Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Don Francisco has to be one of the greatest Christian musical storytellers of our age, with an enduring ability to set biblical narrative to music in an incredibly powerful, emotive manner. He's been regularly releasing records and touring since 1976, and this collection is a retrospective consisting of 17 classics from the 1976-1984 period, many of which are stories as opposed to a more typical song construction. For those who aren't familiar with Don's style, his music is essentially acoustic guitar-led folk with a country-tinge, many of the tracks here also including the wonderfully rich sounding strings that were so prevalent in '70s recordings. The CD kicks off with what is arguably Don's most well known song, "He's Alive", a moving account of Jesus' death and resurrection from Peter's perspective, including an emotional account of his restoration by Jesus and the uplifting climax of "He's alive and I'm forgiven, Heaven's gates are open wide" and you can't help but be caught up with the celebration. This song has stuck with me ever since Don performed a concert for my school in the mid '80s. As befits a "best of" collection, most tracks could be considered highlights, but key moments include the deeply sorrowful pathos of God's call "Adam, Where Are You?" with its tragic "And all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan's hand." The bursting exuberance of Jairus upon the resurrection of his daughter, and Jesus' impossible-to-keep instruction not to tell anyone about it, is infectious. The direct, poignant challenge to all Christians in "Steeple Song" is incisive, reminding us God requires obedience more than sacrifice or stuff. In complete contrast, the humour of the story of Balaam is cleverly designed to remind us that God can choose to use whomever or whatever he wishes to fulfill his purposes. . . and I have never heard the word "rankled" used in a song before! A classic collection, highly recommended.
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