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Date: 21 May, 2009
George Luke reviews new albums from Delirious?, Mark Tedder, Sara Watkins, Jars of Clay and The Gentlemen
We’ve known for about a year that Delirious? are calling it a day. The dates for the last ever tour have been announced, and now we have the band’s swansong album.
The My Soul Sings DVD/CD package was recorded live at G12 – no, not another summit conference but a megachurch in Bogotá, Colombia.
Much of the D-Boys’ last studio album (plus popular oldies such as “History Maker”, “Deeper” and “Paint the Town Red”) are lapped up voraciously by 10,000 loco Colombianos – all brilliantly shot by long-term collaborator Andy Hutch.
There’s not much in the way of bonus features here; just a video of the title track being sung in Spanish, and a trailer for Tim Hughes’ own live CD/DVD. Nevertheless, My Soul Sings makes a great keepsake for any Delirious? fan – especially if you miss out on a ticket for their final tour.
More cross-cultural rock worship comes from American worship leader Mark Tedder, whose The Door was filmed and recorded live in Beijing.
Mark leads a band made up of musicians from the US, Germany, Iceland, Italy and the Czech Republic. British ‘worship poet’ Gerard Kelly provides some stirring spoken word pieces (a video of one of his poems, “The Door”, is one of the DVD’s bonus features, along with chord charts for the songs).
A handful of Chinese musicians deliver beautiful performances on various traditional Chinese instruments – some of them centuries old.
The Door presents the sort of all-inclusive, diverse worship we need to see more of in our increasingly shrinking, joined-up world. Kudos to Mark and his globetrotting team for pushing the envelope one little bit more.
If you’re in the mood for some Americana, I wholeheartedly recommend Sara Watkins’ self-titled debut album.
Sara – former vocalist and fiddle player with bluegrass band Nickel Creek – sounds sublime here, together with a few of her old Nickel Creek mates and Led Zeppelin legend John Paul Jones, who produced the album.
Highlights include “Long Hot Summer Days”, Sara’s interpretation of the old hymn “Give Me Jesus”, and the instrumentals “Freidrick” and “Jefferson”. My girl plays a mean fiddle. She ain’t too shabby with the ukulele, either. But it’s her voice that gets you every time; mellow, laid back, and charmingly seductive.
I don’t want to start a review with such a clichéd statement as “Band X’s new album is their finest work to date,” but I’ve got no other options this time round. Jars of Clay’s new album The Long Fall Back to Earth is absolutely brilliant – and yes, it does contain some of their finest work to date!
There are tons of goodies here. The fatherly advice dispensed in “Boys (Lesson One)” will make any bloke who’s not insecure weep buckets.
“Scenic Route” has a really nice vibe to it, and the electronic noodling going on under the surface of “Closer” makes it really otherworldly. Likewise, the electronic/acoustic soundclash that is “Heart” is reminiscent of the mucking about with hip hop loops that made so many tracks on their debut album (such as “Liquid” and “Love Song For a Saviour”) stand out as classics.
The stickler for good grammar in me wants to give The Gentlemen a slap for omitting the ‘and’ from the title of their new album, A Candid History of Faith, Hope, Love. But with music as good as that on offer here, I think I’ll let it pass this once.
Candid History is the follow-up to the Sheffield boys’ 2006 debut Smile Back At Me, and it’s an absolute killer. “Protest Music” is the most rock n’ roll non- rock n’ roll song ever (or is that the most non-rock n’ roll rock n’ roll song?). “Unique” has a funky strut straight out of Prince’s book, and “Sending Cards” is, in a word, ace.
It’s one strong song after another: “Ecoutez Moi”, “For better Or for Worse”… right down to the closing track, “Done Me Wrong”. Excuse me – did you say done me wrong? Guys, I’ve already told you how I feel about bad grammar. Stop trying my patience…