Friday, September 7, 2018

Age of Faith

Age of Faith
Age of Faith
1991 Benson Music Group
Produced By: Mark Baldwin

album cover

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Track Listings

Take the Low Road
Arms of Mercy
Tender Mercies
Last Night

Jimi Ray: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rick Harwell: Keyboard, Hammond B3, Vocals

Additional Musicians
John Hammond: Drums
Gary Lunn: Bass
Clayborn Huff: Bass
Lance Huff: Drums
David Huff: Guitar
Mark Baldwin: Guitar, Keyboard

Just about everyone has a particular album or at least a group of songs that when you listen to them you are magically transported to a different time in your life. For me, Age of Faith's debut album is one of those. I was a teenager growing up in the early to mid-90's so I was already at an impressionable age. I grew up going to church in Charlotte, NC on the west side of town. My youth pastor was fantastic and between him, the church and my friends in youth group they all made a big impact on my life. I wasn't always one to listen to much music, however about this same time my older brother started working for Baptist Bookstore (aka LifeWay) and would bring me home all sorts of Christian music. Our youth pastor would also implement Christian music into our Sunday night gatherings. At some point between all of this I was introduced to Age of Faith.

Age of Faith signed with Benson and released two albums before the original duo would go their separate ways. However during the time frame of these two albums, I had the opportunity to see them live in concert multiple times. A local skating rink in Charlotte would transform on Saturday nights into what was called "The Gathering Place". I don't recall who organized this, but I do remember taking a break from playing arcade games and listening to the band. I also have fond memories of the band leading worship at a youth retreat called Christmas Adventure in Pigeon Forge, TN. I would also see them live in concert at the Carowind's theme park for Christian Music Day once or twice.

Their debut self-titled album is great and one I still pull out and listen to every now and then. I'm more familiar with the first 5 or 6 songs as I originally had the album on cassette so I'd hear the first side of the cassette more than the second side! I eventually upgraded my cassette to CD to, you know, keep up with the times. I've listened to the album so many times in my youth that I can still recall many of the lyrics and sing along today as a 40 something old dude. 

"God's Got an Army" opens up with a youth group singing and when I hear the opening riff, I'm immediately a teen again standing in front of the stage. The chorus is a good reminder (no matter your age) that that you do your best fighting from your knees.

"Sarah" tackles a topic that a lot of young people and what is real love? Now as a dad with two young daughters, this song has a new meaning to me. My girls aren't quite at that age yet where they'll have to deal with this, but I know it's coming.

I can see in your eyes you're confused
Finding it hard to know how to choose
Oh be true to your heart
Don't give in

Sarah, wait for real love
You'll know when it's knocking at your heart's door
Sarah, wait for real love
I know the love you're looking for
Sarah, wait for real love

Staying on the topic about love, the song "Love" covers Biblical love and has a easy to song along chorus. This is easily one of my favorite songs on the album.

Love is patient, Love is kind
Love is not conceited, Love is never blind
Love does not get angry it simply forgives
Love carries on, Love always lives

Until I sat down to add to write this blog post, I had no idea, I mean zero, that the song "Unconditional Love" was a cover of the 1983 Donna Summers song! Of course AOF's version sounds nothing like the original. 

Some of the best guitar work can be found on "Tender Mercies". Rick also jams on the Hammond B3 organ...put it all together and it makes for another highlight of the album. 

While I certainly have my favorites, the whole album as a whole is fantastic. Jimi lent his talents to many of the songs, along with Rick and a few other guys. Lyrically the album is just as good as it is musically. I could relate to many of these songs as a teenager and even now as a grown adult the songs still speak to me. There are many times I think about culling down my CD collection as I have more than I can fit on my music rack, but this is one of those albums that I just can't part with.

While AOF may be no more, Jimi himself is still playing some venues. You can check his website  for more info and even follow him on Twitter. The first two AOF albums on disc can be tricky to find on the secondary market, however the band's later music is readily available online.

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