Amy Grant


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Unguarded, Amy Grant's sixth regular studio album (and ninth album overall), marked her big pop move. After 1982's Age to Age and 1984's Straight Ahead went gold despite distribution restricted mainly to Christian bookstores, Grant's management forged a distribution deal with major independent A&M Records for Unguarded, and the album was backed with a promotional campaign and national tour in keeping with a front-line pop act. Grant's producer, Brown Bannister, had been listening carefully to the pop charts throughout her career, and here he seemed determined to give her the kind of sound that would compete successfully on the secular airwaves of the day. For the mid-'80s, that meant synthesizers, programmed drums, and more synthesizers. And Bannister succeeded. It was easy to imagine the tracks on Unguarded being played alongside hits by the Cars, Duran Duran, and Thompson Twins on pop radio. What also made that transition easier was the only lightly spiritual content of the lyrics. In song after song, Grant (who contributed to seven of the ten tunes, mostly writing words) and her collaborators described life as a struggle and suggested encouragement; if you listened carefully, words like "God," "Jesus," "holy," and "pray" might turn up once per song, or might be only implied by context. In her earnest breathy voice, Grant instructed her fans that they'd better "Wise Up," "Fight," and know "Who to Listen To" (and who not to listen to), but, as those fans bopped along to the synthesized beats, they could be forgiven for missing most of the Christian message if they didn't consult the lyric sheet. As a result, Unguarded worked as intended, producing a Top 40 hit in "Find a Way" and reaching the Top 40 of the LP chart itself. And, as would become apparent, that was only the beginning.

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