Saturday, November 26, 2016


Martina Mariea Schiff was born on July 29, 1966 in Sharon, Kansas.  She married studio engineer John McBride in 1988 and we know her as Martina McBride. She released her debut album THE TIME HAS COME in 1992.  Fast forward to 2005 and she released her eighth studio album, TIMELESS (RCA).  She produced this album of country and western classics.  In the liner notes Marty Stuart writes: ``The language is simple.  Heartfelt words wrapped in a beam of elegant twang.  It`s a music that conveys the struggle of the human condition at its best and worst.  Songs about love, loss, secret loves, cheating, lying, heartache, sin, sadness, redemption, whiskey stained souls, the earth, the heavens, Saturday night, Sunday morning, hope and jailhouses, played on fiddles, banjos and steel guitars”.  TIMELESS peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

‘You Win Again’ was originally written and sung by Hank Williams.  In fact, he recorded it the day after his divorce from Audrey.  It is a sad ballad: “The news is out all over town/That you’ve been seen out runnin’ around/I know that I should leave but then/I just can’t go/You win again/This heart of mine could never see what everybody knew but me/Just trusting you was my great sin”.  Dan Tyminski and Rhonda Vincent lend their talents on ‘I’ll Be There’, a honky tonk number: “Ain’t no jail tight enough to lock me/Ain’t no man big enough to stop me/I’ll be there if you ever want me by your side/So love me, if you’re ever going to love me/I never have seen a road too rough to ride”.

‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ is the ballad of one unable to move on after the end of a romantic relationship: “Those happy hours that we once knew so long ago/Still make me blue/Oh, they say that time heals a broken heart/But time has stood still/Since we’ve been apart”.  Joe South wrote the well known ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’.  It helped Lynn Anderson win 1971’s CMA ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’.  This country/pop gem includes these frank lines: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime/I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/I could sing you a tune and promise you the moon/But if that’s what it takes to hold you/I’d just as soon let you go”.

‘Today I Started Loving You Again’ is a sorrowful song: “I should have known the worst was yet to come/And the crying time for me had just begun/Today I started loving you again/And I’m right back where I’ve really always been/I got over you just long enough to let my heartache mend/Then today I started loving you again”.  Loretta Lynn had a hit with ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ back in 1966.  It’s a danceable country and western song with attitude: “Women like you, they’re a dime a dozen/You can buy them anywhere/For you to get to him, I’d have to move over and I’m gonna stand right here/It’ll be over my dead body, so get out while you can/’Cause you ain’t woman enough to take my man/No, you ain’t woman enough to take my man”.

Bill Anderson wrote ‘Once A Day’.  With it, Connie Smith was the first woman in country music to score a #1 hit with her first single!  It is a melodic country and western number about heartache: “When you found somebody new/I thought I never would forget you/For I thought then I never could/But time has taken all the pains away/Until now I’m down to hurtin’ once a day/Once a day all day long/And once a night from dusk till dawn/The only time I wish you weren’t gone/Is once a day, every day, all day long”.  ‘Pick Me Up on Your Way Down’ is a song of longing: “Pick me up on your way down/When you’re blue and all alone/When the glamour starts to bore you/Come on back where you belong/You may be their pride and joy, but they’ll find another toy/And they’ll take away your crown/Pick me up on your way down”.

‘I Don’t Hurt Anymore’ was a #1 hit for Hank Snow in 1954.  This country ballad offers hope: “No use to deny I wanted to die/The day you said we were through/But now that I find you’re out of my mind/I can’t believe that it’s true/I’ve forgotten somehow that I cared so before/And it’s wonderful now/I don’t hurt anymore”.  ‘True Love Ways’ was penned by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty.  Holly recorded his version in October 1958 and it was released after his death.  Martina’s version is beautiful and easy listening in nature: “Just you know why/Why you and I/Will by and by/Know true love ways/Sometimes we’ll sigh, sometimes we’ll cry/And we’ll know why/Just you and I know true love ways”.

‘’Til I Can Make it on My Own’ is the song of one struggling to let go of another: “I’ll need time to get you off my mind/And I may sometimes bother you/Try to be in touch with you/Even ask too much of you from time to time/Now and then/Lord, you know I’ll need a friend/Til I get used to losin’ you/Let me keep on using you/Til I can make it on my own”.  ‘I Still Miss Someone’ was written by Johnny Cash and his nephew Roy Cash Jr.  Cash first recorded it on 1959’s THE FABULOUS JOHNNY CASH.  On Martina’s version, Dolly Parton does a great job on harmony vocals.  It’s a great country ballad: “I go out to a party and look for a little fun/But I find a darkened corner/Because I still miss someone/Oh, I never got over those blue eyes/I see them everywhere/I miss those arms that held me/When all the love was there”.

Dwight Yoakam sings harmony vocals on the pretty, but sad ‘Heartaches By the Number’.  It begins: “Heartache number 1 was when you left me/I never knew that I could hurt this way/And heartache number 2/Was when you come back again/You came back and never meant to stay/Now I’ve got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score/Every day you love me less/Every day I love you more”.  ‘Satin Sheets’ was authored by factory worker John Volinkaty.  Jeanne Pruett had a #1 hit with it in 1973.  This country ballad finds a woman opening up: “I’ve found another man who can give more than you can/Though you’ve given me everything money can buy/But your money can’t hold me tight like he does on a long, long night/And no, you didn’t keep me satisfied”.

Next up is ‘Thanks A Lot’ which in 1963 was Ernest Tubbs’ last of 58 Top Ten hits!  This toe-tapper could lyrically be the theme song for Martina’s album: “Thanks, thanks a lot/I got a broken heart/That’s all I’ve got/You made me cry, I cried a lot/I lost your love/Baby, thanks a lot”.  Another toe-tapper follows, ‘Love’s Gonna Live Here’.  Refreshingly, it is a joyful song: “Oh, the sun’s gonna shine in my life once more/Love’s gonna live here again/Things are gonna be the way they were before/Love’s gonna live here again/Love’s gonna live here (2X)/Love’s gonna live here again/No more loneliness, only happiness/Love’s gonna live here again”.

‘Make the World Go Away’ finds the singer pleading: “I’m sorry if I hurt you/I’ll make it up day by day/Just say you love me like you used to/And make the world go away”.  Last up is the Kris Kristofferson composition ‘Help Me Make it Through the Night’ which Sammi Smith originally sang with great success.  Here, it is a soft, sultry country ballad: “Take the ribbon from my hair/Shake it loose and let it fall/Lay it soft against your skin/Like the shadows on the wall/Come and lay down by my side/Till the early mornin’ light/All I’m takin’ is your time/Help me make it through the night”.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”.  Verse 4 confirms that there is a time to weep. So sorrow is a biblical emotion.  The majority of the 18 songs on TIMELESS deal with the grief one experiences when their romantic relationship comes to an end.  Country and western music excels when it comes to this theme.  I recommend this record to those who can’t get past a break-up.  Verse 3 of the same Bible passage does, however, tell us that there is a time to heal as well.  You won’t find solid answers on how to do so on this album-that is not its purpose.  Martina’s vocals are awesome here, and it is nice to see her introducing a whole new generation of music lovers to these country and western classics.  I’m rating TIMELESS  a perfect 100%.  For more info visit:




Friday, November 25, 2016



SURFIN’ SAFARI was the first studio album by The Beach Boys.  It was released on October 1, 1962 on Capitol Records.  The front cover was shot on the beach at Paradise Cove, north of Malibu.  At the time, the group consisted of the three Wilson brothers (Brian, Dennis, and Carl), cousin Mike Love, and neighbour David Marks.  The album peaked at #32 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart and stayed on the U.S. charts for 37 weeks.  The duo of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher wrote four of the album’s twelve songs.  In 1990 Brian reflected: “I was very young (20) and I was feelin’ my oats.  The theme song of the album SURFIN’ SAFARI, gave me a jolt.  I went into the songwriting aspect of it with gusto.  I worked off youthful energy and my head was full of needs to get a bad childhood off my chest.  I proceeded to do this by sittin’ at my piano and poundin’ out chords and rhythms.  I was getting the knack of writing melodies”.

The title track, ‘Surfin’ Safari’ starts things off.  It is one of two Brian Wilson/Mike Love co-writes, and one of eight songs where solely Mike sings lead.  It was a #14 hit for the group before the album came out.  It’s an innocent surf rock ‘n’ roll song: “Let’s go surfin’ now/Everybody’s learning how/Come on and safari with me.../Early in the morning we’ll be startin’ out/Some honeys will be coming along/We’re loading up our woody with our boards inside/And headin’ out singing our song”.  ‘County Fair’ is a humorous story song about a guy who is unable to win his gal a prize at a fair.  Another guy comes along and wins her a prize, thus stealing her heart away.

‘Ten Little Indians’ isn’t exactly politically correct and only runs a minute and a half.  Here is one of the verses: “The 7th little Indian took her over to his tipi/Little Indian boy/The 8th little Indian tried to give her a love poem/Fighting over a squaw/The 9th little Indian said ‘You’re my Kemosabe’/Little Indian boy/The squaw didn’t like ‘em at all”.  ‘Chug-A-Lug’ is one of two songs penned by the trio of Brian, Mike, and Gary Usher.  It’s a fun, upbeat rock ‘n’ roll track with an electric guitar solo: “Carl says hurry up and order it quick/Dave gets out to chase that chick/Dennis wonders what’s under the hood/A big chrome tach and it sounds real good/I go down to the root beer stand and drink up all that I can/Give me some root beer/Chug-a-lug (3X).../Brian’s still glued to the radio”.

‘Little Miss America’ was written by Herb Alpert and Vincent Catalano and was first recorded by Dante & His Friends.  Dennis Wilson sings lead here on this pleasant pop song of infatuation: “Blue eyes, blonde hair, lips like a movie star/Little girl with heart of gold/You’re my Miss America/Little girl with lips untold/You’re my Miss America/You’re so sweet, you’re so fine/Hey, won’t you be mine?/Everybody knows it”.  ‘409’ is a peppy rock ‘n’ roll song that is all about a guy’s dream car, and includes car sound effects: “She’s real fine, my 409 (2X)/My 409/Well, I saved my pennies and I saved my dimes/Giddyup, giddyup, 409/For I knew there would be a time/Giddyup, giddyup 409/When I would buy a brand new 409, 409, 409.../Nothing can catch her, nothing can touch my 409, 409”.

‘Surfin’’ is a happy rock ‘n’ roll ditty that Dennis encouraged to be written because surfing was becoming quite popular.  Some of the words are: “Surfin’ is the only life, the only way for me/Now surf, surf with me.../I got up this mornin’, turned on my radio/I was checkin’ out the surfin’ scene/To see if I would go/And when the DJ tells me that the surfin’ is fine/That’s when I know my baby and I will have a good time”.  The song was a #2 hit in L.A.  ‘Heads You Win-Tails I Lose’ is on the cheesy side of things: “Every time we have a fight/We flip a coin to see who’s right.../Heads you win/Tails, I lose/Heads you win, tails I lose/Bad news”.

Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart wrote ‘Summertime Blues’.  Cochran took it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and later on Alan Jackson had a #1 hit with it.  The Beach Boys’ version is a real foot shuffler and includes this scenario: “Well, my mom and pop told me/’Son, you gotta make some money if you want to use the car to go ridin’ next Sunday’/Well, I didn’t go to work, told the boss I was sick/’Well, you can’t use the car ‘cause you didn’t work a lick’/Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do/But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”.  Mike and Brian share the lead.  The next cut, ‘Cuckoo Clock’, finds Brian singing lead and is definitely a novelty song: “Cuckoo/Cuckoo, go away silly bird.../I took that clock apart, tick tock, tick tock/I broke the cuckoo’s heart.../He’ll never bother us again”.

‘Moon Dawg’ was originally recorded by the Gamblers in 1959.  It’s a surf rock instrumental on which Carl Wilson shows off his guitar skills.  The song includes dog barking/howling sounds.  Last up is ‘The Shift’, which includes these sexy lyrics: “You may think a dress can’t do very much/Wearin’ a shift really turns me on/With the slit up the side, you can’t resist that touch/Wearin’ a shift really turns me on/It’s tighter than a moo-moo and it’s just too much/Wearin’ a shift (2X)”.

SURFIN’ SAFARI is a fun, carefree, energetic debut rock ‘n’ roll album from what would become one of America’s favourite groups of all time.  The topics and emotions on this record are what one would expect from five young guys from early 1960’s California.  Mike Love is a great lead vocalist.  The sky was truly the limit for The Beach Boys after this album came out in 1962!  I’m rating SURFIN’ SAFARI 95%.  For more info visit:

SURFIN’ U.S.A. was The Beach Boys second studio album.  It was released by Capitol Records on March 25, 1963.  It hit #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums Chart and stayed on the chart for 78 weeks!  On the album, The Beach Boys once again are: Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and David Marks.  The front cover photo was taken by John Severson in January of 1960.  It shows Leslie Williams surfing at Sunset Beach (Oahu) in Hawaii.  In 1990 Brian Wilson had the following to say: “This album showcased our voices.  We were just kids, but we were serious about our craft.  The point being that when you are given the chance, you do your best.  It’s another way of sayin’ ‘Thanks’ to the fans who buy records”.

The title track, ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ features Brian Wilson’s lyrics set to the music of Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’.  It was released as a single March 4, 1963 and peaked at #3 on the ‘Billboard’ and ‘Cash Box’ charts.  Mike Love sings lead on this contagious rock ‘n’ roll song that includes the use of an organ and an electric guitar solo.  The song begins with these now familiar lyrics: “If everybody had an ocean/Across the U.S.A./Then everybody’d be surfin’ like California/You’d see ‘em wearing their baggies/Huarachi sandals too/A bushy bushy blonde hairdo/Surfin’ U.S.A.”  Next up is ‘Farmer’s Daughter’ on which Brian sings lead in his falsetto.  It’s a light pop love song: “I could come from miles away/Ain’t got no place to stay/Glad to help you plow your fields/Farmer’s daughter/Might be just a couple of days/Clean up, rest and on my way/Thank you and I’m much obliged/Farmer’s daughter”.

‘Misirlou’ is originally from the Eastern Mediterranean region.  Both Jan August and Dick Dale had hits with it.  I can picture someone belly dancing or charming a snake to this instrumental piece here!  ‘Stoked’ is a decent Brian Wilson surf rock instrumental.

‘Lonely Sea’ is a sad but lovely ballad penned by Gary Usher and Brian Wilson: “The lonely sea (2X)/It never stops for you or me/It moves along/From day to day/That’s why my love (2X)/You’ll never stay (2X)/This pain in my heart/These tears in my eyes/Please tell the truth/You’re like the lonely sea”.  Brian and Roger Christian wrote ‘Shut Down’.  It hit #23 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart.  Jan and Dean recorded it in 1982.  Mike Love sings lead and contributes a sax solo to this fun Beach Boys version.  It’s about racing cars: “Pedal’s to the floor/Hear his dual quads drink/And now the four-thirteen’s lead is startin’ to shrink/He’s hot with ram induction, but it’s understood/I got a fuel injected engine sittin’ under my hood/Shut it off, shut it off/Buddy, now I shut you down”.

‘Noble Surfer’ is a Wilson/Love story song: “A surfin’ Casanova with his customized board/A Woody and h is dirty white jeans/He takes his choice of honeys up and down the coast/The finest surfer yet to make the scene/Noble, ain’t joshin’/Surfer, ain’t joshin’/He’s the number one man/He’s movin’”.  Bill Doggett had a #2 hit with ‘Honky Tonk’ back in 1956.  This Beach Boys cover of it here, is pleasant.  It’s an instrumental.’

‘Lana’ is a bouncy adult pop song where a guy tries to woo a gal: “Lana, Lana, oh Lana dear/Please come along with me/We’ll go, we’ll go/So far away/So happy we will be/I’ll show, I’ll show you another world/Alone with silver and gold”.  Carl Wilson wrote the happy instrumental ‘Surf Jam’.

‘Let’s Go Trippin’ is often cited as the first surf rock instrumental.  It appeared first on Dick Dale & His Del-Tones 1962 album SURFER’S CHOICE.  The Beach Boys’ version has a sunny and tropical vibe to it.  On ‘Finders Keepers’, Mike Love delves into bass vocal territory.  The lyrics are playful: “I kicked out of the surf and stuck my board in the sand/And then up in my Woody to a hamburger stand/And when I got back my nine five board was gone/She said, yeah she said/’Finders keepers (2X)/Losers weepers (2X)’”.

SURFIN’ U.S.A. is a more diverse album than the group’s debut record, in that five of the twelve tracks are surf instrumentals.  One could argue that that is too great a percentage, but other fans of the genre won’t mind at all.  As for the other songs, there are three about surfing, three about girls, and there’s one about cars.  Mike sings lead on four songs and Brian on three.  Overall, this is a cheerful rock ‘n’ roll record, even though it doesn’t include many of the group’s greatest hits to come.  The harmonies are to be commended here.  I’m rating SURFIN’ U.S.A. 88%.  For more info visit:

Three bonus tracks are included on the 2001 CD re-issue of the first two Beach Boys albums.  ‘Cindy, Oh Cindy’ was written by Robert Barron and Burt Long.  It’s also been recorded by Vince Martin & The Terriers, Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, and The Highwaymen.  It finds a guy pining for his gal: “I joined the Navy to see the world/But nowhere could I find a girl as sweet as Cindy/The girl I left behind/I’ve searched the wide world over/Can’t get her out of my mind/Cindy, oh Cindy/Cindy, don’t let me down/Write me a letter dear and I’ll be homeward bound”.  ‘The Baker Man’ is all about a new dance craze, and has a party type feel to it.  ‘Land Ahoy’ is a rock ‘n’ roll outtake from SURFIN’ SAFARI.  It has a nautical flare to it: “Listen here matey/In an hour or so/We’ll be sitting on the land that we know/We’ll leave this ship and run to outstretched arms/And soon we’ll be living with our lover’s charms”.





Thursday, November 24, 2016


Brian Douglas Wilson was born on June 20, 1942 in Inglewood, California.  When he was two, his family moved to Hawthorne, California.  His two younger brothers were Dennis and Carl.  Brian is the driving force behind The Beach Boys, who released their first album SURFIN’ SAFARI back in 1962.  Brian put out his self-titled solo debut in 1988.  In 2005 he released his seventh studio album, WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (Arista).  Brian plays piano, sings lead vocals, and produced the record.

First up is the Brian Wilson/Mike Love composition ‘The Man With all the Toys’.  It was originally a Beach Boys song that appeared on their 1964 Christmas album.  Here, it’s a playful rock ‘n’ roll song about Santa: “Someone found a lighted house late one night/And he saw through the window a sight/A big man in a chair and little tiny men everywhere/He’s the man with all the toys.../Let every heart prepare him room (5X)”.  The title track, an easy listening tune, ‘What I Really Want for Christmas’, is a Brian Wilson co-write with long time Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin.  It paints a quaint picture: “I’ll build a fire, you’ll hold me tight/We’ll pray for peace on Christmas night/Lift our hearts, hope to find/A world that stops to think of love at Christmas time/Children’s laughter brings joy beyond our dreams/Full of hope to give, these times in which we live/Please no more lists, send no more gifts.../What I really want at Christmas time is peace tonight/Peace for all”.  A lively version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ comes next.  It shares the Good News: “God rest ye merry gentlemen/Let nothing you dismay/Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day/To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray/O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy/O tidings of comfort and joy!”

A splendid traditional version of the Christmas standard ‘O Holy Night’ speaks of the incarnation: “O Holy Night!/The stars are brightly shining/It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth/Long lay the world in sin and error pining/Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.../Fall on your knees!/Oh, hear the angel voices!/O night divine, o night when Christ was born/O night divine/O Holy Night!”  Next comes a pretty version of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, which morphs into an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll piece.  ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ is essentially a praise song: “Hark the herald angels sing, hark the herald/Merry Christmas! (2X)/Hark the herald angels sing/Hark the herald angels sing/’Glory to the newborn King/Peace on earth and mercy mild/God and sinners reconciled’/Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies/With angelic host proclaim/’Christ is born in Bethlehem’”.

‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’ begins with these familiar words: “It came upon the midnight clear/That glorious song of old/From angels bending near the earth/To touch their harps of gold/Peace on the earth, goodwill to men/From heaven’s all gracious King/The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing”.  The easy listening ballad ‘The First Noel’ gets us thinking about the wise men of old: “They looked up and saw a star/Shining in the East beyond them far/And to the earth it gave a great light/And so it continued both day and night/Noel (4X)/Born is the King of Israel!”  ‘Christmasey’ is credited to Brian Wilson and Jimmy Webb.  It is a playful adult pop song: “It’s almost time to light up the candles/The church bells chime, it’s a song of Handel’s/And the music’s so Christmasey/Percolatin’ inside of me/Like a little bit of rock and roll/Like a little bit of Christmas soul/And we’re feelin’ so Christmasey/Goin’ out on a shoppin’ spree/Give a present with a great big bow/To a stranger we don’t even know/We’ll have our fun and be carefree/Cause it’s Christmasey”.

The Brian Wilson/Mike Love composition ‘Little Saint Nick’ was originally released as a single by The Beach Boys on December 9, 1963.  It hit #3 on Billboard’s Christmas Singles chart at the time.  It’s an ultra catchy old time rock ‘n’ roll track with these words about Christmas Eve: “And haulin’ through the snow at a frightenin’ speed/With a half a dozen deer with Rudy to lead/He’s gotta wear his goggles ‘cause the snow really flies/And he’s cruisin’ every pad with a little surprise/It’s the little Saint Nick (Ooo, little Saint Nick)/Yeah, the little Saint Nick (Ooo, little Saint Nick)”.  ‘Deck the Halls’ became a Top Ten Adult Contemporary hit for Brian.  It has a neat shuffle to it and begins: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly/Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la/’Tis the season to be jolly/Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la”.  A nice acappela version of the New Year’s staple ‘Auld Lang Syne’ follows.

Three bonus tracks are included on the album.  First up is the light pop song ‘On Christmas Day’ penned by Brian.  It includes these pleasant lyrics: “The bells are ringing on Christmas day/They wake up the children and they’re starting to play/Look what’s under the Christmas tree/All kinds of goodies from Santa and me/Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong day/Frosty the Snowman’s melting away/Deep inside my heart there’s a glow/All of a sudden, it’s starting to snow/We all share the joy that comes along just once a year/Spreading so much love and bringing cheer”.  ‘Joy to the World’ could be a lullaby here: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come/Let earth receive her King/Let every heart prepare Him room/And heaven and nature sing (2X)/And heaven and nature and nature sing”.  One verse of ‘Silent Night’ is the closing song.

WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is a pleasant, cheerful holiday album to listen to.  It draws from pop, rock ‘n’ roll, and easy listening music, as well as adult contemporary.  As with the works of The Beach Boys, there are great harmonies on this record. Vocalists Brian is complemented by include: Jeffrey Foskett, Darian Sahanaja, Taylor Mills, and Probyn Gregory.  There is a vast array of musical instruments used including: sleigh bells, glockenspiel, horns, violins, viola, cello, and harp.  Whether he is singing about Christ our Lord or Santa Claus, Wilson does so with an innocence that is endearing.  It is also of benefit that Brian does not tinker too much with the original melodies of the carols he performs.  I’m rating WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS 90%.  For more info visit:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Sommer Floyd’s bio begins: “If you look up ‘All American Girl’ in the dictionary, chances are the definition will be accompanied by a picture of Sommer Floyd.  Growing up in Texas Hill Country, Sommer was an honor roll student, gifted athlete, beauty queen, and a genuinely nice person”.  Becoming a young single mother to daughter Heidi led her to draw nearer to God and her family.  She began to write songs.  She says: “Putting my brokenness on paper helped to get me through the hard times and the lyrics started to turn into worship”.  Her debut album RAY OF LIGHT (2016) was produced by Steven V. Taylor, who has worked with the likes of Michael W. Smith, Matt Redman, and Veggie Tales.  Sommer’s co-writers are: Chris Lockwood, Ira Shane Floyd, Phil Holt, Shyler Floyd, David Floyd, Terri Floyd, and Heidi Floyd.

The title track, ‘Ray of Light’, is up first.  This country/pop song inspired by a lazy summer afternoon with her young daughter Heidi, was a #1 Christian radio hit for Sommer.  It expresses her desire to make a positive difference in the world in which she lives: “I wanna be a ray of light/I wanna show the way You shine/I want the world to fall for You on their knees/For all You’ve done in my life/Lord You made the sacrifice/I wanna touch the world like a ray of light/Redeemed by the cross/I will share of how You touched my heart”.  ‘Stronger’ is a beautiful country ballad written for one of Sommer’s friends battling leukemia.  The chorus is a heartfelt prayer: “Meet me in this place/Down here on the floor/Shower me with grace/Cause I need You more/Lift me up so high/Help me overcome/With Your healing hands/Only You can make me/Stronger (3X)/You make me/Stronger (3X)”.  ‘How You Love Me’ is a fantastic worship song: “What a sacrifice, what a perfect Savior/You died upon the cross to save a wretch like me/You are worthy, worthy/I fall down at Your feet/Crying holy, holy/Your love is all I need/And Your beauty takes my breath away from me/And how You love me”.

‘Drop and Run’ is a melodic song of spiritual invitation: “Drop and run/To the Keeper of the stars/Drop and run/He’s there with open arms/He loves you more than you’ll ever know, more than you’ll ever know/So, lay down your burdens/There’s no need to fear/Whatever you’re holding/Give it all to Him”.’Children of God’ is an adult contemporary worship song: “In Your presence we belong/Hear our voices sing this song/’We are the children of God/Hallelujah/We are the children of God/Sing His praises/Almighty is the King/He is our Victory/And we are the children of God/Hallelujah!’ (2X)”

‘I Need You’ is a pretty country ballad that acknowledges a need for God: “Even in the night, You will be my light/Faithful, You are faithful evermore/So down this path I pray/You bring me back to truth/So, I’m calling out, I’m calling out to You, oh.../To cast my fears away/Renew my hope and strength/And lift me up to heights I’ve never been/Every moment of this day/I’m holding on by faith/So lift me up to heights I’ve never been/I need You”.  ‘Working on Me’ includes the following bridge more of us need to grasp fully: “The past is in the past/And there’s no more looking back/There are greater things in store/Because of You”.

The next song, ‘Let it Rain’, has Christian Adult Contemporary Radio hit written all over it style-wise!  The lyrics are poetic: “Pour Your mercy down upon me/Wash me in Your grace/When I call out Your Name/It’s more than I can take/Who am I that You would hear my cry/There’s joy and there is pain/But there’s power in Your praise/Cause You open up the flood gates in my life/Lord let it rain”.  ‘Little Boy’ is a marvelous inspirational story song: “Little boy all alone/Always wondered who God was/He begged ‘Mom, Dad, please can I go?’/Never heard between the yelling and slamming doors, the little boy was gone.../Little boy met a girl/So lost in this big world/She said ‘I don’t know what you see in me’/Little boy took her hand and told her God has the perfect plan.../Little boy leads a church, little girl amazed how God works/Bringing people to the Word of God...”

‘Lighthouse’ delves into the rock music category, but I would have made it an even heavier, grittier track!  On it, Sommer praises God: “Every fear has been washed away/I`d be lost if it weren`t for grace/With my eyes on You/My faith is strong/In the darkest nights I will carry on/You will be my Lighthouse whoa/Lighthouse whoa/Whoa, oh, oh”.  A very slow, traditional version the classic hymn ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ follows.  The original writers are Thomas Chisholm and William M. Runyan.  It fits well on this album.

‘He is Good’ reminds me of the light pop/worship stylings of Twila Paris.  It declares: “He is good, He’s so good/He’s the Master of creation/He carries you and me/He is good, He’s so good/The fulfiller of the empty/The sound of joyful praise/He is good/Oh salvation/Living Water/The Lover of my soul”.  On the final song, an easy listening one, ‘Live Like Jesus’, Sommer shares her deepest desires: “Live like Jesus lived/Love like Jesus loved/Help just like the healer of the universe/Pray like Jesus prayed/Give like Jesus gave/Shine for Jesus rose on that third day”.

Sommer Floyd is a beautiful Christian lady and this, her debut album, RAY OF LIGHT, is also simply beautiful.  What a tender, moving, passionate voice God has given this lady!  It is great to see that she is using it for His glory.  These are songs that document the intimate relationship we can have with our faithful, loving Father God.  The use of The Nashville String Machine is a big bonus on this peaceful, soothing album.  What sets Sommer apart from so many female CCM artists is first, her country music vibes sprinkled throughout RAY OF LIGHT, and second, her refusal to be flashy and to conform to a set musical formula.  Sommer sings from the heart and we all benefit from it!  This record is a breath of fresh air.  I’m rating it 88%.  For more info visit: or connect with her on Facebook.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Amy Grant was born in Augusta, Georgia on November 25, 1960.  She’s the youngest of four sisters.  Amy released her self-titled debut album in 1977.  It included the songs ‘Beautiful Music’ and ‘Old Man’s Rubble’.  In 1983 Amy put out her first holiday album, A CHRISTMAS ALBUM.  In 2001 the book ‘CCM Presents: The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music’ rated it as #40 of all time.  Amy’s second holiday record was HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (1992, A & M).  It hit #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Christian Albums chart.  It was produced by Brown Bannister and executive produced by Amy and Michael Blanton.  In the liner notes, Amy shares: “It’s my hope that from year to year, as the Christmas season rolls around, my own children will blow the dust off of this recording and let the songs that were dear to me as a child find a sweet, familiar place in their hearts”.

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ starts the album off on a sentimental, easy listening note: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/Make the yuletide gay/From now on our troubles will be miles away/Once again as in olden days, happy golden days of yore/Faithful friends who are dear to us/Will be near to us once more”.  First Call and Chris Eaton provide background vocals on ‘It’s the Most wonderful Time of the Year’, which is playful: “There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and carolling out in the snow/There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.../There’ll be much mistletoe-ing and hearts will be glowing/When loved ones are near/It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.

Brown Bannister and Ron Huff produced the next track.  It begins with a majestic sounding instrumental rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ and then goes into George Frederick Handel’s: “For unto us a Child is born/Unto us a Son is given (2X)/And the government shall be upon His shoulders/And His Name shall be called/Wonderful, Counselor/Almighty God, the Everlasting Father/The Prince of Peace”.  The London Studio Orchestra and The American Boychoir are used.  Next up, is the now holiday favourite, ‘Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)’.  It was written by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant and became a #1 Adult Contemporary Christian radio hit for Grant.  It serves as a sincere prayer from Jesus’ young mother: “Breath of Heaven/Hold me together/Be forever near me/Breath of Heaven/Breath of Heaven/Lighten my darkness/Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy/Breath of Heaven.../I offer all I am/For the mercy of Your plan/Help me be strong/Help me be/Help me”.

Pioneering CCM artist Phil Keaggy skillfully plays guitars on a laid back version of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.  It’s a song of invitation: “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant/O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem/Come and behold Him/Born the King of angels/O come let us adore Him (3X)/Christ the Lord”.  David Foster and Linda Thompson Jenner wrote the beautiful ballad ‘Grown-up Christmas List’.  It imagines a gentler world all around: “No more lives torn apart/That wars would never start and time would heal all hearts/And everyone would have a friend/And right would always win/And love would never end/This is my grown-up Christmas list”.

Jerry McPherson plays guitar and Chris McHugh plays drums on a happy country/pop version of ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’.  Here are some of the words: “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree/Let the Christmas spirit ring/Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie and we’ll do some carolling/You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear voices singing/’Let’s be jolly, deck the halls with boughs of holly’”.  Woodwinds are added to the mix on the romantic ‘Winter Wonderland’.  It tells a story: “Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is the new bird/He sings a love song as we go along/Walking in a winter wonderland/In the meadow we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Parson Brown/He’ll say ‘Are you married?’/We’ll say ‘No man, but you can do the job when you’re in town’”.

Craig Nelson plays bass on ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, which was written by Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, and Buck Ram.  Clare Fischer plays piano on this light jazz version.  It waxes sentimental: “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me/Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree/Christmas Eve will find me where the love light gleams/I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams”.  Carly Simon wrote the gorgeous ballad ‘The Night Before Christmas’.  A children’s choir is used to good effect here.  Here are some of the lyrics: “You don’t have to be an angel to sing harmony/You don’t have to be a child to love the mystery/And you don’t have to be a wise man on bended knee/The heart of this Christmas is in you and me/The night before Christmas (2X)”.

Amy, Chris Eaton, and Robert Marshall wrote ‘Emmanuel, God With Us’, a worshipful selection: “Emmanuel, God with us, Emmanuel/Emmanuel, God with us/The Son of Israel/And the years they come and the years they go/Though we may forget somehow/That the Child once born in Bethlehem is still among us now”.  Closing off the album is a pleasant instrumental version of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’, with derivative melody by Carl Marsh.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a must have for fans of skillfully presented holiday music.  Amy’s vocals are easy on the ears and the instrumentation is wonderful!  Style-wise, I would put this record in the light pop and inspirational music categories.  It’s a good one to listen to if you need to quiet yourself amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  It’s also appropriate music to play in the background during your family’s Christmas meal.  You will find songs of both a sacred and a secular nature included here.  The pictures of Amy included with the CD are pretty.  I’m rating HOME FOR CHRISTMAS a perfect 100%.  For more info visit or check her out on Facebook.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Grace Chapel Worship is the worship team from Grace Chapel in the small town of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee.  Their new album is a live one entitled SO LOVED (2016, Grace House Music).  It features lead vocals by seven different artists and was produced by Ian Eskelin, who has worked with the likes of Francesca Battistelli and Stellar Kart.  Worship Pastor Jonathan Allen, who sings and plays acoustic guitar on the album, shares: “Steve Berger, our pastor, was doing a series entitled `So Loved’, and that is how the project got its title.  Because God loved us first, we just want to tell Him that we love Him, too.  Our prayer is that these songs say just that”.  Part of the proceeds of the sale of SO LOVED are going to Josiah’s House, a boy’s home Grace Chapel started in the Dominican Republic.

Mia Fieldes, Rick Cua, and Jonathan Allen (who sings lead) wrote the rousing modern worship song ‘Meet Us Here’.  It is one of supplication: “Come/Be the first thing, the last thing/All that we’re seeking/The one thing we’re asking/The one thing we’re needing/As every hand is raised/As every heart draws near/Meet us here”.  ‘Crown Him (Forever)’ finds Logan Pringle singing lead.  It has a majestic, celebratory feel to it and blends traditional lyrics with modern ones: “Crown Him the Lord of life who triumphed o’er the grave/And rose victorious in the strife/For those He came to save/His glories now we sing/Who died and rose on high/Who died eternal life to bring/And lives that death may die/The worthy One, the Lamb of God/We praise You Lord, forever/Most holy One, the Lamb of God/We praise You Lord, forever”.

‘One True Love’ is a melodic modern worship ballad that exalts Christ: “You are hope falling fresh over every generation/You are life, You are joy/You are healing for the nations/There is one true love greater than them all/One true love/One day every knee will fall at the feet of Jesus/The one true love”.  ‘Name Above’ anticipates things to come: “Every knee will bow before the King/Every nation, tribe, and tongue will sing/Worthy is the Lamb who once was slain/Glory to the Name above all names”.

Chris Eaton and Allison Allen wrote ‘Christ Be All’.  Adie Camp sings lead, while her famous husband Jeremy Camp provides backing vocals.  The song is beautiful and reverent: “Christ beneath, Christ above/Christ o’er hate, Christ through love/When waters rise, when mountains fall/Christ be all/Christ be in all things/Christ be all through all things/From now until our journey’s done/Christ be all/And to Your Name I bind myself forever (3X)/To Your Name, oh what a name”.  ‘Greater Still’ has a more classic praise and worship feel to it-think old Integrity Hosanna.  It offers these words of testimony: “I no longer have to wander like a vagrant drifting soul/Cause You secured my destination on the cross that sealed my hope/Oh, greater still, greater still/God Your love is greater still/The cross declares from Calvary’s hill/God Your love is greater still”.

Next up is ‘My Victory’ penned by Jonathan Allen and Krystal Hawkins.  The latter is better known as former CCM star Krystal Meyers.  I only wish she had contributed vocals to this testimonial: “I’m redeemed, bought out of slavery/You conquered on the cross (2X)/By Your strength You shattered the enemy/You conquered on the cross (2X)/So I will sing praise to the King/You are my victory Jesus/With hands lifted high/Be glorified, You are my victory Jesus, Jesus/Now I’m free/Jesus I’m free indeed/Thank You God/Thank You”.  Veteran CCM artist Amy Morriss Lowry contributes great lead vocals on the upbeat modern worship track ‘Just the Thought of You’.  It’s the song of one truly in love with Christ: “Just the thought of You sets my heart ablaze/No one else but You can make me feel this way/In Your presence my soul starts to sing/Just the thought of You/Sets my feet to dancing (2X)/And Jesus, You are mine/You are mine forever/I’ll never find another love so true/A love so true”.

‘Love’ begins with these less than creative words: “For all of the broken/For all of the torn apart/For all of the dying/For every shattered heart/There is love, love, love/There is love for us”.  ‘Face to Face’ is an easy listening song about intimacy with Jesus: “Lord You move me/I can feel You everywhere/And in all things I can see Your beauty/But nothing will compare/No nothing will compare/To beholding You as You fully are/To being completely undone in Your presence Lord/Oh, I’ll run to You and fall in Your embrace/Oh, I will see clearly then/When I see You face to face”.

Alisa Childers, daughter of Christian music pioneer Chuck Girard, and member of CCM pop/dance group ZOEgirl, sings lead on ‘The Table’, which focuses on communion: “I remember the death of my King/How Your life poured to restore everything/So I’m holding out these hands/Empty as I am/I come, I come/For the bread that was broken/For the blood that I hope in/I come, I come/Take my seat at the table/At the feast of my Savior”.  Last up is a terrific praise and worship anthem, ‘Redeemed’.  It was penned by Amy Lowry, Debi Selby, and Jonathan Allen.  It speaks of our identity in Christ, with great joy: “Not forsaken anymore, I am sealed and I am Yours/I’ve been born of God and given a new name/Not abandoned anymore/I’m adopted, I’m adored/Redemption has become my greatest praise/My soul will say.../’Redeemed, redeemed/My King has ransomed me/I’m free, I’m free/My King has ransomed me’”.

CCM veteran and now Pastoral Care Pastor at Grace Chapel, Rick Cua, says: “Every track on Grace Chapel Worship’s new worship album, SO LOVED, is a reflection of what God is doing musically from week to week and song to song at our church”.  Simply put, if you are a fan of modern praise and worship music, there is a lot for you to like here!  The vocals and musicianship are commendable.  Two of the musicians used are Gordon Mote and Mike Payne.  The lyrics tend to be simple and repetitive, but that means you can catch on to and sing along with these twelve songs fairly easily.  This is an album that glorifies God and not the performers.  Love is easily the most common topic here-God’s love for us, and our love for Him.  Unfortunately, if one is looking at the album as a work of art, there isn’t much to set it apart from the hundreds of other modern worship records already out there though.  I’m rating SO LOVED 85%.  For more info visit:,, and

Friday, November 18, 2016


PFR began as the Joel Hanson Band in 1989.  In 1991 they were known as Inside Out and signed to Brown Bannister’s Vireo Records, a new label.  By 1992 the group was known as Pray for Rain, named after a line in a poem.  That year they put out their self-titled debut album which included ‘Do You Want to Know Love’.  An instrumental group going by the same name threatened a lawsuit, so the Christian group became PFR.  On the group’s third album, GREAT LENGTHS (1994, Vireo), its members were Joel Hanson, Mark Nash, and Patrick Andrew.  The album was produced by Jimmie Lee Sloas and executive produced by Brown Bannister.

The title track, ‘Great Lengths’, is first up.  This song has an upbeat Beatles pop feel to it and finds the trio thinking aloud: “I have not yet arrived seeing anything/Quiet my desires till they die, until they die/Or align with Your will/Why didn’t I go to such great lengths to try to please You?/Instead I tried to please myself/In the end when Your heart is broken/I see the folly of trying to please myself”.  The writers of the song are Patrick Andrew and Jimmie Lee Sloas.  ‘Wonder Why’ is a groovy rock song.  It’s one of five tracks solely penned by Joel Hanson.  It paints a picture of despair: “You’ve tried everything that has been in your reach/But none of it seems to satisfy/So like a man lost at sea your thirst leads you to drink the water/The more you drink the more your throat runs dry and you wonder why/And you wonder why you feel this way/And you wonder how long it will take to heal”.  ‘Merry Go Round’ is about relationships: “Still I don’t understand when I reach for your hand why I can’t hold it long/But you’re hurting inside, so I’ll get off this ride/Cause I don’t want to be just another horse on the merry go round/I’m starting to see another course and it’s time I got down”.

‘The Love I Know’ was inspired by 1 Corinthians 13 and was a hit for the band.  It’s a quiet ballad: “It knows no boundaries, keeps no record of wrongs/That’s the love I know/It takes the good with the bad and it fights to stay strong.../It speaks in kindness, it seeks only what is true/That’s the love I know/A love without condition, it looks to renew”.  ‘It’s You Jesus’ has an experimental sound to it musically and serves as a testimony: “Then You gave me faith not of my own/And it brought both the peace and hope like I’d never known/You said You’d forgive if I would believe/That You were the Son of a God yet unseen/And it’s You, Jesus (Only You and You Alone)”.

Next up is a neat pop/rock cover of the late great Keith Green’s 1977 classic ‘Trials Turned to Gold’.  It includes these great lines: “Oh Lord, forgive the times I’ve tried to read Your mind/Cause You said if I’d be still then I would hear Your Voice”.  ‘Blind Man, Deaf Boy’ describes the human condition without God: “Some of us like sheep have gone astray/Some of us like fools live for today/And then it’s gone and we’re left with nothing/We fight to hold it all inside our hands/Somehow we think we’ll understand/What no eye has ever seen and no mind comprehended/Blind man, deaf boy”.

‘See the Sun Again’ is an easy listening tune that speaks of the spiritual valley experience: “Never imagined that you’d be here again/Yet another season of doubt has set in/The warm September rains have gone, gone away/The trust that you held in your heart isn’t there/Now you’re fighting your fears but they never fight fair/Gone are all the endless summer days”.  Joel Hanson and Mark Nash wrote ‘The Grace of God’, a sunny sounding pop song of testimony: “I pull the covers back and I feel Your warmth again/There is something inside that my heart can’t explain/But by the grace of God I am made whole again/In the times I have fallen and when I felt the shame/Yet by the grace of God/I am made whole again”.

‘Last Breath’ is a gritty rock song about eternity: “If this were my last breath/I tell you where I’ll be/Then I’d ask you if you’d be there with me/Nobody knows really how long you will be here/Still you hazard your faith/As my last day grows closer I rest in the confidence I have been saved”.  Last up is ‘Life Goes On’, a Gordon Kennedy composition about grief: “The wounds will heal/Starting over ain’t no big deal/They rebuild Rome and life goes on/But it won’t mean a thing/Without you and the love you bring/It won’t mean a thing without you”.

The majority of the songs on GREAT LENGTHS are rock style-wise, but there are also three pop and three easy listening selections.  Giving one’s life and trust over to Christ is the main lyrical theme on the album.  Others explored include the perils of not following God, and human relationships.  Gordon Kennedy and Jimmie Lee Sloas, who would go on to form Dogs of Peace, provide background vocals and play various instruments on the album.  If you are a fan of Paul McCartney, The Beatles, or Phil Keaggy, you’ll enjoy this CD which I’m rating 94%.  For more info connect with PFR on Facebook.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Big Tent Revival formed in 1991 and released their self-titled debut in 1995.  OPEN ALL NITE (1996, ForeFront) was their second album out of seven if you include their Greatest Hits project in 2002.  OPEN ALL NITE was produced by John Hampton and the late Dana Key, and executive produced by Patrick Scholes.  On the album, Big Tent Revival is: Steve Wiggins (acoustic and rhythm guitars, lead vocals, background vocals), Randy Williams (lead guitars and background vocals), Rick Heil (bass guitar, background vocals), and Spence Smith (drums, percussion).  In the liner notes, one finds these words: “It has been a difficult and blessed year.  Once again we praise God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  He has made the lowest valleys into summits of victory”.

First up is ‘Mend Me’, a rock song that acknowledges the need for Divine intervention in one’s life: “All the places that I’ve been/Still I can’t escape this life of sin/What I want to do I don’t do/And what I do I don’t want to do/I am broken, mend me/Over backwards, bending/For the love You’re sending.../You made the universe/And You can mend me”.  ‘Here With Me’ is a melodic song that extols God for His faithfulness: “You said You’d always love me and You would never leave/Sure as the sky above me/I believe (3X)/In mountains high and valleys low/Desert land and driving snow/Like a river to the sea/You are always here with me”.

‘Famine or Feast’ reminds us to always rely on Jesus, whatever our circumstances: “Things have happened lately, the car is in the shop/Riding on the cross-town, almost at the stop/Staring out the window into the night outside/I have to tell you honest now/I sat right there and cried/Famine or feast, I’m on my knees/Searching for the answers for things I can’t see/Times of jubilation waiting for release/Time we all pray to the Lord/Famine or feast”.  ‘The Best Thing’ is a beautiful adult contemporary ballad of spiritual invitation: “One thing’s for certain, I have been taught/The key to heaven, it just can’t be bought/Cause the standard is perfection and we are all short of it/In came Jesus and He was above it/The best thing in life is definitely free/The best thing in life is good for you and me/Jesus on the cross paid the penalty/And offers back to us life eternally”.

‘Long Time Comin’’ is a bouncy pop song of testimony: “Looking back on my life, now it’s clear to me/How You led me to this place so dear to me/Even though it seemed all of the sudden/It’s been a long time comin’/You’ve brought me this far/Who’s to say You won’t carry me through the rest of my days?”  The lyrics to the chorus of ‘Thing Called Jesus’ aren’t exactly creative: “This is more to me than just some story/This is more to me than just some songs that I sing/I lay it on the line time after time after time after time/They can’t stop this thing (3X)/Called Jesus”.

‘Personal Judgement Day’ is a great bluesy rock number about the eternal destiny of our souls: “The Bible talks about a book of names, souls rescued from the flame/So brother tell me, when it all is through/Do you know Jesus and does He know you?/Don’t have to listen to a word I say/Don’t have to bow your head and pray/But you’re only a breath away from your personal judgement day!”  ‘Letting Go’ is a song of confession: “I am a man who hides his feelings/But I don’t think I can keep from revealing/All the things inside of me that are out of control/So, Lord I’m letting go”.

‘You Are’ addresses atheists: “They try and tell me/You don’t exist/They are mistaken/I must insist/Cause You brought me through the shadow of death.../You are in my day time, You are in my night/You are everything I need/My Lord and my delight”.  The song has a cool underlying groove to it.  ‘If Loving God Was A Crime’ was one of the best CCM songs to come out of the 1990’s.  Witness these words: “If loving God was a crime/I’d be an outlaw/I would join the fight/They could not shut me down/I would stand tall for what I know is right/Would you stand with me for the world to see when all is on the line?/Would you be ashamed of Jesus’ Name if loving God was a crime?”  Closing things off is a hidden track, ‘My Guitar’.

Steve Wiggins, who wrote all of the songs here, has a great voice for the adult Southern rock song on this project.  The accordion and B-3 organ are nice added touches on this album.  Prominent lyrical themes are: God’s love for and faithfulness to us, our personal level of dedication to Christ, and spiritual invitation.  I had the privilege back in the day of seeing Big Tent Revival open for DeGarmo and Key, and later Dana Key when he was a solo artist.  Fans of Tom Cochrane, Third Day, and Kenny Marks should acquire OPEN ALL NITE, which I’m rating 98%.  Steve Wiggins is now Contemporary Worship Pastor at Bellevue Baptist in Tennessee.  For more info visit: or look up the band members of Big Tent Revival on Facebook.