Lead Me On Original recording remastered
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|2. Lead Me On|
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|6. What About the Love|
|7. If These Walls Could Speak|
|8. All Right|
|9. Wait For the Healing|
|10. Sure Enough|
|11. If You Have To Go Away|
|12. Say Once More|
Already a ten year industry veteran and not yet 30, Amy recorded her most personal album to date.
_Lead Me On_ is a collection of poetic pop and heartfelt ballads with honest, open lyrics about faith and life.
Includes _Shadows_, _If These Walls Could Speak_, _Saved By Love_ and more.
Amy won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance By A Female in 1988 and the album was RIAA Certified Platinum.
Digitally remastered from the original master. Newly equalized for improved clarity and sound definition, this album contains a richer, clearer sound comparable to any modern CD in your collection.
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This is arguably one of the three best Christian albums ever cut (it was ranked as such by CCM magazine a few years back) and easily one of the best ever made across all genres. Confession, introspection, joy, fear, brokenness, poetry, anger - the gamut of human expression is here. The honesty and commitment are breathtaking. And there are some lyrical sledgehammers on this thing that still knock me to the floor some nineteen years later.
I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
The album opens with the poetic "1974," a song recalling Grant's teenage conversion to Christianity in the year mentioned. The song surprises by being both wistful ("We were young") and honest about Grant's own sense of distance from that faith (to God, she pleads, "Stay with me/Make it ever new/So time will not undo/As the years go by/How I need to see/That's still me"). It is immediately followed by the rich lyricism of the title track. Using evocative imagery to depict both slavery and concentration camps as illustrations of inexplicable events, the song offers no answers for the issues it raises, but only poses questions. The only possible response is to ask God to "lead [us] on" into his presence. The musically quirky "Shadows" initially sounds lighthearted, but it describes a Romans 7-type battle between good and evil within the speaker and conveys a sense of both sadness and menace in its atypical-for-Grant lengthy musical conclusion. Thanks are due to the wonderful band The Innocence Mission for this cover tune, although Grant took their song and made substantial lyrical changes to it. (I'm not sure about the musical end.)
The album then slows down for the first CCM single, "Saved by Love." Amidst standard country music stylings, Grant first paints a loving picture of a sibling's (here given the fictional name of "Laura") challenging life before turning the spotlight upon herself. The transparency then goes through the roof as the singer confesses to adulterous temptations and prays for God to remove them in the harrowing "Faithless Heart." All of the struggles related in the song are internal -- Grant made it clear in interviews that no transgression had been committed -- but CCM conventions were nonetheless shattered.
If you weren't uncomfortable and challenged yet, the biting "What about the Love" (the side two opener if you had the LP version) would no doubt throw you over the edge if you paid attention to the lyrics. Credited to both '70s pop star Janis Ian and the lesser-known Kye Fleming, the song blisteringly critiques evangelicals for a lack of concern for social justice and a lack of love in general. These sentiments are couched within stories related by a devout-but-legalistic speaker, a technique that drives the point home with force when the speaker realizes that the real problem is his or her own judgmentalism. The repentant tones of pop songwriter Jimmy Webb's moving "If These Walls Should Speak" follow next. Grant stretches her voice to incredible effect in this spare, piano-driven ballad of family estrangement.
The album now winds to its conclusion. "All Right," a gospel song, looks with hope to God's faithfulness in the midst of many troubles without taking back the many questions already raised in previous songs. Just one simple line of doubt amidst the hope, "When will I learn there are no guarantees," proves enough to again move us away from standard CCM territory. It is ironically followed by the less confident, although still hopeful, "Wait for the Healing," a song that examines pain on a cultural level and offers no answers save for the advice to do what the song title says. The album then closes with three songs about marital relations: the optimistic "Sure Enough," the bouncy-but-tinged-with-uncertainty "If You Have to Go Away," and the moving closer "Say Once More." All three express marital commitment in the midst of doubts and/or other challenges.
At the time it was released, Lead Me On was billed as a step backward from pop star trajectory for Amy Grant, but that assessment has always been too surface-level. Yes, the album is often musically spare when compared with Grant's two previous studio releases (Straight Ahead and Unguarded), but not always; songs such as "Lead Me On" and "Wait for the Healing" are more complex and rich musically than anything on those albums. Yes, the album is unquestionably more of an artist's album than an appeal to the masses. But it's important to remember the album that had dominated the pop music scene since the previous year and had shot a band to superstardom: U2's The Joshua Tree. That album was full of musically "organic" (a term favored by Grant to describe Lead Me On) and spare, lyrically downbeat "desert songs" (U2's term for The Joshua Tree's content). It's always been hard for me not to see Lead Me On as Amy Grant's own Joshua Tree, and I've always supposed that A&M Records limited their tinkering with the album (most later Grant records would be plagued by the company's interference) in the hope that it could ride on U2's coattails.
In any case, Lead Me On still retains most of its power after 20 years, and its influence on the CCM industry proved remarkable. Some artists (e.g., Out of the Grey) have said that a major reason for their decision to enter Christian music was seeing the artistic freedom accorded Grant with this album. Furthermore, it's hard to imagine artists such as Jars of Clay being able to make their music without Lead Me On having blazed the honesty trail path. And as Grant herself admits in an interview on the 20th anniversary extras disc, it probably will remain her most-loved and most-remembered album. If you already love Lead Me On, the 20th anniversary edition is worth the price for the live versions of several songs taken from the 1988-89 tour. (The new acoustic studio versions of some songs are puzzling, as more live versions would have been infinitely preferable.) But in any format, Lead Me On is still, in this reviewer's mind, the best CCM album ever made, and unquestionably an outstanding album by any standards.
Since "Heart In Motion" became Amy's "Thriller"..."Lead Me On" is definetly her "Off The Wall"....an album that you can play over and over again and never get tired of it!
AND...if you have a chance to see the LEAD ME ON 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR...GO AND SEE IT!!!
Seeing her do these songs live after 20yrs is amazing! I remember all that I was going through when this album came out and how it got me through!!...It still has the same impact today as it did so long ago.
BTW, another reviewer mentioned how "Faithless Heart" is difficult to listen to considering what Amy has been through in her personal life...I understand why this was said ......BUT, I do want to share what AMY said during the concert:
"Gary Chapman played bass on the original tour and since he, Vince and I decide that would not be a good idea for this reunion, I got the guy who played bass on the orignal recording, Mike Brignardello".....(The audience laughed!).....So with that said, all I can say is "Thank You Jesus for the power of forgiveness!"
One reason this disc is so great is that it sounds timeless. Yes, it was released in 1988, but you have to listen close to catch the 80's influence. Yes, it is there, most noticeably on the title track or "Shadows." But it is kept to a minimum most of the time. Heck, piano is the predominant instrument in the beautiful ""If These Walls Could Speak." And there are lots of strings and guitar, too.
But the lyrics are good, too. Amy struggles here between faith, love, and how humans actually behave. "1974" opens the disc talking about the joy of her confusion. But then comes the title track that incorporates imagery of slavery and the holocaust between cries to find a place where people aren't cruel to each other. That theme is picked up again in "What About the Love" in which Amy sees how we give power to the strong and wonders where love is in our world.
True, a couple of the tracks haven't aged well due solely to Amy's personal life. I just can't listen to "Faithless Heart" and "Sure Enough" without thinking about her divorce and remarriage. Judgmental of me? Probably. But I can't help it.
When I first got this project, I got it on tape. It only had ten of the twelve songs on the CD. As a result, "Wait for the Healing" and "If You Have to Go Away" both seem odd to me to this day. Which is a shame because they are great pop songs.
And I can't leave out the one rocker, "All Right." This song of faith perfectly balances out some of the doubt.
I consider this the biggest transition in Amy's career. It's still a Christian project, but I'm not sure God is mentioned once. As a result, anyone can join her journey of exploration of the lines between good and evil in our world.
Yes, time has been good to this disc. Every time I pull it out, I listen to it multiple times in a row. I expect to keep being encouraged and challenged by it for years to come.