STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 172115-27264 LABEL: Fair Trade Services 736211851192 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2018-09-07 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Tim Holden
Austin French has packed a lot in to his first 25 years, from second place in a US talent competition, becoming a worship pastor for a church full of recovering addicts, and undergoing a long battle to adopt a child. All these experiences have fed into his phenomenal songwriting gift, mixing honest and open lyrics with catchy rock-tinged pop melodies to create songs that feel that they are written from experience, not from second hand knowledge. "Freedom Hymn" talks about breaking the chains of addiction, the title track "Wide Open" references the issues faced when adopting a child. The powerful "Why God" tackles the aftermath of school shootings; "In America" is a heartfelt prayer for God to break out in revival in Austin's troubled nation; and the closing duet "Spirit Speak" with his wife Joscelyn is a moving prayer song. Austin's distinctive vocals work well on the slow ballads as well as the pop rock romps. This is the kind of album that has you waiting with baited breath for the start of the next track. A hugely impressive debut set.
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