Jim Ritchie - This Is Our Time

Published Friday 12th November 2010
Jim Ritchie - This Is Our Time
Jim Ritchie - This Is Our Time

STYLE: MOR / Soft Pop
RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 95555-16968
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Paul Keeble

Many long in the tooth Christian rock aficionados will remember Scotland's '80s rock outfit Triumph. Now the frontman for that unit has made a return to the scene with this album of worship and devotional songs. It's all competently done and there are some nice moments such as the drum pattern on opening title track, the guitar solo on "Stay With Me" and the lead guitar figure on "No Greater Love". But as the songs come and go, all in a mid or slow-tempo rock style, the overall feel is somewhat stodgy and unremarkable. Some of the songs, such as "Never Been A Moment" and the hymn-like "Power To Live", would probably work well in a live context such as a celebration or worship service. I have no problem with the sincerity of worship and declarations of commitment that run through the lyrics, but once again, I find myself longing for some more imaginative ways of expression. This is particularly the case on "You And I", a pleasant ballad sung as a duet with backing vocalist Dawn Hocking, but let down by somewhat stereotypical lyrics. The musical settings too are not in danger of breaking any new ground, but a song such as final track "No Greater Love", easily the best on the album, offers a glimpse of what is possible with this MOR-rock style.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Dougie Adam in Glasgow @ 20:48 on Nov 15 2010

I also said that I thought the review also does a disservice to Jim and his ministry. I base that comment not just on the time I spent working alongside him from 2001-6 in Aberdeen, but also on seeing the impact he and the One Band made last year when they visited my local church and performed some of these songs. Dozens of teenagers and adults made first time commitments or rededicated their lives to God as a result of Jim's ministry over one weekend. You wouldn't think this was possible when the review bangs on about the music sounding like plodding 80's MOR snooze fodder. Jim and the One Band have a vibrant and powerful ministry among high school pupils in central Scotland and beyond, and while the album may not be flawless, it is a very good independently recorded and released collection of worship songs which are capable of being used in a wide variety of church worship settings and is definitely worth checking out for yourself (and making your own mind up).

I'd have no problem giving the album 7 or 8 out of 10 and encouraging people to give it a good and fair listen, and to consider using the songs locally and also if having done so and having benefitted from listening to these songs to consider inviting Jim or the One Band to an outreach event or youth event or worship event near you.

Posted by Dougie Adam in Glasgow @ 20:47 on Nov 15 2010

Set against a background in Scotland where the Church of Scotland is predicting it could go belly up financially within the next decade and where most denominations are in decline, Jim's songs consistently point people prophetically to hope, strength and power found through relationship with Jesus and call Christians in Scotland to rise up and be counted and to not bow down to defeat and pessimism! I'm not sure how this equates with recycling lyrics from many other worship songs or showing signs of being unimaginative lyrically.

As well as a few songs which do nod musically to 80's power ballads, I also hear on the vast majority of the album musical similarities to the anthemic slow burning gems by U2, Coldplay, Delirious and Hillsong United, particularly in Richard Walker's excellent guitar work. For a project which is privately recorded and released I would say the production values and standards are high (two songs from the album were mixed at Abbey Road) and alongside the MOR slow ballads there are also plenty of songs with a contemporary sound.

One of the strengths of the albums is that I can easily imagine the average church praise band taking songs like "You and I", "Never Been A Moment", "Stay With Me", "Power To Live", The Name of Jesus" and "No Greater Love" and working out their own arrangements of these songs for use in congregational worship, and any worship album with 5 or 6 songs out of 10 which can be used in this way has got to be worth checking out surely?

Posted by Dougie Adam in Glasgow @ 20:45 on Nov 15 2010

Reviews can be all about opinions and I for one disagree massively with the review above and think it does a disservice to the CD in question as well as to Jim and his ministry. I'll put my cards on the table and say that until 5 years ago, I spent 4 years working alongside Jim in a church plant in Aberdeen and I was familiar with 6 of the 10 songs on the album before they were recorded and released. I've had the pleasure of playing alongside Jim and have seen God use Jim and many of these songs to touch people's hearts both in Aberdeen and also at churches and conferences where Jim was invited to lead worship.

I think the review does a disservice to the album as a whole by giving the impression that all the songs fall into the one genre, the dreaded MOR-worship category and they are all mid and slow tempo numbers suffering from weak or unoriginal lyrics! From the time I spent working with Jim, "You And I" was possibly the song which had the consistently the biggest ministry impact on worshiping congregations, probably because it is such an intimate and directly personal expression of love for God... you can't sing the words with any integrity if you are trying to fake it spiritually. I found "You and I" to be a bigger aid to my personal worship than songs full of theological terminology because it strips everything down to 1 worshipper being alone with God, and although the language initially looks like a simple love song the dynamic of it coming from a human worshipper addressing God Almighty turns the simple language on its head and makes it a profound and deep seated experience to sing these words from your heart.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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