The Review Zone – Sarah Pierce : Reality

Sarah PierceSARAH PIERCE : Reality.   (www.sarahpiercemusic.com)

Sarah and her husband, Mark, currently live in North Wales, where they head up the worship team at GloryFires Church Chester, For this collection of 5 self-penned songs, Sarah says; “These songs have an acoustic feel, quite raw sounding, and free flowing. We recorded my upright piano, which I love! My desire is that they draw you to Jesus, through the truth of the words and the depth of the music.” Well, I couldn’t believe the sound of that upright piano! As soon as the opening notes to ‘My Value’s in Your Blood’, the name Elton john came to mind. That sound from his “Your Song” days is quite spookily repeated on this song about Jesus’ death for us all. ‘Reality’ has an uptempo chorus, and the song is quite infectious, leading me to multiple plays. There’s some nice guitar playing on ‘Our God So Loved the World’, from Mark. This song sounds like a traditional hymn of yesteryear. Verse after verse fix your eyes on Jesus, and I’m sure that the likes of Fanny Crosby would have been very proud of this effort. The only problem with a 5 song CD is that it ends when, really, you want to hear more. Sarah’s vocals are very pleasing on the ear throughout and the sound production does give a raw edge to it all.‘Abba Father’ and ‘Proverbs 3:5-6’ are both nice songs, and conclude what is, a very enjoyable first release.   7/10.

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The Review Zone – Samuel Lane : The Fire @SamuelLane

Samuel Lane The FireSAMUEL LANE : The Fire.  (Elevation ELE1889D)

This twelve track CD comes only one Elevation catalogue number after the ‘Worship Anthems’ release I reviewed last month, but what a contrast in terms of musical content! The Fire is the first solo worship album from Samuel Lane, who is based at St Alban’s Vineyard Church. Recorded in LA and accompanied by some of the best musicians in the industry, this really is an excellent debut by an artist who is surely going to be ‘one to watch’ – and the sound quality is good as well! When first listening to a review album I commonly write down ‘key words’ that come to mind. In this case I wrote ‘genuine’, ‘credible’, honest’, ‘original’, personal’, ‘worshipful’. The arrangements are contemporary ‘singer-songwriter’ and tend to begin simply and develop slowly, with most of the tracks slow to medium paced – the ‘rockiest’ probably being the excellent ‘You are with us’. I would imagine that fans of Ray Lamontagne will find much to enjoy in Samuel’s voice and presentation (including sudden quiet words at the end of a phrase – check out track 4 ‘The Father’ for instance), and I occasionally heard touches of Peter Gabriel. Lyrically there is little original here, but Samuel delivers the words in a way that draws the listener into the worship in a special way – he appears almost not to be ‘performing’, but allowing us to share his own personal ‘quiet time’. In ‘Glorious’ the words are few but this simply adds to the effect – it is as though Samuel is lost for more words in his worship and we are drawn in as the song builds to a climax then drops back before it ends. Other standouts for me include the previously mentioned ‘The Father’, and ‘Presence and peace’. Negatives? The cover artwork isn’t very inspiring, and I found ‘Fall afresh’ too simple and underproduced when compared with the rest of the album. Overall however this is a debut to be proud of, and rates a definite 9/10. Dave Deeks

The Happening – Philippa Hanna : Looking for venues for 2014 tour @Philippahanna

Philippa Hanna Through the WoodsResound Media are looking for venues to host PHILIPPA HANNA’s “Through The Woods” tour in 2014. Combining world-class entertainment and Philippa’s inspirational testimony, these exclusive events will connect with people of all ages in cities and town across the UK.

Email andy@resoundmedia.co.uk or call 0114 3279464 to express interest in a date. The first 5 dates confirmed will win an impressive prize.

The Happening – Marilyn Baker and Tracy Williamson in Maidstone

Marilyn Baker and Tracy WilliamsonMarilyn Baker and Tracy Williamson will be taking part in the Sunday Morning Service at St Peter’s Church, Boughton Monchelsea, Maidstone, Kent, at 10.15 a.m. on Sunday 22nd September. After the service those who wish to are invited to bring a packed lunch and then stay in church for a rest and renewal afternoon run by Marilyn and Tracy and ending at around 3.30 p.m.  Tea and coffee is provided throughout the day.

They would love to have you join them on this special day of worship, teaching, fellowship and time out with God. Marilyn’s soulful singing and Tracy’s teaching and prophetic insights will help you to take new steps in your relationship with God. The day will provide a wonderful opportunity to step out of your busy lives for a short while to relax and receive His healing and enriching love.

If you are interested in joining Marilyn, Tracy and the Team – or you know anyone else who may be interested in coming along – please call us on 01732 850855 to reserve your place or email info@mbm-ministries.org

The Review Zone – Sarah Poole : Were You There?

Sarah PooleSARAH POOLE : Were You There?   (www.sarahpoolemusic.com)

Less than a year since releasing her album ‘Hushabye’, Leicester based Sarah Poole returns with a 7 track CD containing 4 original songs and 3 new arrangements of traditional hymns. ‘I’m Working on a Building’ and the title track come from Julie’s early bluegrass interests. Her interpretations though lean more towards the folk genre, thanks to her acoustic guitar playing. ‘Don’t Cry’ is about the hope we have as Christians, even in death. Sarah’s vocals sound very sweet on this track, and I immediately fell in love with it myself. There’s a blues sound to ‘Knock at His Door’, which says no matter what problem we have, God’s door is always open – day or night. For ‘Can’t You Hear the Angels Sing’, Sarah looks to Luke 15:3-7 for inspiration. It’s  a song that celebrates the parable of the lost sheep, and it has a catchy melody too! Finally, Sarah let’s just her guitar do the talking, with an instrumental version of ‘Amazing Grace’. It’s delicately played, and a soothing end to the CD. As a whole, this mini album shows that Sarah has a great deal of talent, and her ministry should continue to prove valuable to many.   8/10.

The Happening – Garth Hewitt : Liberty is Near! @GarthTroubadour

Garth Hewitt40 years since he released his first album – The Lion and the Lamb, 1973 – GARTH HEWITT is back in the recording studio.  Due for release in August, the new album Liberty is Near! is a revival of hymns from the Chartist movement of the 1840s.

As Britain’s first mass labour movement for political reform, the Chartists were clip struggling for social justice and human rights in Britain.  When a copy of their hymnbook was found with lyrics but no music Garth decided to bring the songs back to life by adding music and recording them – to remind us that Christian songs about justice are not new!  And to highlight the responsibility of Jesus’ followers to make our voices heard on behalf of the marginalised in society around us. Recording  in Kevin Mayhew’s studio in Stowmarket – the album is due for release at the Greenbelt Festival.

The Happening – Soul Survivor 20th Anniversary Collection @SoulSurvivorGB

Soul SurvivorHard to believe it, but 2013 represents the twentieth anniversary of the Soul Survivor summer events. Fittingly for the conference that has always placed sung worship at the heart of the action, Integrity Music are delighted to announce the launch of an epic compilation album celebrating the very best of Soul Survivor’s first two decades.

And while many of the worship leaders who took their first steps at the event have gone on to establish global movements like Worship Central (Tim Hughes), win Grammy Awards (Matt Redman) and get old enough to retire (Delirious), it doesn’t take much to remind yourself that the sounds and the songs that have emerged from deepest Somerset have lost none of their passion and power over the years.

Soul Survivor 20th Anniversary Collection contains thirty tracks taken from the full range of Soul Survivor live albums. There are songs from Matt Redman’s early days (Undignified, Heart of Worship), his middle-years (Facedown) and recent times (We Are The Free). Likewise, a youthful Tim Hughes belts them out (Whole World In Your Hands, Consuming Fire, Beautiful One) while the more mature version of the man serves up the songs with equal power (Happy Day, Because Of Your Love).