Carry Me Home, like John Haney's past two albums, was recorded at Sweetwater Productions by Jerroll Lehman. As you would expect from the area's premier recording studio (and premier WhatzUp advertiser), the production is top notch, perfectly balanced, and easily the rival of anything to come out of the Nashville Christian music scene.
If you've heard one of Haney's previous albums or if he has provided special music for your church, you know that he writes inspirational, middle-of-the-road music that appeals to a broad age range. His clear, forceful vocals (which incidentally remind me of that Air Supply guy, but with extra vibrato) have been expertly captured, allowing the listener to focus on lyrics which address basics of the Christian faith as well as various social issues. "Beautiful In His Eyes", for example, is about the pressures placed on even young children to conform to the fashion standards of Madison Avenue. "Some Words to Say" opens with a powerful piano and key intro before presenting a story about a father leaving his family and the impact it has on his children. Far from being depressing, Haney uses the story to illustrate the ever-present love of God with a great, uplifting chorus melody. Other songs dwell on daily life, such as "Twenty Years Ago" which examines how quickly children grow up and "Moment By Moment", a pleasant wedding ballad. A drastic change of pace for Haney is "Let My People Go," which features a swinging bluesy style, funky bass line, harmonica, rich Hammond organ and upbeat, slappy drums.
Although Haney wrote all the lyrics and music, even he gives credit to producer/engineer Jerroll Lehman for bringing his music to life by arranging strings and background vocals, additions that lend a sharper professional edge to the album. The Michael Card-ish "Born In The Shadow Of The Cross" begins with a melancholy piano with pizzicato strings adding a nice dramatic touch before a full string section accompanies the remainder of this song to an exciting conclusion. Written almost thirty years ago, "Last Temptation of Christ" opens with a crash of effects, a swirl of synth sounds, and a whirlwind of strings. Again, the expertly arranged string section adds a gripping element to this song of Christ's last hours on the cross.
With crisp, professional production, impressive studio musicians, contemporary lyrics and uplifting melodies, Carry Me Home is full of songs that would fit seamlessly on the WBCL play list, easily standing toe to toe with anything recorded with triple the budget. For information on ordering this album or John Haney's ministry, go to www.johnhaneymusic.com.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, February 2002.