London-based urban pop singer and songwriter. Vassie’s songs are shaped by her faith, the sounds of her hometown, and life’s adventures, both good and bad. Her lyrics offer a positive message and her energetic live performances draw on everything from glitzy 80’s sythnpop to contemporary hiphop, via way of modern gospel. Her 2015 single Here I Am received support from UCB Radio, and debut album Concrete Jungle was launched with a sell-out headline show, also hitting the iTunes Christian & Gospel Top 30. Vassie was also named one of 2015’s top newcomers by A Step FWD. Check out the video to Here I Am: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF3zog4DWT8
Following Grammy and Dove Award nominations, a trio of best-selling major label albums and seven chart-topping singles alongside viral videos, Decyfer Down returns with the April 1 release of The Other Side Of Darkness through The Fuel Music. Making a conscious decision to shatter comfort zones, whether they be artistically or thematically, the band held a no-holds-barred approach to The Other Side Of Darkness. “I know every artist says ‘this is the best album we’ve ever done,’ but there is definitely some of the best sounding stuff we’ve done in a long time just because there are no limits,” says guitarist Chris Clonts. “We can write about whatever we want to write, and we’re not in a box.”
18 months ago PHIL WICKHAM lost his voice and was forced to have vocal chords surgery that carried the risk of not being able to sing again. During that difficult time, God spoke the simple yet massive truth that He loves us. These songs were written as a response to this deep personal revelation. We are His. We have nothing to fear. We have only hope in front of us. We are the Children Of God is his new album.
MISTER KEITH : Record of Wrongs. (www.misterkeith.com)
Former Brit-pop performer, Keith Ayling has returned to the recording world with a totally different sound. He classes it as Victorian Pop and describes the songs as being “charming, bittersweet and darkly romantic collection of life stories.” It’s certainly different to anything else that I’ve heard in either the Christian or secular market, and that’s a great strength. Of the 14 tracks, there are three Interludes, that contain musical instruments from the world of brass, and keyboards. Interlude III sounds like it could be taken from an old fashioned murder mystery TV series! “It’s a Good Year” is an instantly endearing song, while “Only Love” was the first number to get me thinking about the lyrics. “Only love can break your heart, only love can show how fragile we are.” Keith correctly defines how powerful love is in our lives. Indeed, the subject raises its head again on “Love Is Strong”, where the real love can beat anything that life throws at you. I thought that “The Circus” sounded more like a 40’s jazz style but it still fitted in well with the rest of the album. I simply loved the ukulele sound on “Healing Tonight.” I liked this song straight away and, at times, Keith’s vocals simply soar. How many artists use old fashioned brass sounds to record these days? Well, on “The Confession”, Keith employs the Eastbourne Salvation Army Band help give depth and empathy to this reflective track. Keith goes on to say that “A number of the songs were firmly influenced by the loss of my father, uncle and father-in-law to cancer, all within three years of each other. It takes you to dark places of the soul and yet something brings you back to imagine hope again.” And that’s the secret to the success of this album. The lyrics do make you think about life’s situations and, out of the darkness, there is light. 8/10.
Folk-rock band SPEAK BROTHER will release their upcoming new EP ‘Light Runs After Us’ on the 25th March 2016. The Rugby-based band have been compared to Athlete, Ben Howard and The Swell Season. Their debut EP earned them airplay across the UK and rapturous reception from industry and fans alike. The band played an extensive 2015 calendar of over 100 gigs at venues and festivals all across the UK, including Wychwood and Greenbelt, and they were invited as featured guests at the final of the national Open Mic UK competition. The new EP is said to be packed with rousing and anthemic tunes full of passionate songwriting and drenched in rich vocal harmony.
DAVE GRIFFITHS : Here and Now. (https://davegriffiths.bandcamp.com/album/here-now)
Here and Now is the debut solo album from ex Bosh frontman, Dave Griffiths. This 11 track offering is an independent release but features some well-known musicians in Christian circles such as Marc James, Ian Yates and three ex-members of [Dweeb]. The Bournemouth based musician is no stranger to working with distinguished names – supporting Martin Smith on tour with Chaos Curb Collaboration being once recent example – and as a result, even though this is an independent release, there is a polish and professionalism more associated with a label release. It’s a strongly guitar oriented album, which will always provide an album with few brownie points in my book, and overall has an uptempo feel – another tick in the box from me. The eponymous opener “Here and Now” and penultimate “Wild Like Children” both aptly demonstrate the aforementioned sound and feel. There is some variety, both in style and content; “10 Years” is more acoustic driven and, rather than being an out and out worship song, is a song about his marriage. I do like it when Christians are able to step out of the worship box and tell stories in their songs, or celebrate the various facets of life. Overall, this is a good album, though, for some reason I cannot establish, it didn’t quite grab in such a way as I wanted to keep playing it. I’m not sure why because all the ingredients are there and I can’t really find fault. However, it doesn’t feel formulaic and it has enough about it to commend it, so definitely one to check out. 8/10 Robin Thompson
Internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter and classically trained violinist JEAN WATSON has been in the studio putting the finishing touches on her highly anticipated worship project. The as-yet-untitled project is slated for release in July 2016 through Shadowlands Music and New Day Distribution. “I’m incredibly excited about this new project,” declares Watson. “It’s the first time I’ve done a completely worship-focused project, and I believe it conveys the most authentic ‘Jean Watson’ sound I’ve ever created.” The project features the celebrated singer/songwriter’s signature Celtic-infused violin and haunting vocals, and producer Billy Smiley chose to emphasize Watson’s ethereal, World Music sound, truly capturing the soul of who she is as an artist.