STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 102634-17380 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album RELEASE DATE: 2010-11-12 RRP: £12.00
Reviewed by James Howard-Smith
I don't think of Godfrey Birtill as being a particularly gifted songwriter, but the core of what he does well, managing not to be the focus of his performances, is primarily achieved in his lyric writing. The simple preference of "we" over "I" helps to clarify that he doesn't write songs to draw out inner demons (as the more artistic side of Christian songwriting tends to do). His goal is plainer: just to celebrate the name of Jesus while demonstrating a prophetic mantle as sings over Europe proclaiming a spiritual awakening for the nations. The song "Frere Jacques - All Clear" uses a fragment of the well known nursery rhyme to create something that is intriguing and in its own way spiritually powerful. Elsewhere there is what you could call a protest song. "Gas Gas Gas" is almost the shortest track on the album; flashing by in barely more than two minutes it's quite easy to miss, but it deserves special attention for its lyrical daring. The second and third verses are, I believe, this prolific songwriter's finest lyrics, in which he not just angrily but clevrly assails the "McDonaldization" in the Church and the associated death of the idea of servant leadership. There's a variation of musical styles as well, though I mostly found this dry except for the opening to the title track where the saxophonist, Andrew Worsefield, reminds us for just a few seconds of Vangelis' Blade Runner score. Still, 'Ring Out Wild Bells' (the name coming from a Tennyson poem) is the Godfrey Birtill album I would recommend: not as slick as his John Hartley-produced efforts, but I think this is the man at his most interesting.
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