After a seven year gap Hull’s ANGIE LENDON has recorded her 3rd solo album. Angie explains “This project is very different to the previous albums. Every song was spontaneously recorded live. We went into the studio and worshipped and as we did a conversation developed between us and the Holy Spirit. The songs are a prophetic encouragement to anyone who is walking this faith journey but at the same time makes a beautiful backdrop for prayer and meditation. The album entitled Be Still is completely stripped back to just piano and vocals. These past few years have given me an opportunity to really dig deep and find my voice and expression. I’m excited for this album and I’m working on a booklet of encouraging words to compliment the album which will be released in early October. I’m also in discussions with various churches/ministries to tour as well”
Further details about Angie’s ministry and her Digging Fresh Wells of Revival tour can be found at www.kingdomlibertyuk.com
SPRING HARVEST : Newsongs for the Church 2015. (Elevation : ELE2030D)
I often worry that new songs aimed at use in the church, tend to alienate the older members of the congregation. Why? Well, although there’s nothing wrong with contemporary pop/rock songs, do we really cater for the older generation? Take this album, for instance. Songwriting credits include Chris Tomin, Matt Redman and Ben Cantelon, and they do write fine songs. “At the Cross”, “Anchor”, and “Lord Have Mercy” are just three of the future church hits. I liked “Immeasurably More” as a song, but I just can’t see it being used by a gathering of adults aged over 50. I, certainly, wouldn’t! “Christ Be All Around Me” is a more worshipful number, while “Your Great Love” has all the traits of being another Celtic hymn from the home of the Getty’s. However, Colin Webster is the songwriter here, and what a fine job he has done. The female vocals are exceptionally good. If one song really touched me, it was “Jesus is Alive”. It’s a classic, modern hymn and one of the best of its kind. I’d heard “Wide Open Spaces” before, but it was still good to hear this epic piece once again. There are certainly some smashing songs on this album, including the powerful “Calvary”, and the larger, contemporary churches will welcome them with open arms. 8/10.
GURRUMUL : The Gospel Album. (Skinnyfish Music : SFGU150803)
Gurrumul (or Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu to give him his full name) is an artist that comes with some notable endorsements. Rolling Stone Magazine declared him as “Australia’s Most Important Voice” in 2011, his first two albums are triple platinum and platinum respectively and it is said he holds Elton John and Sting amongst his fans. So this, his third album, is not to be taken lightly and is released with high expectations. The style and approach will be familiar to those who already know Gurrumul’s music, but this album focuses on gospel songs and hymns some of which come from his own Elcho Island community. If you do not know already, Geoffrey’s Aboriginal roots feature heavily in his music and he sings, not in English, but in Yolgnu. This creates a mystery and ethereal aura to the music which is further enhanced by Gurrumul’s unusual tenor voice. The opener “Jesu” is perhaps the strongest song on the album, simply constructed and memorable as a result. Not surprisingly this has already had a single release with the video available on You Tube. Most of the songs have that traditional praise and worship feel to them, reminiscent of choruses from the 70s and 80s. This is evident in songs like “Garray Jesu” and “Hallelujah” – modest and catchy and as a result, straightforward and effective. Gurrumul’s music is always unpretentious and it feels right at home in this context. However, this unsophisticated and nostalgic feel may not be to everyone’s taste, particularly with those with an ear for something more contemporary. Sometimes you do have to remind yourself that Gurrumul is a major artist, rather than a grassroots one, which is the impression you could get from this album if you were none the wiser. However, I wouldn’t bet against this becoming another platinum release. 6/10 Robin Thompson
JIMMY ATKINS : The Pen & the Page. (www.jimyatkinsmusic.com)
Jimmy Atkins hails from western North Carolina, where he makes music in several different facets of life. A worship pastor at a local church, a songwriter at home, and a storyteller abroad, he’s gained his following through avenues such as speaking at conferences for the young and old alike, as well as leading the 10-year career of his band, Second Hand City. This new step sees him release a 7 song album as a solo artist, and it makes for some interesting moves, musically. There’s no surprise about the lyrical content overall, and the opening ‘Try’ had me smiling over the many times I’ve fallen short in my Christian walk, but God loves me unconditionally, picks me up and says “Try again”. It’s a catchy song and has hints of Jeremy Camp in style. For an independent recording, the production on “Seasons Changing” is immaculate. I don’t possess the best sound system in the world, yet this track is pure and crystal clear. The theme behind the song is that God knows us through and through, and loves us just as we are. I thought that there was a touch of Crosby, Stills & Nash about “Arise”, especially during the verses. ‘Tense’ came over as a very personal sounding song. Jimmy says that the tension he was feeling came from; “Working in a church with my dad (the pastor), and we were facing severe opposition to all the decisions we were making in order to make the church more of a place for those who had yet to meet Christ”. It’s a very touching song and has Jimmy almost crying to God about what he was going through. The album ends with the title track and “Calls From the Sea”. The former is a poem, set to music and is a celebration of the written word, while the latter is an enjoyable little sea shanty. I’ve not heard any of Jimmy’s previous work, but he has hit just the right note with this collection of songs. 8/10.
JEAN WATSON : Steady My Gaze. (Shadowlands Music)
This album has a kind of Celtic folky feel about it in general, despite the fact that a lot of the tracks are quite up tempo. The songs on this CD remind me a bit of Maria McKee, so if you are familiar with her music you’ll probably like this CD. The lyrics are well written, and seem to bring an encouraging theme about relationship with God. Phil Keaggy plays guitar on a couple of the tracks, “Speeding Train” has got his unmistakable style running all the way through it, while the final track “Overcome” is an acoustic version of the opening track, featuring some nice violin, and Phil Keaggy again, this time on acoustic guitar. There’s a nice version of “Be Thou My Vision” on this album too. Personally I wouldn’t have bothered with “Lord Of The Dance” though. It doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the album. However that song aside this is quite a nice CD to listen to. There is enough variation to keep you interested all the way through. Certainly worth a listen if you get the chance. 8/10 Andy Sayner.
ECHO : You’re All I Need to Get By. (Plankton Records : Plancd015)
Originally a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, this EP release from UK soul outfit, Echo, features both studio and liver versions of this well known song. The studio recording shows off those great vocals that this band have become renowned for, over the last twelve months or so. Even the live version is almost as tight, as the band play with the confidence of seasoned professionals. The third track was recorded live, earlier this year. This shows that the band putting their own twist and style to the church standard “Everlasting God”. It’s a good version, and I can see it going down well during their concerts. This EP continues where their album “Bought Not Souled” left off, showing that God and soul music really work. 7/10.
BIG MINISTRIES : The All-In Thing. (Elevation : ELE2092D)
This Cd release accompanies the “The All-In Thing” book, which is a unique resource aimed to facilitate worship when everyone’s ‘All-in’ together. The problem I found, listening, was that so many of the song’s lyrics were aimed at the very young. Sure, there were some contemporary adult sounds, but the words just didn’t match up. ‘Everybody’s Welcome’ grated on my ears, and reminded me of that 80’s BBV TV Rock Gospel Show. Not bad at the time, but sounding very dated now. ‘Strong and Brave’ and ‘Love the Lord Your God’ are both okay for kids, but I can’t see many adults wanting to singalong. ‘Whole World in His Hands’ gets the rock n’ roll treatment, but left me wondering why? On the other hand, a rocky version of ‘To God Be the Glory’ works very well. In fact, I had to play it three times in a row, as I was enjoying it so much! If you’re a teen who likes the UK group Scouting For Girls, then ‘I Believe’ will suit you down to the ground. It’s very similar in style to all their hits, containing good harmonies and keyboard sounds. If this release had been marketed with under 10’s in mind, I wouldn’t have been surprised. For that age group, it’s a credible collection of songs. Unfortunately, even as a parent, I would seriously doubt I’d join in with most of these songs. 5/10.