This album (along with David Meece's 7) was the soundtrack to my life when I was eleven/twelve years old. I happened across it again while organising my iTunes library (and by that I mean procrastinating on two papers).
I always thought Betsy's voice was so sweet, and to hear it again is like a soothing balm to my frazzled soul (see above parenthetical regarding academic papers, plural). These songs communicate nothing if not 'everything is going to be okay.' Yeah, okay, so maybe they were a REALLY inoffensive blend of Maranatha! singers and Second Chapter of Acts in the mid-eighties to boot, but this stuff has a simplistic beauty to it. Betsy's lead vocals are saturated with childlike faith, and that's what makes this group so darn endearing. (Plus, you know, ethereal synthesizers.) If the members of ABBA had been Christians, this is what they would have sounded like.
Now that I actually know a thing or two about music and singing (specifically, harmonising), I'm a lot better able to understand how intricate this group really was. When I was eleven, I had never even heard of the concept of harmonization. I never really thought about why this group always sounded so rich and full -- I just assumed that since there were two ladies singing, it sounded like that. Turns out I was partly right, but I never would have figured out the whole 'harmony' thing. Betsy Hernandez may be the sweet voice in the front, but Patty Gramling really held this together, lent Betsy the strength.
I could pick any song from this album. This particular song has always seemed like the perfect seventh track on an album -- it's not radio-friendly enough to be on the first side, and it's not edgy enough to bring in the second side. But it's not the graceful perfect cadence (or hard-hitting rocker) to close out an album either. It's that unexpected sliver of a sunbeam on the second side, where you don't usually expect much, but then something graceful and soaring rises out of the vinyl. How fitting that the lyrics explore bird imagery.
Title: Only Jesus
Album: By His Spirit
Label: Sparrow Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (yes, it says 1986. I own the vinyl, which says 1985. So there).
In other news: Prodigal (who longtime readers of this blog may know as the creators of the FANTASTIC song Future Now) is releasing not one, not two, but ALL THREE of their amazing albums on CD later this year. Rest assured that I will be spamming this blog with the website information once I have it. For now, be aware that you need this album in your life. Even if you never buy a White Heart album (though you should do that too), you should at least buy Prodigal's Electric Eye. It is a work of art. Full stop.