The McKameys’ music has always been a blessing to me. The music itself is soothing. It is the kind that will inspire you. It’s the kind that reminds you of the goodness of God. When I select a McKameys CD on my iPod, I know that I’ll hear a variety of acoustic instruments like the lead and steel guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. Though those instruments may lend to a Bluegrass or Country style in most groups, these instruments don’t define their sound – the McKameys define their own. Their new project, What If, was released in June of 2015 at the McKameys Hometown Sing in Clinton, Tennessee and features ten brand new songs you’re bound to enjoy.
This CD, like its many predecessors, features honest lyrics influenced by the depth of Scripture. If these ten songs don’t bless you, nothing will! When you open the insert and look at the lyrics printed inside you will notice references to verses in the Bible under the song credits. Every CD I have from the McKameys has this feature and because of it, I have spent more time flipping back and forth between these Bible verses during the writing of this CD review than any other recording I’ve reviewed. My understanding of these songs has deepened and now when I hear them, I can’t help but think about those verses they were inspired by. If you decide to add What If to your music library, get out your Bible and look up these references when you listen to these songs at least once. It’s worth the time, I promise!
1 I’m Gonna Give It Away
Feature: Connie Fortner
Message: As mentioned above, the McKameys have always associated the Scriptures with each of the songs they sing. When we come to this song, the first verse comes from 2 Corinthians 4:4-7. The opening line is taken directly from verse six and says that the good news of Jesus Christ has shined through our hearts into a dark world. Though our physical bodies are just vessels of clay, every time we let that light shine, we grow more in the grace of our Lord. The chorus continues on to explain why we are so determined to share the gospel with others – we just can’t keep it to ourselves! As the love of God keeps growing stronger in our hearts, the most natural thing for a Christian to do is give it away. The passages in Luke 6:38 and Mark 4:24-25 make up the thoughts in the second verse. When you give, you receive more in return. It sounds backwards, I know, but you can’t out-give the Lord! His supply is always more than enough!
Other Comments: When this first track begins playing you will hear the familiar acoustics of flat-picking guitar and mandolin. These two instruments are joined by a mild percussion and a steel guitar to make up that Appalachian Mountain sound we’ve come to love from the McKameys. This song has been penned by Sheryl Farris and is a great lyric to kick the project off with!
2 Your Prayers Have Been Heard
Feature: Connie Fortner
Message: This “story song” is taken from Acts 10:1-4 when Cornelius prayed and his answer arrived by way of an angel. The first stanza of this mid-tempo song tells the story of Cornelius’ prayer. What was the message the angel brought? The chorus tells us that it was the assurance that his prayer had been heard. Like Cornelius, when we’re waiting for the answer to our petition we can hold on to the promise that we haven’t been forgotten. As we wait, we must hold on to faith and stand on His Word. The second stanza points out that sometimes, we wait a long time with what seems like no change in the situation. I love the lines that say, “There’s still a mountain in your way, the problem’s still the same just like the day before. Oh, but I’ve come here with a message…He’s moving, if you’ll just keep holding on.”
Other Comments: The soft intro of a piano and a few strums on the guitar open this track to the tender message of the lyrics. Though the piano and acoustic guitar are the main instruments you hear in the background, the music also includes a light tap on the drums in each chorus and a lead guitar every now and then. This easy listening tune was written by Sandy Blythe and has a great message that will encourage you to keep holding on because He hears your prayers!
3 There Is A Peace
Feature: Peg McKamey Bean
Message: Whereas the previous songs have jumped into the Scriptures from the first verse, we must wait till the chorus to learn the origin of the theme in There Is A Peace. Until then, the opening stanza speaks of the strong headwinds and dark midnights that come into all our lives at some point. In these times, when we can’t handle the things in life on our own, the chorus reminds us of the perfect peace available through our Savior. It’s indescribable. Ephesians 2:14 explains that this peace is found in Jesus Christ and Romans 5:1 goes on to say that we have access to such peace through the cross where the work was done. Every time we return to Calvary, we experience that calm. We hear from those who have come through such trials in the second verse. Their testimony is clear – there’s nothing like turning your problems over to the Lord. In the times to come, when they can’t handle what comes their way, they will return to the Rock of their salvation.
Other Comments: The lead guitar kicks off this intro, and a steel echoing at the end of the phrase.
4 Where He Is
Feature: Eli Fortner
Message: The opening lines of this tune are taken directly from John 14:1-3 where we hear the words of Jesus reminding us, “Let not you heart be troubled.” At the chorus, the lyrics change from the Lord speaking to an observer asking the question, “So then, why should we worry?” The refrain reminds us that we have no reason to agonize over the future because the Word of God tells us how the story will end. If we’re saved, we have the promise that we’ll spend eternity in His presence. The second verse draws from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where it says in the end, Christ will not send someone to claim us from the earth, He’s coming himself! Again, the promise remains…where He is, we will also be.
Other Comments: A lead guitar and tap on the drums begin this up-beat song with a Country shuffle. The rhythm guitar adds to the beat as Eli sings the first verse and those three elements are the heart of the track. To me, this song is brilliant because it doesn’t change the Scripture when transferred to lyric form; and the melody, though simple, is exactly what makes the music so attractive. This is one of my favorites!
5 While I Wait
Feature: Connie Fortner
Message: The Blessed Hope spoken of in the chorus of this easy listening song comes from Titus 2:11-14. Though our hearts are waiting for His return, our lives are examples of His grace and glory. Together, we make these attributes a part of our lives while we wait. The first verse takes us to the passage in Mark 8:35-36, where the familiar words, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the world but lose his soul?” are heard in the Believer’s point of view, who, will gladly lose our lives to gain our souls. The second verse encourages the child of God not to give up and quotes that faith building line from Romans chapter eight, “We are more than conquers in Christ!” The lyrics in the bridge are an honest, simple standard by which we all should live while we wait for Him to come.
Other Comments: An easy-listening song, this one begins with the soft plucking of guitar and mandolin strings, with a little piano in the background. As the piece continues, you’ll hear a drum quietly come in and keep the beat. This song was penned by Sheryl Farris and reflects a deep faith and patience in the event every Christian longs to see come to pass.
6 I’ll Give You Grace
Feature: Sheryl Farris
Message: The writer of this song goes to 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 to identify with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Eagerly, they cry out to the Lord to remove this problem from their life, but He has something different in mind and replies… “I’ll show you how to live in victory!” The chorus says that grace is the element that He wants His people to experience in their lives. When they’re weary – grace is the answer. When they’re in the middle of a difficulty – grace will be sufficient. Removing the problem without a battle is often not the way God works. He has a better way – grace! The prayer of the distressed changes in the second verse from desperation to hope as they ponder on what Christ can do and resolve to lean on Him more. Even if something dangerous is ahead, they know that the Lord will always be with them and make a way of escape.
Other Comments: A fiddle kicks off this up-beat tune. As you listen to the track, you’ll hear everything that a good fast song needs – steel and lead guitar, piano and a steady beat from the drums.
7 Lift My Voice
Feature: Ruben Bean
Message: Turning to the Old Testament book of Job, we relive the sorrow this man of God endured in his lifetime. Job lost everything. Not just his possessions but his children as well. (Tragically, many can relate to this today.) But Job was still faithful to God, which is the message of the chorus. No matter what life throws our way, we can use our voices to worship the Lord with everything in us. The rocks won’t be crying out in our place! Though we have all been through trials, the second verse speaks in the first person to remind us how good He has been to us. He delivered us from the bondage of sin and set us free. That alone is enough to tell everyone that Jesus saves, but the third verse goes on to say that a song of praise should be on our lips every day, from sunrise to sunset! Give Him praise!!!
Other Comments: This song begins with a lone violin slowly playing its solemn tune; later on in the track, you will also hear a rhythm guitar and a piano. Ruben is featured on the lyrics of the second and third verses.
8 I Have A Home
Feature: Peg McKamey Bean
Message: The human race has always believed in life after death, but it is the God of the Bible that has instilled that reality into the heart of man. In the first verse of this song, the person speaking goes on to state that their abode will be with God when they pass from this earth, and to be honest, they’re ready to claim that promise now. The chorus draws from the beautiful verbiage in Revelation 21:3-4, where the God who placed the idea of eternity in the minds of men then wipes their tears away, heals their pain, and replaces sorrow with joy. There, life goes on forever…what a home! The second stanza warns those left behind not to weep for long periods of time. Even though life on earth has ceased for that one, a better life began…one where a thousand years is as one day, and one day like a thousand years! (2 Peter 3:8.)
Other Comments: Lead and rhythm guitars open this song with a good beat, letting the listener know that when these lyrics speak of heaven, it’s a joyous occasion. The piano enters the track in the first verse and continues throughout the remaining part of the song.
9 What If
Feature: Sheryl Farris
Message: There isn’t a lyric out there that sums up Ephesians 3:20 better than “What If.” But first, one must go through the sobering passages of Matthew 13:58, Mark 9:24 and Hebrews 3:18 (which are listed in the fold-out) to fully grasp the depth of this message. What the first verse calls the “valley of regret,” is filled with what ifs and if onlys. When hope seems out of reach, many just give up. But we are not to give in to despair! God’s Word and the promises therein must be taken literally; trust in Him must rise above the difficulty with faith that even though things look bleak, He’s not finished. In the refrain, the “what if” that Believers are responsible is this – what if we believed that God really was all-powerful and all-sufficient. What if we stood before His throne and He said, “I had so much planned for your life…if only you would have trusted Me to do it.” Folks, faith isn’t some grand level of spirituality that takes years to achieve – faith the size of a mustard seed will do. The second verse goes on to elaborate on Ephesians 3:20. When we come to a difficult place in life, we must remember that we’ll never know how much He will do for us until we let go and trust Him with the outcome.
Other Comments: This ballad begins with the piano chording softly and continues so until half-way through the chorus, when a violin slides in a few notes. The chorus builds with a light tap on the drums and rhythm guitar. From the pen of Sheryl Farris, this song not only fronts the project as its title song, but also has appeared on tee-shirts from the group as well and is performed nightly in concert. The message is one that needs to be heard to encourage the child of God to never give up!
10 Work In The Field
Feature: Roger Fortner
Message: This fun tune begins with the chorus, which comes from the text of Matthew 9:37 and John 4:35-38. These familiar verses say that the harvest is ready and the laborers few, but this lyric comes from the voice of one laborer who declares, “I’m gonna work in the fields until He comes!” With work to be done, there’s no need to dally. If the field is where I’m needed, that’s where I’ll be. Three verses follow that explain what kind of work these laborers are involved in. The first verse describes the field as “the souls of all mankind;” treasures that are laid up for the Master of the vineyard while we still have time. The second verse goes on to describe that these souls they are working to save are hurting people who need to know that Jesus is healer of the body, soul and spirit. Finally, the last verse jumps to the second coming of Christ written of in Revelation 20:11-12 and chapter 22:20.
Other Comments: I always love the sound of Roger’s solos. They’re pure Country! Between the fiddle, guitar and steady beat of the drum – your toes will be tappin’ to this one in no time!
Conclusion: If you value music with relevant lyrics to the Christian life and easy-listening background music that has an acoustic sound, it sounds like you’d like this CD! The McKameys have won the hearts of many by their humble spirits and ability to connect with a crowd on stage in a personal way – I think those characteristics have always shown through in their music, and especially in the album “What If.” Though their music is all their own, I believe that anyone who hears the message of the title song will want a copy for themselves. Like I mentioned in the introduction…this music is inspiring. It’s the kind of music that reminds you how good God is.
To purchase “What If” from the McKameys, click here -> http://mckameysonline.com/store