Thursday, September 29, 2016


In the Bible Malchus is the servant of the high priest whose ear was cut off by Simon Peter during Jesus’ arrest.  Jesus put his ear back on (John 18:10-11, Luke 22:50-51).  Malchus is also the name of a metal band from Poland.  THE EVIL HOUSE (2016, Roxx Records) is their fourth full length album and their first fully recorded in English.  The album’s executive producer is Bill Bafford.  Members of the band pictured and listed in the CD packaging are: Radoslaw Solek (vocals, guitars, songwriter), Pawel Tumiel (guitars), Bartosz Tulek (bass), and Tomasz ‘Papirus’ Pyzia (drums).  A press release says: “The Evil House is a concept album which documents the dark descent of a young frustrated Pole’s soul and the lyrics relate to his spiritual journey, while focusing on his everyday struggles against adversity”.

Musically the opening track ‘Enemy No. 1’ is a blistering metal assault on the ears.  The lyrics are growled but decipherable.  If you’ve ever felt the devil was getting an upper hand on you, you’ll relate to these lyrics: “This is my enemy, the one who knows my weakness/He knows where to strike/He knows when to torment me.../Daily life weakens my desire to undertake, to challenge my enemy.../It is invisible/Stronger as time goes/It is invisible/He’s killing me in time”.  The title track for the most part is another metal assault, but it ends with a beautiful, melodic instrumental piece.  The lyrics reflect on the state of the world today: “I don’t believe in what people tell us/I don’t listen to what this world says/Here, foolishness is wisdom/Here, debauchery is virtue/Is God the one who left this world?/Has He been banished from our hearts?/I don’t believe this is how it should be/The evil house has been chosen consciously”.

‘77’ is a thrash metal track based around Matthew 18:21-22.  Ultimately it is about being given a clean slate after doing much wrong: “77 times, 77/I’m sorry brothers and sisters that I have sinned against you/I forgive 77 times and so I trust to be forgiven/Everybody has a chance to purify their wounds/Everybody, even someone like me has the right to live”.  ‘Eyes Open’ starts softly with spoken word but transitions into a heavy, growled metal song.  It offers this advice: “So wisely use what has been given to you/Don’t be afraid/Your every word, your every day/All of these moments, give them a meaning/So that you don’t have any regrets/So wisely use what has been given to you/Don’t be afraid/Whatever will be, will be/Live according to your conscience/So where your treasure is, so’s your heart”.

‘From Dust’ reminds us God is the one who gives our lives true meaning: “For dust you are and to dust you’ll return/Like a drop in the ocean, like one of many living blindly, constantly on the run.../A breath of life in the dust/There’s a name in each drop/There’s a plan in the whole ocean/A plan through Word”.  ‘Mother’ is a song of gratitude, again growled: “My first love, the first step that I made/Thanks to your help and protection/Mother, I’ve not fallen/Thanks to your care Mother, I’ve not fallen/Thanks to your help/First failure, first tears you wiped away”.

‘Tripudium’ is an energetic metal song with great electric guitar work.  It’s a song about inner reflection: “Where treasure is, your heart will also be/How can I find what’s really inside of it?/What gives you happiness?/What gives you love?/Doesn’t come from matter, doesn’t come from lust/Where treasure is, your heart will also be/How can I find what’s really inside of it?”  ‘But Deliver Us’ is a really heavy song.  Think headbanger!  Lyrically though, it serves as a prayer: “From the abyss of loneliness and of void/From the fear of future that is unknown/From the loss of faith, hope and love/But deliver us.../From a sudden death of body and soul/From forgetting that there’s something more/But deliver us”.

‘Creed’ is not a cover of either the Petra or Rich Mullins song of the same name.  This number is all about perseverance and determination: “An uphill road, a winding road/It’s getting harder/Another try/My next approach/My Creed/Silence/My Creed is to go on/Despite the rain, despite thunder/Silence/My Creed is to go on/Despite the critics, despite death wishes”.  The last track, ‘Winter’, is a short, quieter instrumental.

Malchus states: “We don’t want to be close-minded and limit ourselves only to heavy sounds...Our songs can be compared to action movies, where one cannot fall into monotony”.  From my perspective, THE EVIL HOUSE is, when it’s all said and done, a grinding, aggressive, powerful metal album with angry sounding vocals, mostly growled.  While this type of music will not appeal to the masses, just as bluegrass doesn’t, Malchus do what they do very well.  They do it with great artistry and thought, adding softer sounds here and there.  In addition, this is music that conveys some worthy Christian messages in simple terms lyrically.  I’m recommending this album to fans of Ultimatum, Mortification, and Vengeance Rising and rating it 88%.  For more info visit: or

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Wayne Watson was born on October 5, 1964 in Wisner, Louisiana.  He released his major label debut album WORKIN’ IN THE FINAL HOUR in 1980 (Milk & Honey).  Wayne has had 23 #1 Christian radio singles over the course of his long career.  On January 1, 2011 he was among seven artists inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.  Reflecting on his legacy he states: “I think if I had any accomplishment for my generation I hopefully influenced Christian songwriters to be very transparent and not to be hesitant to writing about things that are going on in their lives-good and bad.  I always tried to find a way to artistically shape these things so they could be listened to by others who may be going through the same kind of challenges and hopefully the music would be an encouragement”.  In 2004 he put out an acoustic greatest hits type project entitled SIGNATURES (Spring Hill).  That is what I will be reviewing here.

‘Almighty’ is a beautiful song of praise: “Almighty, most holy God/You are faithful through the ages/Almighty, most holy Lord/You are glorious Almighty God.../His Spirit still dwells, He speaks it is well/And the hopeless they are offered new birth.../Let the prisoner go free/Join the dance and sing”.  This is one of eight songs appearing on this project that Wayne wrote alone, and one of three songs originally from his 1990 album HOME FREE.  Next up is ‘Watercolor Ponies’, the title track from his 1987 album.  It is a co-write with Paul Mills and will tug at the hearts of parents: “There are watercolor ponies on my refrigerator door/And the shape of something I don’t really recognize/Brushed with careful little fingers and put proudly on display/A reminder to us all of how time flies.../They look a little less like little boys every day/Oh, the pleasure of watchin’ children growin’/Is mixed with a bitter cup of knowin’/The watercolor ponies are gonna one day-gonna ride away”.

‘Somewhere in the World’ is a touching song from the perspective of a loving parent: “And I don’t even know her name/But I’m prayin’ for her just the same/That the Lord will write His holy Name right there on her heart/’Cause somewhere in the course of this life/A little boy will need a godly wife/So hold on to Jesus, baby, wherever you are”.  ‘When God’s People Pray’ offers these words of testimony: “He will not turn away when His people pray/When God’s people pray/And take the pains of earth to the doors of heaven/When God’s people pray/There is hope reborn, there is sin forgiven/And miracles you can’t explain away/When God’s people pray”.

‘Friend of a Wounded Heart’ is one of Wayne’s most well known and beloved songs.  It was co-written with Claire Cloninger and is the only song over five minutes long on SIGNATURES.  It is an inspirational gem: “Caught like a leaf in the wind/Lookin’ for a friend where you can turn/Whisper the words of a prayer and you’ll find Him there/Arms open wide, love in His eyes/Jesus, He meets you where you are/Jesus, He heals your secret scars/All the love you’re longing for/Is Jesus/He’s the Friend of a wounded heart”.  ‘Field of Souls’ is the missions minded title track from Watson’s 1995 album: “We work the field of souls, together you and I/Some fields are blooming now and other fields are dry/We are not the same, but differences aside/We’ll work the field of souls, together you and I/One is off to foreign soil to work a distant land/And another anchor’s close to home to hold a neighbors hand”.

‘Would I Know You’ is a great quiet song of reflection: “Would I know You now if You walked into the room/If You stilled the crowd, if Your light dispelled the gloom?/And if I saw Your wounds, touched Your thorn pierced brow/I wonder if I’d know You now?/Would I know You now if You walked into this place?/Would I cause You shame, would my games be Your disgrace?/Or would I worship You, fall upon my face?/I wonder if I’d know You now”.  ‘Home Free’ is one of my all time favorite Wayne Watson songs.  It is a song of encouragement for those who aren’t healed on this earth and for those who’ve lost a loved one: “We will be home free eventually/I believe at that ultimate healing/We will be home, we will be free/Home free/I believe it’s more than just a feeling/Cause at that ultimate healing/I believe at that ultimate healing (2X)/We will be home/And won’t it be good to be home/Home free”.

‘Walk in the Dark’ is a light pop song of faith: “There will be shadows, but I’m not gonna be shaken/Cause You’ve never forsaken a vow/You’ve never failed me before this I know/I know, Jesus, You’re not gonna fail me now/I know You won’t fail me now/I would rather walk in the dark with Jesus than to walk in the light on my own”.  Last up is ‘Beautiful Place’, the title track from Wayne’s 1993 album.  It starts off with words we can all relate to: “If I had my way, I must admit/If I called every play of the game/I’d pray for good times-blue sky and sunshine/And I’d avoid with a passion any pain”.

Wayne’s son Neal Watson writes the following words in the album’s liner notes: “By using an extremely simplified recording process (my dad in a room with his guitar or piano and a vocal microphone), no editing and very little production, we were able to put together a record that captures the true heart behind the music of Wayne Watson”.  I certainly can’t argue with that!  Five of the songs have only piano accompaniment and five have only acoustic guitar accompaniment.  This allows Wayne’s wonderful vocals and well thought out lyrics to shine through.  This is an album of folk, easy listening, and adult contemporary sounds.  The most common theme is putting one’s faith and trust in God.  There are also a couple terrific songs that deal with family life.  This is a relaxing album that is good to listen to when you have had a stressful day.  I recommend it to fans of Steve Green, James Taylor, and Michael W. Smith.  For more info visit: or connect with him on Facebook.  I give SIGNATURES a perfect 100%.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Back in the day, the pioneering Christian metal band Philadelphia put out two now classic albums.  They were 1985’s TELL THE TRUTH, which gave birth to the Top 25 CCM hit ‘No Compromise’, and 1986’s highly successful SEARCH AND DESTROY.  They played at Cornerstone Festival both of those years.  They were also among the bands accused by preachers and churches of playing the devil’s music and even committing blasphemy.  Philadelphia recorded and demoed several songs for a third album, but it never saw the light of day.  The group broke up partly due to issues with their label.  Fast forward to 2016 and they are back with WARLORD (Roxx Records).  It was produced by Richard Wicander and Brian Martini and executive produced by Bill Bafford.  This album features all three members of the original band: Brian Martini (drums and percussion), Phil Scholling (guitars), and Brian `Wulfie’ Clark (bass and vocals).

‘Brothers in Arms’ is a hard rock song about being ready both for physical and spiritual battles: “An ivory city on a hill/We thought we’d stand and never fall/Honor and justice all for a righteous cause/But still and yet for all this while/Our city gates were open wide/And now the enemy, our enemy’s inside/Even though we live in peace/They still would take our lives/Massed outside our walls/Hatred and slaughter/Simply for what we believe/Fight or surely fall.../Now to arms, to arms my brothers/We fight or fall, it’s fight or fall/I call my brothers/It’s fight or fall”.  ‘Defender’ speaks of God’s loving care for us: “All my life I’ve been too alone in this world/Only strife/Now there’s You, You for me/And I, I can see my Defender/Always right by my side/Kicked around/I’ve been made to feel like a fool/I’ve been put down/Once I thought I’d never know/A love that could turn back time/Heal these wounds and let me grow/And now, now You’re mine/My Defender/Keeping me safe in this world/You’re my refuge, my rock”.  ‘I’m Not Listening’ is an angry heavy metal track aimed at prosperity preachers who live large while their followers suffer: “Shiny new ride and your fancy suit/Fake bake tan, Italian shoes/Manicured nails/Comb your hair just so/You reach so high to sink so low/I’m not listening no, no, no more/Build a new church/Erect an amusement park/But the Man you say you admire/He didn’t own squat.../Old widow woman/Watchin’ you on the T. V./Sent you her last couple bucks/And baby that was no C.O.D./When everything is said and done/And all the votes are in/Let me tell you something, man/You gonna answer for that, Jim”.

‘Prophecy’ is a fast-paced heavy metal song on which Phil Scholling’s youngest daughter Lauren contributes an electric guitar part, which was a real treat for him!  These lyrics imagine a situation where another uprising of angels in heaven occurs: “God forbid that it’s happened again, a new rebellion in heaven/Trapped in a game we never could win/Will 3 and 4 make 7?/Angels abound but their wings are so black/Black as their heart beats inside/If I should meet one before I awake/Father, please keep me alive”.  ‘Wasteland’ is told from the perspective of a despondent inmate: “Drag me down in chains/Step into my grave/My whole world is pain/All my tomorrows are yesterdays/And I’ve got no hope left/I’ve done what I can/When you see me you’ve/You’ve seen a ghost man/I’m such a wasteland.../Darkness is my light/Death seems sweet and right/God help me tonight”.

‘Sane Asylum’ has a fine European metal feel to it.  The lyrics admit that this world is out of control and point to God as our Refuge: “This world we live in is a crazy place/So tired of runnin’ in the human race/Bad things come to good people/Good things come to bad/Search all day for happiness/All you find is sad/The city streets look just like padded walls/Madness and violence in a free for all/I, I need asylum/A sane asylum.../Look around and find your one true Love/He waits for you so just hold out your hand/Gonna lead you to a peaceful land/We, we need asylum/A sane, a sane asylum”.  ‘Son of the Morning’ is a melodic metal song that finds Lucifer talking to God, which is definitely not a common theme in Christian music.  Here are some of the words: “Yes my friend, it’s the end/I’d rather die on my feet/Than to live on my knees/If you please.../You say You love me and then You leave/In my darkness/Lost in my grief/There’s no room that’s left for belief.../Did You ever stop to think just how I feel/I was born to serve and forced to kneel/Just subtract my one/From Your perfect seven/A king in hell, not a slave in heaven”.  ‘Lady Fortune’ is an epic metal song inspired by words found in Psalms and Proverbs: “Her slender hands lay pressed against a bloody white dress/She’s calling in loans while she’s breaking your bones/Lady Fortune/Listen to her siren song/Believe in what she tells you/Whispering softly in your ear and smiling as she sells you/You fool, you think you’ll be the one to finally tame her”.

The next two songs each run over six minutes long.  ‘Way of the Skull’ has a dark, plodding heavy metal feel to it, with drums and electric guitar at the forefront.  Stylistically, think Black Sabbath, says the band.  It’s an emotional song from the viewpoint of Simon of Cyrene: “They’re grabbing me now, they’re dragging me now/I’ve got to help Him die.../I pick Him up now/Look in His eyes now/Can they do this to Him?/His cross so heavy/I feel it must be the weight of every living thing.../The women crying, this place of dying/Yet He tells me not to fear/This man so holy/I think He must be sent from God to show the way/Can you hear me calling?/Help me, I’m falling/Away, away”.  The album’s title track, ‘Warlord’, is the only song that dates back thirty years when the band was originally writing for album #3, before they disbanded.  It’s no surprise then that the song has a classic metal vibe to it.  Its subject is the Second Coming: “Comes to judge and to make war/He grips a white horse mane/Crimson red His battlecry/No man can know His Name/Thousands standing at His side, poised at His command/Death to all who rule this world with blood upon their hands/Streaking down from the sky/Vengeance is His cry/He’s a Warlord (2X)/And He’s comin’ in for the kill”.  Those who believe God is only love will not like these lyrics, in fact they’ll likely be offended.  Last up is a bonus demo of ‘Brothers in Arms’.

WARLORD is a splendid album of hard rock and heavy metal sounds.  Blazing electric guitar parts and solos and pounding drums and bass make this a full, meaty sounding project.  Songs about spiritual warfare are most common.  These take the form of both good versus evil on earth, and a battle between the same two forces in the heavenlies.  God is pointed to as our sure Rock and strength as believers.  These are songs that will make you think, which is what the band wants.  The vocals aren’t hard to decipher, as can be the case with several bands in this genre.  Fans of Bloodgood, Stryper, Judas Priest, Barren Cross, and King James should acquire this album.  I’m rating WARLORD 87%.  I hope Philadelphia records more new material in the near future.  For more info visit:,, and

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Brooks & Dunn’s fifth studio album was IF YOU SEE HER (1998, Arista Nashville).  It peaked at #4 on the U. S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #7 on the Canadian RPM Country Albums chart.  The album was produced by Don Cook, Kix Brooks, and Ronnie Dunn, with production assistance by Scott Johnson, except for the song ‘If You See Him/If You See Her’, which was produced by Tony Brown and Tim DuBois.

Shawn Camp and John Scott Sherrill wrote the opener, ‘How Long Gone’.  It has a happy country feel to it, but the lyrics speak of heartache: “I keep thinkin’ any minute you’ll be comin’ home honey/I ain’t seen nothin’ of you in a month of Sundays/Tell me, how long gone are you gonna be?.../How am I supposed to make any plans when I still don’t even understand if you’re ever gonna come back home to me?/Tell me please/How long gone are you gonna be?”/’I Can’t Get Over You’ was the album’s fourth single and a Top Five Country hit.  It’s a sad country song: “I can’t get over you/Try as I may, oh it’s no use/My heart just can’t leave you alone/My mind won’t believe you’re gone/I can’t get over you”.

‘South of Santa Fe’ is a story song: “The shades were pulled and the door was locked/Something made me knock/Time stood still when she opened the door/I didn’t know where I was anymore/And we were lost in each other’s eyes/Where loneliness meets paradise/Something in my heart broke free/Blowing wild as the tumbleweed”.  The album’s first single ‘If You See Him/If You See Her’ was a duet with Reba McEntire that went to #1.  Tommy Lee James, Jennifer Kimball, and Terry McBride wrote this terrific country ballad that is emotional: “If you see her, tell her I’m doing fine/And if you want to, say that I think of her from time to time/Ask her if she ever wonders where we both went wrong/If you see her (2X)/Oh, I still want her.../Oh, I don’t know why we let each other go/If you see her, tell her the light’s still on for her”.

‘Brand New Whiskey’ is a tongue-in-cheek country song: “Yeah, they oughta make a brand new whiskey and give it a woman’s name/A man needs something to hold on to/When a goodbye hits him like a hurricane/Make it sweet, as sweet as her lips/Intoxicating as her kiss/Something special like champagne/Yeah, they oughta make a brand new whiskey and give it a woman’s name”.  Don Cook and John Barlow Jarvis wrote ‘Born and Raised in Black and White’.  It’s the first song Kix and Ronnie shared lead vocals on.  It’s an upbeat country story song: “With a Christian sense of wrong and right/We were born and raised in black and white/One learned to pray, one loved to fight/We were born and raised in black and white/Well, my brother took to the gospel road/Spent his whole life saving souls/When he looked at me and his blood ran cold/He didn’t even try”.

‘Your Love Don’t Take a Backseat to Nothing’ is a fun country/rock song: “I get down with music and guitars/I fool around with all kinds of fast cars/It takes you baby to keep my motor running/I smoke the tires and watch the rubber burn/It takes your fire to make my wheels turn/Makes my blood run hot and keeps my heart a humming/But your love don’t take a backseat to nothing”.  Next up is Roger Miller’s 1966 song ‘Husbands and Wives’.  It was Brooks & Dunn’s first Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.  It is a lovely easy listening song of great insight: “Two broken hearts lonely looking like houses where nobody lives/Two people each having so much pride inside/Neither side forgives/The angry words spoken in haste/Such a waste of two lives/It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline in the number of husbands and wives”.

‘Way Gone’ is a fast-paced country and western love song: “Way gone, she’s my one and only/So long to sad and lonely/She waltzed into my world/Now I’m way gone for my sweet girl.../Way gone and I’ve crossed over/Well, I’m lucky as a four leaf clover/I don’t want nobody to save me/’Cause I’m way gone for my sweet baby”.  ‘When Love Dies’ includes these honest thoughts: “Oh, when love dies/You can’t bury those memories/Oh, when love dies/It disappears but it never leaves/When love dies it don’t rest in peace/How does love die then come back a ghost rattling chains?/It keeps on haunting my broken heart, driving me insane”.  Greg Humphrey and Micheal Smotherman wrote the closing adult contemporary ballad ‘You’re My Angel’.  It includes these words of praise for one’s partner: “Oh, you take me up to heaven/When you spread your loving wings/When I am weary and way behind/When I am clearly out of my mind/Oh, when I find I’m in my hell/You’re my angel/Oh, you’re my angel”.

IF YOU SEE HER is the fifth out of ten non-holiday studio albums put out by Brooks & Dunn.  The duo’s musical maturity clearly comes through on this project.  This country record has an almost equal mix of fast and slow songs on it.  The majority of them, by far, are about heartache, heartbreak, and longing.  There are however, three happy love songs, and one tale about two brothers.  I’d say this album will appeal to those who have experienced life and all that it entails, including lost love.  Background vocalists used are: Wes Hightower, Liana Manis, John Wesley Ryles, and Dennis Wilson.  The electric guitar work by Brent Mason and Chris Leuzinger is to be commended.  I’m rating IF YOU SEE HER 96%.  For more info visit:

Friday, September 23, 2016


Wayne Watson’s current bio begins: “Wayne Watson is wearing this season of his creative life with the ease of a favorite well-worn leather jacket-relaxed and comfortable.  The man whose voice and songs helped define an entire genre of Christian music throughout the 80’s and 90’s is re-connecting with his music with a new passion seemingly born at the intersection of age and wisdom”.  Mr. Watson has won 12 Dove Awards, had 2 Grammy nominations, and an impressive 23 #1 Christian radio singles including ‘Friend of a Wounded Heart’ and ‘Home Free’.  His new album is SIMPLE LIFE (2016, Five Blade Fan Music).

David Cleveland plays guitar on the title track ‘Simple Life’, and on three other tracks.  This one is a great adult contemporary song for us materialistic North Americans to consider: “The flowers of the field, see how your Father cares for these/They hear the symphony/I wanna find me a way to live in that perfect peace/Oh, it won’t take much to be satisfied/Oh, I’ll be good with what the Lord provides/Well, if the answer is easy then why, why is it such a fight to live a simple life?/Wanna set my sights on a life in a peaceful place/Where my heart can find rest in the glow of my Father’s face/In the flow of amazing grace”.  ‘I Can Breathe Here’ is an easy listening song that talks of a spiritual place of refuge on this earth: “My Savior built this church with nails from His bleeding hands/This is where I call home/It’s where I come to lay my burdens down/All my failures, all my faults and even any good things/It’s where I come to shake the dust of the world off my feet for awhile and sing/I can breathe here/I can believe here/I can give what I have”.

‘In the In Between’ is a co-write with the legendary Sandi Patty.  It speaks of God’s goodness to us: “He was, He is, He always will be/But in the in between sometimes it’s hard to see/In the in between as everyday life happens and the fields of green belong to someone else/In the in between what will be and what has been/Jesus is a faithful Friend in the in between/Grace and mercy have no season”.  ‘Heal Our Land’ uses a choir to good effect and is an inspirational anthem of petition and confession: “Hear our prayer, oh hear our prayer/Hear our prayer oh Lord and heal our land/It’s not so much that we’ve forgotten/But that we remember and are cold/And pay too little mind to the voice of God/Still we dare to be so bold/Hear our prayer”.

‘Almighty (2015)’ is a neat re-worked, updated version of a classic Watson praise song: “Well, time marches on, with innocence gone and darkness has covered the earth/Well, but His Spirit still dwells/He speaks ‘It is well’/And the hopeless are offered new birth/He will break the leash of death, it will have no sting/Let the prisoner break free, join the dance and sing/’Almighty, most holy God/You are faithful through the ages/Almighty, most holy Lord/You are glorious Almighty!’”  ‘One of Those Times’ is a beautiful song of spiritual reflection that uses strings conducted by David Davidson: “We will sing with a joyful noise, sing as if we have no choice/But to sing to God with heart and voice/This will be one of those times/There’s a time and a place in most every day/A time to move and a time to pray/This will be one of those times/Yeah, this will be one of those times”.

‘Hold You All Night’ is the loving song of a parent to a young child: “I’ve heard stories that people tell/How to raise a child up well/Maybe there’s some good advice/God, I wanna be wise/And oh how fast these days go by/I know for sure that time will fly/And you will change in the blink of an eye/I can hear those pages turn/So, I will hold you all night/Yeah, if that’s what it takes so you know/Here in my arms you’ll be alright/I will hold you all night”.  ‘Glorify Your Name’ is a lovely light pop song of praise: “In the shadows of the valley/Oh, I will not fear, I will not fear/You are beside me/Almighty God, how majestic is Your Name!/Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall praise and/Glorify, glorify Your Name/We will glorify, glorify Your Name/And together the redeemed, all forgiven will proclaim/We will glorify, glorify Your Name”.

Next up is ‘The Right Thing’.  It is the most modern sounding track on the album.  It is a light, atmospheric adult pop ballad with a heartbeat-like rhythm to it.  It’s about spiritual discernment: “Why are we wringing our hands?/Some choices are black and white/Is it really so hard to know wrong from right?/So, do the right thing whatever it takes/Do the right thing/It’s never too late/Oh, you’ve known it all along/It’s never wrong to do the right thing (2X).../When nobody sees, when nobody’s there/You’re gonna find out who you really are/The Voice from the heavens is pushing you on and changing your heart”.  Erika Johnson skillfully plays cello on ‘Fairest Lord Jesus’.  It extols Christ: “Fairest Lord Jesus/Ruler of all nature/O Thou of God and man the Son/Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor/Thou my soul’s glory, joy, and crown”.  Last up is an acoustic version of ‘Heal Our Land’.

If you have never before heard a Wayne Watson album, you’re in for a real treat with SIMPLE LIFE.  He remains one of the finest male Contemporary Christian Music vocalists of all time.  If on the other hand, like me, it’s been a while since you’ve heard new Wayne Watson material, listening to this project will be like catching up with an old friend.  Wayne sings about what living as one who is a Christian who puts their faith and trust in God looks like in 2016.  He doesn’t preach.  The tone he uses makes you feel like you are one of his good friends and are out having a coffee with him.  Included are a few songs of praise and one about parenthood.  If you are a fan of the likes of James Taylor, Steve Green, and Bebo Norman, you need to acquire this album!  It will minister to you.  I’m rating SIMPLE LIFE 90%.  For more info visit:, or connect with him on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Brooks & Dunn’s fourth studio album was BORDERLINE (1996, Arista).  It was produced by Don Cook, Kix Brooks, and Ronnie Dunn.  Five songs from it hit the Hot Country Songs charts.  In 1996 Brooks & Dunn won the ‘Entertainer of the Year’ award from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.  In 1997 they’d co-headline a tour with Reba McEntire.

The opening song on the album is ‘My Maria’.  It is a cover of a pop tune first recorded by B.W. Stevenson.  He co-wrote it with Daniel Moore.  Brooks & Dunn’s Caribbean music influenced version of the song here, was the Top Country Song of 1996 according to Billboard.  It won a Grammy for ‘Best Country Performance by a Group or Duo’.  On this ode to a lady, Ronnie breaks into his falsetto: “My Maria, there were some blue and sorrow times/Just my thoughts about you bring back my peace of mind/Gypsy lady, you’re a miracle work for me/You set my soul free like a ship sailing on the sea”.  Ronnie co-wrote the #1 hit ‘A Man This Lonely’ with Tommy Lee James.  It is a country ballad of longing: “A man this lonely, a man this blue/A man whose world’s been torn in two/Needs somebody with a heart that’s true/A man this lonely needs a woman like you/Two arms this empty need someone to hold/A man this lost needs somewhere to go/When the nights go on forever and the days do too/Oh, a man this lonely needs a woman like you”.  ‘Why Would I Say Goodbye’ finds Kix Brooks singing lead and includes these heartfelt words: “Just drove around all night in my car/Now I’m not sure where to start to tell you that I’m sorry/I just want to hold you/I don’t want to hurt you/I don’t want to leave/I just want to be with you/And after living alone/Lost for so long/Finally found the love of my life/Oh, why would I say goodbye?”

‘Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing’ is a fun country/rock story song: “She said ‘Hey cowboy, get off that couch/Yeah, the party’s on you and we’re goin’ out/I got my low cut dress and my knee high boots/I’m like money to burn and nothing to lose/You’re the man of the house, you better think of something/Cause mama don’t get dressed up for nothing’/She said ‘I been cooped up in this house all week/It’s time to pick it up and move it down to party street’/She said ‘Saddle up Hoss, it’s your lucky day and I’m a she cat tiger comin’ out of the cage’”.  Terry McBride and Monty Powell wrote the pretty country ballad ‘I Am That Man’.  Admittedly the lyrics aren’t really that original: “I’m gonna show you what love can be/My job won’t be done until  you believe/I am that man you’re trying to find/I am that man you had in mind/And I’ll give you all my love/Till you understand/I won’t give up/Cause I know I am that man”.

Kix Brooks and Chris Waters wrote ‘More than a Margarita’.  It has a warm, tropical feel  to it, but is about heartache: “I started my day with Corona/Hopin’ it’d help me get over the night that you left/But it didn’t help/So I moved on to tequila/Built a pyramid up to the ceiling ten glasses high/But I can still hear you sayin’ goodbye/It’s gonna take more than a margarita/More than a shooter to blow your memory away/I still need ya/Yeah, I’m hurtin’ without you/Even when I’m feelin’ no pain”.  ‘Redneck Rhythm & Blues’ is an upbeat honky tonk song that blue collar workers will relate to: “Oh, I’m a thirsty man/Five hot long miles to the waterin’ hole/I got the pedal to the metal singin’ go cat go/Aw a cool one is a cure for the redneck rhythm and blues/Life ain’t all hard knocks, a quarter in the jukebox/Turn it on and set ‘em up Joe/Songs about a workin’ man blarin’ from a bandstand is music to a country boy’s soul/Call me the underdog of overtime/I stay broke all the time/Got to pay the eight to five dues/Well, I’m hillbilly hardcore/Son, I’m  a sucker for the redneck rhythm and blues”.

Buddy and Julie Miller wrote ‘My Love Will Follow You’.  Buddy recorded it on his 1995 album YOUR LOVE AND OTHER LIES.  It’s a terrific folk/country track of devotion: “Take your suitcase and take your heart/Take a train to the dark/My love will follow you (2X)/You can try to lose yourself downtown/You can burn all your bridges down/My love will follow you/Oh, my love will follow you”.  ‘One Heartache at a Time’ is an old-school country and western number that is addressed to a gal: “Just my luck/You picked tonight to set your sights on me/Darling can’t you see the shape I’m in/I can’t take but just one heartache at a time/I’ve gotta wait till I’ve had a chance to drink her off my mind/Well, I’ll save some tears and meet you here/Somewhere down the line/I can’t take but just one heartache/I can’t take but just one heartache at a time”.

‘Tequila Town’ is a sad song: “Left her standing in a tear-stained dress/I cursed the day that I confessed/Wayward sins of a mortal man/Watched the ring come off her hand/Looking back on all I’ve lost/Price I’ve paid ain’t worth the cost”.  Ronnie Dunn wrote the album’s fast-paced closer, ‘White Line Casanova’.  It’s a fun story song: “I was a white line Casanova/A love bandit of the roads/I got the one I can’t get over/I miss her more with every load/I got these eighteen wheels/Singin’ home sweet home/I been too long gone/Oh, I’m comin’ home to ya”.

BORDERLINE is the strongest, most mature sounding project out of Brooks & Dunn’s first four.  Ronnie sings the lead on six songs, while Kix does so on five.  By far the majority of the songs fall into the category of ‘songs of romantic longing’, a theme common in country music.  In addition, here you will find a song of remorse and three fun, party-type songs.  The skilled players used on the album include: Dennis Burnside (keyboards, piano, and B-3 organ), Bruce C. Bouton (pedal steel and slide guitar), and Rob Hajacos (fiddle and assorted hoedown tools).  John Wesley Ryles and Dennis Wilson are two of the background vocalists.  I’m rating BORDERLINE 95%.  For more info visit:

Monday, September 19, 2016


Steven Curtis Chapman was born on November 21, 1962 in Paducah, Kentucky.  He has won 5 Grammy awards and 58 Dove awards.  His hit songs have included: ‘Weak Days’, ‘His Eyes’, ‘The Great Adventure’, ‘Let Us Pray’, and ‘His Strength is Perfect’.  Artists who have recorded his songs include: Sandi Patty, Glen Campbell, and the Cathedral Quartet.  In 2007 Chapman released his 14th non-holiday album, THIS MOMENT (Sparrow).  On April 20, 2008 he received a star on Nashville’s ‘Walk of Fame’.  Just over a month later, on May 21, 2008, his family would go through a very dark and difficult ordeal.  Steven’s son Will Franklin accidentally ran over and killed one of the family’s three adopted children from China, Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman in the family driveway.  As had been planned before Maria’s death, Steven’s record label released THIS MOMENT: CINDERELLA VERSION a few days later on May 27, 2008.  It includes four bonus tracks and is the version I’ll be reviewing here.  It was produced by Matt Bronleewe and Steven Curtis Chapman.

‘Miracle of the Moment’ was a Top Ten hit for Steven.  He co-wrote it with Matt Bronleewe.  This adult pop song gives us a proper perspective when it comes to time: “There’s only One who knows/What’s really out there waiting/In all the moments yet to be/And all we need to know is He’s out there waiting/To Him the future’s history/And He has given us a treasure called right now/And this is the only moment that we can do anything about”.  ‘Broken’ is a great rock song of confession: “We’re all broken (2X)/And we all need a Savior/Broken, we’re all broken/And we all need a Savior/’Cause we’re all broken/This is a fool’s parade/The way we masquerade/Trying to make everybody think it’s all okay/When the truth is we’re all living a story”.

Steven wrote the beautiful and moving ‘Cinderella’.  It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Christian Songs chart and was nominated for two Dove Awards.  It was inspired by his daughters: “So I will dance with Cinderella/While she is here in my arms/’Cause I know something the prince never knew/Oh, I will dance with Cinderella/I don’t want to miss even one song/’Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight/And she’ll be gone...”  Steven co-wrote the #1 hit ‘Yours’ with Jonas Myrin.  It is an adult contemporary anthem that reminds us Who holds the world in His loving, more than capable hands: “I walk the dirt roads of Uganda/I see the scars that war has left behind/Hope like the sun is fading/And they’re waiting for a cure no one can find/And I hear children’s voices singing/Of a God who heals and rescues and restores/And I’m reminded that every child in Africa is Yours/And it’s all Yours God, Yours God/Everything is Yours/From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor”.  A later 2008 radio version of the song included a fourth verse written after Maria’s death.

‘Something Crazy’ is a catchy Christian pop song that includes these words about a street preacher: “He’s got a Bible and a megaphone/Standing on the corner/And everybody’s saying he’s crazy.../He’s not screaming at anybody/In fact, he says it’s a love story that he’s trying to tell them/And he knows he may look a little strange/But he just smiles and says that’s okay/’Cause you know sometimes love makes you act that way”.  ‘Children of God’ features Steven’s son Caleb Chapman and is an energetic pop/rock self-esteem booster: “We are the children of God (2X)/We are the sons and the daughters/Almighty God is our Father/We are the children of God (2X)/How can we keep from singing?/We are the children of God.../How great the love the Father has shown us/That He would call us His own”.

‘One Heartbeat at a Time’ is a lovely adult contemporary song of encouragement for young mothers: “You’re up all night with a screaming baby/You run all day at the speed of life/And every day you feel a little bit less like the beautiful woman you are.../You, you are changing the world/One little heartbeat at a time/Making history with every touch and every smile/Oh, you, you may not see it now/But I believe that time will tell/How you, you are changing the world/One little heartbeat at a time”.  ‘My Surrender’ is a song of humility: “And what song can I sing/But the songs that You give/I have nothing to bring that did not come from Your hand/So here I am with all I have/And I’m giving it all back to You/All back to You/I surrender”.

‘You are Being Loved’ is a fast-paced pop/rock number that reminds us just how God feels towards us: “You ought to see the smile you’re bringing to your Father’s face/You ought to hear Him sing His version of ‘Amazing Grace’/’Cause that’s the song being sung over you/By the God who breathes life into you/You are being loved (2X)/Right now at this very moment/You are being loved (2X)/Right now you are being loved, loved, loved”.  ‘Definition of Me’ is a bouncy pop song that debunks works righteousness: “It is Your love that defines me/And Your love that reminds me/It’s not what I do/This life I live You have given/And in You I am hidden/This is what I know is true/That the definition of me is You”.

Steven co-wrote ‘With One Voice’ with Matt Redman.  These words rejoice in the brotherhood and sisterhood of believers: “With one voice we will sing/Every tribe and every tongue brings a harmony/With one voice we will bring/Heaven’s beautiful melody down to this earth/As we sing to our King with one voice/Oceans divide us, but we sing together/Now what defines us is our love of You/From every nation and across all borders/Gathered to bring the song to the world/For Your glory”.  This CINDERELLA EDITION of THIS MOMENT includes four bonus songs, starting with a nice acoustic rendition of ‘Cinderella’.  ‘Proud’ is a tender song many parents will relate to: “Proud, I’m  just so proud/I don’t know how to say it any better/Proud, you made me proud/Win or lose, well it doesn’t really matter/’Cause you step up to the plate swinging for the fence/And you’re going to change the world around you, I’m convinced/Just look how you’re changing me”.

‘What I’m Fighting For’ is a heart-tugger told from the perspective of a soldier: “There’s a little girl in Georgia lying in her bed tonight/While her mother holds her close and whispers/’It’s gonna be alright’/And they’ll pray themselves to sleep/And dream about the day when I’ll come walking back through the door/’Cause this is what I’m fighting for”.  Steven co-wrote the closer, ‘Beautiful Scars’, with his good friend Geoff Moore.  It includes these poetic thoughts: “I love who you are and your beautiful scars, your beautiful scars/Reminders of the wounded love that has carried us this far/Beautiful scars/Turning the marks of our pain into beautiful scars”.

THIS MOMENT: CINDERELLA EDITION is a perfect album.  It clearly stresses God’s unconditional love for us.  I actually listened to it for the first time after coming home from a church I was checking out, where the sermon had left me depressed.  The pastor said things like: “God only uses clean people”, “What would Jesus think of what you’re watching on television?”, and “If you’re really a believer, you’ll be witnessing”.  The sermon only re-enforced my dislike for works righteousness.  So, listening to this Steven Curtis Chapman album was a real uplifting treat for me.  It encouraged my spirit and re-enforced my belief that God loves us, period.  We can’t earn or lose His love.  I’m rating this great pop/rock album 100%.  For more info visit:




Friday, September 16, 2016


Brooks & Dunn’s third studio album was WAITIN’ ON SUNDOWN (1994, Arista).  It was produced by Don Cook and Scott Hendricks and peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and at #15 on the U.S. Billboard 200.  The album produced 5 Top Ten songs.  Brooks & Dunn won ‘Top Vocal Duo’ from the Academy of Country Music and ‘Vocal Duo of the Year’ from the Country Music Association the year this album was released.

The first two songs were penned by Ronnie Dunn.  ‘Little Miss Honky Tonk’ is a fun, upbeat country song: “Well, she’s a looker/Heads turn when she comes through the door/A show stopper when she gets to goin’ out on the floor/Oh, we leave all our troubles and cares way behind us/I feel like I’m a king when I’m out with her highness/I’m her big cat daddy, she’s my little Miss Honky Tonk/Oh, oh, I love her so/Stand back, give her room boys and watch her go”.  ‘She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind’ is one of three #1 singles from the album.  It speaks to the character of a woman and is adult contemporary in nature: “She’s not the cheatin’ kind/She’s been cheated one too many times/Oh, she’s never fooled around/He’s still lyin’, she’s through cryin’/She’s not foolin’ now”.

‘Silver and Gold’ is a sad, all too familiar tale: “She knows what’s been keepin’ him out too late/She never was the kind to sit around and wait/She loosened the locket he gave her/Took off her wedding band/And when he gets home he’ll find/All she’s left behind is silver and gold/Haven’t they lost their shine?/Tonight she let go for the last time/Just silver and gold/Ties that no longer bind her/Now he’s left alone with silver and gold”.  ‘I’ll Never Forgive my Heart’ is a country and western ballad that many men will be able to relate to: “I fell in and I fell hard/Now she’s sayin’ she’s found someone new/How could I have been such a fool/Oh close the door, turn out the lights, draw the curtain/I’ll get over her in time/It’s gonna take some hurtin’”.

‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’ is about the disintegration of a romantic relationship: “There’s not much chance we’re gonna make it/If I’m the only one who’s trying/You know I’m running out of reasons/We’re running out of time/Someday, girl, you’re gonna wake up/And wonder what went wrong/You better kiss me/You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone/You’re good at going through the motions/And all I hear are alibis/Now I get this empty feeling/When I look into your eyes”.  Kix Brooks, Don Cook, and Bill LaBounty wrote ‘My Kind of Crazy’.  It is an adventurous country-pop song: “I saw you at the drive-in dancing on a car/Rocking to the radio underneath the stars/Living every moment like it was your last/Don’t know where you’re going/You’re just going fast/You’re my kind of crazy/Full moon saying you know what I like/How about it baby?/Let’s you and I go out and get crazy tonight”.

‘Whiskey Under the Bridge’ is a cheery country and western song that is good to dance to: “All those nights of drinking/Finally got me thinking/Heartache is just a waste of time/I’ve been burned, I’ve been cheated/But this old heart’s still beating/Ain’t no big deal/It’s just whiskey under the bridge”.  ‘If that’s the Way you Want It’ has an old school country and western feel to it and finds a guy wanting to get closer to a gal: “I’m laid back, easy-going/I’m not the jealous kind/I won’t get in your business/If you won’t mess with mine/Just say the word ‘Forever’/I’ll gladly sing that tune/I’ll lay the world down at your feet and fly you to the moon”.

‘She’s the Kind of Trouble’ is the only song here penned solely by Kix Brooks and it’s a good one!  It’s a happy, harmless country song: “There’s one kind of trouble that I don’t mind/She meets me after work when the sun goes down/She’s the kind of trouble makes the world go ‘round/Total strangers, even my best friends/Bird-dog my baby when she walks in/She’s a little slice of heaven and hell on heels/And never gonna walk the line/Oh, but she’s the kind of trouble that I don’t mind”.  Kix Brooks and Chick Rains wrote the tender closing song, ‘A Few Good Rides Away’, which is about a waitress with big dreams who is in a committed relationship.

WAITIN’ ON SUNDOWN is a splendid third album from Brooks & Dunn.  Kix and Ronnie each sing lead on five tracks.  Six of the songs are slow-paced, while four are fast.  Topic-wise five of the songs are happy ones about love and infatuation, three are about relationships ending, and two directly deal with infidelity.  This country and western album has an overall warm and pleasant tone to it.  You will want to give it more than one listen.  I’m rating WAITIN’ ON SUNDOWN 90%.  For more info visit: