Amy Grant In Motion.


Firstly, why?  

In Motion:The Remixes
Artist: Amy Grant 


Dolly Parton has announced recently that she'll be releasing an album of electronic dance music directed at her male homosexual fans; she has catered to them, or anyone who wants a clubbing soundtrack from a woman with an indelible twang in her voice and tastes beyond her country roots, since a couple years before her concerted late '70s pop radio crossover attempts, so, no surprise there.   

But Amy Grant?  

Grant isn't going the EDM route with new tuneage, but, per In Motion's subtitle indicates, refurbishes some of her 37 years of back catalog (really, more like the last 29). If she has the same primary demographic in mind for this set as Parton does for her next platter, it begs a host of questions, perhaps primary among them whether Vince Gill's better-looking half is going to be joining Jars Of Clay and Jennifer Knapp, et al on a Wild Goose Festival line-up soon by dint of her adding her voice to those of other one-time cCm mainstays' alleged departure from an orthodox, biblical understanding regarding sexuality.  

Leaving that weighty doctrinal/theological matter, aside for now, In Motion remains a curiosity. It derives its name from Grant's biggest general market triumph, Heart In Motion, a multi-million seller that produced a brace of top 10 mainstream pop singles nearly a quarter-century ago. but its ten tracks aren't a wholesale refashioning of Heart, either. The track list goes far back as the album to launch her as an artist outside the evangelighetto six years prior, Unguarded, and revisits 2009's Somewhere Down The Road.   

More curious still, most of Motion's tracks come in under four minutes. So, lest she has some mightily forward-thinking handlers aiming for spins from the mostly European club and rave jocks adept at mixing obscure cosmic disco* seven-inch singles from one turntable to another, the remixes here may be plenty boogieable, but most aren't exactly DJ-friendly with percussion breaks and extended instrumental passages for mixing purposes.   

Still, this lark flies more often than it doesn't. Though sometimes a tad too tinny, the Euro-electro synths applied by all of the post-producers** retweaking Amy's oldies generally enhance one nuance or another of her lyrics and the pleading in her voice that made her such a subcultural phenomenon for so many years.   

But two missteps stand out. "Every Heartbeat" already possessed a sprightly hi-HRG*** sprightliness  that didn't need much in the way of re-imagining to bring out its inherent danceability; the stomp with which it's rendered here vacuums a good deal of the fun in Charlie Peacock's couplets and the joy Grant brought to them.   

The song that graced the airwaves in the rest of the world for her, "Find a Way," gets matched to tones befitting its thematic desperation, but what's with scuttling its second verse and bridge?! The song makes considerably less sense in this truncated form and deprives the set of one of its few mentions of God by name.   

The treatment given Grant's biggest secular smash, "Baby Bay," hits the right note of playfulness, though its tempo's substantially  faster than the version that made it a club hit in '91. The only substantial vocal additions to a cut here reside in the newest number, '09's "Better Than A Hallelujah." Starting out with the titular exclamation sing by what sounds like a choir of Afrimeircan soul sisters, Grant takes up the song from there until a dude faux preaches a line from the pre-chorus during the bridge. Kitsch? Probably, but it works well enough, and its subtler East Coast flavor resonates like an homage to the gospel house music**** offerings of Jasper Street Company or Kenny or Su Su Bobien.   

"Stay A While"-originally found on her '86 greatest hits Collection-gets the longest of the reiterations (4:08) ready for radio and the only lengthier, extended version (6:45) apart from a mega mix of all the numbers included and nearing nine minutes. About as much of a curve ball is the inclusion of "Say Once More" from '88's critically-lauded Lead Me On, though it didn't quite continue her worldly hit streak*****.   

Grant completists, of whom there remain many, will want this, naturally. Many probably nabbed it in the week it dropped to retail. The smaller number of people interested in the intersection of cCm and EDM should at least be intrigued, though '80s and '90s Christian subculture nostalgia buffs may be more so. Whether this is any kind of prelude to Grant's next original musical move or a breather for her remains to be heard. But In Motion makes for a mostly good time in the meanwhile.

Jamie Rake

*-the spacier, musically progressive side of the genre relagated in great deal to one-off studio acts, porn stars, TV presenters, movie soundtrack contributions and other sources of varying degrees of likelihood, influenced by Giorgio Moroder's pioneering use of electronics and prog and Kraut rockers who dabbled in four-on-the floor beats. As with Northern soul and gospel funk, it's an after-the-fact genre designation venerated by collectors and scensters. The Overfitting Disco website ( gives for a studious introduction to the revival of this spectrum of sounds.

**-Properly speaking, disco purists would have it that a remix should technically include only elements of the original mix of a  recording. What we have here, as is the case with most remixes nowadays, are post-productions of some of Grant's better-remembered songs.

***-.The usually synth-heavy, immediately post-disco descendant popular in many male gay discoteques through the '80s. Running at higher tempos than the disco that preceded it, it could be imminently poppy (England's Stock-Aitken-Waterman production house that nurtured the hit streaks of Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, et al) or transgressive/ debauched (e.g much of the catalogs of the Moby Dick and Megatone labels), with a large smattering of alternately aloof and belting divas both black and white.

****-House music, the disco derivative born of the bass drums and high hat tones of the Roland 808 drum machine and the repurposing of earlier '80s Italo disco and the some of what was being issued on NYC's Ze and 99 lanels  (pretty much), was a Chicago invention, but New Yorkers and New Jerseyites seem to have more explicitly introduced the vocal approaches and sentiments of the Afrimerican church into the music, the Windy City connections to Candi Staton's "You Got The Love" notwithstanding.  

*****-The album's lead single/titular track got some play on a top 40 FM in Green Bay, and yes, it was a mite odd to hear that line about trains going to Nazi concentration camps on pop radio, On a tangential note, it's a shame no one thought to include the '89 refashioning of Ungaurded's "Wise Up" from Myrrh Records' '89 underrated dance mix cash-in, Adventures In The Land Of Big Beats And Happy Feets. Goodness knows there are at least as many stutter edits on it as there are on some of Motion's tracks!


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