STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 121102-18850 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
The latest album from Scottish singer/songwriter Andrew Howie (aka Calamateur) is certainly not for the faint hearted. In sharp contrast to his previous release 'Each Dirty Letter', in which Cross Rhythms reviewer Phil Thomson noted a "spectacular lightness of touch", this offering is unmistakably heavy in its musical approach with a steady stream of distortion, electrical beeps, buzzes and white noise. This sonic backdrop sets the scene for an often dark album that documents Howie's grievances and dissatisfaction with God in bitingly honest fashion whilst ultimately relaying his undying love and faith in Jesus - often within the same breath and totally in keeping with the reality that Christians who voice their concerns and doubts should never be considered second class citizens of faith. Prime example of this is found in the epic opener "Call You King" in which Howie airs his views on how he perceives God has let his people down and therefore enters daringly candid territory that I doubt many Christian artists would be willing to enter - at one point accusing the Almighty of being a "f***ed up father" - before offering his exhausted and, let's face it, undoubtedly genuine surrender to God. Many people will feel that Howie has crossed the line by voicing this aforementioned sentiment - something he alludes to in the same song - but, to be fair, he does give ample warning on his website to stay away if easily offended. Elsewhere, the hard core electronica of "Try" and "Hail" further document the struggles of loving, praising and needing God with candour and offers up a swirling soundscape that showcases Howie's standing as one of the country's most excitingly unpredictable artists. The acoustic "Hundreds Of Sparrows" betrays a tender but no less brooding side to Calamateur and a couple of ambient remixes of "Retreat" - his duet with the critically acclaimed Scottish songstress Jo Mango from 'Each Dirty Letter' - add some variety to an already eclectic collection. The breathtaking "Take Up Your Cross" closes an album that defies categorisation, constantly challenges the status quo and ultimately cleanses from an artist who consistently pushes his own musical boundaries as well as the expectations of everyone who dares to listen.
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