Reba McEntire Surprises Songwriter

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International entertainment icon, REBA McENTIRE, announced plans to release a Gospel music project in February 2017. The two-disc set will feature both familiar and brand-new songs. Last year, Joseph Habedank, the popular vocalist who has also garnered hits as a songwriter, was surprised to learn that “Sing It Now,” a song co-written with Tony Wood and Michael Farren, would be included in this project. Because Reba had not released plans, Habedank could not tell a soul.

Reba, recently,  released details of that project and Habedank was surprised to learn that his tune would be the title track!

“I am humbled that Reba loved this song enough to record it and then to select it as the title for her new Gospel project,” said Habedank. “I am honored to share this moment with two of the finest men I know, Tony Wood and Michael Farren.”

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Introducing Dire Pitan

dire-pLondon based singer/songwriter Dire, is breaking into the UK music scene with his distinct blend of soulful simplicity and easy listening. His songs are inspired by life experiences and listening to a range of eclectic artists.

Dire’s sound and vocal versatility instantly draws listeners to his music. He is a passionate and deeply soulful singer-songwriter. A vivid storyteller weaving evocative soundscapes as he navigates listeners through his life journey, Dire discovered his voice (and his potential in song writing) during a difficult period in 2008. In this, he found encouragement and comfort through singing. Dire’s walk with God is a central and recurring thread. He is always keen to share his passion as his infectious lyrics bring a thought provoking message of hope amidst struggle.

His debut EP ‘Nowhere Else’ was released in February 2016 and has been making waves with two #1 hits (including ’Inspiration’ and ‘No Delay’) on the UK Christian Chart for the months of March and October 2016.  He also recently released a video for the track “No Delay” which was filmed by Sofar Sounds London and has featured on notable Radio stations across the UK and globally.

Dire featured as a supporting act for the UK sold out tour of Grammy Award Winning Artist Pastor Charles Jenkins, back in May 2016. He was recently invited to TBN UK to film an episode of TBN Meets presented by Leon Schoeman, which was first aired on 29th December 2016.

Dire’s music can be found on all social media music platforms including, iTunes, Spotify, cdbaby, Amazon, Soundcloud, Googleplay, amongst others. To find out more about Dire visit www.iamdire.com

Watch and listen to Dire at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ4TJU4wuko

Review Xtra – Planetshakers : Overflow @planetshakers

planetshakers-overflowPLANETSHAKERS : Overflow. (Integrity : B01I03J8CO)

Recorded at the annual Planetshakers Conference in Melbourne, Australia, Overflow captures the worship of 12,000 people from around the world. Now, it may be that I’m getting to be a grumpy old man, but many of the tracks on this album seem to be aimed directly at “Club 18-30” types, who party into the night to the latest dance tunes of Amicii and David Guetta. The opening 3 tracks fall into this category. “Come Right Now” is a call to the Holy Spirit, while the title track is all about asking Jesus to let His love flow. “I Know Who You Are” finally sees some more general praise, with some excellent female vocals. The song lasts for over 8 minutes, but it doesn’t come across as being overly long. There’s more worship with “I Come For You” and “I’m Free”, before we turn back to the dance driven beats of “Give My All.” There’s a strong vocal performance on the pian led “Join With The Angels”, and a lovely duet on “My Father’s Child.” And, just when you think you’ve heard it all, along comes the uptempo gospel feel of “Gotta Give Him Glory.” On the whole, I found the mish-mash of musical styles to be rather off putting. But, then again, maybe I am a grumpy old man. 6/10.

Review Xtra – Prestonwood Worship : Songs of the People @PWworship

prestonwood-worship-songs-of-the-people-coverPRESTONWOOD WORSHIP : Songs of the People. (Integrity : B01M3WDWD0)

The Prestonwood Church in Dallas has more than 42,000 members, and 500 of their ministry team gathered on stage for this live recording. Also featured are Michael W Smith and Paul Baloche, led by Michael Neale. Listening to the album, I got the feeling that this church produces music more akin to Hillsong, rather than Bethel Music. There are lots of big production numbers, and the title track is just one of them. From the off, it’s obvious that the congregation are singing along as one body. The uplifting “Your Love is Our Favourite Song” is very powerful. The vocalist sings of chains being broken and of “Freedom in your name,” For “Still My Soul sings” you can instantly imagine the hands of everyone being raised heavenwards in worship. The song that I found myself singing along to was “Our Story, Our Song.” Infectious and enriching, it certainly moved me in praise. Most of the songs are quite lengthy, and “Here is the Holy” comes in at 7 minutes – a tad too long in my opinion. There’s a nice orchestral intro to “Grace So Marvellous”, and I liked the way that both the vocals and music built up in power. There are thirteen tracks in total, and that results in over 70 minutes of music. Of course, quantity doesn’t always result in quality but for lovers of Hillsong music, it’s the perfect addition to your collection. 8/10.

Review Xtra – The Big Glasshouse : In the Beginning

in-the-beginning-the-big-glasshouseTHE BIG GLASSHOUSE : In The Beginning. (www. thebigglasshouse.mycylex.co.uk)

The Big Glasshouse describe their music as “dancey pop sounds with spiritual lyrics and melodies that you hear once and then remain in your memory for a long time” and it’s fair to say that they deliver – the opening track “So Amazing” setting the tone well. The use of the word “dancey” is appropriate as it’s more swagger and sway than rave (which suited me fine) and lyrically their description of “spiritual” is spot on (the repeated “Jesus you’re my hero” from “Be My Guide”, for example). The songwriting is good (and catchy – just try and ignore “What Goes On” while it plays in the background) and the performance/recording/production really breathes life into the songs. Their sound overall reminded me of Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins, Icicle Works, Orange Juice and suchlike (with a hint of Jeff Lynne on the vocals) so I guess “80s pop dance” would be a good description, with the drum sound and keyboard stabs probably pointing me that way. And then, just as you think you’ve got the measure of the album, they round off with guitar-based blues boogie on “A Fool’s Awoken” and “Living In A Glasshouse” complete with the same production and songwriting values, as if just to demonstrate their versatility. The album concludes with two bonus tracks. I wasn’t too sure about the instrumental version of “We Are One”, although it did show how well put together the backing is. The extended “Living In A Glasshouse” was worth inclusion, though. Best track: “You’re Not Alone”.
7/10 Paul Ganney.

Live Worship Recording from Simon Brading

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Brighton based singer/songwriter SIMON BRADING has released new album ‘Alive With Strings’, recorded live at the UK’s Newday event. A truly LIVE worship recording with a difference; this is one long take of a worship time from beginning to end. Hear the sound of celebration and joy turn to intimacy and awe as a generation pour out their worship and devotion to God. Featuring Simon Brading and the Newday band unplugged, accompanied by a string ensemble and a choir of 7000 worshippers.