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Album Review: David Lyle Morris ‘Northland’

David Lyle Morris 'Northland'

David Lyle Morris ‘Northland’

In our culture we place a lot of focus on the past, and rightly so.
The past doesn’t define us, but often the past reminds us of the things that are important to us and that knowledge gives us the confidence to step into the future. In ancient cultures they used to make monuments or altars in memory of these important things. We live in culture now that doesn’t do that as much. We are a culture of story tellers and troubadours.

This brings us to ‘Northland’, the latest offering from Kiwi singer/song writer David Lyle Morris, who once again brings his relaxed style to the table….
It seems fitting that David starts the album with looking back and tracing his musical genesis. He gives us a glimpse of how he was shaped by friends and family and events in his life with the song ‘Music in Me’ and ever so gently tips his hat to God to say “But God… through all of this you have placed the music in my heart”.

Those who are used to listening to David ‘s mainly James Taylor-esque acoustic style will be pleased to know that there is plenty here to keep you happy, with tracks like ‘After a While’ and ‘I am yours’. These tracks are simply crafted and beautifully played.
A special track and a real highlight of the album is ‘Bluebird’ – the song full of sorrow and promise all wrapped in one beautiful package. ‘Bluebird’ poetically balances the tensions of the tough times here on Earth with the promise of the freedom of Heaven. This is something that often is mentioned to me about David’s music… how he can take such a tough subject like suffering and death or sickness and place it a real positive light. It’s a tough thing to do however David is able to do it tenderly without making sound cheesy or trivial.

One of the first things that grabbed me about this album was “wow the boy’s found the blues again… and he makes it rock too.”
David fills his latest offering with sound from his past.
You’ll hear sounds influenced by Dire Straights on tracks like ‘Somewhere Someone’ and also some great blues influenced rock shining through on this album too. ‘What Goes Up’ could easily fit into the mix of a Stones album or maybe even  ZZ Top.
Guitarist Teemu Viinikainen really takes the lead on these rockier tracks and forms a great platform of groove and drive for David to sit upon. You know a guitarist understands the brief of the songwriter when you find yourself saying “Mmmm niiice” against your will.

Once again David is able to help craft an album that tells a story…. a story of love, of life,  of the loss of his homeland New Zealand and his friends in other far-flung countries.
I love the mixture of David’s hallmark acoustic style and a rockier edge that is showcased on this album, especially the  really bluesy feel that shines through.

With David I love how the tracks aren’t perfect. That in itself is perfect. It lends to you hearing the emotion and tension of any individual track…. that’s what you want.
You want real life… you want authentic… you want heart… and when an album is over produced you don’t get that.

Welcome to the journey.
Past and present, light and dark…  packaged in this beautiful album.

If you want to by the album check out davidlylemorris.com
(also available on iTunes)

Album Review: Corban Samuels ‘Death To Birth Part 2′

Death To Birth Part IIAn eerie drone builds over the tinkle of what sounds like a toy piano… the  sound building and growing, setting up the start of the second chapter of this dark world… the illusion… the journey… the story… the mystical world of Corban Samuels. Welcome to Part 2 of the dark ‘other worldly’ place that Christchurch songwriter Sam Reed has created with his Death to Birth E.P.’s under the name Corban Samuels.

Keeping true to the first album, Sam has kept the cinematic approach. While this approach has it’s strength, as in the way you read each chapter of a book in order, it means that the album is not really one you listen to for your favourite single. While others have had this sort of approach to writing  ‘concept albums’, I have yet to hear something put together in such a story-like flow as this is. It’s great to know that Sam had the sense not to disrupt the story with what would have only been a filler or hit single. Sam gets it…. when you’re creating something so cinematic, so grand, so dark, you’re taking people on a journey. You can’t let the illusion go, otherwise people will snap out of the world that you have created around them. This is a dark album, although not as dark as Death to Birth Part 1, which in some parts was quiet uncomfortable (especially if you were listening at home alone in the dark).

Sam sets up the album with over four minutes of instrumental. This works well with this style of album. It’s like watching the title sequence of your favourite thriller music, or maybe Harry Potter movie.

The first words that are uttered on the album come at the start of the 3rd song called ‘Tonight’. “Dear Friend, those tears you cry are not wasted at all” . The vulnerability of the song draws you in as Sam sings, “Let me Dance with you, let me hold you tight, let all your cares be forgotten tonight” – it’s sweet, yet it’s dark. It’s like listening to a love song in a Tim Burton movie…. it’s endearing, but like lovers caught in the dark.

For maybe the first time over the 2 E.P.’s ‘On the Outside’ gives us some light, some hope to the story. It feels like the clouds are parting and the rain has stopped. You can almost feel rays of light touching the skin of the players of this story which you have become a part of.

The album finishes with the same cinematic approach to the start of the album… a great book end.

The closest thing I can think of in the concept style of music that Sam comes with is the music that ex-DC Talker Kevin Max has brought out the in the past. Sam brings a very alternative or indie pop rock approach to the table and while it’s great to see someone putting out stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream music market, it has to be a lonely road. This is not the kind of music to make friends and influence people… these are albums that challenge you musically, challenge you mentally… challenge you!

Great work Sam for sticking to your guns. You really can’t do concept albums like this half pie and you have taken leap of faith needed for this.

 

(To see the review for Death to Birth Part 1 click HERE)

Album Review: Crowder ‘Neon Steeple’

Crowder ‘Neon Steeple’

Dear Mr Crowder;

Thank you for the delivery of the album ‘Neon Steeple’, an offering that you pointed to being that of  “… the sound of the Appalachians and Ibiza. Folk music and EDM. The music of the People. Folktronica. Digital and Analog. The Ones and Zeros and the Handshake. The Banjo and the 808.” – phew, that in its self is a huge undertaking. For that alone I tip my hat to you sir.

I have to say that I have been eagerly waiting the arrival of this album. I marveled at what magical collaborations you would be able to put together with such a broad theme… Porch Music meets electronica… wow… the possibilities are endless.

We already knew that you were a great songwriter – the vast catalogue of music that you collected as part of the group David Crowder*Band would attest to that fact. This wasn’t where my intrigue was focused. I was wondering “How are you going to make this work, Mr Crowder?”.
Thinking back to your past work I remember the award winning David Crowder*Band album  ‘A collision or (3+4=7)’. I remember similar combinations with great fondness.

And so it was with much anticipation that I played through the album ‘Neon Steeple’ for the first time.

I love how the album starts off with a brief acoustic song as an intro… it was great.
However when you used synthesized hand claps at the start of the song ‘My beloved’ I became a bit weary. I had heard this sound before, and then to my shock you took me to somewhere between 1994 and 1999. I didn’t know if I was about to shuffle to ‘Cotton eye Joe’ by the Rednex or ‘We like to party’ by the Venga Boys.
Fortunately the insanity is brought back to the ground with the single ‘I AM’ – this Mr Crowder is a great song. Do more if this!

My poor heart… More synthesized clap like rhythms start the song ‘Come Alive’ . Thank you so much for not rehashing the late 90’s for this. This actually feels like a ‘Church Music’ tune from your past band. ‘Church Music’ with a country tip…
(I’m sorry to bring up the past band however this is a good reference, I believe)

Bless your heart… More synthesized hand claps!
Mr Crowder you do understand that just because you have said that you want to make the album both digital and electronic that you can still have people actually clapping their hands?
I love the music. I love the lyrics. I love the depth of the song. Please Mr Crowder, sir, give us rest from claps that are manipulated by the robots that will someday take over this world.

Come as you Are is a wonderful song, a powerful song. It showcases songwriting in it’s purest form.
It’s simple. It’s both majestic and humbling.
“So lay down your burdens, Lay down your shame, All who are broken, Lift up your face”
Great work Mr Crowder.

(Mr Crowder, I’m not sure if you realise this but The Wiggles or some other kids band invaded your album.’Hands of Love’ – please Mr Crowder lets not do this again or better still lets save this type of song for your kids album. This may be a great plan B if you are starting to consider retirement.)

The Song ‘My Sweet Lord’  is so nice… Miss Emmylou Harris still has it doesn’t she?
What a wonderful thing it is to hear those sweet harmonies… She’s a keeper Mr Crowder!!!

Everything was going great until ‘You Are’. I hear the song building up and I find my self yelling “Don’t go ooonse ooonse”
But my cries fell on the def ears of the 90’s nightclub gods, who not only gave me the obvious ‘on the floor beat’ but slapped me in the face with syncopated synthesized hand claps.
Mr Crowder you are both a saint and villain in one small package.

Some songs on this album just work because of their simpleness… and because of this they become more powerful.

In conclusion Mr Crowder I’m not sure if this album is more  human like Luke Sky-walker or More Robot like Darth Vader.
Lyrically it magical, it’s whimsical, it’s poetic.
Musically it’s melodic, it’s southern, it’s full of toe tappers.
I’m not always convinced that the marriage of the 1’s and 0’s (as you put it Mr Crowder) always work with the soul and heart of the south.  However, in saying that, this may be like any good marriage and need time to develop.

Thank you Mr Crowder for taking the time to bless us with your music.
I look forward to hearing more in the future.

Peace and Grace
Goose

 

 

Album Review: Passion ‘Take it All’

Passion ‘Take it All’

There was a time when I used to look out for the latest Passion CD.
I mean, what wasn’t there to love?
It was a collection of some of the top Worship leaders and innovators in the Christian music scene. It was new, it was daring, it was radical. It was almost like it wasn’t church, yet you found yourself singing along. You were singing praises and you were worshiping.

However, sadly you will notice that it is all mentioned in past tense.

The Collection of leaders are great and we are fortunate to have so many on one album. However,  the song selection on this album makes all the churches’ songs sound the same.  I don’t know why these songs were chosen or who chose them but I think it was most likely a combination of a couple of things.

  • Conference moments: after all it was recorded at a conference and while the recordings may trigger a reminder to the people that were there of a God moment, for the rest of the world it almost feel like a joke that we missed the punchline for.
  • Commercial success: Songs that are going to be a highlight for the leaders (and bands) involved – after all they do need to make a living.
  • Record labels: People in suits and ties sitting around a table and talking about the album as a whole… what songs fit, which songs don’t… which songs are strong and will be picked up by the wider public and which songs won’t.

I understand that when putting an album like this together it could be technically difficult to find the right songs. You need to get the right balance and the right feel while deciding which artists get the prime spots on an album. (Interesting to note that Chris Tomlin features as the first track on at almost half of Passion albums).

So why has a recording that everyone once looked forward to so much suddenly became average? The reality is that the world has caught up. While these songs would have caught the minds and inspirations of thousands of young people who have attended these conferences they almost get lost in translation outside that setting. I mean, how awesome is it standing with thousands of people singing these songs, with once voice and one mission? There is a synergy that happens and it’s inspiring. However in your bedroom or in the car it’s almost out of context. To be honest it could have been a lot of other Christian worship compilations I have listened to.

Now I know I seem to be bagging this album but I’m not.There are truly some great tracks on here and my personal highlights would be Crowder’s ‘I Am’ and Matt Redman’s ‘Mercy’.

I’m not saying that God can’t use the other songs.
God can (and will) use these songs to touch hearts. My question  is, what is the purpose of this album these days?

Is it just a conference audio scrapbook so that you can relive those conference moments?
Is it to help sell albums for six steps records and sparrow? After all these songs are also going to be on each of the worship leaders albums too.

Is it to create new songs for a new generation?
If so the album and the songs presented are starting to feel a little bit “been there and done that” when once these were songs that caught imagination.
I remember hearing artists like Charlie Hall sing “Salvation Raise up from the ground” and I thought “wow I’ve never heard someone say that in a church song before”, or David Crowder Band when they sang “You made everything Glorious… so what does that  make me?”
These were pointed, different, artistic, creative and innovative.
The thing with innovation is that if everyone else is doing it, it’s not innovation anymore. It’s the norm. If what you are doing is the norm you aren’t innovating… you’re just like everyone else.
I don’t think the church was designed to be ‘just like everyone else’ and therefore it goes to say that neither should our music be. Sure our music should sound like the music we hear in the street and the radio but it’s different too… it has a life saving message for a start.
What is sparking the imagination of our younger generation if the church isn’t?

I understand that hearing this loved series of albums has become average may be hard for some to read… however we don’t want to get into the habit of giving good reviews just because the artists are our favourite leaders and bands.
Our job as reviewers is to critique and push artists to greater excellence, we praise when there is need to praise, and we point out when there is a need for artists to push forward to greater things..

Album Review: Propaganda ‘Crimson Cord’

Propaganda ‘Crimson Cord’

Hip-Hop is changing.
When once it was found in two camps – you were either a gangsta, a hustler where you were all about the bling, the colours on your bandana, and the hood you ‘rolled’ in. Your women were there for one thing, and if anyone stepped on your turf you would “cap their a##”
OR…
You were a fun loving creative type. You were about drinking, about smoking things that made you creative. You spoke of love as if it was something that you understood when the actions showed it was only skin deep.

But now Hip-hop is becoming a game changer. It’s the soap box of choice. It’s found everywhere… but is it any good and does it have a social conscience that is livable?

Coming out of the Humble Beast label is hip-hop artist Propaganda.
Propaganda has paved a way for himself with really organic sounding beats, creative hooks and a good ‘turn of phrase’.

The thing that stands out on a Propaganda album is that it’s all not strictly hip-hop. Some of the hardest hitting tracks are more technically ‘spoken word’ poems and it gives Propaganda the ability to really stretch his creative and clever lyrics… and it’s always challenging.

The album starts off with ‘You Mock Me’ – it’s typical Propaganda and a spoken word piece with layers of sounds and beats to give you a setting to place the words on. Propaganda is clever as he constructs the belief that he’s talking about someone, a father?… a girlfriend? … a child? … but this is a poem about ‘The Past’. Welcome to the 2nd album, this is going to be a musical mind trip.

The album really starts to take off when hip-hop artist Lecrae comes to the party on ‘Daywalker’.
‘Daywalker’ is a real foot tapper with Propaganda declaring that “this is what you get when you mix Tony Hawk and Ice Cube NWA and the Bones Brigade” – it’s a fun track that talks about the culture you are living in.

‘Bored of Education’ is a spoken word based piece that cleverly starts of with “Dear bored of education… so are we… so  are we” as he explains why the brightest stars in the education system start to fall and fail because the system isn’t made to look after the kids that are considered ‘not normal’. He points out: “Nick Luvanno runs his own design firm. And he failed the exit exams twice. FAILED”

The most hard hitting track on the album has to be the track ‘I don’t see it’ which is a real mixture of the clever and intellectual spoken word and more traditional hip-hop.
It’s a track that starts to make you uncomfortable. Propaganda asks the questions such as “one day you will make it… but what is it?”
and “You’re looking for new mountains to climb when you haven’t even conquered the first one, you ain’t done, you’re just comfy”

You see that’s where hip-hop cuts deep… it goes straight to the heart… it catches you off guard… and Propaganda is the maestro. He draws you in with clever lyrics and gravitational spins of word play and rhythm before slapping you in the face with your own realization of who you are by forcing you to look in the mirror… but also motions to what you could be and, more importantly, who you were designed to be.

I love an album that challenges you and that’s what drew me to this album. It ticks all the boxes and with a mixture of spoken word and hip-hop it keeps you engaged, alert and vulnerable.
There are tracks like ‘Daywalker’ and ‘How Did We Get Here’ that distract and you forget that you don’t want to be challenged, you want to be entertained… and that’s the whole point isn’t it? We want to be inspired. We want to be challenged. We want to know who we are… and so for that we are thankful that Propaganda asks the hard questions and gets us to look at ourselves.

Sometimes being caught off guard is the best way to discover who you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review: NEEDTOBREATHE ‘Rivers in the Wasteland’

NEEDTOBREATHE ‘Waters in the Wasteland’

Sometimes for something to to come to life you have to let it die… and dying isn’t always easy.

For NEEDTOBREATHE (NTB) everything seemed to be going right… they were getting what everyone in the music world would gauge as success.
They were being asked to perform high profile gigs with the likes of Taylor Swift, they were on TV, they were on radio…
But what they also discovered is that with that comes the pressures of it all… and the band almost collapsed because of it… success almost killed NTB (as shown in the documentary style film ‘Prove the Poets Wrong’).
The result was the band redefining ‘success’… they realized they were already successful – as individuals, they didn’t need to prove that to anyone else… so they gave that dream of success driven glory away.
They already had a purpose they just needed to re-find it!

The problem with giving away a dream… is that often it comes true at that point…

Everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in a situation where they would need one.

Rivers in the Wasteland is the result of that miracle.

You can tell from the first strum that a burden has been lifted…
The album starts of with the track ‘Wasteland’ and NTB are almost defiant in the fact that “If God is on my side, who can be against me”… a slow song to build into a big chorus making way for the second track.
‘State I’m in’  starts off with slightly distorted southern tinged Beach Boy like vocals before rocking into the song in what can only be described as the best Chris Isaak impersonation, a kind of southern rock meets Elvis sound.
Beating drums and hand claps keep your foot tapping… in the blues infused southern rocker ‘Feet, don’t fail me now’… it’s infectious, it’s like a southern virus has entered your body and the side effects are a constant foot tapping. It’s a southern blues church experience. NTB have built you up to this point… they aren’t about to take the foot of the throat just yet and ‘Oh Carolina’ is the perfect remedy to keep the declaration of intention going, there is a stomp revival happening here.

This is becoming something of a southern release of tension… the best way to come out of tough times… is to let it go and celebrate.

NTB  at this point ironically ‘need to breathe’ and the album pulls back with great tracks like ‘The Difference Maker’ and ‘Rise again’. The highlight of this reprieve from the stomp revival is that it shines a beam of light on the fact that these are great songs, well crafted, great lyrics. These are great songs without big production and studio tricks… these are songs that stand on merit alone.

There is a reason ‘The Heart’ was a lead single… it shines in the middle of this album like a beckon, it is in fact the literal heart of this album.  It’s fun, it’s big, it’s personal and it’s a solid track. You really can’t argue with lyrics that say “Don’t waste time when it comes time to dance”

It was a nice touch adding the track ‘Brother’ as Bear and Bo Rinehart are the brothers responsible for the existence of NTB. It’s a touching tribute and although it may be referring to the obvious connection of these sibling lyrically it extends further than that.

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low

The great thing about this track is the bigness of it and it’s soul.
Half way through the song, a piano glides over the top of the track paving a way for a new focus of the groove, that makes it more soulful and heralding a soul choir to take the song to a whole other level and give it wings.

NEEDTOBREATHE have found their feet.
This is an album with soul… this is an album with heart… this is an album with history without burdening you with all the dirty details… this is an album of songs that have been crafted by experience, by pain, by laughter and by faith.

This is the most complete album that NTB have brought to the table.
There was a Reckoning (their last album) and from the ashes of that a phoenix has risen, that not only has lit a new fire and a renewed purpose for NTB but brought water into a wasteland.
NTB have had a weight lifted from their shoulders and it shows.

If you are looking for an album that encourages you to be lifted during the driest of places, then stop here for a drink.

Album Review: Sam Watson ‘Home’

I’ve had the privilege to have been able to review some great international bands from all over the world… and have had contact with some award winning bands, bands with large budgets, bands that are at the top of the charts, and at the top of their game. However there is something special about hearing what is coming out of the Indie music scene and even better than that is hearing what is coming out of the local scene…

sam watson

Sam Watson ‘HOME’ EP

You see, it’s often that the bands who are doing the hard yards in the Indie scene are the bands that are inspiring the top bands with new sounds. The indie scene is full of people trying new things because they have nothing to lose. The indie scene is filled with people trying to find new a new way to say the same old things… love, loss and life.
You can almost map that when a new sound hits the Indie scene it’s  only a year or two before that sound is main stream… and so the circle continues.

And that’s how I’ve stumbled across Christchurch songwriter Sam Watson.
It’s so great to hear great music coming out of someone who is trying to do the hard yards… there’s no trying to tailor to the masses… there is no swooning pop songs on YouTube… this is acoustic… this is real music.

So what does it sound like?

This is the kind of music that you would expect to hear live, as you have a couple of quiet drinks in a bar that is filled with the new moderns, the sophisticated but still gounded type that wear suits to the office but after hours it’s jeans and a t-shirt…
OR
If you are having dinner in a really cool cafe- you know the ones with candles and atmosphere, not the pretentious ones that are all about the food and nothing else.
This music is atmosphere.

The Home EP starts off with the title track, a tasty song that reminds me of something that would sit nicely between Jason Mraz  and Bruno Mars in style. It’s a great song to set up the rest of the album… it relaxes… it calms you… it fools you into thinking that the rest of the album is going to be pushed into the ‘Easy Listening’ genre… It’s not!

‘Trying to Find’ is the next track and it sounds like we’re about to go into more of the same laid back feel as ‘Home’, however 52 seconds into the song and the mood changes. This is a real LA style California cafe type song, like an acoustic Orson set. The song’s modern acoustic style, which tips its hat to past influences, is refreshing to hear among a barrage of folk and bluegrass influenced pop songs.

As the album progresses you slowly get pulled into songs that seem to be drawing from influences such as Ryan Adams, Radiohead and Jeff Buckley.
‘Let it burn’ starts in such an unassuming way with a quiet acoustic guitar and by the end of the song Sam is wailing in a Buckley-esque  style falsetto “She’s on fire….” . This is a great song to have in the middle of the EP a great balance between safety and pushing boundaries.

The last couple of songs follow the change of mood and style, a bit gentler than ‘Let it Burn’ but still filled with the same emotion…

This is a great first little EP…
It’s hard not to hear albums by untalented people, who only sound good in a studio with songs that 12 of the top songwriters in the world got to write for a top record label.
This is not a perfect EP by any stretch of the imagination… and that’s GREAT.
There is a more of a live vibe to this EP than lots of LIVE albums by big name artists… you can almost feel the emotion here… you can hear the voice crack every now and then as you hear the pain of a story being told.
If this is the start I’m glad to say I was a part of a select few who heard it before the crowds and the accolades.

To hear the EP click HERE
You can buy the album from here too!

14 year old leads the way in anti-bullying

Growing up in New Zealand is pretty special.
This little nation in the South Pacific was the first in the world to Split the atom, climb Mount Everest and give women the vote.
So it is really no surprise that a 15 year old from Christchurch (in the South Island of New Zealand) decided it was time for someone to stand up against bullying.

Nakita Turner had experienced bullying herself and seeing how it affected other young people, decided someone had to do something about it.
That person was going to be her…
So Nakita went about interviewing about 180 other children and hearing stories from them about how they felt after being bullied.

So what do you do after you have a whole lot of stories that are so powerful and connected to the people you have interviewed?
Well in Nakita’s case she touched base with local band Dukes (who are known for their singles Vampires & Self-control) who mentored her.

The result is this amazing song ‘One Voice’

Draw in local talent from Dukes, hip-hop group Restoration, Massad and a local children’s choir… add all this to Nakita’s own amazing voice and you have an instant hit.

Sound wise Nakita is like Australia’s Missy Higgins… and has the lyrical sensitivity of people like Brooke Fraser

If you like this song… spread the word
…and even better if you want to add a voice to the anti-bullying message then join in the conversation at onevoice.net.nz and make sure you go to Nakita Turner’s music FaceBook page and click LIKE.

What ever way you want to do it… make sure you spread the message.

Album Review: Rend Collective ‘The Art of Celebration’

Rend Collective ‘The Art of Celebration’

I’ve had a month off from doing reviews or adding to my blog as a bit of a cleansing thing.
You know, step back and focus on the things that matter.

But now we’re back… and what a great time to be back.

I was super excited when the new album from Irish group ‘Rend Collective’ landed. ‘The Art of Celebration’ is most likely one of the most uplifting albums you will hear this year, and the year has only just begun.
Not only are you thrown into the Irish infused toe tapping Mumford-esque beats and rhythms that fans would expect from this group, but you are bombarded by truths and promises and uplifting words that speak to your soul…

It’s laced with the beautiful harmonies and melodies that come naturally to the Irish nation, and you can’t help but smile, sing along and watch as your foot taps involuntarily to the rhythms as they invade the soundscape of your soul.

Some times in the hardest moments of your life you not only need to PRAY through a problem, but PRAISE through (like Paul and Silas did in prison). ‘The Art of Celebration’ gives you  the tools to do that!
One of the focuses of this album is “God didn’t give us a spirit of seriousness… but of JOY” and you can’t help but think that these guys have nailed that brief.

Most of the album sits in the space between bluegrass rhythms and Irish tinged folksy ditties  that help us sing about ‘Joy’ and ask God to help us “Burn like a star, Set a fire in our hearts”. Then in sneaks ‘Immeasurably More’, a pop driven song that is maybe more in line with the type of tracks you would find coming out of the Passion conferences. It’s no surprise to see it was co-written by Chris Tomlin.

I would have loved to see a bit more experimentation from a group who had made a name for itself playing all sorts of random instruments. While the feel of this album works for the theme of ‘Joy’, I wonder if they could have cast their experimental net further. That will be my only real negative critique of this album… it was the experiment, the unknown, the things I HADN’T heard from a worship group that made me take interest in their sound. However, lyrically they have still got a poetic way of saying things we are starting to take for granted. A great example is the sing-a-long friendly  ‘Finally Free’

“Your mercy rains from heaven, Like confetti at a wedding, And I am celebrating, In the downpour” 

You don’t hear lyrics like that, so hearing them in a familiar setting (such as a folk song) brings it into context.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands… or if you’re sad, and struggling….  PRAISE, SING, CELEBRATE…

It’s great to hear such a positive album with no airs and graces, simply with good melody and good lyrics and joy at it’s very heart.
There is already too much doom and gloom and people wanting us to jump on their cause, when the joy of the Lord is our strength.
So why don’t we celebrate the fact that we have so much to celebrate?

Album Review: Skylight ‘Made For More’

Skylight ‘Made For More’

Lets face it music is international,  it breaks boundaries, it goes places where other means of communication fail.
It’s a powerful tool… HOWEVER when combined with the themes of love and peace it becomes almost an unstoppable force.

Now I have to be honest, when I was told ‘Made for More’ from South African group Skylight was filled with these powerful themes I thought I was going to be stuck listening to an album full of power ballads.
I cranked up the stereo and braced for the worst.

I really loved taking the journey through this album.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a pure pop rock album… but in a pleasant way.

It’s really easy to make an album like this seem over polished,  filled with lyrics that ooze more cheese than a New York Pizza and sound like a remake of ‘My heart will go on’ by Celine Dion.
While this has it’s place and grabs imagination, there comes a point where we, the listening public, want more.

And that’s where Skylight have found the balance.

The album opens with ‘Born to Love’ – an acoustic groove and Greg Jorden crooning over the top…  before the band comes in. The track is the perfect start to this album and would sit nicely on the poppier end of a Ryan Adams album.
And while the album rests around this style and feel (a real acoustic pop rock based sound), the second song on the album ‘Give it up’ is more of a ‘power rock’ song with a style that is straight from Hollywood and California, made famous by bands like maybe Orson.

‘Made for More’ is a really clever collection of well crafted songs that would appeal to people who like bands like Lifehouse, Ryan Adams, Orson, Needtobreathe and Collective Soul.
Now I’m not saying that this band is a bland copy cat band… Skylight are far better than this…
What I am saying is that this band could easily compete in a pop/ rock world shoulder to shoulder with these better known artists.

The album is diverse and innovative. It takes the best of what we have heard and packages it in an album of songs that seem fresh and current, and real. These songs feel lived!

It’s great to hear an album that is filled with such a great feel and a great focus. Often we are bombarded with songs that are tainted with despair and gloom and it starts getting to a point where it becomes hard to see love for what it really is.
Love is more than lust, more than just a fleeting feeling, more than just a way of thinking… but something that when lived out can change the world.
And it seems fitting that that theme would be presented so well by Skylight, a  band from South Africa – a country that has had it’s own struggles and heartbreak… but through the dust a flame of love and hope and peace breaks through.

This is a great debut album.
This could be the beginning of something amazing.
And I guess that is what this album is about… it’s about telling you a story that it invites you to live.

 

 

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