Reviewed by Tony Cummings
I think it was the moment I heard the opener here, the electro-pop tinged "Awake My Soul", on the 'God's Great Dance Floor: Movement Two' EP that I knew for certain that Martin Smith's move to become a solo artist was going to be a huge creative success for the songsmith and, more importantly, a source of blessing for the worshipping Church. Or maybe that realisation came when I heard the haunting mid tempo rocker "Soldiers" (track seven here) on 'Movement One'. Whenever it was, being drip-fed the tracks which constitute this release via those EPs have given Martin's hardcore support base plenty of time to be reassured that Martin has lost none of his songwriting craft. If anything, Smith's musical palate has impressively expanded, taking in everything from the ricocheting rhythms of club culture to rollicking Mumford & Sons-style folk. The creative pinnacle of this album is "Back To The Start" which, if you don't know, is the song otherwise known as "God's Great Dance Floor", already popularised in the worshipping Church through Chris Tomlin's 'Burning Lights' album and Passion's 'Let The Future Begin'. That nagging electric piano figure and a production that builds to a crescendo as Martin exultantly roars "All of Heaven shouts 'Let the future begin'/I feel alive, I come alive/I am alive in God's great dance floor" make for a spine tingling musical experience. A classic song encouraging us all to return again to the lover of our souls and, wearing ephod or party clothes, dance in adoration to the Saviour. There are plenty of other fine tracks here. The haunting "Waiting Here For You", penned by Smith, Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves, has a lovely moment when Sarah Bird - a member of Martin's church, St Peter's in Brighton - comes in on the second verse; the moving reflection of that car crash in 1995 with its beautiful lines ("Catch every teardrop/Hold every one so it won't be lost/Catch every teardrop/Then will you catch me too") while "Jesus Of Nazareth", one of the two tracks on 'Step 01' not featured on the GGDF EPs, shows he's adept at a folksy hoedown. The sound of the album is top notch, Martin having gone back in the studio to give the EP tracks a bit more bottom end while the fact that the CD features musicians from his own church rather than big name guests flying in to add instrumental or vocal expertise speaks much for Martin's determination to make an album which, for all its creative sweep, is authentic, organic and utterly sincere.
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|For Martin Smith, endings aren't all they seem. In 2009 he came to the closing stages of a two-decade career spent holding the microphone and cheering on the crowds with the genre-defining band Delirious?. With Dove awards, Grammy nominations and RIAA certified gold selling status behind him, it was an incredible journey.|
Today, what lies ahead is bold, fresh and exciting. Having written many of the church's best-loved songs including I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, Majesty and Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? Martin remains rooted in the local church and is back with fresh new sounds, seeking God's presence in every corner. His new album, God's Great Dance Floor, includes Waiting Here For You and anthem Back To The Start.