Reviewed by Alastair McCollum
The recording which saw Amy Grant take up her mantle as CCM's "pop princess" this 1984 CCM megahit, now digitally re-mastered and re-released by EMI, was the first Christian album to make the Billboard pop chart and marked a move from the more gentle piano/guitar arrangements of previous albums to a synth/guitar-based approach. The songs from a variety of songwriters (with whom Amy shares writing credits on a number of tracks) are beautifully put together. The production from Brown Bannister is pretty much flawless - not too much, not too little - and the performances from Amy, who was really starting to develop a gruff edge to her hitherto pure and sweet voice, are exceptional. Also, the accompanying band deserve a mention, consisting of a number of impressive and highly accomplished musicians that cropped up again and again on countless albums in the '80s and '90s including Michael W Smith on keyboards, Dan Huff on guitar, Robbie Buchanan on keyboards and Mike Brignardello on bass. The songs are a mix of pop, praise and ballads, some of them good time foot tapping, others more reflective, all of them performed both wistfully and passionately. Highlights are the bouncy but thought provoking opener "Where Do You Hide Your Heart" and the exquisite radio friendly pop of "Angels" with Mr Smith "doing his thing" on keyboards (one of the first CCM tracks I ever heard in my teens). The title track is a soulful cry to keep our eyes upon Jesus and carry on to where we see his light "Straight Ahead". The sound of synth and guitars, and the particular combination of both, locates the feel of the album squarely in the 1980s, but the quality of the songwriting, the powerful vocals and the talent of all the participants makes this long player almost timeless.
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