MARK FERGUSON BAND : Hidden. (www.markfergusonband.com)
Opening with a gentle hum and a piano run that sounds suspiciously like “Abba Father” you do fear the worst. But as it develops there is a really nice Irish lilt to the tune and it does build well, so it’s worth sticking with, as is the whole album. This is a fairly sparse recording – the drumming is very restrained in sound for example and the album reminded me a bit of bands like Ben Folds Five, Hothouse Flowers and Divine Comedy. The lead vocal is very good – a very clear treble that will lead congregations easily (as is their aim). I did feel that the arrangements were a bit sparse: they felt very mid-service reflective without the big crescendo a full service requires. Even “In This Place” which lyrically (I felt) cried out for a Hillsongs over-the-topness felt restrained. Better in this respect was “Newness” which had a very good lilt to it, complete with some great background fiddle work. Lyrically, it’s very much what you’d expect from a worship-focussed band but “Beneath the Cross” deserves special mention as this is where it seems to all come together, the lyrics sitting brilliantly with the backing, especially as they sing “the cross is not the end” at first gently then triumphantly. It won’t break much new ground, but it is very well done and deserves a listen. Best track: “Beneath the Cross”. 6/10 Paul Ganney.