Reviewed by Helen Whitall
'The Venture' is the second album from Tennessee-based husband and wife duo Drakeford (Drakeford and Lucy-Jayne Lanier), and is produced by Riley Friesen. The album kicks off dramatically with the energetic "Ready Or Not", a song with quite a sudden start for an opening track. Beginning largely acoustic, the music builds with drums, electric guitar and harmonies coming in for the chorus. Drakeford's vocals here sound a tiny bit tinny, which added to his pronounced accent jars a little, but the sound is full even so. Again beginning acoustic but gradually building, "Stronger Than One" has a bit of a country feel, and when a gospel choir comes in over the end chorus it works well with the message that we are stronger working in unity together. "Seattle Rain" is a really nice track, the original lyrics are honest yet sweet about what marriage is like. "The Road" follows, a quirky song about travelling and adventure. It veers a bit too far into the literal ("It's not that glamorous but it's worth it"), and the chorus has a touch of the '80s about it, which is not my style, however the lyrics describing all the mess and chaos involved are fun. To begin with, "Maybe" passed me by a bit musically, but then jolted me awake with the addition of a solo and a stunning lyrical twist. Beginning as an honest song about his own failings, it becomes a look at the way we've collectively profitted from past injustices, and that maybe it's our turn to say we're sorry. That's an unexpected and punchy message. "Creation To Salvation" breaks the album up nicely; a spoken word piece telling the story of the Bible over music, ending in John 3:16, it is delivered very well. Slow and gentle "Why" comes next, asking the question, why do you love me when you see what I am? The harmonies and guitar at the climax are very pretty. "The Love Song" and "Better With You" are, funnily enough, love songs, the former carrying a definite '90s vibe and the latter more soulful. Lucy-Jayne takes the lead on the second verse of "Beauty Of Your Grace", which is a very soft piece about integrity in worship, coming to God honest and broken and encountering God's grace. The album closes with "Whitewash (Live)"; in the best way possible, you wouldn't know it was live, as the sound is just as professional as the studio tracks and there is no audience sound to detract from it. The song calls the church to better, confessing our serious faults but pointing to Jesus as the one who is the righteousness that we lack. The combination of fresh and thoughtful lyrics, beautiful harmonies and rootsy accompaniment make this album an engaging listen.
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