Reviewed by Nigel Harris
'Unguarded', first released in 1985, was Amy Grant's ninth album. In 2007 Amy's new record label re-issued and digitally remastered it on CD. I bought it as a vinyl LP and clearly listened to it a lot back then because when I played this new CD I could still remember all the lyrics! Back in the '80s pop music was dominated by synthesizers - keyboards that didn't pretend to be pianos or anything else - and they are here in abundance, in place of the piano and acoustic guitar that characterised many of Amy's earlier songs. 'Unguarded' embraced the contemporary pop sound, synths and all, and was unashamedly aimed at the mainstream music market. 'Unguarded' marked a big change from Amy's two previous regular studio albums, 'Age To Age' and 'Straight Ahead', and indeed created something of a storm in middle America. I think she only says Jesus and God each on one separate occasion through the course of the whole album - a big risk in 1985 for the top selling contemporary Christian music artist in the USA. Despite this, the top track "Find A Way" was a number one hit on the Christian radio charts and the album generated a further four hit singles. With the help of the album's distributor in secular outlets, A&M Records, three of its singles reached the mainstream charts. "Find A Way" was a Top Ten hit on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at 29 on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Everywhere I Go" and "Wise Up" also charted. The album was certified gold in September 1985, and platinum in June 1986. The great thing is that 'Unguarded' doesn't really have a weak track on it. Beside the singles, "I Love You" is noteworthy as Amy's first "secular" love song, dedicated to her then husband Gary Chapman. The Brown Bannister production was, and still is, legendary and the whole project drew on a dream team of CCM musicians of the '80s - including Michael W Smith and Robbie Buchanan on those synths, Dan Huff on guitar and Mike Brignardello on bass. This album still sounds as fresh as it did when I first heard it in 1985 and should be essential listening for Amy's newer fans and anyone who missed all the fun of the '80s.
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