by R.J. Carter
Published: October 11, 2010 | Release Date: November 2, 2010 | Grade: A
I’ve been familiar with the Contemporary Christian Music scene for a number of years now — ever since it used to be called Gospel Rock and acts like Keith Green and David and the Giants were making the scene, shaking things up, and causing staid conservative parents and pastors to shake their heads and say, “That ain’t of God.” I’ve watched the genre grow through Petra and Stryper, and branch into mainstream CCM, worship movement, and music that is Christian in name.
Through all of that, I cannot recall ever having run into an act like Yancy: a bursting-with-energy, filled-with-fun female CCM rock-n-roller. Her latest album, Stars, Guitars and Megaphone Dreams, launches with an explosion of dance party enthusiasm that is clearly Christian but will make Southern Baptists feel guilty when they notice their legs moving. The initial track, “Make it Loud,” evokes the synthpop sound of Stefy with a vivacious, Timex-ticking rhythm, as the girl with the guitar belts out a chorus of “I won’t stop / I will sing / Jesus is my everything. / I’m gonna make it loud so the word gets out.”
The momentum gets impossibly stronger as Yancy barrels into the second track, “Love God Hate Sin,” with a strong message of right and wrong that will rub the situational ethics folks the wrong way if they’re paying attention to the lyrics, even after she’s made the point that Christianity is neither a liberal nor conservative monopoly. “It’s either black or white, so don’t look for gray. / The lights are flashing ‘Keep Out’ where you wanna go play. / Religion makes it harder with its prisons and its rules / But in the end you’re either with the wise men or the fools.”
It’s not all frenetic pop, though. Yancy starts to (barely) rein things in a bit with “Every Good and Perfect Thing,” which retains its youth-appealing verve while steering things just a little bit closer to a mainstream CCM sound. This grounding allows for another downshift of gears into the melodic “I Love You,” a softly performed verse and chorus which fits the Worship Music feel perfectly without sounding as formulaic as so much of the Worship Music genre does today.
Sticking with the Worship Music mode, Yancy starts to pick up the pace again with “Sing Your Praises Out,” before getting back into the same groove she began the album with, thrashing that guitar and blasting out a positive rocked-up version of Romans 8:31: “God is for me, not against me / I have nothing to fear / He makes me strong / This I know / God is for me not against me / I have nothing to fear / He loves me so / This I know.”
“Forever and Ever” takes a departure for some hard rock, both instrumentally and vocally, before taking a quick and unexpected plunge into “Sincerely Completely Yours,” which employs more of an orchestral sound and a style that’s a blending of Melissa Etheridge vocals and Chris Tomlin’s arrangments.
There’s not much to say about “Time to Celebrate,” other than that it’s just a whole pack of fun that will get you out of your seat (or dancing in it, if you happen to be driving). The track bleeds seamlessly into a unique arrangement of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” without losing any of the established kinetic chemistry. Like much of Yancy’s work on Stars, Guitars and Megaphone Dreams, these tracks can be put into your Red Bull infused dance party mix for a celebration guaranteed to wear you out.
To allow for recovery, the last two tracks of the album — “I Belong to Jesus” and “Be Glorified” — slow things down to a moving and thoughtful benison. It’s a fitting closure, and certainly a responsible one — you don’t want to send people out into the world all hopped up on that sixty-beats-per-second rhythm that permeats much of the album, after all.
Yancy represents a much needed fresh sound in the Christian music genre, filling a niche for some much needed fun and frenzy, a departure from the CCM-norm while maintaining a solid grounding in the basics of the Gospel message. Stars, Guitars and Megaphone Dreams should be smuggled in to your next youth lock-in or AWANA party.