Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
As the accompanying press release from Plankton Records states, 'Nine Beats To The Bar' is an eclectic soundscape of R&B, soul, rock, pop, acoustic threads, jazz, funk, African vibes and a hint of gospel. Drawing on the talents of an eclectic pool of world class musicians, artists and songwriters including Rev Vince Anderson, Mikael R Andraesen, Caleb Quaye, Eric Leroy Wilson and the project's producer Tony Bean, this exemplary release takes the beatitudes as spoken by Jesus as its muse and suggests that they might offer up the secret to healing this broken world. With the aim of offering up what the sleevenotes class as a "counter-cultural narrative for our times," the sheer variety of styles from all over the world ensures that proceedings never fail to enthral with the likes of the conscience-pricking blues of "#blessed" and the gentle African rhythms of "Kosi" sitting effortlessly next to theme-expanding rapped numbers like "Farther" and "9/8". Elsewhere, the simply stunning "Serenity" - performed by Martin Trotman who sounds uncannily like the late George Michael - and the smouldering Heatherlyn-sung "Blessed Are The Undead" stand out in an album full of highlights. With a track count totalling an impressive 26 songs, a number of short spoken word and string trio interludes are included which help flesh out the mood of the album whilst providing stylistic stepping stones between songs of differing genres to good effect. Straightforward numbers such as "The Beatitudes" and "The Way Of Peace" make sure that a literal representation of the Beatitudes are on offer amidst more abstract pieces - all of which help give us an immersive and exquisite listening experience.
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