It’s difficult for me to assign a star rating to this title because it’s been in my life almost as long as I have.
I first bought this LP at The Mall of Memphis when I was 5 (or rather, my dad did, and I put my name on the “from” label on my mom’s Christmas gift). I didn’t know anything about this album or artist except the cover was frickin’ RAD, and who wouldn’t want to get this as a present? My dad, I guess, shrugged his shoulders and let me go through with it. Maybe he knew who Amy Grant was and thought it was a decent selection. Anyway, thank you, Dad. It’s a memory I love.
Now that I have the internet and all, I know that Unguarded was Amy’s 6th album, released in 1985. Compared to her previous releases, this one is downright listenable throughout. Yeah, her other albums have some good songs (most of which are found on her first compilation album, The Collection — such Christian classics as Sing Your Praise to the Lord, El Shaddai, I Have Decided, etc), but you also have to wade through some real eye-rollers like Fat Baby and Grape, Grape Joy.
Unguarded, in my opinion, plays like a “secular” (i.e. non-Christian) album. Great beat, guitars, plastic pianos, and even revving engine/peeling-out car noises.
Lyrically, while undeniably Christian, the explicit “let us all praise” type phrasing gives way to more personal experiences (a Christian perspective rather than a piece of propaganda). Things like having thoughts about cheating on your husband, or helping a friend through a crisis of faith, or being careful who you listen to for advice. Despite all this, my husband who has zero experience with Christian music took one cursory listen and said, “it sounds like she has a boner for Jesus.” Honestly, that’s a better description than the “Jesus is my boyfriend” tag Christians have given lacklustre CCM songs.
With all that said, it’s hard for me to be impartial to an album like this. But I recently bought a turntable and a few records (of which Unguarded was one of them — with the same cover I’d gotten for my mom all those years ago), so it’s fresh in my memory.
I love these songs. They bring back good memories — not to mention that sweet, sweet 80s nostalgia we’re all enjoying these days. Whether or not I recommend it depends a lot on who I’m talking to. Did you also grow up an Evangelical Christian? Definitely give it a listen if you somehow missed it until now. Are you a music lover who enjoys a big ol’ slice of 80s cheese? Yeah, go for it. If you hate any mention of Christian culture, give it a hard pass.
(The Good Christian Fun podcast reviewed it a little while ago, and while their opinions don’t really mesh with my own, it was an interesting listen.)
Oh, by the way, Dark Museum is out in paperback now, with a lovely new cover. As usual, Amazon is first, but other retailers will have it soon.