As a music lover, there are plenty of albums that speak to me in one way or another. However, over the course of my life there have been a precious few albums that have impacted my in so many ways…musically, creatively, spiritually…as Amy Grant’s Lead Me On.
My crush on Amy Grant began six years before Lead Me On was released. She became a truly big name in the Christian music world with the release of 1982’s Age To Age, and she continued to rise to prominence. It had been three long years since her last full release, Unguarded, and two years since her greatest hits collection, so by 1988 Amy’s fans were ready for something new.
With Lead Me On, Amy Grant’s camp promised a more mature record than anything she had released before, and that’s what she delivered. The mid-80’s pop/rock style of Unguarded was backed off in favor of moodier, more acoustic textures. Flourishes of folk and country made their way on the album, and the songcraft was more ambitious.
That’s to say nothing of the subject matter of the record. Rather than rely on the sunny, everything’s-okay platitudes of most Christian music, Lead Me On reflected a more honest view of life, even for a believer in Jesus. The songs on the record dealt with injustice, marital issues, temptation, and the fears of modern living. For this impressionable 15-year-old in the summer of 1988, Lead Me On offered what really seemed like a balanced view of what life is truly like. Most Christian music didn’t even come close to the scope and scale of this album.
Twenty-three years later, Lead Me On still sounds amazing. Very little of the album sounds dated, and the themes on the record resonate today (possibly more now for me than they did back then). Lead Me On was a high creative watermark in Amy Grant’s career, and it was rewarded with a Grammy. Not too many years ago, the now-defunct CCM magazine ranked it as the best Christian album of all time. That’s no exaggeration whatsoever. Lead Me On is absolutely one of the greatest, most influential albums for me, and it’s one that sounds powerful and special every time I give it a listen.