Ishmael - Ishmael's Songs & Hymns

Published Tuesday 5th July 2011
Ishmael - Ishmael's Songs & Hymns
Ishmael - Ishmael's Songs & Hymns

RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 108303-18139
LABEL: Elevation ELE1641D
RELEASE DATE: 2011-04-10
RRP: £9.99

Reviewed by Brendan O'Regan

As most people will know Ian 'Ishmael' Smale is one of the founding fathers of UK Christian music having started off in acoustic rock gone on to a punk band before establishing an international following with dozens of albums of children's music. Its great to see him back with an adult-targeted project and it's particularly heartening to hear his gruff tones without the massed ranks of accompanying kiddiewinkers. The attractive album cover and the inclusion of a comprehensive lyric booklet had me favourably disposed towards this album from the start. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed by the music. The melodies are catchy without being hackneyed, the lyrics aren't Shakespeare but they are effective for praise and worship situations, and I can see how they would be appealing for everybody in a Christian family. The very personal sleeve notes tell us that because of health issues relating to his voice he got help on this album from other singers, including Dave Bilbrough and Cathy Burton and their contribution adds to the variety of the album. The opening track is well-chosen - upbeat and setting the tone and theme for the whole collection - "The presence of the Lord is in this place/I am surrounded by his grace". Many of the songs have an anthem-like quality, but I particularly liked the more personal and reflective "Psalm 139", sung and co-written by Andy Percy - there's a kind of Elvis Costello vibe about it. Suitably the album ends with a song of blessing - "May the Peace and Presence of the Lord", with Dave Bilbrough on guest vocal. Note also that the sleeve notes link to websites where one can access backing tracks and free downloads.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Sample Track Listing:
1. The Presence Of The Lord [Listen]
2. Father You Made Us [Listen]
3. Oh The Peace [Listen]
4. Disciples Of Jesus [Listen]
5. Hallelujah, Praise To Jesus [Listen]
6. Amazing Love [Listen]
7. There Is One True Messiah [Listen]
8. Psalm 139 [Listen]
9. Blessed Is The King Who Comes [Listen]
10. God Is Here, God Is Present [Listen]
11. I Just Thank God [Listen]
12. Almighty God Is Here [Listen]
13. May The Peace And Presence Of The Lord [Listen]

This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary according to release region or product version.

Product Description

Ishmael's Songs & Hymns is a celebration of a remarkable man and his ministry. Much-loved for his children's and all-age worship songs, Ishmael's Songs & Hymns was written after his own struggle with cancer and through personal grief, testing and ultimately hope.

"For my last 33 albums I wrote and recorded songs to encourage children to worship, but this time I needed to write songs and record an album to encourage ME to worship," writes Ish in the sleeve notes. "I also wanted to re-record a few of the older songs that have meant so much to me. With all my unanswered questions I realise that God is God and is always worthy of praise".

Ish is joined on the album by special guests Dave Bilbrough, Cathy Burton, Aaron Frith, Andy Piercy and Martin Smith, who add their familiar voices alongside Ish on songs which are congregational, heartfelt, uplifting and transcend the generations in worship.

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