Prime Cuts: For Such a Time as This, There Goes Sundown, Growing
With fewer new releases coming out of the chute in January, it gives us licence to re-visit some of the classic Christian albums of yore. This time we return back to the year 1998. It was the year where piano-based pop was still commercially viable, albeit tethering towards its final years. Wayne Watson who has been known for his deft touches on the ivory keys of the piano was at his commercial peak. Scoring for himself 24 #1 hits that includes "Friend of a Wounded Heart", "When God's People Pray", "Almighty", "Be In Her Eyes", and "Watercolour Ponies," Watson was WORD Records' ace artist. At this juncture, Watson could do no wrong. For three albums in succession, Watson chose to work with producer Michael Omartin (Whitney Houston, Amy Grant) who gave Watson some of his career best records to date.
If there's a career defining hit, it's the album's lead single "For Such a Time Like This." Those who adore the Biblical story of Esther will remember that the song's titular is a derivative of Esther's key text in 4:4. Just like Esther was called at a crucial moment in Israel's salvation history, likewise God sometimes raises us up to be his agent of grace in critical moments. Lest we would let fear deter us from our God-designed destinies, this song pushes us out in faith. Over the years, "For Such a Time Like This" has rightly become the anthem of countless fans. As warm and soothing as it is to watch the slow setting sun, "There Goes Sundown" allows us to bask in God's goodness at the end of each day, remembering that each sunset is his grace extended towards us. Coupled by some stellar Michael W. Smith-esque's piano chops and those lonesome sounding harmonica, "Come Home" has a nostalgic tug that won't go away even after the song ends.
The songs on this record not only soothe and comfort the soul, but a couple of them also challenges our faith. "The Urgency (Of the Generally Insignificant)" is a slap across the face for those of us who keep recycling the same excuse, "I'm too busy for God." "Growing," is perhaps one of the album most underrated songs, but it's a theological gem. Shedding light on the age old question of why God allows us to suffer, "Growing" speaks of how trials are often used by God to stretch us to mature spiritually. The rhythmically spry "Wouldn't that Be Something" may contain the cheesy line about Jesus having a telephone, but it still doesn't hamper the song's message about living lives that are worthy of the Gospel.
From the first note to the last, "The Way Home" is stuffed with lots of memorable melodic tunes and thoughtful lyrics performed by Watson glowing tenor that crests with power especially when he soars to the higher notes. Other than the colorless "Perception," every song here is a winner; and mind you, songs such as "Growing" and "For Such a Time Like This" are so good that they are even life changing.