Friday, September 8, 2017

FIRST CALL-Human Song (1992)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 8, 2017

Although the musical chameleon in me has decided to take a break to hibernate so that I can fulfill some recent music requests, the 'chameleon effect' is still alive and well, as I serve up another gem from the Christian contemporary music catalog. The trio that called itself FIRST CALL has been active since the early 80's. I've probably heard quite a few of their songs from that decade, but presently don't remember any of them. I'm contemplating going back into their past discography to see if I can conjure up some more childhood music memories someday, but in the meantime, I want to give my rave reviews about their 1992 effort, "Human Song". As with all CCM releases, you can expect that inspiration and divine praises to the One above are the prevailing themes that spark the songs here. But what you may not expect—if you've never heard FIRST CALL performing before—is that each of the three members—frontman Marty McCall and the two ladies, Bonnie Keen and Marabeth Jordan—have dynamite voices that will pierce the heart and rock the soul! They quite literally are an explosive singing force to be reckoned with, and they just about blew me away the first time I heard them performing "Broken Places", the concluding song on this album and THE one song on this album that speaks to me the most. It's about how life can break us, but there is a master healer who can mend those broken pieces back together. The way the song begins all nice and mellow with the backing orchestra and the light guitar creating a sense of serenity belies the powerful and epic thunder that the song emerges to by the time it moves to the midway point! "Broken Places" always leaves me feeling breathless at the end, and so does another similarly-produced jewel that can be classified more as adult contemporary mainstream: "I Will Always Come Back To You". It's a beautiful love song, and I knew it would be beautiful the moment I had taken in the mellow guitar-driven melody in the song's opening movement, which puts the listener into a humbling mood. But it's the trio's collective voices—so emotional and so powerful—that shines above everything else! Back on the religious themes is my third favorite, "Ring Them Bells", which has an epic, other-worldly feel to it with all of the imagery about ringing bells for the lilies that are in bloom and everything else of gentle innocence in nature. And I like the hushed voices of the two ladies, which adds an extra heavenly layer to the music. This album further serves as a reminder that even in the world of CCM music, it's absolutely fine to make things fun by spicing the music up with a little bit of spunk and funk. That's what they do to exquisite perfection on the opening title track (another song whose lyrics take on important social themes that we can all click with), plus "Don't You Worry About A Thing" (a great inspirational piece whose title already gives some good advice), "Here In Your Heart" (like the slight new jack swing beat and the stylistically jazzy flow in their delivery) and my #1 favorite, "Masquerade", which speaks about people hiding behind masks in hopes of appealing to others, but relieved that they no longer need those masks once their true identities are revealed and their real selves are loved and appreciated (the suspenseful rhythm, groovy beat and the energetic vocals make this one a fabulous listening affair!). I definitely made the right call when I first got this "Human Song" album, and I now invite you to answer the FIRST CALL yourself:

1. Human Song
2. Don't You Worry About A Thing
3. I Will Always Come Back To You
4. Here In Your Heart
5. Ring Them Bells
6. Masquerade
7. I Found Love
8. Land Of Many Tears
9. Dancin' In The Attic
10. Broken Places

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