Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
Terry Taylor, the creative force behind American rock band Daniel Amos, has always enjoyed the juxtapositions and complexities of humanity and spirituality and explored them in his work. So it's no surprise that the opening lines of the band's new album on the song "Forward In Reverse" should begin with a list of ironic juxtapositions, "I found a haystack in a needle, I caught an angel in a lie, I saw a hypocrite in Heaven remove a log from both his eyes," etc, etc. But then so much of what Christ taught and the parables he shared turned everything on its head and it seems Taylor employs the same skill in a fashion that intrigues and provokes thought. This album is a double hitter as the band instantly impact you with intriguing lyrics and a musicality and catchy songs that immediately grab your attention and then somehow it has the power to grow on you with repeated listens. Not an easy feat to achieve. Daniel Amos have always had a huge helping of Beatles influences in their music and so this is awash with psychedelic period Beatles sounds and melodies even down to Tim Chandler's melodic style of bass playing and Greg Flesch's guitar work. The complexities and perplexities of life are married together as Taylor puzzles out the intersection of life and death, the confusion of injustices and the reality that the older we get, the less we can make sense out of some of our ordinary situations even in the midst of faith. All of these elements are wrapped up in his songwriting. There are so many highlights here from the epic title track to the blissed-out conclusion "The Sun Shines On Everyone" which brings the album to a close. "Our New Testament Best" sees Taylor delivering a song which sounds like the songwriting and vocal delivery of another Taylor, Steve! Like a lot of Daniel Amos albums, this latest one is deceptive! Whilst seeped in Beatlesy harmonies, melodies and musical elements, the band have their own strong personality which always comes through and beneath the surface there's Taylor worrying away at the dilemmas that tease at all of us. "Jesus Wept" deals with the disappointments and fears that ordinary life throws up whilst "We'll All Know Soon Enough" offers the hope of resolution in the afterlife. In a world of plastic, superficial, upbeat Christian music that feels more like a baby's dummy designed to keep us childlike and pacified, this feels more like mature Christian music aimed at those who aren't too afraid to ponder the deeper issues and not seek out superficial answers. It's another winner from a fearless band.
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