Release Date: August 19th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- That’s What Love Is For (Amy Grant Featuring Chris Cox) Radio Edit
- Stay For Awhile (Amy Grant Featuring Tony Moran and Warren Rigg) Radio Mix
- You’re Not Alone (Amy Grant Featuring Guy Scheiman) Radio Edit
- Every Heartbeat (Amy Grant Featuring Moto Blanco) Radio Edit
- Better Than A Hallelujah (Amy Grant Featuring Mark Picchiotti) Gospel Radio Edit
- Love Will Find A Way (Amy Grant Featuring Ralphi Rosario) Big Room Radio Edit
- Baby, Baby (Amy Grant Featuring Dave Aude) Radio Edit
- Say Once More (Amy Grant Featuring Hex Hector) Radio Edit
- Out In The Open (Amy Grant Featuring 7th Heaven) Radio Edit **Digital version bonus track
- BONUS MIX: Stay For A While (Amy Grant Featuring Tony Moran) DESTINATION Mixshow Edit
- BONUS MIX: Mega Mix (Amy Grant Featuring DJ Andy 7th Heaven)
Apart from 2013’s How Mercy Looks From Here, it’s been 10 years since CCM pop/adult contemporary legend Amy Grant recorded a full album of original material. From 2003 til 2013 Amy has been recording hymns projects and best of albums, as well as the partly new 2010 album Somewhere Down The Road, with re-recordings of old classics and favourites. Some fans and followers may agree that Amy’s best albums released in the 80’s and 90’s (for fans and avid listeners of her previous 13 studio albums, which doesn’t really include me), with her songs “El Shaddai”, “That’s What Love Is For”, “Every Heartbeat”, “Lead Me On”, “I Will Remember You”, “Baby Baby”, and “Takes A Little Time” all highlights from the illustrious and well-respected 35 year old career.
Yet with modern hits “Simple Things” and “Better Than A Hallelujah”, Amy has continued to forge ahead and create new anthems and songs for people to sing, instead of just dwelling in the past. Together with Michael W Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, she rounds out the group of solo artist veterans whom I respect so much because of their longevity. While Amy has so much experience behind her, that doesn’t mean she’s ready to quit- in fact How Mercy Looks From Here in 2013 is a new chapter literally, having moved from Word Records to Sparrow Records (Capitol CMG). Now, Amy is releasing something completely different! A remix album, titled In Motion: The Remixes, is set to drop on August 19th, and will feature old and new favourites, viewed in a different light. Though I was initially apprehensive to hear Amy’s pop contemporary songs with dance beats or an EDM presence attached, and though 11 tracks is incredibly short for what is essentially a best of album (although this is a different kind of best of album), the efforts of the many well respected remixers cannot be denied. The result of these 11 tracks are nothing short of remarkable, and deserves to be listened to, to be able to be marvelled and amazed at.
Out of the 11 tracks, 4 are all present on Amy’s 1991 album Heart In Motion. Opening the track list is “That’s What Love Is For”, one of my favourite Amy Grant songs from the 90’s, featured on the 1991 album Heart In Motion. Chris Cox, who has remixed songs previously for will.i.am, Celine Dion Brittney Spears and Michael Jackson, has done a fantastic job in my opinion, preserving Amy’s soothing and captivating vocals, while also adding a layer of electronic drums, and including more synth and effects. The ballad about fighting for love and committing to a person even though we may not feel like it, is now changed into a club dance anthem, and for me this version is just as good, in spite of the duration being shorter. “Every Heartbeat”, a romantic love song sung to a loved one, and also from the same studio album, is featured here also. DJ duo Moto Blanco, known for remixing songs from Jennifer Lopez, Mary J Blige, and Adele, use their prowess to keep the original atmosphere slightly intact, yet also giving the song an updated dance EDM feel- you know it’s a 90’s song, but it’s still catchy and it could fit in on any DJ dance floor or at any bar of club.
“Baby, Baby”, remixed by Dave Aude, and released as the album’s first single (consequently this remix reached no 1 on the Billboard Dance Charts a few weeks ago), is sped up quite a bit, which is interesting, yet for me it is the pulsating drums that are a tad too loud and frequent that overall bring this song down a few notches from the original. Yet the last remix from Heart In Motion , “You’re Not Alone”, is enhanced, in my opinion. Guy Scheiman has mix this song to perfection, as while this new version is danceable, with the addition of programming, electric drums, distorted vocals, and a slight tempo increase, the message of encouragement that we are not alone in this world, is more clearer here than in the original song.
The remainder tracks are from various albums from Amy’s career, and these updated versions make sure that the musical atmosphere and messages are mostly intact. It’s a difficult thing- remixing a song that is a few decades old, but on this album, I now know that it is possible and can be recorded well. “Stay For A While”, where Amy sings about a relationship that has gone sour, with the persona singing to their loved one, asking them to stay for a while and work out their problems, is probably one of Amy’s most personal and emotional songs ever released, and was written and recorded in the mid-80’s, at a time, when she was having marital problems with Gary Chapman. The song became a hit single nevertheless, and Tony Moran and Warren Rigg here do the remix justice, as they bring out Amy’s emotion, vulnerability and honesty, yet also update the song for 2014 musically. “Better Than A Hallelujah” has it’s pace slowed down, and is given the jazz/gospel treatment, with a jovial and passionate choir added, similar to the choir in Mark Schultz’s song “Love Has Come”, and like the gospel choir in the Sister Act movies. It’s a fun, enjoyable mix, that still keeps intact the message of fervently telling God what is on our hearts, because He loves us and He want to give His children good things, and for me is equally as good as the stirring original version.
“Love Will Find A Way”, though simple in its message, is transformed from a guitar led ballad to a dance club melody with ease, complete with a groovy instrumental bridge led by synth, “Say Once More”, from the 1986 album Lead Me On is another ballad sped up in tempo (although I hadn’t heard that song ever until today, and to me is not as memorable as Amy’s other bigger hits) yet “Out In The Open” for me is the pinnacle of the album, and is great as the album closer. The representative from Simple Things reminds us that we can lay ourselves down completely to God, and bare our souls out in the open, as there is no condemnation- and it’s the applicability of the message to people of all faiths that I think this song is one of the most underrated songs of Amy’s career. I love the fact that it’s on here, and the cinematic epic soundtrack like feel is surprising yet gives me a better appreciation and an understanding that not all songs that stand the test of time need to be singles.
“…I never could have anticipated that these songs from an earlier chapter in my life could be filled with such renewed energy and fresh production. I am humbled and honored that these amazingly talented producers have leant their gifts to my songs. They have given me reason to want to get up and dance again…” With the final 2 tracks being an extended, more musically daring remix of “Stay For A While”, and a megamix of sorts (similar to Newsboys’ “Megamix”), featuring snippets of the 9 songs – was this ‘song’ needed really? – Amy Grant’s In Motion: The Remixes is a well produced and remixed ‘greatest hits’ album, with one major criticism. It’s too short! Though the 9 representatives are close to Amy’s heart, and songs that were popular when released; other songs that were expected, such as “El Shaddai”, “Lead Me On”, “Simple Things”, “Takes A Little Time”, “I Will Carry You”, and “I Will Remember You”; are absent, for one reason or another. Perhaps they are reserved for a second remix album? If so, I would definitely endorse that concept! But that nitpick point aside, the new versions of these timeless classics are definitely overall worth a listen. No doubt listeners will be singing Amy’s newer and older tracks for plenty of years to come. Releasing on the same day as releases from Colton Dixon, Selah, Lindsay McCaul, Lincoln Brewster and Esterlyn, In Motions: The Remixes will definitely be on my itunes playlist for a long time, at least until Mandisa’s remix album Get Up: The Remixes drops in September. Well done Amy for creating an album that reminds us why she is one of the best female singer/songwriters currently, and why her songs stand the test of time!
3 songs to listen to: That’s What Love Is For, Better Than A Hallelujah, Out In The Open
RIYL: Natalie Grant, David Thulin, Capital Kings, Michael W. Smith