Reviewed by Tom Lennie
In recent years we've witnessed the release of loads of hymnal projects where old traditional favourites are refashioned into contemporary and often stripped-down styles. But where, asked British Catholic duo, Jo Boyce & Mike Stanley, are the Catholic Eucharistic songs, rendered in similar organless manner? This album seeks to help fill that noticeable gap. Two years in the making, 'Age To Age' doubles as a 10th Anniversary celebration of the couple's songwriting partnership. It's a delightful concept, an excellently-produced set encompassing generations of Catholic song and faith, from the eighth century Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision" (one of the finest versions I've heard) to "Bread Of Life", Boyce & Stanley's first co-write (1993). But there's loads of other gems, also acting as a real education in the history of Catholic song, with additional song info in the finely crafted inserts. There's such musical variety, too, from soulful acoustic ballads to a Latin plainchant, to irresistible Calypso; this in the quite delectable "Sweet Heart Of Jesus", the only truly upbeat tune on offer. That song has had me pressing "repeat" many times. Not least of the pluses of this project is that these songs are so spiritually rich and worshipful. Jo and Mike's voices blend beautifully together and are at times reminiscent of US combo Selah. Instrumental aid comes in the diverse and exhaustive form of two horn sections (includes Mike Haughton), a brass quintet, a string set, guitars, keys and percussion, as well as group and backing vocals. These 14 songs (68 mins playtime) comprise a rich musical collection of songs which indeed stretch from Age To Age, and which reaches a milestone in the duo's career. Whatever stream of the Christian faith you belong to, this is an appealing album.
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