Sunday, February 9, 2014

Amy Grant - Straight Ahead

As fitting for a Sunday, today we are going to get a little bit spiritual on the blog. This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Straight Ahead, the seventh studio album from American singer Amy Grant. This one went to number 133 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 1 on the US Billboard Christian Album chart; it held the latter top spot for sixty-one straight weeks. It also won the Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year.

Side one opens with the question "Where Do You Hide Your Heart". The song has a light rhythm to it musically as Grant sings up the Lord's ever-constant support. I like the way it builds with the synths, guitars and percussion.

"Jehovah" gets its title from the Hebrew name for God. It features a tender piano accompaniment for the first verse.

"Angels" was released as a single, spent thirteen weeks at the number 1 spot on the Christian-Radio Adult Contemporary chart, and won Grant a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance Female. The uplifting song, with its catchy melody, speaks of those who watch over believers from on high.

The title track "Straight Ahead" is up next, shining like a guiding beacon.

"Thy Word", which is based on Psalm 119:105 ("thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path") from the Bible, closes on the first half. It charted at number 4 on the C-RAC chart.

Side two starts with "It's Not a Song", with its pop-rock arrangement, which speaks to the moving power of music.

The powerfully pop "Open Arms" is about finding strength in experiencing unconditional love.

"Doubly Good to You" is next. The arrangement allows Grant the room to reach for those powerful notes as she gives thanks for the blessings in her life.

"Tomorrow" has a slight jazzy vibe to it.

The gentle closing track "The Now and the Not Yet" charted at number 20 on the C-RAC chart.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Amy Grant's 1982 album Age to Age (click here for that review), most of the spiritual music I heard growing up was when we went to Mass on the weekends. In 1984, I was still attending Saturday Mass at our college campus' Interfaith Center and listening to the weekly sermons from Father Jim, Sister Shirley and Deacon Pat (the latter who was hearing impaired thus an interpreter voiced his sign-language for those of us hearing members of the congregation). At college, I was also exposed to a lot of different forms of faith as I was making new friends.

This was my first listen to the songs from Straight Ahead, and I found that I liked them well enough. Grant has a lovely voice and sings with a devoted passion and conviction.

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