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Steve S. (Reno-ness) from ARROYO GRANDE, CA
Reviewed on 6/18/2007...
Ball and Chain is classic Xtian rock!
Melanie B. (tamajinn) from WEST DEPTFORD, NJ
Reviewed on 9/19/2006...
Peaceful album showcasing Ashton's lovely voice. "Benediction" was my favorite from this album.
A Gorgeous, Five-Star Debut
Michael Janke | San Diego, CA | 07/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During the 1990's Christian music fans had the pleasure of hearing the voice of Susan Ashton frequently grace our airwaves. After paying her dues on backup Susan was signed by Sparrow and at the age of 23 she saw the release of her first record, WAKENED BY THE WIND. With executive producer Brown Bannister, veteran Wayne Kirkpatrick producing, and a solid cast of backup musicians Susan had the studio muscle to make a successful first impression. Solid songwriting and some gorgeous vocal performances ensured that the final product lived up to expectations.Gentle percussion and an acoustic guitar open "Down On My Knees," a song penned by Kirkpatrick which speaks of prayer in terms of longing, desperation, and dependance. Though understated, it's a stunning way to begin the record, lyrically, and the sound perfectly captures the acoustic-based pop that Susan would become best known for. Traces of folk and country would sneak into her work, but she was always at her best outside of those genres. "No One Knows My Heart" showcases Susan's voice, demonstrating the emotion she is capable of but not overdoing it or over-singing. Picking up the tempo a bit, "Benediction" follows and is the best song on the album. It's got a cool mid-tempo groove and a great hook and is another example of Kirkpatrick's writing elevating Susan's vocal gifts. She actually contributed to the writing of three of the songs but Kirkpatrick handled the lion's share of the writing duties and it shows. It remains one of the best written debut projects that I've heard. Other highlights include "Ball and Chain," "I Hear You," and "Land of Nod." "Beyond Justice To Mercy" closes the album, and lyrically it is one of the most poignent moments on the project. Inspired from James 2:12-13, it speaks of the need to show grace because, in spite of our human desire for vengeance, mercy actually brings freedom and heals heartache. It's a beautiful and memorable performance and one of the best songs Susan ever recorded. There really are no bad moments on this project. And though a case could be made for ANGELS OF MERCY, I believe that WAKENED BY THE WIND still stands as the best of Susan's projects. It certainly was a remarkable debut album. FIVE STARS"
CCM wakes up to a new talent
Greg Brady | Capital City | 03/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"susan Ashton first came to the notice of observant Christian music listeners as a backing singer on Wayne Watson's hit "Watercolor Ponies". This 1991 CD became her debut and introduced the CCM world to a thoughtful new chanteuse. Ashton's sound leans toward the acoustic, at times more country ("Land of Nod") in others almost folk ("No One Knows My Heart") with an occasional dash of acoustic blues creeping in.
It established Ashton as a fresh face in CCM thanks to 4 big hits: #2 "Down on my Knees", #4 "Benediction", #3 "In Amazing Grace Land", and #18 "Ball and Chain".
Strongest cuts here are the cry of the hypocrite seeking redemption ("Down on my Knees"), the believer asking for God's sure direction in the midst of change ("Benediction"), and the caution against complacency ("Land of Nod", which also features a sparkling fiddle break from Eric Silver). Phil Keaggy guests on guitar for "Beyond Justice to Mercy", a message many of us Christians don't heed as oft we should. "Ball and Chain" was a hit off the album, where the title comes from (a metaphor for God's spirit seeking out the souls of men).
The misses are few but "I Hear You" is overlong and never seems comfortable in its spare skin. It sounds like it wants to be a big pop anthem instead. "Suffer in Silence" has a weak hook and a reedy keyboard section pushes it into cheeseville.
Bottom Line: A pretty good debut...
3 1/2 stars"