Songs of the Heart

Album Reviews

Songs of the Heart

Album Reviews

CCM Magazine November 1995

by Bruce A. Brown

Songs of the Heart is ostensibly a "concept album," the story of Bud and Irma Akendorf (the elderly couple pictured on the front cover). The back cover liner notes purport to tell Bud and Irma's story, as they reminisce about how they met, while on their first vacation after Bud's retirement. The songs outline the various adventures the Akendorfs have on their vacation with liner note exposition neatly tying the tracks together.

But, however tongue-in-cheek the storyline may be, the songs are no joke. An inspired version of the pop classic "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" leads off the disc; it is, of course, about Bud and Irma's courtship. Naturally, quirkier fare follows, such as "Uneasy Lies the Head of the Confidence Man" and " Donna Nietzsche and her Super-Race of Kick-Boxing Uber Parrots." When you look beyond the nonsensical nature of such titles and into the lyrics, you realize Terry Taylor is just revisiting one of his favorite themes-the "flim flam" aspects of modern religion. As Bud and Irma look back to simpler days, "When Everyone Wore Hats," Bud senses that he's being called home to heaven. "My Hand to God," the uncharacteristically sentimental closer, finds Bud promising to wait for his beloved "beyond the dark gate." Though Taylor has lost a bit of his vocal range, Songs of the Heart never lacks in lyrical imagination or musical execution.

True Tunes News Vol 7, Issue 4 1995

by John J Thompson

If you have been following the splendid and oft bizarre career of Daniel Amos, or their in-bred cousins DA, Terry Taylor, or The Swirling Eddies you know to expect anything. If you have not yet experienced what many would call the Frank Zappa of Christian music, and you have a general appreciation for imaginative music, this is an absolute must.

The Swirling Eddies was proported to be the barely anonymous avenue for Terry Taylor and the members of Daniel Amos to get really weird. With the release of Songs of the Heart, it appears that the line betweem what Taylor and Co. would consider Eddies material and Daniel Amos material has been obliterated by their own doing. Songs of the Heart is a story album, or concept album if you will, about a couple named Bud and Irma Akendorf. The Akendorf's, a middle aged couple that are equally influenced by tent-revivals and Jack Kerouac. Bud and Irma take a vacation and Daniel Amos wrote the soundtrack.

Scattered among the bizarre little enecdotes, are mental side-trips taken by Bud and/or Irma as they think back on their life together, are strange little ditties about, well I don't really now what they're about. Meanwhile the band is kicking out some of the most tripped out and cool music they have yet rendered. If you were to simply pop the disc in and listen without the benefit of a lyric sheet and liner notes, you would undoubtedly enjoy a very modern, but very classically styled rock album a la The White Album or Horrendous Disc.

But take a glance at songs titles like "Uneasy Lies the Head of the Confidence Man," or "Donna Nietche and Her Super Race of Kick Boxing Uber Parrots," and it becomes clear that Taylor is as dangerously close to the edge as he's ever been and we'd better start reading lyrics. Then you could read the lyrics all night long and memorize liner notes and still not have the slightest clue what these cats are up to. For a Daniel Amos fan, this is obviously not the first time we've been put to this kind of musical/humor/intellect test, and that's why we keep buying these things. But if you've never been exposed to this particular brand of brilliance, don't give up. that numb feeling just left of your cerebellum is supposed to be there.

The album opener actually surprised me, and I know it shouldn't have. Leave it to the father of alternative Christian music to revive that ever so hip song "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You," made famous by that enigma of sixties psychedelia Frankie Vallie. Placed contextually as a remembrance of when Bud and Irma first fell in love, this is as good as this song has ever sounded.

Then it's off to the races as the band explores every musical genre from accordion ladened bohemian rock to surfy pop songs to flat out mind bending weirdness and Bud and Irma head off ona road trip where they will encounter all sorts of interesting characters like Evangeline the faith healer, the aforementioned Donna Nietche, and "The Mysterious Stranger."

Unless I just haven't had enough coffee today, the lyrics often seem to have nothing to do with the title or the notes. As the singer addresses all sorts of strange-but-true sorts of life experiences, I get the distinct feeling that there's a practical joke afoot here. The problem is that if there is a practical joke here somewhere, I don't get it and therefore I'm not cool. Then again, maybe I've been too warped by this band over the last twelve years (they've actually been at it for more than twenty) to take anything at face value. What I do know is that it is a blast and it does have a great deal of meaning behind its strangeness.

Fans of Lou Reed, The Beatles, or Captain Beefheart need to find a CD of Songs of the Heart, a great set of headphones, and a bean-bag chair to really experience this. If your tastes run a bit more mainstream than this, you should listen to Daniel Amos, the Swirling Eddies and Terry Taylor's music to see why many of us refuse to settle for most of what the ccm world says is cool. This guy broke the mold. Songs of the Heart is brilliant. Thank God for Terry Taylor!

Cross Rhyhtms February 1, 1996

by Peter Bate

The Story Of Bud And Irma Akendorf (the album's subtitle) signals 20 years of Daniel Amos with typical Terry Taylor eclecticism. Musically harder edged than the songwriter's enjoyable meanderings with The Lost Dogs, 'Songs Of The Heart' retains the Dog's eccentricity. Humour and painful irony mix in this reliving of the Akendorf's struggle with life and faith. The tale begins with Bud's youthful yearnings for Irma in "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" - high octane ballad from the top drawer. Scenes then quickly flit as the now retired couple visit a dubious faith healer (where Bud meets Jesus!) and a mysterious stranger at an organ bar. Amidst the bizarre storyline lie some poignant comments on the trappings of cultural Christianity, while Bud's last thoughts before death are stirring. Not likely to sell by the bucket load but well worth a listen, if only for the oddball Himalayan flute introduction to "Our Night To Howl, Time To Go Dancing".

Cross Rhyhtms February 1, 1996

by Mike Rimmer

'Songs Of The Heart' can best be described as another concept album purporting to be the story of Bud and Irma Akendorf and various encounters/discussions which take place. Recorded in 1995, lyrically and musically this is more akin to the 'Alarma Chronicles' than other '90s recordings with plenty of quirky Jerry Chamberlain guitar and those brilliant vocal harmonies lo keep every fan happy. There's also the opportunity to spend plenty of time pondering what Taylor is getting at! Oblique, searching, interesting, challenging and creative. Daniel Amos continues to deliver the most enigmatic music in Christendom and in Terry Taylor they possess one of the finest songwriters. The blink-and-you-miss-it "Turn This Off" and the wonderful "Sins Of The Fathers" are fine examples of an on form DA. If Terry Taylor was ever asked to write a Bond theme it would sound like "Loveland". Finally, only Taylor could pen a song with the title "Donna Nietche And Her Super Race Of Kick Boxing Uber Parrots". Surely the wackiest title ever for a song by a Christian artist, unless you know better!

Reviews provided thanks to the writers, magazines and newspapers listed as well as fans that have helped us collect them - Richard Towry