By Kevin Coughlin
So much of Amy Grant’s music deals with the passage of time.
Yet her most powerful and eloquent reflection on the subject during Friday’s concert in Morristown wasn’t a song.
On Aging is a poem Grant wrote at the request of her late mother. In three stanzas that held the Mayo Performing Arts Center spellbound, Grant gently distilled the wisdom of a life well lived: Embrace the moment, cherish the journey.
It was that kind of evening. Much mellower than Grant’s up-tempo, foot-stomping, pop-flavored appearance that floored us in 2008.
This time, she was backed by a four-piece ensemble with an acoustic tinge: Guitar, keyboard, drums and a female backup singer who chimed in on harmonica and percussion from time to time. No bass player.
You really could hear the lyrics. And Jesus was prominent in the mix.
The Queen of Christian Music inflamed the faithful years ago by crossing onto the pop charts. Sounds like she’s rejoined the flock. Anywhere with Jesus, Better Than a Hallelujah, Thy Word, El Shaddai, Jesus Loves Me, Love of Another Kind and Sing Your Praise to the Lord were sprinkled through her two-hour set list.
There were nods to the Other Amy: Baby Baby, Every Heartbeat, House of Love and her encore, I Will Remember You. (Missing, sadly: That’s What Love Is For, Find a Way, and the divinely infectious Emmanuel.)
Grant, who turns 55 this month, joked about hot flashes and shared stories about her four children, who range from their teens to 28. Maybe that’s why her time passages connected so well with an audience that bordered on reverent.
A couple of songs that left an impression here were the bouncy What is the Chance of That…
Life is a thing you drink in deep
The journey is hard and the journey’s sweet
Maybe I’ll search and maybe I’ll find
Things I wanted were already mine
…and the cheerfully restless Our Time is Now:
Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now, ohhhhh
Yes, our time is now, ohhhhh
Let us sing before our time runs out
To knock Amy Grant for keeping the faith would be like slagging Mick Jagger for celebrating sinners.
But just once, before our time runs out, we’d love to hear Grant swap her cover of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi with Sympathy for the Devil.