the heights or the battle/My sun, my shield”.  ‘So High’ is a Christian dance song that declares God’s goodness: “You set my feet on a rock/You make my footsteps firm/You lift my spirit high/So high/The songs You bring to life/Forever testify/I want to lift You high/So high”.

‘Dare I Say’ falls more into the rock music category and addresses the devil: “I know there’s a target on my back/And you’re ready to attack/But there’s something that you lack/You’re gonna miss me/I know you got nothing up your sleeve/So go back to where you came/It don’t matter where you aim/You’re gonna miss me/Dare I say/All your tunes have a hollow ring/Dare I say/You can’t sell ‘em/If the bird don’t sing”.  ‘Shame’ uniquely addresses something many people struggle with: “I’ve kept my friends close/But you’re still the closer/You took all my faith/Took my name/This is my last ditch attempt to escape you/Cause I’ve dug up nothing but/Shame/After everyone’s long gone/Shame/You stay/Oh shame/You’re still holding my hand/But shame, you stain”.

‘Yeshua’ was penned by Peter and his lovely wife Summer.  It features her father, Christian music legend Mylon Le Fevre, which is a real treat!  This song of reverence begins quietly but builds: “We worship You in spirit and in truth/For all You’ve done/And all You’ll do/We worship You with gratitude/For all You’ve done/And all You’ll do/Holy, holy, holy/Yeshua/Holy, holy, holy”.  ‘The Overcomer’ is a passionate modern rock song of great optimism: “It’ll all be made new/As we glorify You/And we’ll sing as one/You have overcome/In this world we know the labor pain is not in vain/So take heart, don’t be afraid/This world’s gonna be reborn/Sunday’s coming, we’re getting warm/Here between heaven and the perfect storm/You are the overcomer”.

‘It’s Alright (For Lazarus)’ is a ballad that finds Jesus speaking to his dear New Testament friend: “It’s alright/You can open your eyes now/And through the shroud/Hear My Voice/Over the crowd/This is not for you/But if you knew/All it will signify/You’d know why/I cry, I cry/And when it’s time to leave again/You’ll be more than ready to/Cause this time when you leave, my friend/I’ll be there to welcome you”.  ‘Right Wrong Girl’ is a love song with unique lyrics: “She cannot be pressured/Her favors aren’t curried/She’ll hold out for better/And will not be hurried/She’s the right wrong girl/How I love her/She’s like no other/Like no girl ever/How’d I get her?/.../I’m in love with the girl/My Georgia girl/My right wrong girl”.

‘The High Road’ is a light pop song that portrays life as a journey we all take: “Pack light for the pilgrim way/Good shoes, the right canteen/Any extra bag will drag you down/Some run by on a victory lap/Some get lost and curse the map/Some give up and circle back around/When the high road calls out/To the crippled and the blind/If you seek with all your heart/You will find”.  The last song, ‘We Won’t Forget’, reflects quietly with gratitude on Jesus’ sacrifice for us: “We won’t forget (2X)/We will remember the price that you paid/We won’t forget (2X)/With no regret, with no regret/You gave Your life as a sacrifice/We won’t forget, we won’t forget/Though we grieve, we won’t despair/We’re still breathing freedom’s air”.

It is nice to hear Peter Furler’s voice on some new Contemporary Christian songs.  His voice is still in fine form.  Unfortunately though, the album suffers from some pacing problems, and honestly only a few of the songs really stand out as above average.  This album is not as strong and catchy as Furler’s work with the Newsboys.  The album is on the short side, clocking in at 34 minutes and 8 seconds.  Perhaps this album will grow on me.  I’m rating it 83%.  For more info visit:



Friday, April 25, 2014


Third Day formed in Marietta, Georgia and put out their self-titled debut in 1996.  MOVE (2010, Essential Records) is their 10th studio album.  It sold 37, 000 copies the first week of release and debuted at No 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart.  Also, it won a Dove Award for Recorded Music Packaging of the Year.  MOVE was produced by Paul Moak, while Terry Hemmings was the executive producer.  On this album, Third Day is a foursome: Tai Anderson (bass), David Carr (drums), Mark Lee (guitars), and Mac Powell (vocals).  Additional musicians used are: Scotty Wilbanks (piano, B3, Clavinet), Paul Moak, and Will Sayles.  At the time of this record, Third Day supported World Vision, Habitat For Humanity, The One Campaign, and Not For Sale.

The album’s first single starts things off.  ‘Lift Up Your Face’ is a very strong adult rock number with the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama on backing vocals.  It offers hope to all: “Lift up your face, lift up your face/Salvation is calling, salvation is calling/You have fallen so far now/You don’t even know how you are going to survive/But just over the horizon, a new light is shining/Breaking through the darkest night/Love is coming and it’s calling out your name”.  ‘Make Your Move’ is a groovy rocker with some vocal distortion.  It has a non-believer seeking truth: “And if you care to share a minute of your time with me/Tell me now because I’m hoping that I can believe/Give me a reason to trust what you’re telling me/Lord knows I need it now, won’t you show me how?/.../I’m looking around here for some kind of miracle/I’m looking around here for some kind of sign/I gotta believe there’s a rhyme and a reason/For the faith that you find”.

‘Children of God’ is the album’s second single.  It is a nice inspirational song that uses strings and New Hope Academy Children’s Choir.  It declares who we are in Christ: “Great is the love that the Father has given us/He has delivered us/He has delivered us.../We are the saints, we are the children/We’ve been redeemed/We’ve been forgiven/We are the sons and daughters of our God”.  ‘Surrender’ is a wonderful bluesy number that encourages us to give our lives to God: “When the day began and you opened up your eyes/No, you didn’t recognize what you were seeing/Then it all came back, you remembered where you’ve been/Well, it never seems to end and you’re still running/Will you ever change your mind?/You’re almost out of time/You better give up, gotta stop running/It’s the end of the line/It’s time to surrender”. 

‘Trust in Jesus’ begins with these sobering words: “One of these days we all will stand in judgment for/Every single word that we have spoken/One of these days we all will stand before the Lord/Give a reason for everything we’ve done”.  ‘Follow Me There’ is the song of one wanting to point the way to Jesus: “You need a place to be your sanctuary/Follow me there, come on, follow me there/Where you can lay down all those burdens you carry/Follow me there, come on, follow me there.../Where the lost can find salvation/And the lonely finds a friend/Where the sinner finds forgiveness/Won’t you follow me there? (2X)”

‘Gone’ is a good Southern rock song with Bear Rinehart of Needtobreathe on backing vocals.  The song includes these powerful words: “And don’t forget me/Long after I’m gone and I’m just a memory/I hope you can recall what I was saying/Was nothing but the truth”.  ‘What Have You Got to Lose’ is a soothing ballad that offers us a divine exchange: “Sin and shame, guilt and pain/Pride and your conceit/Here and now, lay them down/At the Savior’s feet/What have you got to lose (2X)/And tell me why you’re so afraid/What have you got to lose (2X)/Think of all you have to gain”.


‘I’ll Be Your Miracle’ is a country rock song that speaks of the value of true friendship: “When you’re down and you’re falling fast/And you feel like your hope won’t last/You know that I’ll be your miracle/And when you find that your faith is gone/You’re not sure if you can carry on/You know that I’ll be your miracle”.  ‘Everywhere You Go’ contains these words worthy of starting our day out with: “Everywhere You go, I wanna go/Will You take me with You?/Everywhere You lead/I wanna be by Your side/Everyone You love/I wanna love just like You love me/Everywhere You go/I wanna go there with You, yeah”.


‘Sound of Your Voice’ is a pleasant adult contemporary song with Kerrie Roberts on backing vocals.  This is the song of one who wants to be in step with the Spirit: “Lord, I am calling Your Name/And I’m waiting for You/Yes, I’m waiting for You/So won’t You show me Your ways/And I will follow You/Yes, I will follow You”.  ‘Don’t Give Up Hope’ is the terrific, rousing album closer.  It is a song of encouragement: “Your life is spinning like a rocket/That’s gone out of control and you let go/You’re slowly losing your confidence/Your wounded soul, well, I hope you know/I can help you find your way, yeah/Don’t give up faith, don’t give up hope/There’s always something better/Waiting around the corner”.


Of all the Christian rock bands out there, listening to Third Day’s catalogue of work, I think they have readily taken the torch from Petra.  They know how to rock ‘n’ roll, know how to execute a moving ballad, and have lyrics that point to Christ as our Hope.  Their songs have passion and maturity.  They are a band that parents and their kids can both listen to and enjoy.  They are becoming one of my favorite bands!  I’m rating MOVE 95%.  For more info visit: and




Thursday, April 24, 2014



In 1968, just two months after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, and only weeks after RFK was shot, The Beach Boys released their fourteenth studio album FRIENDS on Capitol Records.  It only reached No 126 on the US chart and only stayed on the chart for ten weeks.  At one time though, Brian Wilson said it was his favorite Beach Boys record.  Brian: “The song writing cycle for the FRIENDS album project came quickly to me.  I was, by then, an experienced song writer and I knew what each basic key meant to me.   By this time I had a good thing rollin’ in my head...The album took shape mostly in my studio in one room in my Bel Air mansion”.

FRIENDS opens with ‘Meant For You’ with Mike Love on lead.  It is a mellow song of reflection: “As I sit and close my eyes/There’s peace in my mind/And I’m hoping that you’ll find it too/And these feelings in my heart/I know are meant for you”.  The title track hit No 47 on the charts.  It is a waltz that has been used at the Berklee College of Music for teaching purposes.  It is also a pretty pop song about friendship and uses harmonica: “We’ve been friends now for so many years/We’ve been together through the good times and the tears/Turned each other on to the good things that life has to give/We drift apart for a little bit of a spell/One night I get a call and I know that you’re well/And days I was down, you would help me get out of my hole/Ohh/Let’s be friends (3X)”.

‘Wake The World’ was penned by Brian Wilson and Al Jardine and uses the tuba.  It is a cheerful, optimistic song: “One by one the stars appear/The light of day is no longer here/One by one the stars disappear/The sky grows brighter every minute of the sunrise/Wake the world with a brand new morning/Say hello to another fine morning/Got my face in the running water/Making my life so much brighter”.  ‘Be Here in the Morning’ uses the glockenspiel and is a song of longing: “It’s been such a long day so you better hurry home/Lit all my incense and I wish you were home/Only five minutes and you walk through my door/Be here in the morning/Be here in the evening/Be here and make my life full”.

By 1968 all six of The Beach Boys were married and five had or were having kids.  ‘When a Man Needs a Woman’ finds Brian Wilson on lead and is a great light pop song even if the lyrics are silly: “When a man needs a woman/They make things like you, my son/A man needs a woman/Like a woman needs a man/When the two get together, oh, oh, oh/Pretty soon we’ll be a family of three/Then it’s not gonna be just you and me/We’ll share all the goodies/With the one we bring in the world”.  ‘Passing By’ is a nice musical interlude that includes an organ and bass harmonica.

’Anna Lee, The Healer’ is a melodic, easy listening tune.  It is a tribute to a masseuse: “Anna Lee, Anna Lee, the healer/Healer with the healing hands/Makes you well as quick as she can/You’d love to see those smiling eyes of Anna Lee/From the Himalayan mountain side/Of the nishigesh/To a California beach house/Facing towards the sea/Goes a gal who got her fame/By going round healing folks”.  Dennis Wilson co-wrote ‘Little Bird’.  He and Brian share the lead on this track that uses a muted trumpet.  It contains these lyrics dealing with nature: “Tree in my own backyard/Stands all alone/Bears fruit for me/And it tastes so good/Where’s my pretty bird?/He must have flown away/If I keep singing/He’ll come back someday/Dawn, bird’s still gone/Guess I’ll go mow the lawn/What a day, what a day/Oooo, what a beautiful day this is”.

‘Be Still’ is a quiet song with Dennis on the lead with Carl.  This one has hippie-like lyrics: “Now is the time life begins/Take that simple path/And love will set you free/Live in harmony/And love will set you free, oh/You know, you know you are/Be still and know you are/You know, you know you are/Be still and know you are”.  ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin’’ is an ambitious track with a bossa nova beat.  It is about a day in the life of Brian Wilson in 1968 and includes these humorous lyrics: “I wrote a number down, but I lost it/So I searched through my pocket book/I couldn’t find it/So I sat and concentrated on the number/And slowly it came to me/So I dialed it/And I let it ring a few times/There was no answer/So I let it ring a little more/Still no answer/So I hung up the telephone/Got some paper and sharpened up a pencil/And wrote a letter to my friend”.

‘Diamond Head’ is about a Hawaiian landmark.  It doesn’t use any words, but includes lots of interesting sounds.  In late 1967 The Beach Boys met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and learned how to meditate.  By the Spring of 1968 they toured together.  The tour cost the group several hundred thousand dollars.  As a Christian I only support Biblical meditation, but this funky rock song called ‘Transcendental Meditation’ includes these words: “Transcendental Meditation/Can emancipate the man/And get you feeling grand/Fusion of/The never changing wind/The ever changing wind/The never changing world/It’s good”.

FRIENDS is a vast improvement over 1967’s WILD HONEY.  It is creative, artistic, and innovative.  It sounds like a Beach Boys record with some harmonies.  This sounds like a group full of maturity and with a desire to make meaningful music for their audience.  I’m rating FRIENDS 90%.

In 1969 The Beach Boys released 20/20.  This album fulfilled their contract with Capitol Records.  David Leaf writes: “The title 20/20 refers to both the eye chart Brian’s hiding behind on the inside of the gatefold cover and the fact that this was the Beach Boys 20th album (in less than seven years) for Capitol”.  It sold better than FRIENDS, hitting No 68 on the US chart.  Brian Wilson: “The key word for this album is-refinement.  I was still growin’ musically and we as a group wanted to sound more subtle and tighter.  I felt strongly about making an album that would also appeal to older audiences as well”.

The album beings with ‘Do It Again’, with Mike Love on lead.  It hit No 20, making it the group’s 17th Top 20 hit of the 1960’s.  It has the classic Beach Boys sound complete with harmonies and a danceable beat.  It finds the guys reminiscing about the good times: “It’s automatic when I talk with old friends/The conversation turns to girls we knew/When their hair was soft and long/And the beach was the place to go/With sun tanned bodies and the waves of sunshine/The California girls and a beautiful coastline/And warmed up weather/Let’s get together and do it again”.  Next up is a cover of The Ronettes’ ‘I Can Hear Music’.  The Beach Boys version finds Carl Wilson on lead.  He produced it and it went to No 24.  This great pop song uses sleighbells.  These words may make some listeners blush: “I never had a love of my own/Maybe that’s why when we’re all alone/I can hear music/I can hear music/The sound of the city baby, seems to disappear/I can hear music/Sweet, sweet music/Whenever you touch me baby/Whenever you’re near”.

This is followed by Ersel Hickey’s ‘Bluebirds Over The Mountain’.  Ed Carter plays lead guitar.  This is a pulsating song of longing that also uses horns and strings: “Oh everyone in every land/Please give me a helping hand/If you see her all alone/Oh, tell my baby/’Won’t you please come home?’/Bluebirds over the mountain/Seagulls over the sea-ea-ea/Bluebirds over the mountain/Bring my baby to me”.  Dennis Wilson wrote and sings lead on ‘Be With Me’.  It finds him desiring closeness with a gal: “Go walking round at night/The wind’s really blowing/It’s too cold to talk/I wonder if she’s knowing/She should be with me/It could set her free/Come with me/Be with me/A part of me”.

‘All I Want to Do’ is an energetic rock ‘n’ roll song written and produced by Dennis, but Mike Love sings it.  These words would be fine if in the context of matrimony: “Well, I don’t care where you wanna go/Just so you go with me/And I don’t care what you want to do/But make sure you do it with me/All I wanna do with you/Well, I just wanna make some love to you”.  ‘The Nearest Faraway Place’ is a lovely, meditative instrumental composed, performed, and produced by group member Bruce Johnston.  Its title is from an article by Shana Alexander in LIFE magazine.

Carrying on, ‘Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song)’ is a cover of a folk classic by Huddie (Leadbelly) Ledbetter.  Al Jardine takes the lead. Here are some of the words: “Don’t care if them cotton balls get rotten/When I got you baby, who needs cotton/In them old cotton fields back home/Brother only one thing more that’s gonna warm you/A summer’s day out in California/It’s gonna be the cotton fields back home”.  ‘I Went to Sleep’ has a barbershop feel to it vocally.  It is a song about dozing off peacefully: “Ten thirty, I turned my radio on/Some group was playing a musical song/It wasn’t too long and I went to sleep/Again at the park on a nice summer day/High up above me the trees gently sway/A bird flew away and I went to sleep”.

‘Time to Get Alone’ was originally produced by Brian for Redwood who later became Three Dog Night.  The song is one of romance and The Beach Boys version uses harpsichord and strings: ”The pine scented air/Smells so good in the snow/In our toboggan we’ll go/Screaming down the mountain side/The touch of your cheeks/When they’re rosy and cold/Feels so cozy to hold/Just to take you close and make you warm/It’s time to get alone/To get alone/And just be together/We’ll only be together”.  Believe it or not, Dennis’ ‘Never Learn Not to Love’ was originally a Charles Manson composition called ‘Cease to Exist’!  Dennis’ decent light rock reworking of it, includes these words: “Cease to resist, come on say you love me/Give up your world, come on and be with me.../Submission is a gift, give it to your lover/Love and understanding is for one another/I’m your kind, I’m your kind, and I see”.

‘Our Prayer’ was originally recorded in October of 1966 for SMILE which was shelved.  The Beach Boys recorded additional vocals for the song in the Fall of 1968.  The song has no words, but features the group harmonizing acappella style.  The album ends with the Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks composition ‘Cabinessence’ which was also meant for SMILE.  It is an experimental number that includes these far out lyrics: “Have you seen the grand coolie workin’ on the railroad?/Workin’ on the railroad?/Workin’ on the railroad?/Over and over/The crow cries, uncover the cornfield/Over and over/The thresher and hover the wheat field”.

20/20 is a strong album that still sounds good after all these years.  Here we have a group with lots of energy, fine vocals, and effective instrumentation.  We have a group full of promise, even after all their earlier hits about surfing and cars.  I’m rating 20/20 87%. 

The 2001 double album re-release of FRIENDS and 20/20 on one CD includes five bonus tracks you will want to check out.  The Beach Boys would sign with Warner Brothers in 1970 starting a new chapter in the group’s history.  For more info visit:



Wednesday, April 23, 2014


John Elefante was born on March 18, 1958 in Levittown, New York, but his family soon moved to Long Beach, California.  He sang lead vocals, played keyboards, and wrote songs on three albums by the mainstream rock group Kansas.  Those albums were released between 1982 and 1984.  John put out four Christian rock albums with his brother Dino under the name Mastedon from 1989 to 2010.  John and Dino also produced albums for the likes of Petra, X-Sinner, Barren Cross, and Greg Long.  In 1993 the Elefante’s founded The Sound Kitchen in Franklin, TN.  That recording studio has been used by The Boss, Amy Grant, Brad Paisley, and several others.  ON MY WAY TO THE SUN (2013, Kingheir Music) is John Elefante’s fourth solo disc.  It was self-produced.  John: “Lyrically, I have more inside of me that I need to say, more I need to express and convey than ever before”.

The album begins with ‘This is How the Story Goes’ featuring Kansas members Rich Williams on guitar and David Ragsdale on violin.  Brian Dollar and Rusty Posey are on backing vocals.  This lengthy, well-executed, experimental rock number, directly addresses the listener: “And this is how the story goes, you must believe it all my friend/From the beginning to the end, cause everyone lives forever/We just have to choose where, my friend/Cause the virgin had a Son, and the stone was rolled way/So how can we be terminal?/Because He lives today”.  ‘Where Have the Old Days Gone’ is an electric guitar driven rocker.  Those from the older generation will be able to relate to these lyrics: “I remember me and my friends playing in the schoolyard/Playing silly games making up the rules/Then I would walk home all by myself/Cause back then we didn’t worry ‘bout no strangers/I would get to my house, there were no locked doors/Never worried about freaks or predators hanging around/We fought with our fists, nobody pulled a gun/Just get a bloody nose and take off and run/But nowadays everything has changed, violence everywhere/A state of disrepair”.

‘On My Way to the Sun’ finds John concluding that he needs the Lord, on this melodic chorus: “Then if I’m alright, but everything’s wrong/Then why can’t I seem to find my way home/The fields have all dried up, so desperate for rain/No wonder why the harvest never came/A knock on my door, this time I’m answering/I’ve waited too long to put a crown on my King/This time, it’s everything/On my way to the sun”.  ‘All I Have to Do’ is a great adult rock song.  Again, it ultimately points to Jesus: “There’s a feeling in the air, so many signs of your arrival/And some will call us fools as they invest their time in idols/It’s coming through/The seasons are changing, but the battle is far from over, and what is true/It’s so much harder to see, living in the new reality/And I could no longer see it, it’s out of my range/Though it’s my own skin, I feel so strange/A Savior is waiting/He’s not only mine/He wants me to embrace you so/Let Him shine”.

‘The Awakening’ is a cry for unity in the Body of Christ: “Angelic voices fill the air/It’s a joyful occasion to bring to the nations/This truth that must be shared/A time for repentance and a time to show reverence to the One who can take you there/.../Why did it take so long to come together as one/And lift our hands unto the Lamb of God?”  ‘Half the Way Home’ is a strong song that makes good use of backing vocals.  It reflects on the nature of time: “Every second means much more than the one I lived before/Time is much more precious than gold/Take His hand, let Him take hold/Leave your mistakes on the table, cause the table will be cleaned/Like a long forgotten dream/Celebrate the moment, it will never come again/Make the best of every moment, until the time that we ascend/I’m finally at peace with myself/I’m on my way to the Son/I can slow down, there’s no reason to run/I’m half the way home”.

‘We All Fall Short’ has an acoustic feel which is refreshing, and uses strings.  It points to God as a refuge: “We don’t have to sit ashore and watch the ocean/We have the power, we can overcome the waves/We don’t have to fear and always run for cover/We have a love like no other/But we all fall short of the Glory of the Lord/And if we stand on the fence, it’s not a life we can afford/No better place to be than underneath His wings/And the love we crave is the love that He brings/A far greater love than anything we can conceive”.  ‘Don’t Hide Away’ is a contagious song that is evangelical in nature: “Hide away, hide away, don’t hide away, let the light turn on/Shine down so the world will see, hide away/Don’t hide away/Let your light turn on/Let everyone see that we are strong/Don’t hide away”. 

‘This Time’ is a powerful ballad that builds in intensity.  It tells the story of a young teen at an abortion clinic where God intervenes: “Right then the Lord began to speak, you’re not taking this one, she’s Mine/She’ll grow up to seek My Name/You’re not taking her this time/I decided before time began/Her name is written in the Book/They didn’t have the power to take her life/They’re not taking her she’s Mine/And you’re not taking her this time/No, you’re not taking her/THIS TIME”.  John’s adopted daughter, Sami, was rescued from abortion!  He has partnered with Online For Life.  The album closes with ‘Confess’.  It contains these simple, yet powerful words: “Praise Him and fall to your knees/And confess with your lips/That Jesus is Lord/And He’ll be faithful to forgive you of your sin/Just confess, oh, that Jesus is Lord”.

The vocals and instrumentation on ON MY WAY TO THE SUN are definitely mostly in the classic rock vein.  Fans of Foreigner, Journey, Petra, Kansas, and later Whiteheart, will love it!  John Elefante rocks out with a purpose and a clear Christian message.  I would say this is a very artistic, memorable album with great depth.  I’m rating it 93%.  For more info visit:


Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Elizabeth Asher Bannister was born on September 12, 1982 in Nashville, TN.  She has a Master’s degree in Education and taught middle and high school English.  For several years she toured as part of her husband’s band, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors.  Ellie’s two solo EP’s, MAGNOLIA (2011) and WITH YOU NOW (2013) both hit No 1 on the iTunes Christian/Gospel charts.  Ellie Holcomb “loves the way that lyrics and melody have helped pave the way for conversations with people who’ve often walked through similar life struggles”.  Ellie’s first full length album is AS SURE AS THE SUN (2014, Full Heart Music).

The title track is a soft, piano-based ballad that begins with these marvelous words: “There is good news, there is great truth/That you could never change, no matter what you do/You are loved more than you know/More than you could hope for, after everything you’ve done/As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night/His mercy will not end/His mercy will not end”.  ‘Marvelous Light’ was penned by Ellie and Rusty Varenkamp.  This one has somewhat of a Celtic feel to it and includes these words of testimony: “So I walked out of the darkness and into the light/From fear of shame into the hope of life/Mercy called my name and made a way to fly/Out of the darkness and into the light”.

‘The Broken Beautiful’ penned by Ellie and Matt Armstrong has a playful pop beat and makes these requests of the Lord: “Would You remind me now of Who You are/That Your love will never change, that there’s healing in Your Name/And that You can take broken things and make them beautiful/You took my shame and you walked out of the grave/So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful/And make them beautiful”.  ‘My Portion and My Strength’ asks a couple of great questions of God: “Your voice calmed the wind and the sea/But can You calm these storms inside of me?/.../Your voice gave the blind the gift of sight/But can You take my darkness and turn it into light?”

‘Night Song’ was written by Ellie, Christa Wells, and Nicole Witt.  This nice adult pop song cries out to God for help: “All these lies that are owning me/All this fear makes it hard to breathe/Will You be, be my night song?/The truth that sings into my darkness/The melody of love that leads me on/The voice that comforts all of my sadness/Oh, even when the suffering is long, be my night song”.  ‘Love Never Fails’ has a bouncy beat and the vocals are delivered with soul.  The song contains these observations: “Love doesn’t strut, it is not proud/Love will make sure to be seeking others out/Love doesn’t try to keep the score/It sides with forgiveness”.

‘Love Broke Through’ has a modern worship feel to it.  It extols the Lord Jesus Christ: “You gave us hope when hope was lost/You came and died upon a cross/So we could know that we are not alone/God with us, God with us/He will never let us go/Your love has called me out, out of my sorrow, out of my broken places/Hope has been renewed/Cause there on the cross/Yeah, there on the cross/Your love broke through”.  ‘Only Hope I’ve Got’ has a great message we all can benefit from: “I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story/Or let myself believe I’m You/I don’t want to be a thief who’s stealing Your glory/Will You help remind me of what is true?/The only hope I’ve got/It’s You, You/It’s You, You”.  Ellie wrote the next song ‘The Valley’ for several of her friends battling depression. Here are some of the lyrics: “I don’t want to face this valley/I don’t want to walk alone/You say that You’ll leave to find me/Well, I am begging You now to come/Don’t think I can face this morning/A heaviness is on my chest/You say that You’ll lift this burden/Well, I am begging You to bring me rest”.

‘Songs of Deliverance’ is an Ellie Holcomb/Jillian Edwards composition.  This tender folk song speaks of God’s ability to rescue us: “There in my weakest hour You offered grace/You gave me love unfailing/So in my heart I’ll raise a banner high/Remember how You saved me/I know You’ll answer me, You’ll hear my cries (4X)/Answer me, You’ll give me love unfailing”.  Ellie wrote the album closer “I Want to be Free’ alone.  On it, her voice and instrumentation have an old country flare.  She boldly asks the Lord for emotional deliverance: “Roll away this stone, roll away this sorrow/And take away this pain that I’ve been holding on to/Cuz I want to be like the birds all singing in the trees/Oh Lord, I want to be free”.

Ellie says: “I love sitting in God’s Word and letting music come out”.  AS SURE AS THE SUN comes across as a very personal album performed with a lot of emotion.  This is a good album to use for spiritual reflection and contemplation.  Ellie has a wonderful voice and also has abundant talent to go places.  Fans of Francesca Batistelli, Faith Grace, and Colbie Caillat should buy this one.  I’m rating it 87%.  For more info visit: