Serious quality production values are essential these days
on a worship set made up of previously released hits and re-worked tunes,
album delivers big-time.
For design-driven reasons, the credits for each song are on the final
spread of the booklet, which means you spend an annoying amount of time
flicking backwards and forwards…
The cover art features brushstrokes simulating a sunset, with an intrusive
plug socket superimposed, which makes some sense but not loads. I suppose
it's better than the corny clouds and lightning symbolism, but the main
message that gets through to me is power, not three-in-one-ness. But that's
probably my fault.
It's good to see Nathan and the boys getting past the Faithful spell,
and pushing the boundaries once again. Not that this is inaccessible or
even desperately adventurous; it's nevertheless loosened the safety belt
a little and moved toward the kerb, to stretch the analogy a little. No,
I don't mean into the gutter or on double yellows (what would they symbolise?,
I ask myself), but I'm trying to suggest that the Fellies, Sandeman and
Rose are all uncomfortable sitting on broken white lines and cat's eyes.
The theme restricts the playlist a little, and prevents a traditional
worship-time running order, but expands the options and opens the door
to such eccentric items as Breath of Heaven. Is that too strong a word?
Think of the Yes Minister -style declensions of a verb: I'm original, you're
peculiar, he's eccentric…
Okay, the track-by-track analysis:
See What a Morning
Following a spooky start and some great powerchords, Lou Fellingham celebrates
Easter with the excellent Townend/Getty hymn, rapidly replacing Up From
the Grave He Arose in my list of Top Songs to Eat Hot Cross Buns By.
Alan Rose's pulsing guitar chugs set the groove for the entry of chorused
chords and some excellent lyrics that, despite the promise of the title,
aren't about the Pope at all. Great line: the work of the Son is completed/A
new way of life has begun.
How great is our God
And now the chorus pedal goes into warm overdrive accompanying Redman's
breathy performance of this song. Some nice new chord departures at the
previously uneventful corners provide a new twist. There's slight danger
of a solo for a while, but for some reason this was averted by not doing
it, despite the power chords being provided for the purpose.
You are the Lord
Lou Felly again, giving the golden tonsil treatment to husband Nathan's
great song. I really like the way her vox are right there in the verses,
but dive comfortably and behind the powerchords (David Michaud this time)
in the chorus.
Dance of our God
Warm chocolate vocals from the deeply groovy Geraldine Latty strongly enhance
this great soul backbeat number. Oh, hallelujah, further from Lord of
the Dance you couldn't hope to get. This has fascinating instrumentation
and outstanding delivery of cracking good lyrics, packed with rejoicing
psalmody. And having built powerfully, it ends with a very empty, tuneful
twiddle. Very different, very special, busbee!
Triune too hard? This one's got the lot: 6/8 time; jangly guitar; shrill
end piano; alarmingly boxy snare (at the start); singer/songwriter performance;
all the trinity buzzwords and phrases, with a weak bid to be used as a
song for Communion; space for a solo; antiphonal section; huge volume
drop before it all comes back with a vengeance; and only lacks the key
change for the final chorus repeat. I found this a bit corny and contrived
in this album of quality writing… Sorry.
Father most Holy
The lovely Cathy Burton and her great voice fill out broken chord shapes
and some great lick playing by Alan Rose, with his favourite angry wasp
distortion. Leaves me filled with awe and wonder at the grace and generous
mercy of the Lord in revealing himself to us.
Nathan gets to do his Phil Collins In the Air Tonight impression, with
gated reverb on the toms, which sound great. This song may well be a grower,
with interesting chords, odd rhymes, Redman's signature call to praise,
intense honesty, and a guitar lick towards the end, with a great echo
at the final finish.
Come, Let us sing
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Corrs as they influence this gaelic
jig, with violins, simulated penny whistle, jaunty time signature and
showcase chorus tune. Vocals here by Krysten Getty (any relation to Stuart
Townend's conspirator?) Great finish.
We Believe in God the Father
Fabulous guitar chugs with a great new chord structure lift Kendrick's
praise march anthem into a new dimension. The anointed Chris Hanby provides
a heartfelt performance of the creed, surviving with great credit even
a total cessation of all accompaniment at one point. Lou Fellingham throws
in a good counterpoint, and the Alan Rose guitar rounds it all off with
the sort of power chords which were not promised at the outset.
There is a redeemer
Actually, there is only a chorus, repeated. But the A Day in the Life ending
is worthy of a long rendering. Nice piano by Mike Sandeman, and crystal
clear vocal from Cathy Burton. Way too brief. As this has been one of
my fave songs for many years, I could have done with more of this!
Days of Heaven
The same pair continue with Dave Fellingham's heartfelt cry for the presence
of God. Arpeggio city welcomes padville.
Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)
Now here's a novelty. A biog song, quite befitting a musical, telling Mary's
story of her journey to Bethlehem. Honest emotion - nervously trusting
tentatively in God's promise as she carries the Son, inviting the Holy
Spirit to comfort her. Not a congregational item!
He is Yahweh
Okay, a good African groove with congas and Zulu vocals. But my theology
is stretching beyond the norm to cope with Father, Son and Spirit all
being termed Yahweh; I thought the secret name of Jehovah referred to
the Father. While Trinitarian doctrine implies that the roles and names
should be interchangeable, they generally are not. But perhaps I'm straining
Jesus Christ Holy One
A happy return to safer territory, both musically and lyrically. A Phatfish
classic, complete with hook, Luke's solid bottom end, Alan's thrash & arpeggio
alternating approach and an almost Lennon-esque echo on Lou's vocals.
Be Still and Know
Chris Hanby again delivers a sensational vocal with Lex Loizedes' electrifying
prophetic song. This a fine finish to the playlist: solid Bible quotation;
church-centred; huge vision; strong imagery; quick geography lesson; all
raising a cheer in response. And I think there's what can only be described
as a plagial cadence when the last line is given the callipers signal
Not flawless, then, but a high-quality selection of songs that help restore
(or at least re-state) Trinitarian theology in a suitably high position
in our expressions of worship. The concept is excellent; more like this
would be most welcome. Actually, there is an argument for other compilations
to follow this sort of rationale; rather then being simply 'new' or 'sung
in a particular tent or cowshed one week during a summer', how about collections
which promote or reflect key aspects of our rich doctrinal pillars? Family
Life, Receiving from God, The Cross, Justification by Faith, Eschatology
(and if you don't know what that is, don't worry, it's not the end of
the world), Salvation, Creation, Power (you could use the plug symbol
again), Humility, Love, etc.