Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
'The Line' is the second album release from multi-talented Henry Brooks, a musician, author, speaker and pastor from the UK's Lake District. Like his debut 'Giant Shoulders: If The Rocks Could Speak' there is a strong coherent theme behind 'The Line', namely hearing the voices of the "motley crew" of Old Testament men and women who make up the family tree, the titular 'line', of Jesus. Brooks has set to music first-person narratives representing familiar (Abraham and Sarah on "The Pioneer", David with "Who Am I", "The Wrestlers" Jacob and Leah) and less well-known (Joash, Manasseh, Zerubbabel) ancestors of the Messiah. This approach to retelling some old, old stories through song is in the vein of Don Francisco and Michael Card, but Brooks has gone a little further by using anachronistic imagery (such as that of pioneers in the early American west) and language (talking of "farms" when referring to lands of the tribes of Israel). Not that this detracts significantly from the integrity of the project, but it does move 'The Line' a step away from its biblical origins in ways which Card, for one, probably wouldn't have undertaken. If lyrically Brooks' stylings call to mind the storytelling offerings of early Springsteen, then sonically 'The Line' is more Eagles. Once again Brooks has assembled an impressive list of session musicians headed, as on 'Giant Shoulders', by veterans such as guitar hero Albert Lee (Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Beatles) but featuring also relative newcomers such as vocalists Rebecca Taylor ("The Mighty Heart") and Jonathon Boustead (reminiscent of Derek Webb on "Chief Of Sinners"). One niggle for me was the use of Marc Cohn's "Walking In Memphis" chorus on "Walking In Canaan", which stuck out like a sore thumb and took me right out of the track. However, the quality and integrity of the remainder of 'The Line' means we can forgive Brooks that misjudgment. Overall, this concept album is recommended for those who are looking for a creative musical approach to the Old Testament.
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