Adam Jarvis
with Karl Scott, Dave Atherall, Ed Green, Matt Sweetman
ertia records

Fresh, confident, personal, uneven, strange in places, bright, power-mastered and unpredicable.

Apart from that, this disc by members of my home church (in fact, mostly ex-members of the youth groups of my home church) is an aural feast of worship (How Great?), nonsense (Fish) and wonderfully compulsive controversy (The Open Door).

Adam Jarvis (former keysman for Paul Oakley, who has for some reason dropped keys altogether recently) is the driving force, and his skills in playing and producing are all over the disc, the title of which apparently means ‘to jointly bear witness’. The eye-straining sleeve notes describe some of the convoluted creativity which has been required to reach this point. Credits to bands such as Ape, Bungle and Yellow Ribbon fall among comments about dreams, visions and impact, which lend gravity to the selection of songs.

The remarkable nonsense that is Fish is a surprisingly tender love song about meeting and wooing a girl who turns into a fish, contributed by the ever-dependable but never-predictable Dave Atherall. Love for the silvery denison of the deep turns to hate when spurned, and the song turns to aggression. It doesn’t belong on a worship album, but on this album, which may not comfortably fit into the bog-standard worship album category, it sits very well as light relief.

I first heard The Open Door live at a youth meeting in the church, and I was immediately struck by the overall sound, the passion and the attempt at writing an allegorical song for use in worship. No Bible quotes here, just allusions to Bible images (knocking, prisons, shoes).

Best line of the whole album (probably one of the top ten best lines of the worship output of our church): I was born in jail /Jesus came and paid my bail. Okay, the theology has gaps through which you could handbrake-turn a double-decker bus, but the immediacy and wonder forgive the multitude of sins. Jesus has taken the penalty for us, and that’s why we are no longer in prison. Okay, I know bail simply releases a prisoner pending trial, but the point is freedom.

And then it gets controversial. I have got the shoes I need/The Holy Spirit is my speed. Now, in the simple, old-fashioned sense of Godspeed, this is fine. But probably listeners of this CD will first think this reference is to recreational drugs. Unfortunate, at least. Provocative? Accidental, I suggest. Blasphemy? I think not. In a way, the Holy Spirit provides similar energy and motive to lethargic, unathletic runners of the race.

Get the album, see what you think, remember the fuss about Great, great, brill, brill, wicked, wicked, skill, skill. If you are long enough in the tooth, you’ll remember the fuss about And in your presence, our problems disappear, which was really just a question of degree. While we must be wise to protect truth and state it clearly, we must also relax a little and hear the heart of a young man deeply thrilled about being set free and being motivated.