Sam Phillips

The Turning

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Next to Amy Grant, Sam Phillips may very well be the best example of a Christian female pop-rocker successfully making the transition from Christian to secular audiences in the 1980s. When The Turning first came out on Myrrh in 1987, Phillips was still going by the name Leslie and was being marketed primarily as a Christian singer. But when DCC reissued this album on CD ten years later, the label went with the name for which she was best known, Sam Phillips. In 1987, she sort of sounded like a cross between Grant and the Go-Gos. Musically, it's hard not to overlook the parallels between "Love Is Not Lost," "Beating Heart" and other appealing tunes that draw on the 1960s girl-group sound in a Go-Gos-ish fashion. But lyrically, Phillips' songs speak of a search for meaning and purpose that has a lot more in common with Grant -- or, for that matter, Bono & U2. Although Phillips is coming from a Christian perspective, her lyrics are neither offputting nor exclusionary. Even if you're firmly committed to Judaism, Hinduism or Islam, you can relate to the spiritual message of "Answers Don't Come Easy" and "River of Love." Those who discovered Phillips with Cruel Inventions or Martinis & Bikinis would do well to go back and acquire this superb album.

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