Reviewed by Tom Lennie
Alvin & Karl Allison are brothers, and some readers will remember Karl's name in particular, for he served as a writer and reviewer with Cross Rhythms for a number of years in the '90s. (In the sleevenote here he even claims to be partly responsible for the discovery of The World Wide Message Tribe!) Brought up in the Salvation Army and with clear musical gifting, the brothers were part of the dynamic (and being Salvationists, truly radical) Christian rock outfit Blood & Fire in the 1980s, joining forces again in the '90s to form The Eden - later renamed The Big Picture. Since that time, both men have worked separately in many varied guises, all musical, and mainly in connection with the Salvation Army. Reuniting again after 15 years, the siblings have emerged with a batch of their own new compositions. These songs come in the form of pleasant pop melodies with hints of ragtime and folk. Their varied musical gifts blend wonderfully together - Karl is a competent songwriter - totally original lyrics that are plentiful, non-repetitious and ever thought-provoking. He also sounds good vocally, while Alvin's striking keyboard skills, along with percussion and various string and brass arrangements, are equally proficient. The duo refuse to enter the traditional vs. contemporary Christian music debate - one song showing that at the end of the day "it's the same song we sing". Other themes that emerge on this 13-song disc include the call to come to Christ "as you are", that of mission, a gorgeous, apt wedding song, and God's abounding grace - the latter coming in a gentle acoustic form. It's a well-crafted project (which features a full choir on the chorus of gospel track "You Have To Meet Jesus") and includes beautiful inserts, with a full biography of the Allison's musical involvement.
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