COMRADES : Lone/Grey. (Facedown Records)
Interesting riffs and musical textures, powerful and lyrical vocals – what more could you want? Some of the musical structures are a bit prog-rock (which sat very well with me but may not with a solid hardcore audience), some of the riffs might grace a Marillion album (the riffs on “Infinite Scale” are lovely, courtesy of guitarist Joe McElroy), but the drums and bass wouldn’t. Neither would the power (i.e. guttural) male vocals. The interplay between the two vocals (the other is a gentler female one with celtic overtones) reminded me a bit of Amaranthe mixed with Anathema, especially when Ben Trussell sang instead (e.g. on “Shepherd’s Hymn” and “Underground Queen” – two tracks where it really does all come together, making Laura McElroy’s vocals sound a full equal to Ben’s (elsewhere she does sound a bit lost at times)). Lyrically they’re chronicling the story of the confusion, frustration, loss, gratefulness, growth and elation when the human condition collides with the living God of Creation. It’s an album that bears listening to more than once – the better tracks towards the end of the album lead you into a fresh appreciation of the early ones on second listen. As Ben has now left the band, it will be interesting to see where their next album takes them. Best track: “Infinite Scale”.
7/10 Paul Ganney
DAVID SCOTT-MORGAN : Wall to Wall. (www.davescottmorgan.com)
David Scott-Morgan is a writer and rocker from Birmingham, England – a lover of many different styles of music and once part of the cosmic British band ELO. He’s released numerous recordings over the years, but this album is purely evangelistic. Style-wise, I kept been drawn back to Tom Petty, and maybe a touch of the Travelling Wilburys, thrown in for good measure. There’s a message in most songs relating to how God or/and Jesus can change your life. On the opening “It’s Alright” David says that you shouldn’t worry about anything because God loves you. It’s a quite infectious little tune and one that sticks around in your head, once you’ve heard it. There’s a dash of blues about “Numbers 23,” while “Jabez” contains an interesting mix, with acapella pieces breaking up the normal song structure. The best track has to be “No-One Else.” Once again, there’s a hint of blues behind the music, as the song chugs along at a nice pace. “Thank you,” sings David, “for what you’ve [God] done, for sending you’re only son.” I especially liked the guitar sound on this track, which plays some nice hooks. The title track left me a little flat, but the short interpretation of “Abide With Me” was very enjoyable. Vocally, David switches from smooth to a gravel tone delivery, depending on the song, and I much preferred the former. I’m not sure that I completely understood “Matthew 24” as I’ve always found it a very complex chapter of the Bible. The message I got from this song was that we should help each other and tell the world about Jesus. Acoustic guitars carry this song along, and runs “No-One Else” close as the best song on the album. Closing, David uses keyboards and vocal pads as a backdrop to a gentle song expressing “All True Love.” It’s an album that I enjoyed more with each listen, and David can be well pleased with this creditable release. 8/10.
ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ has unveiled the highly anticipated music video version of his hit single, “You’re There,” which was shot on location in Chicago. The eclectic singer/songwriter called on the talents of producer/director Lennard ‘Street’ Rosses of Street Alert Films to bring his vision for the video to life.
“Working with Orlando Rodriguez and Ten Three Records was an absolute pleasure!” declares Rosses. “I am most thankful for their ability to trust me with this music video. Never have I heard a more passionate and timeless song that resonated within me. The melodic, spirit-filled intensity will grab you from the very start.”
“You’re There” is a smooth and bluesy pop ballad with a message of grace. As a radio single, the song debuted on Billboard Magazine’s Most Added chart in the Gospel category, and immediately shot up to #80 on the venerable magazine’s Gospel Airplay chart. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-X8CKDufvE
ELEVATION WORSHIP : There is a Cloud. (Elevation Worship Records : 6 47946 99984 7)
This is North Carolina’s Elevation Worship’s tenth full-length release, and was recorded live at Elevation Ballantyne. Elevation Worship has become an influential voice in churches around the world with CCLI charting songs such as “Only King Forever,” “Give Me Faith,” and “Unstoppable God.” This record follows the chart-topping 2016 release Here As In Heaven, and looks set to follow in its popularity. It’s full of big production numbers, with those gathered in the audience lapping up each song of worship. The make-up of a lot of the songs is very much in the mould of Hillsong. To that end, although there’s nothing wrong with those songs, I did think that some of them sounded very much alike. Exceptions to those come in the album’s “purple patch,” with “Uncontainable Love,” “None” and “Grateful.” Sadly, there are no vocal credits given, but the female voice on the former is simply divine. The song is shorter than most, but that doesn’t take away anything from the quality. “Nothing can change your love; it’s uncontainable.” It’s simply wonderful. Of the other songs, “Do It Again” lasts far too long, and its 3 minute reprise is definitely something that I could have done without. With the driving force of Mack Brock now removed from the Elevation Worship line up, it will be interesting to see how the team progress. 8/10.
After five years of looking for the right man to sit at the keyboards, 2017 Singing News Top Five Traditional Quartet nominee, The Mark Trammell Quartet announces today that nineteen-year-old TREVOR CONKL from Arab, Alabama will be that man. Mark says, “We are thrilled that Trevor expressed interest in being an active part of our ministry. We believe this young man has a bright future in Gospel Music, and we are pleased that he wants to grow with us!”
For the last three years Trevor has enjoyed traveling with the multi-award-winning first family of gospel music, The Hoppers, from Madison, North Carolina. Trevor states, “While I am truly grateful for this family and the daily investment they have made in me, my first love is convention style and quartet music. Upon hearing of Mark Trammell Quartet genuinely looking for a keyboard man, I began to inquire and that inquiry led to my gaining this position. I couldn’t be more pleased, and look forward to traveling with this great quartet. The Hoppers have been wonderful to me and I will always cherish my time with them.
BRIGHT CITY : Hello Maker. (www.brightcityuk.com)
Following on from their critically acclaimed 2015 debut, the family of artists from Brighton’s St Peter’s Church bring us their new release. The sultry vocal that begins “Maker of the Moon” immediately pricked up my ears. What a voice! Sleeve credits aren’t song specific, so I’m not sure the vocals belong to Sarah Bird or Lizzy Coulson. The song itself is about the God of time and space, which cleverly links to the album’s title. It’s one of those number’s that builds in power as it goes along, and is really well produced. “You Are the One Thing” has to be my favourite track. Give Evanescense sound an electro twist, and you have a terrific song. Writing credits are too numerous to mention, but there’s a welcome sound, overall, that differs from the monotony of Hillsong, Jesus Culture, and Planetshakers music. “Father” is a song of thanks, with the promise that “I will never leave your loving arms.” “Come, Holy Spirit” is a 7 minute epic that dries to god to show His glory, while “Fly” is given a hi-energy dance feel. It was good to hear some guitars driving the praise filled “You Reign” – another excellent song. The closing “Song For A Dreamer” starts off rather atmospherically, before transforming into a cacophony of electric sound. Just when you expect the song to pick up again it, disappointingly, fades to an end. There’s a lot packed into this album, and the family that is, Bright city, can consider this album a success. 9/10.
Third Day draws upon their southern musical roots on their newest album, Revival. They have made an album that is truly a look into their souls – it’s music that you can’t help feeling both nostalgic and refreshed when listening, and it will easily appeal to both career-long and brand new fans of the band…..Comprised of songwriters and performers Stephen McWhirter, Joel Gerdis and Josh Glauber, Iron Bell Music is the fruition of worship nights held year-round for the community of Louisville at an area barn. Performing well-known worship songs along with their own originals throughout each evening gathering, the worship nights exist so that people can come as they are and encounter the presence of God. God That Saves was recorded live at the barn during one of those nights of worship…..Le’Andria is this generation’s powerhouse vocalist. She’s quickly made a cultural impact nationally with her Grammy Award for Best Gospel Music Performance, Season 3 BET Sunday Best win (Hosted by Kirk Franklin) and scoring a recurring role in Oxygen’s Preachers of Atlanta show. Her previous release debuted a #1 on the Billboard Gospel Album chart in 2012. The Stellar Awards winner is now ready to make her major label debt titled Bigger Than Me…..Tauren Wells, the former front man of GRAMMY nominated band Royal Tailor has stepped out in a solo career that has already proven to be grabbing the attention of the likes of radio, notable touring partners, internet-famous video creators, and a wide variety of music fans. Wells combines hard hitting beats, danceable melodies, and piano ballads with lyrics that reach into the depths of human emotion, and with a voice that can span across genres, Wells’ new album is sure to reach a broad audience of people and meet them right where they are in their faith and lives.