Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Brooks & Dunn released their debut album BRAND NEW MAN back in 1991.  COWBOY TOWN (2007, Arista Nashville) was their tenth non-holiday studio album, and their last.  It debuted at #13 on the Billboard Albums chart and was produced by Tony Brown and the duo.

The title track, ‘Cowboy Town’ is first up.  It’s a catchy and upbeat country and western song with these fun lyrics: “Some day when I die and my soul is called home/High on a white horse I’ll ride up on/At that golden chute will stand old St. Pete/He’ll tip his hat and welcome me to Cowboy Town, oh, Cowboy Town/’Son, come on in to Cowboy Town’/I’m gonna live and die in cowboy town”.  The album’s lead single, ‘Proud of the House We Built’ is next.  Ronnie Dunn, Marv Green, and Terry McBride wrote the song which hit #4 on the country charts and #57 on the Hot 100.  It is a celebratory anthem to lasting love: “I’m proud of the house we built/It’s stronger than sticks, stones, and steel/It’s not a big place sitting up high on some hill/A lot of things will come and go/But love never will/Oh, I’m proud/I’m proud of the house we built”.

‘Johnny Cash Junkie (Buck Owens Freak)’ was penned by Ronnie Dunn, Paul Nelson, and Larry Boone.  It is a fun, upbeat tip of the hat to the country and western lifestyle: “I throw back a beer, I pledge allegiance to Hank/I’ll take a little less pop, and a lot more twang/Three chords and some down-home soul/Some things never grow old/I still drive a pickup, I still wear boots/I grew up country, I’m proud of my roots/Red, white and blue are the colors I bleed/I’m a Johnny Cash junkie and a Buck Owens freak”.  ‘Cowgirls Don’t Cry’ is a touching adult contemporary story song: “Phone rang early one mornin’/Her mama’s voice, she’d been cryin’/Said ‘It’s your daddy, you need to come home/This is it, I think he’s dyin’’/She laid the phone down by his head/Last words that he said were/’Cowgirl don’t cry/Ride baby ride/Lessons of life show us all in time/Too soon God’ll let you know why/If you fall get right back on/Good Lord calls everybody home/Cowgirl don’t cry’”.

‘Put a Girl in It’ is an awesome country/pop number that was a #3 hit for the duo.  It praises females: “You can build you a house up high on a hill/With a pool and a pond and a view to kill/You can make all the money in sight/But you ain’t living the good life/’Til you put a girl in it, you ain’t got nothin’/What’s it all worth without a little lovin’?/Put a girl in it/Some huggin’ and some kissin’/If your world’s got somethin’ missin/Just put a girl in it”.  ‘The Ballad of Jerry Jeff Walker’ features him.  He’s best known for writing ‘Mr. Bojangles’, which appeared on his 1968 album of the same name.  This Brooks & Dunn tribute song includes these words: “Jerry Jeff Walker stumbled up the stairs on his way to the stage/With a Martin guitar and a six pack/Yeah and he was the poet of the Lone Star state/And I was young enough to think I was good enough to be his opening act/And in a cloud of smoke he took another toke/And counted 1, 2, 3/And I knew right there just breathin` his air/What I wanted to be”.

‘Tequila’ is a fast paced drinking song with a great electric guitar solo: “One shot, two shot, three tequila floor/Cowboy bouncers ‘bout to bowl me out the door/Jose got me stumblin’, mumblin’ like a fool/That worm’s got a kick like a Tennessee mule/Wake up in the mornin’, hurtin’ head, skinned knees/Ain’t no doubt about what’s put a whoopin’ on me/Tequila goes down easy...”.  Bob DiPiero and Kix Brooks wrote the fun country styled party song ‘Drop in the Bucket’.  Here are some of the words: “A shot of brown liquor and a smoky bar/Can make you a little better than you are/A small dance floor and a long slow dance/Can turn into a real romance/Take a chance/It’s just an innocent kiss ‘til it feels like this/When it feels like this then you just can’t miss/She ain’t nothin’ but a dream ‘til you find that girl/When you find that girl, she can change your world”.

Darrell Brown and Radney Foster co-wrote the country/rock song ‘Drunk on Love’.  It finds a guy head over heels: “That kiss that you just handed me girl/It’s a staggering revelation/Baby, I never drank that much/To get this high, I must be drunk on love”.  ‘Chance of a Lifetime’ is a high energy honky tonker about the end of a relationship: “The light was on and the bed was made/And there’s a dear john written on a pillow case/She said ‘I`ve gone to the Bahamas/I’ve had it with the drama/Time to get out of town, I’m just a slowin’ you down’/She said ‘I found somebody that likes the things that you used to/Yeah and he’s got a lot of money, we’re goin’ where it’s sunny/And baby, he’s a looker too’”.

‘American Dreamer’ includes these inspiring thoughts: “Back in the 60’s, well Haggard’s in prison/He’s thinking ‘bout writing a tune/And a guy named Armstrong was crazy enough to think he could walk on the moon/And a preacher named King, well he had him a dream/He believed we could all live as one/And a soldier somewhere is praying for peace/While he’s cleaning his gun”.  The album ends on a spiritual note with the Clint Daniels/Michael P. Heeney penned ‘God Must Be Busy’.  The lyrics ponder why God allows various bad things to happen.

Just as DeGarmo and Key did with 1994’s TO EXTREMES, Brooks & Dunn went out with a bang with COWBOY TOWN in 2007.  Listening to this gem, it seems the duo has more energy than ever and could have continued putting out albums as a duo for another decade or more!  The B-3 organ and gospel influenced backing vocals by the likes of Vicki Hampton, Kim Fleming, and Harry Stinson really add a lot of flavour to these songs.  This album is a blast to listen to!  It’s an all-time great that I’m rating 100%.  For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.  The duo’s last concert was at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on September 2, 2010 with proceeds going to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Brooks & Dunn would go on to perform a series of shows with Reba McEntire in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Monday, August 29, 2016


Faith Hill’s first two albums were TAKE ME AS I AM (1993) and IT MATTERS TO ME (1996).  She married Tim McGraw on October 6, 1996.  They have three daughters, born in 1997, 1998, and 2001 respectively.  Hill’s third album was simply titled FAITH (1998, Warner Bros).  It was produced by Byron Gallimore, Faith, and Dan Huff. 

The album’s lead single, ‘This Kiss’, was penned by Robin Lerner, Annie Roboff, and Beth Nielsen Chapman.  Chapman and Chris Rodriguez provide backing vocals.  This song hit #1 on the US and Canadian Country charts and reached the Top 10 on the US pop and adult contemporary charts.  In addition, it was a hit in Australia and the UK and was nominated for 2 Grammy`s.  It`s a terrific song, though admittedly on the saccharine side of things lyrically: ``It`s the way you love me/It’s a feeling like this/It’s centrifugal motion/It’s perpetual bliss/It’s that pivotal moment/It’s, ah, unthinkable/This kiss, this kiss, unsinkable/This kiss, this kiss/You can kiss me in the moonlight/On the rooftop under the sky, oh/You can kiss me with the windows open/While the rain comes pouring inside, oh/Kiss me in sweet slow motion/Let’s let everything slide/You got me floating/You got me floating/You got me flying”.  ‘You Give Me Love’ includes sentiments I wish all humans could honestly utter: “When the world is cold and I need a friend to hold/You give me love (2X)/And when my hope is gone/And it feels I can’t go on/You pick me up/You give me love, you give me everything my heart desires/Morning sun and midnight fires/Someone there to share my dreams/With you I have everything”.

‘Let Me Let Go’ is a moving country and western ballad written by Steve Diamond and Dennis Morgan.  Vince Gill does a great job on background vocals, and violins, violas, cellos, and steel guitar are among the instruments used.  This song speaks of how difficult it is to move on after a breakup: “I thought it was over, baby/We said our goodbyes/But I can’t go a day without your face goin’ through my mind/In fact, not a single minute passes without you in it/Your voice, your touch, memories of your love/Are with me all of the time/Let me let go, baby/Let me let go/If this is for the best why are you still in my heart, are you still in my soul?/Let me let go”.  ‘Love Ain’t Like That’ includes these words of truth: “Love ain’t that easy to define/You can’t build it by design/It takes its own sweet time/It don’t fall from the sky/Like a tiny drop of rain/That hits you right between the eyes one day/No love, love ain’t like that”.

Bekka Bramlett, Billy Burnette, and Annie Roboff wrote `Better Days`.  It was first recorded by Bekka & Billy on their 1997 debut album.  Both artists are formerly of Fleetwood Mac.  This is a pleasant, warm country song of encouragement: “Better days are comin’ around/I know you feel like the whole world’s gone and let you down/But better days they’re comin’ for you/I know they will/Cause I’ll be right here makin’ sure they do/I know what it’s like to have to face the fight/But I won’t let you stand alone...”.  ‘My Wild Frontier’ is a story song: “Harvested peaches in a small border town/Saved all our wages, put ten percent down/I never thought I’d see the world through a child’s eyes/Until early December/Then one Calgary morning, still as glass/While my baby lay sleeping, an angel slipped past/And with one breath said ‘I’m taking him back to his Father in Heaven’/Through gravel and ice and new fallen snow/I held him through my tears/Because I was his lonesome prairie and he was my wild frontier”.

Glen Duncan and Aubrey Haynie play fiddle on ‘The Secret of Life’, the album’s fifth and last single, written by Gretchen Peters.  Here are some of the words: “The secret of life is in Sam’s martinis/The secret of life is in Marilyn’s eyes/The secret of life is in Monday night football/Rolling Stones records and Mom’s apple pies.../The secret of life is gettin’ up early/The secret of life is stayin’ up late/The secret of life is to try not to hurry/But don’t wait, don’t wait/The secret of life is a good cup of coffee/The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball/The secret of life is to find the right woman/The secret of life is nothin’ at all...”.  Diane Warren wrote the wonderful ballad ‘Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me’.  This duet with hubby Tim McGraw is one of romantic desire: “There’s nothing in this world I won’t try/No limit to what I’d do to make you mine/Cause I’d climb right up to the sky/I’d take down the stars just to be in your arms, baby/I’d go and capture the moon/That’s what I would do/Just to hear you say that you love me (2X)”.

‘Me’ celebrates finding a romantic partner one can be totally transparent with: “I can laugh or cry, don’t have to hide the way I feel/Rain or shine/By my side/Proving we’ve got a love that’s real/An old pair of jeans or an evening gown/You still see the same girl that you found/Me, that’s all I have to give/What you get is what you see, yeah/No second guessing, no pretending/With you, all I ever have to be is me”.  ‘I Love You’ was originally recorded by Celine Dion on 1996’s FALLING INTO YOU.  Aldo Nova wrote it.  Here, it has a bit of a doo-wop feel to it.  Trombone, trumpet, and saxophone are used. Hill, Vicki Hampton, Kim Fleming, and Bob Bailey provide backing vocals.  Some of the heartfelt words are: “I love you/Please say you love me too/These three words, they could change our lives forever/And I promise you that we will always be together/’Til the end of time”.

‘The Hard Way’ is an upbeat country song musically, with Larry Franklin providing a fiddle solo.  Many women will relate to these lyrics: “I never will understand why I let you think you can treat me any way you please, baby/I guess I hope someday you’ll settle down and say/Give me all the love I need, baby/Time and time I’ve found/You always let me down/Always ends the same way/You’d think that I could see the way you’re treatin’ me/Won’t ever change”.  Last up is a Sheryl Crow/Todd Wolfe co-write.  It is ‘Somebody Stand By Me’, on which Michael Omartian plays piano and accordion.  It’s quite soulful: “Well, if God’s here tonight/Are You here tonight?/Maybe You could grab me up/Lord, stand me on my feet/Give me strength and set me free/’Cause I’m not giving in until I’ve had enough/Won’t somebody stand by me, stand by me just one time? (2X)~.

Although this record begins with Faith gleefully enjoying love gone right on a pop influenced country number, the majority of the songs are county in genre and find her longing for a lasting love and for healing from lost loves.  Faith sings these 12 songs with much feeling and passion.  The photos of her in the CD packaging are pretty.  Fans of Martina McBride should buy FAITH, which I’m rating 88%.  For more info visit: www.faithhill.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Brooks & Dunn’s ninth studio album was HILLBILLY DELUXE (2005, Arista Nashville).  It peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #3 on the US Billboard 200.  Four singles from the album hit the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

The lead single, ‘Play Something Country’, was Brooks and Dunn’s 20th and last #1 single on the Billboard Country Singles charts.  It was inspired by tour mate Gretchen Wilson, and is one of five co-writes by the duo of Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride (former frontman of McBride and the Ride) on this album.  If you like fun, upbeat, honky tonk story songs, you’ll love this one: “Yeah, she blew through the door like TNT/Put her hand on her hip, pointed her finger at me/Said ‘I’m a whiskey drinkin’, cowboy chasin’, hell of a time/I like Kenny, Keith, Alan and Patsy Cline/I’m a full-grown queen bee lookin’ for honey/Ah oooh aw/Play something country’”.  ‘She’s about as Lonely as I’m Going to let her Get’ is a country and western ballad of compassion: “Oh, off across the room/She sits alone/Pretty as a picture/Sadder than a sad song/Well, I’ll do whatever it takes/Try whatever works/I can’t just sit here/And watch her hurt”.  ‘My Heart’s Not a Hotel’ includes these lyrics many men will relate to: “Oh, my heart’s not a hotel you can check in and out of/It’s not a temporary shelter, it’s a home for someone’s love/Don’t just come here when you’re lonely/Knowing full well you won’t stay/Cause I don’t have the strength tonight to turn you away”.

‘Whiskey Do My Talkin’’ is a country/rock song that contains a lot of truth: “If I met her on the street in the broad daylight/I couldn’t bring myself to speak or get a word out right/But you put me in a barroom/You put a drink in my hand/I’m a cool, calm, collected/Silver-tongued ladies man”.  Brad Crisler and Craig Wiseman wrote the title track, ‘Hillbilly Deluxe’.  It was the album’s last single and peaked at #16.  This strong country song paints a picture of some folks’ idea of paradise: “Hillbilly deluxe/Slick pick ‘em up trucks/Big timin’ in a small town/Stirrin’ it up right about sundown/Black denim and chrome/To the bone with a little homegrown/Country girl cuddled up/Hillbilly deluxe”.

‘One More Roll of the Dice’ compares romantic relationships to gambling: “One more roll of the dice/Maybe just one more shot in the dark/One more chance that your luck might change/While you still got a little something left of your heart/She’s a game you can play/Not a game you can win/But one more roll of the dice and you’re believing again”.  ‘Just Another Neon Night’ paints a picture of an eventful, in some places typical, weekend evening: “Getting drunk, getting loud/Billy throws a punch in the crowd/Some cowboy’s lights go out/Runnin’ wild, getting high/Smokin’ tires through the lights/LIvin’ like we’re never gonna die/It’s just another, just another neon night”.

‘Believe’ is a terrific inspirational faith-based ballad that makes good use of a choir: “I can’t quote the book, the chapter, or the verse/You can’t tell me it all ends in a slow ride in a hearse/You know I’m more and more convinced/The longer that I live/Yeah, this can’t be/No, this can’t be/No, this can’t be all there is/When I raise my hands, bow my head/Oh, I’m finding more and more truth in the words written in red/They tell me that there’s more to this, than just what I can see/I believe, oh I/I believe (5X)”.  The song was the album’s second single.  ‘Building Bridges’ is a country/pop track that nicely features guest vocals by Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow.   It includes these words desiring a relationship to be reconciled: “Since you’ve gone/My heart says something’s wrong/How long can this keep going on?/I’m still blue over losing you/What else am I gonna do?/I’m building bridges straight to your heart/And all of this distance/Won’t keep us apart (2X)”.

Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero wrote ‘Her West Was Wilder’, a song about a lover leaving: “I was gassin’ up in a dust storm outside of Sedona, she was chasin’ a tumbleweed/She flagged down a Kenworth, jumped in the cab/That was the last of her I’d ever see (2X)/Where the wild wind blows and anything goes/As long as it’s over the line/I gave her my best/But her west was wilder than mine/It was wilder than mine”.  ‘I May Never Get Over You’ is a tender song of lament: “Seems like overnight/From out of the blue/Something went wrong/Between me and you/Oh, I’ll move on, I’ll be strong/Do what I have to do/No matter where you are/You’ll always have my heart/I may never get over you”.

‘She Likes to get out of Town’ is a peppy country rocker all about having some weekend fun: “She’s got a little glove box with everything she needs/Got some red lipstick, and some Mardi Gras beads/Got some party girlfriends like to keep it unwound/That girl likes to get outta town.../She was born to shake it and it’s not her fault...”.  ‘Again’ is about a love rediscovered: “It’s the darndest thing/Who comes back again/Baby, I thought that love was over and gone forever/Never gonna come back to me/Never gonna hold me again/But your love pounds in my heart like thunder/Flashes through me like lightning/Making me believe again”.

HILLBILLY DELUXE is a slam dunk, knockout country music record from Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn.  Both of their vocal performances are memorable.  Background vocalists used include: Lisa Cochran, Wes Hightower, Kim Keyes, and Terry McBride.  There’s a nice mix of all out party songs and more reflective songs.  Players on the album include: Tom Bukovac, Terry McBride, Brent Mason, Michael Rhodes, Shannon Forrest, Gordon J. Mote, Hank Singer, Steve Herrman, and Stuart Duncan.  As a work of art, this record is pretty close to flawless.  I love the inclusion of ‘I Believe’, which is more Christian in nature than many songs by CCM artists.  I`m rating HILLBILLY DELUXE 100%.  For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Brooks & Dunn released their debut album BRAND NEW MAN in 1991.  Fast forward to 2001 and they released their seventh studio album, STEERS & STRIPES (Arista Nashville).  It was produced by the duo and Mark Wright.  Five of the songs made it on to the Billboard Hot Country & Singles Tracks chart, with 3 hitting #1.

‘Only in America’ was used by George W. Bush and Barack Obama in their presidential runs.  It is a rousing, patriotic country and western song: “One kid dreams of fame and fortune/One kid helps pay the rent/One could end up goin’ to prison/One just might be President/Only in America/Dreamin’ in red, white an’ blue/Only in America/Where we dream as big as we want to/We all get a chance/Everybody gets to dance/Only in America”.  ‘The Last Thing I Do’ is a fast-paced country rocker of determination: “Yea, I’ve been drivin’ like I’m struck by lightnin’/I think about you and I start to speed/I might as well be playin’ with matches/In a truckload of gasoline/If it’s the last thing I do/If it takes me from Tupelo to Timbuktu/If it’s the last thing I do/I’m gonna dodge every roadblock, speed trap and county cop/To get my hands on you/If it’s the last thing I do (3X)”.

‘The Long Goodbye’ is a great ballad about the demise of a romantic relationship: “How long must we keep running on a carousel/Goin’ round and round and never getting anywhere/On a wing and prayer?/This is the long goodbye/Somebody tell me why/Two lovers in love can’t make it/Just what kind of love keeps breaking a heart?/No matter how hard I try/I always make you cry/Come on, baby/It’s over, let’s face it/All that’s happening here is a long goodbye”.  ‘Go West’ is a melodic country/pop song about a young couple: “And that painted sky was made for us/It’s everything we ever dreamed of/Yea, we can drive all night and till the mornin’ light/Let’s go west/A place that we can go where the tall dreams grow/Let’s go west/And we’ll find a place to call our own/There’s somewhere out there we belong/Let’s go west”.

‘My Heart is Lost to You’ has a warm, tropical feel to it: “Maybe it was the moonlight, the scent of you on the breeze/Maybe it was your shadow that fell over me/Such a beautiful stranger, eyes darker than coal/Your first look crossed the desert into my soul/Mi corazon es perdido a ti/My heart is lost to you/You have captured my love completely/My heart is lost to you (2X)”.  ‘Good Girls Go to Heaven’ is a fun, scorchin’ honky tonk song: “Miss high fullutin’ likes to sip fine champagne/Prim and proper drippin’ in diamond rings/Little sister wears high heels and blue jeans/A long neck drinkin’ certified wild thang/Some they walk the straight and narrow/Some girls they just don’t care/Good girls to heaven/Bad girls go everywhere (2X)”.

‘When She’s Gone, She’s Gone’ is a realistic and pretty country ballad: “It’s not good for a man to be alone/But a woman needs someone that she can count on/And what I’d give to go back, but the current’s just too strong/And love is like the Mississippi/When she’s gone, she’s gone/Yeah, she’s gone”.  ‘Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You’ was the album’s lead single.  It spent six weeks at the top of the Country charts and Billboard ranked it as the Top Country Song of 2001.  This country/pop gem praises a woman poetically: “I love your attitude, your rose tattoo, your every thought/Your smile, your lips, and girl the list goes on and on/The way you look, the way you laugh/The way you love with all you have/There ain’t nothing ‘bout you that don’t do something for me/The way you kiss, the way you cry/The way you move when you walk by...”.

‘Unloved’ is actually a strong declaration of love: “Now and then comes a love that’s heaven sent and meant to be/So baby, look at me/You’ll never be without, you’ll always have enough/When you’re in my arms/You’ll never go unloved/As long as there is time/And for all of it to come/No matter where you go/I want you to know you’ll never be unloved”.  ‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ is a playful song that begins with these humorous words: “That wasn’t me at a quarter to three back in our backyard/Tearing up the roses and the home grown tomatoes in my new car/Those bottles in the driveway and the bottles in the hall/Well, I don’t know where they came from/It must be burglars in the neighborhood/I sure hope they catch those bums”.

‘Lucky Me, Lonely You’ is an old time country and western dance number: “Girl, you’ve got lonely written all over you/I can read the writing from across this crowded room/All by yourself there in your world of blue/Lucky me, lonely you/Who knows?/The right song, a slow dance might heal your heartache/Somethin’ tells me I don’t know/I just might be here to save the day”.  ‘I Fall’ is an easy listening song that begins with utopian lyrics: “I breeze through the day/And nothin’ much seems to get in my way/I don’t have a care at all/You walk in the room/It’s always the same/You call out my name/I turn/You smile/I fall”.

‘Every River’ uses hyperbole: “When the day comes that I don’t love you/Every star will fall out of the sky/And every mountain will tumble down/And every river run dry”.  Last up is ‘See Jane Dance’, a carefree rocker: “She jumped up on the stage and after many margaritas/She took her place in line amongst the tanned senioritas/She tore into a groove and lost her inhibition/Stirrin’ up the crowd, she blew away the competition/In her leopard underpants/See Jane dance”.

STEERS & STRIPES is modern country music at its best!  This album is a fine mix of fun story songs and quieter, more tender moments.  The album is full of emotion.  Love, infatuation, commitment, and heartbreak are main themes.  Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn share lead vocal duties.  Background vocalists include: Bob Bailey, Kim Fleming, Chris Rodriguez, and Trisha Yearwood.  Instruments used include: gut string guitar, B-3 organ, steel guitar, dobro, and The Nashville String Machine.  I’m rating STEERS & STRIPES  a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Vienna Rose Dare was born on January 9, 1989 in Sacramento, California.  She released her self-titled debut V. ROSE via Clear Sight in 2011.  It included songs such as ‘Not So Average’, ‘Battery’, and ‘Cry Holy’.  In 2013 an Electro-Pop Deluxe version of the album followed.  2014 brought us FOREVER AFTER (Clear Sight) which contains such songs as ‘No Better U’, ‘Am I Trending?’, and ‘King Kong Skyline’.  In October of 2015 she put out the HEARTS UP EP on Inpop Records.  Her latest studio project is YOUNG DANGEROUS HEART (2016, Inpop).  V’s bio says she is “a spiritually grounded millennial whose musical roots run eclectic, honest, and deep...”  Hers is a gospel not just for church girls, but for young women and men within and outside church walls.  The message is simple: to find the joy of knowing who you really are, get to know who God says you are”.  V. led her brother in prison serving ten years, to Christ.  Her latest album features the production talents of Spec, Adam Watts, and Jordan Sapp.

Track One is ‘Take a Broken Heart’ which is one of eight songs here co-written by V. Rose and Spec.  It includes a rap break by Derek Minor.  This techno-pop song serves as a testimony: “Tears used to run down my face/Why I let my heart into this race/My emotions moving fast/A hundred miles about to crash/I was broken glass/Alone in my room on the ground/With so many tears I could drown/I knew I needed to get out/Then I remembered what I hear before/I’m casting all my cares upon the Lord/Hands up, I don’t want it (2X).../He can take a broken heart away (4X)”.  ‘If I Don’t Have Love’ is a well crafted pop/hip-hop number that shows V. has her head on straight: “They don’t need to know my name/That’s not why I make music/Got everything ‘cause I got love.../I could get a mansion on top of the world/And I could have it all, yeah/Diamonds and pearls/Be so rich and famous/You think that’d be enough/But none of that matters/If I don’t have love/Love, love, love (3X)”.  On ‘Money$ on You’ Flame raps about God`s faithfulness and a proper response to it: ``He`ll never break a promise, man/I promise He won’t change/’Cause He proved that on the cross/Proved that when He died/Proved that when He rose/Prove that with our lives/More than money You can have my life/More than money You can have my all/Ain’t no risk when we trust in Him”.

‘I Love You So Much (ILYSM)’ features Trip Lee and is a R&B song of praise: “I just love You so much/I love You so much (2X)/You’re the only One that I trust, yeah/And Your Name is high places/Greater than the ones they be putting on/And my praise is skyscrapers/Hallelujah to the throne all night long/Cause Your grace is so amazing/Don’t deserve it, but You give it, You keep giving on/Like oh my Jesus/Ain’t no other gods up in this song/I love You so much (2X)”.  ‘Fairy Tale Ending’ is a pop/dance song of devotion: “Where You go I will follow/Your love is all I need/They think they know what’s best but/You’re the only One who knows what’s best for me so/Right here with You is where I’m gonna stay/They can try to, but can’t take You away/Cross my heart and hope to live/With You forever, You forever/I was lost in the beginning/Now You found me/It’s a fairy tale ending”.

‘We’re Girls’ features Angie Rose and is a real self-esteem booster for young ladies: “We’re girls, we’re girls/And no matter what/We know we can trust that God made us, us/So we gotta love us/We’re girls, we’re girls.../God made us just the way we are/We shine bright, yeah/We’re superstars/Full of love/Every single girl/So let’s show the world”.  V., Adam Watts, and Gannin Arnold wrote ‘Love Shaped Heart’.  It is a great adult contemporary song of encouragement: “You’re worth more than you know-oh/Let the world see who you are/Cause I can tell you have a love shaped heart/So let it flow-oh/You’re beautiful, so let it show-oh/Build a fire from your spark/Cause I can tell you have a love shaped heart”.

‘Sinking Deep’ was introduced by Hillsong Young & Free.  It is a straight up beautiful worship song: “Your love so deep is washing over me/Your face is all I seek/You are my everything/Jesus Christ/You are my one desire/Lord, hear my only cry/To know You all my life”.  Mia Fieldes, Jordan Sapp, and David Wyatt wrote ‘Storms’.  It is a strong adult contemporary testimonial: “I have only ever known You/To be One who does what You say You’ll do/I have only ever found You faithful/Every shadow, every sorrow/You have met my heart with open hands/My tomorrow, Love’s already planned/For every valley walked before/You’ll hold me for a thousand more/Through every fire, every war/When thunder rolls I’m sure/You’ll still the storms (4X)”.

‘Not Afraid of the Midnight’ reminds us we can’t earn God’s love: “Please let me never forget/There’s no shoe that I can fit/To gain Your love/Because You gave Your love/So as the story goes/I might look fit for the ball/But I’m not perfect at all/Not afraid of the midnight/You love me although/This dress ain’t even mine/Who cares if I’m out of time/Not afraid of the midnight”.  ‘Emotionful’ is a slow R&B tune that offers good advice when it comes to addressing one’s haters and critics: “Careful with the words that you say/Cause they cut deeper than anything/Take some time before you react/Cause what you say, you can’t get it back”.

‘Bottom to the Top’ is autobiographical: “Six years old in the first grade/Saw myself on the big stage/Staring out the window, looking up at the stars/Promising to myself that I would go that far/Didn’t know how to get there/Told me no, but I didn’t care/And I know that it wouldn’t be easy/But even if nobody believed me/Oh, I’ll never forget that girl/Who always knew that she could conquer the world/I’ll never stop believing/As long as I can see it/I will never change/As I go from the bottom to the top”.  Last up is the title track, ‘Young Dangerous Heart’.  It is inspirational in nature: “I don’t ever wanna get it twisted or let it go to my head/Cause everything I do, I do it for You/Ohhh, even when I’m taking a selfie, I give You the glory/You made me and I hide Your Word in my heart every day/And hold on to the promise You made/I got a young dangerous/Young dangerous, young dangerous heart”.

YOUNG DANGEROUS HEART offers up a mix of a variety of musical styles, ranging from pop, dance, R&B, and hip-hop to adult contemporary and worship.  Its most likely audience will be teens and young adults.  V. clearly states that her faith is in God and that her life is in His able hands.  Her hope, no doubt, is that others will submit their lives to Him as well, upon hearing these songs.  V. also delivers a message of self-worth to girls.  Their value comes from being created perfectly by God.  I’m rating YOUNG DANGEROUS HEART 90% and recommending it to fans of 1GN, Rihanna, and Britt Nicole.  For more info visit: www.vroseonline.com and www.inpop.com.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Cyndi Thomson was born on October 19, 1976 in Tifton, Georgia.  She released her debut album MY WORLD in 2001 on Capitol Records.  She co-wrote 8 of the 11 songs on it.  The album was produced by Paul Worley and Tommy Lee James.  In the liner notes, Cyndi writes: “I hope this album transports you to a place you’ve never been, a place that allows you to escape everything around you.  If you’ve never been to Georgia then get ready to take a trip.  These songs are about my life.  And I’m so blessed to be able to share them with you.  Welcome to MY World”.

Starting things off is the title track, ‘My World’.  It has an inquisitive chorus directed at a guy visiting her small town: “What’s it like in your world baby?/Won’t you let me in?/What’s it like in your world baby?/Maybe our worlds can meet again”.  Cyndi, Tommy Lee James, and Jennifer Kimball wrote ‘I Always Liked that Best’, one of my all time favorite country ballads.  It is highly sentimental: “Where do I start?/Lying on a blanket underneath the stars/With your head on my chest/I always liked that best/I hate how time flies/I still think back sometimes/’Bout your lips on my neck/I always liked that best/That time we took a ride/Ended up down by the river side/Soft touch, wet kiss/I always liked that best”.  ‘What I Really Meant to Say’ was the album’s debut single.  It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart.  John Mock plays the penny whistle on it.  The song tells a moving story: “It took me by surprise/When I saw you standing there/Close enough to touch, breathing the same air/You asked me how I’d been/I guess that’s when I smiled and said ‘Just fine’/Oh, but baby I was lying/What I really meant to say/Is ‘I’m dying here inside/I miss you more each day/There’s not a night I haven’t cried/And baby here’s the truth/I’m still in love with you’/That’s what I really meant to say”.

‘Things I Would Do’ is a playful, upbeat country tune: “Things I would do just to have you back again/I’d single-handedly prove to you that I can/Fight for you, cry for you/I’d live and die for you/These are just some of the things I would do/If looks could kill, I’d be shooting blanks/Stop stirring the stew, start giving thanks/Stop spinning my wheels, apologize/Bite my tongue, swallow my pride/Take it back, compromise/Just shut up, I’ll shut up”.  ‘If You Could Only See’ is a quiet song of encouragement: “You come home uncompleted, down and defeated/Feeling all alone/You think your dreams are passing by you/And deep down inside you/You’re running out of hope/If you could only see what I see/You’d see the man that you wish you could be/If you could only see what I see in you”.

Kim Richey and Chuck Prophet wrote ‘I’m Gone’.  It is a country/rock song in the vein of Sheryl Crow.  It’s about a gal who’s had enough of a guy: “I’m gone and I’m taking all my good stuff/Gone, gone/You’ll never get it back/I’m gone, gone/Been a long time coming/Bet you’re gonna miss me/Bet you’re gonna miss me bad.../Hey you/Yeah, you there with that smug look smeared across your face/That’s right/I’ve got better things to do than hang around this place”.  ‘If You Were Mine’ is a passionate country ballad that finds Cyndi daydreaming: “If you were mine I would celebrate like every day was Christmas/If you were mine I would love you like it’s nobody’s business/I would give everything I had/I would treat you right, I would make you laugh/Baby I would smile forever if you were mine/If you were mine baby/Every night would be a romance novel/If you were mine I would quench your thirst like a tall glass of water/You would be my one desire/I would kiss you like a house on fire/Baby I would burn like crazy/If you were mine (3X)”.

‘Hope You’re Doing Fine’ is a nice story song: “Well, I found a job/It’s nothing much, but at least it pays the rent/The boss is nice, but not his wife, but she only works weekends/How are things in Charleston?/Is there someone in your life?/Guess I should ask/I hope you’re doing fine/We were making plans together not so long ago/Thought we could see forever from that Carolina coast/But things change/Everything changes”.  ‘There Goes the Boy’ is a short song of romantic longings: “There goes the boy who made me smile/Danced with me down the grocery aisle/I taught him how to dress in style/His kisses always drove me wild/There goes the boy/And I’d give anything to hold him again/Cause it still breaks my heart each time when he walks by my window, oh no/There goes the girl walking by his side/He’s holding her hand just like he used to hold mine”.  Odie Blackmon and Jay Knowles wrote the song.

‘But I Want To’ is a country/pop song of boldness: “I haven’t met you but I want to/I haven’t kissed you but I need to/I don’t know you/But I want to, yeah I want to/Please forgive me, I know this is kind of strange/To stop you here out of the blue asking your name/But I couldn’t let another day go by being strangers”.  Of the closing song ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, Cyndi says: “This is my favourite song on the album.  It’s completely from my heart.  Every time I hear this song I cry”.  Here are some of the moving lyrics: “I’ll be seeing you/When I close my eyes/I’ll be seeing you/I’ve got you memorized/I’ll always love you/I know you know that/And I know in my heart/That you’re not coming back/And in everything I do/I’ll be seeing you”.

MY WORLD clocks in at 35 minutes and 39 seconds.  If you enjoy the music of Sara Evans and Trisha Yearwood, you’ll enjoy this lovely debut record from Cyndi Thomson.  Cyndi comes across as a girl next door type who misses lost loves and has a few regrets.  She also though, dreams of finding love again, that special someone, if you will.  The songs are very relatable.  Without using an abundance of words in her songs, she is able to convey very personal emotions to her listeners.  Musicians used on the album include: Steve Nathan, Greg Morrow, Dan Dugmore,  Randy Scruggs, and The Nashville String Machine.  I’m rating MY WORLD 90%.  For more info visit: www.cyndithomson.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Originally Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn were solo artists.  The now famous duo Brooks & Dunn was founded in 1990.  They released their debut album BRAND NEW MAN in 1991.  They’ve released 50 singles, with 20 hitting #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, and 19 more reaching the Top 10.  In addition, they won Country Music Association’s ‘Vocal Duo of the Year’ every year between 1992 and 2006, except for 2000.  RED DIRT ROAD (2003, Arista Nashville) was their 8th of 10 studio albums.
Bob DiPiero and Bart Allmand wrote the opening song, which I love, ‘You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk out of the Girl’.  It’s a fun, contagious country and western number: “Yeah, she lives in L.A./She flies to New York City/That woman’s been around the world/You can take the girl out of the honky tonk/But you can’t take the honky tonk, take the honky tonk/Out of the girl”.  ‘Caroline’ is the confession of a cheater: “My Sweet Caroline, from your loving arms I’ve strayed/In your heart may you find/Dear, forgiveness I pray/A fool to temptation/Well, I surely played/I come to you now for salvation/Have mercy in love’s name”.  ‘When We Were Kings’ is a great country story song: “Yeah, we ruled from the blacktop/To the levee where the party never stopped/Yeah, there was power in the night/The spirit was alive when we would sing/Shan na (7X)/When we were kings (2X)/Yeah, that was the fall of ‘69/I guess Uncle Sam was hedging his bet/Tommy’s number came up/He said ‘Hey, I’ll be fine/I’ll teach ‘em a lesson they’ll never forget!’/Angel and I went to wave goodbye/I guess we’d always thought we’d see him again/You know I took her out a couple of times/We always just wound up talking about him”.
Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride wrote ‘That’s What She Gets for Loving Me’.  It is a pretty country ballad on the subject of loyalty: “At times I lay awake at night/Stare at her laying by my side/Knowin’ there in her heart as she sleeps/She can forever count on me/That’s what she gets (2X)/That’s what she gets for loving me/Whatever turns her on/I’m here to do it/Till the day they write my name in stone/I’ll live to prove it”.  Next up is the Brooks & Dunn penned, catchy title track, ‘Red Dirt Road’.  It hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart and is one of my favourite country songs of all time!  It’s a story song with this as the chorus: “It’s where I drank my first beer/It’s where I found Jesus/Where I wrecked my first car, I tore it all to pieces/I learned the path to heaven is full of sinners and believers/Learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers/I’ve learned, I’ve come to know/There’s life at both ends of that red dirt road”.  ‘Feels Good Don’t It’ is a happy song of gratitude: “How ‘bout those lonely nights/You used to pray/Something like this/Would come your way/Thank your lucky stars/Lucky’s what we are/Feels good, don’t it?/Some people go through life/Never knowin’/What love is or where it’s goin’/Me and you, girl we just walked up on it/Feels good, don’t it?”
‘I Used to Know this Song by Heart’ is a soulful song of heartbreak with great electric guitar work: “I used to sing this song to you for days and days/In so many different manners, in so many different ways/I used to think this dream we shared would never come apart/I used to know this song by heart”.  Ronnie Dunn and Craig Wiseman wrote ‘Believer’, a song of longing: “What do I do to make you love me/Baby, like I love you?/Why do you keep the key to your heart/Behind a door I can’t get through?.../Someday you’ll feel in my kiss/What I do in yours/So I wait to see in your eyes/Oh, that light I’m looking for”.  ‘Memory Town’ is a country and western ballad that finds the lead character fondly reminiscing: “I can pull the shades and feel your lips/They’re touching mine again/I can watch the shadow of the moon slow dance across your skin/Hold you in a place where lovers never say goodbye/And every moment comes alive/And every time I close my eyes and go back down to memory town”.
‘She Was Born to Run’ is a melodic country tune about a life-long romantic commitment: “It’s been years now and I’ve never doubted/Somewhere, somehow we’d make it through/She’s right here, no two ways about it/Her heart’s still mine and her love’s still true/She was born to run/Was the Master’s plan/Born to run/Put her heart in my hand/Born to run, born to run to me”.  ‘Till my Dyin’ Day’ is a song of positivity: “I’m gonna run with the wind behind me/Have fun when the sun is shining/And stop when the world reminds me/I got to take the time to pray/And fight for the right to be free/Smile at what my children might be/And live with you beside me/Oh, till my dyin’ day”.  ‘My Baby’s Everything I Love’ is a fun, honky tonk tribute to one’s lover: “My baby’s like a trip to town/Radio up, top pulled down/Can’t get my fill, I can’t get enough of/My baby’s everything I love/She’s all I need in one tight package/Got a spell on me, works like magic/I’m after her like a hound on a rabbit/She’s got it all and I got to have it”.
Kix Brooks and Bob DiPiero co-wrote the upbeat country/rock track ‘Good to Be Me’.  Here are some of the words: “I’m a country boy and I’m a rockin’ roller/Like a little crown in my Coca-Cola/Say a little prayer for all the soldiers fightin’ for the USA/I never was captain of the football team/You ain’t never been a prom queen/We’re just us and that’s okay/If I got you, well, it’s a good day/Good day to be me”.  ‘Good Cowboy’ begins with these lyrics that will make some blush: “Say things to me like a cowgirl would/And I’ll do tricks for you like a cowboy should/Oh, you look romantic layin’ in the hay/And I need you tonight in a new kinda way/When you look at me with those eyes/Oh, it makes me start to fantasize/Do it to me like I know you could/So I can do it to you baby/Like a cowboy should”.  Last up is the unlisted Ronnie Dunn penned track ‘Holy War’.  It is a clap along Gospel number that offers a commentary on society: “I turn on the TV/Lord, I can’t believe my eyes/Oh, terror walks the streets/While a million mothers cry/Christians pray to Jesus/’Lord, help us if You can/Send Gabriel and His legions/To defend His promised land’/They say a holy war is comin’/Gonna be the end of mortal man/There’s a TV preacher sayin’/Armageddon is at hand”.
RED DIRT ROAD is my favourite male artist mainstream country music album so far.  Both Brooks and Dunn are capable of carrying the lead vocally.  The musicianship on this project is simply terrific.  Players such as Kenny Greenberg, Glenn Worf, Brent Mason, Eric Darken, Jerry Douglas, and Aubrey Haynie all make great contributions, as do the 13 background vocalists including Bekka Bramlett, Vicki Hampton, and Dan Tyminski.  The lyrics deal with the good and the bad when it comes to male-female relationships.  An element of Christian faith peaks through as it does in much of country music.  The front cover of the CD is a great shot of the legendary country duo.  I’m rating RED DIRT ROAD a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.brooksanddunn.wordpress.com.

Saturday, August 06, 2016


Resurrection Band released their first official album, AWAITING YOUR REPLY, back in 1978, the year my younger brother was born.  Their first live album, LIVE BOOTLEG, came out in 1983 on Sparrow Records.  Their second live album was TWENTY YEARS, a double disc project released in 1992 on Grrr Records.  It was recorded in March of that year at Copernicus Center Theatre in Chicago.  The band’s roster was: Glenn Kaiser (vocals, guitar), Wendi Kaiser (vocals), Stu Heiss (guitar, keyboards), Roy Montroy (bass, keyboards), and John Herrin (drums).  In the liner notes, the band writes: “The Jesus Movement and the origin of Resurrection Band shared much in common.  It was the work of a holy and loving God invading a subculture.  Tribes of the young, if you will.../From the very first, the band that was to eventually be known as REZ was founded on biblical teachings and lifestyles of accountability, a path of ministry, freedom from drugs and sexual misconduct.  Light and darkness could not mix”.

The first song on TWENTY YEARS, ‘Waves’, is a Glenn Kaiser composition which was also track one on the band’s debut album.  It is a hard rocking song of spiritual invitation, with Tom Cameron playing harmonica: “Jesus wants to touch you, enfold you with His love/Look into your life and tell me, what do you see?/Don’t you realize what He offers is for free?.../If you wanna join us, you can come along/With His blood He bought you and to Him you’ll belong...come along”.  ‘Military Man’ is a blistering heavy metal track about conversion: “Saw the light from the Man above/His heart pierced by a sword of love.../Defenses crushed beneath the Risen Rock, oh yeah, the Risen Rock/No more doing time, he tasted the new wine/No more reason to fight for the military man/No more military man”.  Hilde Bialach of The Crossing plays keyboards on ‘Afrikaans’.  It boldly condemns racism: “Forget the black man, neglect his baby, ignore his hell/We need apartheid to keep the animal in his cell.../God makes the color, but the color doesn’t make you God, and in the judgment, He will remember the ones you robbed/Without the Lord’s love, this injustice will prevail/Until Jesus is the only Master, we’ll never break the bars of this jail”.

Wendi Kaiser, Glenn’s wife, sings lead on ‘Attention’.  It reflects on God’s power: “A trillion stars and planets were born at His command/The keys to life and judgment are held within His hand/The demons cringe and tremble, they fear to hear His Name/The rise and fall of kingdoms is left within His wake/Attention-stand on your feet!/Attention-listen to me!”  ‘Colours’ was the title track of the band’s third full-length album in 1980.  It is a rock song of worship: “As the planets dance around the sun/I rejoice in the Risen One/You are the Lord, the love of my life/I wait for You in the morning light/Yes I do, I love You”.

‘Players’ is a bluesy rock song written by Jon Trott, Roy Montroy, and REZ.  It deals with male-female relationships: “I remember kissin’, fingers wrapped in her hair/In that rush of emotion, did I ever really care?/And as I saw her silhouette fadin’ down the hall/I begged for love’s mercy, talkin’ to the wall.../Passion takes its prisoners, got to break before I burn/Can’t be playin’, playin’ lovin’ games”.  ‘The Struggle’ is a confessional prayer with Glenn on lead vocals: “Although You’ve changed me, there’s still a lot of old wineskin, and to open up would destroy the me I’m afraid to show/But one part of me doesn’t want to grow/But I’m tired of this lingering winter, tired of ground so hard and cold/Plow Your way through, I’m asking You to, oh Jesus/Lord, You’re my only hope/Without You, I can’t face myself”.

‘Fiend or Foul’ is a slow, brooding anti-abortion number: “I kill the children before they’re born/As their little feet begin to form/Don’t buy them shoes, they won’t be worn/I kill the children/I am not scorned”.  ‘Alienated’ is a hard rocker of devotion to Christ: “With love in Your eyes You confront the lies, the double-standard and the party ties/My one affiliation is with Your Name, to share Your kingdom an’ to share Your shame.../I have chosen the narrow road/Lord, You gave me such an easy load/I look at Your cross and I see Your love”.

‘Paint a Picture’ is a terrific rock ballad about how Christ will redeem us if we only let Him in: “I reached the bottom/I hope you don’t have to find out the way I did/Trip after trip and try after try after try/Paint a picture of a broken heart/Paint that picture and you can start to understand the love of the Savior, and oh, how He understands you/Paint a picture of a blood-covered cross/See that picture and you’ll know what it cost/The price God paid to prove His love for you”.  At this point in the live show Wendi gives a short personal testimony of how her Dad struggled with alcoholism and how she was molested as a little girl by her grandfather who was a pastor.  This led to her being promiscuous as a teen, but around the age of 18, she came to know Christ at a Christian coffeehouse and accepted His love for her.

‘Right on Time’ is a pop/rock gem penned by Jace Seavers and Roy Montroy.  It is a song of testimony and one of my favourite Rez songs: “Somethin’ tells me I’m not alone travelin’ down this lonesome road/I feel sometimes that I could cry, not knowin’ the reason why/Then You told me I was losin’ all control, then You told me I could lose my very soul/I knew I could not make it on my own/Then You came along and made me whole/Your love was right on time (2X)”. ‘Love Comes Down’ is a peppy rock song penned by Glenn Kaiser and Jon Trott.  It describes God’s pursuit of us: “You can’t beat the heat, He’s red hot on your trail/He’s the love enforcer and He has paid your bail/It’s much more than emotion, it’s not just in your head/You gotta die to get life, oh, and you’d be better off dead/Cuz when you lose, you win/That’s the way it is/That’s when the love comes down”.  ‘White Noise’ offers these words of social commentary: “Defective youth, the writing’s on the wall/Decline of the West, I see the fallout fall/Violence, banner of the tough/Politicians playing blind man’s bluff/Now what, whose deal?/What’s truth, what’s real?/Turn it down, turn it off/It’s all white noise to me/America’s missiles, a superpower blessed/A hungry child is crying, pretend it’s just a test/Russia’s got the gulag/Pretoria the bomb/Making sure the weak keep silent, move along”.  The band takes an intermission at this point in the show.

Disc Two of the concert begins with Rev. W. H. Brewster’s ‘My Jesus is All’.  On it, Rez is joined by Willie Kemp from Cauzin’ Efekt, and Grace and Glory.  It is a gospel music infused rock song of testimony: “Well, when I went out, went out to seek the Lord/You know I went out on His Holy Word/And the reason I know He’s deep in my soul/Because He dug down deep, so deep/An’ He made me whole”.  ‘Lovespeak’ was track one from CIVIL RITES, Rez’s 10th album, released in 1991.  Dave Canfield is a co-writer on this awesome Christian rock tune about a very biblical subject: “I can preach at you till I’m blue in the face/Judge you to death and put you in your place/I can feed your body, yeah, share the wealth and still lose my soul to the fires of hell/Lovespeak.../Spoken by the living, spoken by the dead/Got to speak it with your heart, as well as your head/Lovespeak”.  Next, Wendi shares a bit of how Resurrection Band came to be.

‘In Your Arms’ is a nice love song: “Man, I was lonely, I felt so unsure/I used to think there wasn’t any cure for the everyday problems in the everyday world/But everyday ends in your arms, my, my/What a gift He gave to me, what an angel of love/In the crazy mistakes I always seem to make/You take me so high above/I’ll be in your arms/Safe within your arms tonight”.  ‘Bargain’ is a mainstream rock classic penned by Pete Townshend and first released by The Who on 1971’s WHO’S NEXT.  Rez covered it on 1989’s INNOCENT BLOOD.  Here are some of the words: “I sit around, look at my face in the mirror/I know I’m worth nothin’ without You.../I’d do anything just to win You/I’ll wait all my life, yes I will/To find You I’d stand naked, stoned, and stabbed/I’ll call that a bargain/The best I ever had (2X)”.

‘Shadows’ is from 1985’s BETWEEN HEAVEN ‘N HELL.  It deals with suicide: “’Goodbye Kathy and goodbye Mom/There’s voices in my head/Angel dust and tortured dreams say I’d be better dead’/You, you chased the shadows/Because your hopes and dreams have been lost to the night.../Johnny’s dead and buried now out on the edge of town/Drove by his grave the other day, that’s when the fear came down/I hate the night that took his life, but now it’s haunting me/I may be young, may be confused, but I gotta be free/God, are You there, can You hear me now?/Show me how to hope/Lost in the dark on a dead end road/Please save me from myself”.  Next up, is another mainstream rock classic.  ‘Somebody to Love’ was penned by Darby Slick.  It was track two on Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 album SURREALISTIC PILLOW and hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It is a song of longing: “Tears are runnin’ all around and down your dress/And your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest/Don’t you want somebody to love?/Don’t you need somebody to love?/Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?/You gotta find somebody to love”.  At the end of the song, Wendi Kaiser makes it clear that Jesus, who died for her, is her Somebody to love.

‘Every Time it Rains’ is a co-write by Glenn Kaiser and Jim Denton.  This ballad speaks of God’s faithfulness and features the talents of Steve Eisen on sax: “Why do You love me when I treat You so wrong?/I give You heartache an’ You give me a song/I give You silence, cold and empty stares/But still I know You care/Lord, wherever I run, You’re there”.  ‘Where Roses Grow’ is a lengthy blues song dedicated to a Christian friend who died of Aids: “Hear the thunder rolling/Can you hear the horn?/I’m climbing Jacob’s ladder, up, up, up, through the storm/Stand with me at the Mercy Seat with mounds, mounds of ashes spread about my feet/You know who I am, all I think I know/You see it in the marrow, buried deep in the bone/How is there no anger in the words I hear?/Only love and mercy/Erasing every fear”.  The song is a real treat!

‘Light/Light’ begins with these thought-provoking words: “They surround Me like a ring of fire/They crown Me with bitter desire/And I pay for the sake of souls/My grave just a visit below”.  After this song, Glenn Kaiser delivers a bit of a message to the crowd.  He affirms that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He speaks out against materialism, saying we should take care of widows and orphans.  We should give of our time, money, and food, as we can.  We should see people as God sees them.  Glenn then leads in a short Sinner’s Prayer.  The concert closes with Reverend Gary Davis’ ‘I Will Do My Last Singing in This Land, Somewhere’, which includes these words: “I will do my last singing in this land, child somewhere (2X)/I don’t know when or where it will be/As long as my good Lord still be leadin’ me/I will do my last singin’ in this land, child somewhere”.

TWENTY YEARS is a remarkable two disc Christian hard rock/heavy metal concert retrospective from Rez, with some blues and gospel music included as well.  Glenn and Wendi Kaiser’s vocals are gritty and passionate.  The Gospel message is presented clearly and wholly.  We all need to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour and that should lead us to love others in ways Christ would love them.  Resurrection Band would release their last album of all original material, LAMENT, in 1995.  Glenn Kaiser still has an active solo career.  I’m rating TWENTY YEARS, from this pioneering Christian band, a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.resurrectionband.com and www.glennkaiser.com.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Carly Rae Jepsen was born in Mission, British Columbia.  She came in third on the fifth season of Canadian Idol and released her debut album TUG OF WAR in September of 2008.  It includes ‘Sour Candy’, a duet with Marianas Trench frontman Josh Ramsay.  Her follow-up album was 2012’s KISS.  It included the uber-catchy, uber-hit ‘Call Me Maybe’.  Carly won the Rising Star Award at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards.  At the Junos in 2013 KISS won ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Pop Album of the Year’, while ‘Call Me Maybe’ won ‘Single of the Year’.  In 2014 Carly played Cinderella in the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’.  E-MO-TION (2015, 604 Records), Carly’s third album, peaked at #8 in Canada and at #16 on the US Billboard 200.  Here I will be reviewing the Deluxe 15 track edition of the album.

The first song is ‘Run Away With Me’.  It was the album’s second single, coming out in July 2015.  It is a seductive pop/dance number: “Baby, take me to the feeling/I’ll be your sinner in secret/When the lights go out/Run away with me (2X)/Baby, every single minute/I’ll be your hero and win it/When the lights go out/Run away with me (2X).../ Hold on to me/I never wanna let you go, ooh/Over the weekend we could turn the world to gold, ooh”.  ‘E-mo-tion’ was penned by Carly, Nate Campany, Ben Romans, and Christopher J. Baran.  It is an eighties influenced pop song that is frisky: “In your fantasy dream about me/And all that we could do with this emotion/Fantasy, dream about me/And all that we could do with this emotion.../Toss and turn without me boy/Let it hit you cold and hot/All my kisses, say you’ll miss it”.  ‘I Really Like You’ was the album’s lead single, coming out in March of 2015.  Tom Hanks co-stars in the cool video for the song.  It is catchy pop in nature.  On it, Carly is straight up about her feelings for a guy: “It’s way too soon, I know this isn’t love/But I need to tell you something/I really, really, really, really, really, really like you/And I want you/Do you want me, do you want me too?/Ohh, did I say too much?.../It’s like everything you say is a sweet revelation/All I wanna do is get into your head/Yea, we could stay alone,  you and me in this temptation/Sipping on your lips, hanging on by a thread”.

‘Gimmie Love’ is a song of petition: “Eyes so bright/You’ve got a hold of me the whole damn night/I toss and turn, but still I can’t sleep right/I should’ve asked you to stay, begged you to stay/But when I get right next to you/I feel this heart beat break in two/I feel the earthquake in the room and so I pray/Fall into me and then/Gimmie love (5X)/Gimmie touch/Cause I want what I want/Do you think that I want too much?/Gimmie love (4X)...”.  ‘All That’ is a romantic ballad of devotion: “I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea/I’ll keep my light on baby, you can always come to me/I wanna be the place you call home.../When you need me I will never let you come apart/When you need me I will be a candle in the dark/When you need someone, oh let me be the one/The only one (3X)”.

‘Boy Problems’ was penned by Carly, Sia Furler, Greg Kurstin, and Tavish Crowe.  It is a disco/pop tune that finds Carly getting advice from a girlfriend: “’Carly, you got to let it go!’/She said to me on the phone/’I’m so tired of hearing all your boy problems/It could be the perfect day/He’ll just make it rain anyway/So tired of hearing all your/Boy problems’”.  ‘Making the Most of the Night’ includes these words of encouragement to one’s partner: “I know you’ve had a rough time/But here I come to hijack you, hijack you/I’ll love you while we’re making the most of the night.../Now baby, take my hand, now don’t you cry/I won’t let you stay here/I won’t let you hide/No more tears, don’t waste another day/Go on and fight, don’t lay down to die/Come on get up, you’ll make it through ok/Come on get up, don’t waste another day”.

‘Your Type’ was the album’s third single.  It is the melodic song of one pining for another: “But I still love you, I’m sorry, I love you/I didn’t mean to say what I said/I miss you, I mean it, I tried not to feel it/But I can’t get you out of my head.../I bet she acts so perfectly/You probably eat up every word she says/And if you ever think of me/I bet I’m just a flicker in your head”.  ‘Let’s Get Lost’ starts with these words of self-reflection: “I was never one to want to put my trust in someone else completely/And I was always one to want to up and run/When someone said they needed me/But you/You could be the one/Yeah, you could be the one”.

‘LA Hallucinations’ may be somewhat autobiographical: “Buzzfeed buzzards and TMZ crews/What can I say that you don’t already know?/Buzzfeed buzzards and TMZ crews/If I just lie here, then will you let me go?”  ‘Warm Blood’ is a slow, brooding, techno-dance number of sexual passion: “Warm blood feels good/I can’t control it anymore/Sweet one/You should stop me there but I keep on talking/I would throw in the towel for you boy/Cause you lift me up and catch me when I’m falling for you/I saw myself tonight/Caught my reflection in the mirror/My hands and heart were tied/But I was scared of almost nothing at all/Warm blood underneath my skin/Warm blood my heart is pumping (2X)”.

‘When I Needed You’ is the last track on the standard edition of the album.  It is a cool pop song vocally and finds Carly jaded: “Sometimes I wish that I could change/But not for me, for you/So we could be together, forever/But I know, I know that I won’t change for you/Cause where were you for me/When I needed someone (2X).../When I needed you? (2X).../I don’t want to work it out/I’m not going to work it out”.  ‘Black Heart’ was written by Carly, Greg Wells, and E. Kidd Bogart.  It has a trance-like beat and includes these thought-provoking words: “In your black heart is where you’ll find me/Cutting through the cracks of the concrete/In your black heart is where you’ll find me waiting”.

‘I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance’ finds Carly coming on to a fella: “I didn’t just come here to dance/If you know what I mean, do you know what I mean?/If you’d just give me a chance, you’d see what I see/Do you see what I see?.../Baby I, I’m not going anywhere without you/Walk me home/Cause I like every single thing about you”.  ‘Favourite Colour’ features Mattman and Robin on backing vocals, synths, and percussion.  It is a soft pop song of infatuation: “When I`m close to you/We blend into my favourite colour/I’m bright baby blue falling into you/Falling for each other (2X).../Paint me up, me up, me up/In my favourite colour/Paint me up, me up, me up/You’re my favourite colour”.

E-M0-TION is, much like Taylor Swift’s album 1989, a throwback and a nod to 1980’s pop music.  Lyrically, virtually all of the songs are about girl-boy relationships.  Themes include: sexual and emotional passion, loyalty to one’s partner, break-ups and heartbreak, and a search for meaning and purpose in this world.  Puppy love and dating are the settings for the fifteen tracks on the deluxe edition.  The photos of Carly in the CD booklet are beautiful.  Fans of Hilary Duff’s latest material will enjoy this record, which I’m rating 85%.  For more info visit: www.carlyraemusic.com.

Monday, August 01, 2016


Amy Grant was born on November 25, 1960 in Augusta, Georgia.  In 1977 she released her self-titled debut album.  It included songs such as ‘Mountain Top’ and ‘Old Man’s Rubble’.  She put out her second album MY FATHER’S EYES in 1979.  NEVER ALONE (1980, Myrrh) was her third record.  It was produced by Brown Bannister for Chris Christian Productions.  Amy was in her sophomore year at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina at the time.  NEVER ALONE hit #1 on Billboard’s Top Inspirational Albums chart.

Gary Chapman and Brown Bannister co-wrote ‘Look What Has Happened to Me’.  It was a Top Ten Christian hit and is a light pop song on which Dennis Solee plays flute and sax and Shane Keister is responsible for string arrangement.  It offers up a testimony: “I was more than just alone, I was dying on my own/Thinking that nothing was ever gonna save my life/Look what has happened to me/I find it hard to believe/His love has taken my life this far so far/Look what has happened to me/My mind can hardly conceive/What I’m beginning to be/Look what!/Look what!”  ‘So Glad’ is a ballad that reflects on God’s purposes for our lives: “Long before my plans were made/I know a master plan was laid/With a power that superceded my control/And if that truth could pierce my heart/I wouldn’t wander from the start/Trying desperately to make it on my own”.

Gary Chapman, Amy Grant, and Chris Christian wrote the light Christian rock song ‘Walking Away With You’, about how Amy finds all she needs in God:  “When I’m needing someone to console me/Nearly dying for someone to hold me/I’m walking away with You/I go walking away with You/And when I’m faced with a tricky temptation/I abandon the whole situation/Walking away with You/I go walking away with You/Oh, what a fail safe plan/Just staying hand in hand/I’ll keep walking away with You”.  ‘Family’ is one of two songs written by Amy alone, and is one of five songs under the three minute mark.  This one anticipates heaven: “Where have you come from and where are you going?/Tell me what’s brought you here now/And is your heart singing?/Then share what you’re bringing/We all are a part of the show/’Cause we are all going home/Cause we are a family and we are all going home/Are you listening?/We are all going home so come join the family/Cause we are all going home”.

‘Don’t Give Up on Me’ is a playful, upbeat pop/jazz number with horns arranged by Don Hart and Clayton Ivey on the Fender Rhodes.  On this cut, Amy admits she’s far from perfect: “Don’t give up on me even when I fail so miserably/Time and again I know I stumble, it makes me humble.../I know much more than you/How very weak I am/But He believes in me/And so I know you can.../God is working constantly to shape me, He’ll remake me”.  Bruce Hibbard, Kelly Willard, and Hadley Hockensmith wrote ‘That’s the Day’.  It is an easy listening ballad on which Jerry Roberts plays the accordion.  It, again, anticipates heaven: “In the middle of the darkness in my life/I find a strength to carry on/I am holding to a promise Jesus made/And I know it won’t be long ‘til we’ll be gone/In a while we’ll be gone/And we won’t have to cry anymore/All our sorrows left behind/And that’s the day that I am waiting for/And that’s the day that I am longing for”.

The next song, ‘If I Have to Die’, is an interesting one musically.  Cindy Reynolds plays the harp, and Pete Bordinali, electric guitar.  The words deal with surrendering our lives to the Lord: “Yes, we have to die for Him/That’s the struggle that you see/Cause it’s the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do/But no, it’s not impossible/He’s been waiting so long for you/But don’t be afraid/Cause He knows the pain/Because He had to do it for you”.  ‘All I Ever Have to Be’ is a quiet number that converses with God: “And all I ever have to be is what You’ve made me/Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan/As You daily recreate me, help me always keep in mind/That I only have to do what I can find/And all I ever have to be/All I have to be/All I ever have to be is what You’ve made me”.

‘It’s A Miracle’ is a bouncy pop song suitable for Easter Sunday: “It must have happened sometime in the night/No one saw the stone he rolled away/When the grave saw morning light/The skeptics and friends all had to say/’It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle/It’s a miracle happened today/It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle/He took the stone and He rolled it away’”.  ‘Too Late’ is an awesome Christian rock song on which Tim May, Billy Walker, and Dave Hungate handle guitar duties wonderfully.  This one reminds us we can’t serve two masters and shouldn’t be lukewarm: “Well, it’s too late for walking in the middle, too late to try/Yes, it’s too late for sitting in the balance, no more middle line/Oh, it’s too late for walking on fences/Time to choose your side/Yes, it’s too late for flirting with the darkness/Make up your mind”.

Dawn Rodgers wrote the tender ‘First Love’, on which Dennis Solee plays the flute.  It is a song of intimacy: “You are my first love, sweet and gentle as the night/Just being near You now is like a lullaby/All that I have I’d give away to follow You/I can’t imagine having life without You”.  The album closes with the Caribbean flavoured ‘Say Once More’, with Gary Pigg and Diana DeWitt on backing vocals.  The chorus goes: “Won’t you say once more ‘I love you’/In the bread and in the wine/Till the whole world knows our love song/’I am yours and you are Mine’”.  This is a totally different song from the one with the same name on Amy’s 1988 classic record LEAD ME ON.

NEVER ALONE speaks of how Christ transforms our lives when we let Him in.  We are works in progress at that point.  If we let Him, Jesus will be our sure Source of strength.  This record also looks towards eternity with God in heaven and how wonderful that will be for those of us who are Christians.  Fans of Evie, Twila Paris, and Sandi Patty will enjoy this early CCM inspirational pop music album.  Amy is beautiful on the front cover.  I’m rating NEVER ALONE 85%.  For more info visit: www.amygrant.com.