Portland - These Broken Hands

Published Wednesday 29th July 2009
Portland - These Broken Hands
Portland - These Broken Hands

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 80655-15628
LABEL: Stereo Tree 8204782
RELEASE DATE: 2009-06-26
RRP: £4.99

Reviewed by Paul Kerslake

This is the debut release from a West Midlands-based trio you may well have read about in Cross Rhythms. This is a delicate gem of an album, Rory Thompson's stunning, soaring voice ably supported by his wife, Sarah, on vocals and Paul 'Meds' Meadow on bass. The 11 songs here have genuine crossover appeal, as already evidenced by being picked up by Radio 2. As Rory said, "Because of the kind of venues we play most of the people who listen to our music are typically non-Christians. What we wanted to do was strike a balance between being about faith and about having a relationship with God in a kind of setting where people who aren't Christians wouldn't feel turned off by the music." The title track is a gentle acoustic number with some exquisite guitar playing, "Talk To Me" is a rousing, almost bluegrass song. "Tonight", the opening single from the album, is an urgent, heartfelt call to step back from life and to see what you're really living for. All the tracks on this album manage to stay gentle and primarily acoustic driven while also remaining interesting and memorable, helped in no small part by the gifted songwriting and musicianship. Supporting the core trio are keyboard maestro Mark Edwards and guitarist Dan Wheeler (who also takes the producer's chair); the project was mixed by Grammy Award winning Kipper of Sting fame. This is an exceptional, hotly anticipated debut that will appeal to music lovers across the board and deserves to do well in both the Christian and mainstream marketplace.

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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Product Description
The debut album from Portland is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful album releases in the UK in recent years. Stunning harmonies, delicate guitars, piano and strings combine to produce a sound that is emotive, evocative and a perfect backdrop for lyrics that speak of love, life and faith, delivered by the exquisite vocals of husband and wife Rory and Sarah.

Mixed by Grammy award-winning producer Kipper, this album is uniquely special and destined to have a huge impact in the UK and beyond.

Reader Comments

Posted by Ben in Bristol @ 15:05 on Jun 26 2009

My mum bought this album and told me not to "borrow" it and never give it back.. I'd never even heard of Portland. But i thought i would listen to it as i cooked my tea one night.
From the opening track right through to the last, this album is beautiful. Not just musically but lyrically this album just ticks every single box. I later "borrowed" this CD and i haven't given it back. It's without doubt become my favourite album. It's exactly the kind of music i love to listen to. It works wonders to help you relax.
This album managed to connect on such a personal level to me, through the lyrics and the emotion put across in every song. Every word on the album had some relavence to my life. And every song helped me to reflect. And i just led on my bedroom floor, and just listened. from track one to eleven. I just listened. And prayed.
I think as far as Christian music goes, and all the stereotypes that surround it as being not very good.. Portland show that this just isn't true. Every song an amazing display of song writing, vocal and musical talent, which is hard to find at all in any modern music.
A really exceptional album. And I am really looking forward to any future releases by Portland. I probably will still be listening to this one until then.. Its so good!
God bless.

Posted by James Doc in Worthing, UK @ 19:35 on Jun 17 2009

If you were to put into a blender the musical styles of Damien Rice, Ocean Colour Scene, Sara Groves, with a hint of Newton Faulkner you may begin to sample something that resembles the beautiful sound of These Broken Hands by Portland. This is the first of three albums that the Birmingham based band will put out while being signed to the record label The Stereo Tree, who have also recently put out the latest album by The Gentlemen; A Candid History Of Faith, Hope, Love.

The album opens with Carry You and Tonight. Both tracks have been on Portland's MySpace page for quite some time and I have heard them live a couple of times. Carry You opens with a drum beat, something that you don't get when the band play live, and then the sound of the acoustic guitar, bass guitar and piano come in on top which is then followed by the stunning vocals of Rory Thompson. The backing vocals perfectly complement the song, emphasising certain words, phrases or lines. The sound is just comes together beautifully.

Some of the remaining tracks I had heard live, however the majority were new to me. One of the songs that I had heard before, The Letter (track six), really stood out not just musically but lyrically too. The lyrics focus on the events of the crucifixion, looking at the pain of the cross, but also the purpose: "Why do you silently take all the pain? When deep in your heart you were bearing my shame."

I love the quietness of this album, it is an album you can put on and just relax to while listening. The production on it is solid, giving a really full, rich, sound. This really is a five star album, the only complaint I have about it is that I want it to keep on going! The tracks that really stand out for me are Tonight, Burning Sky and The Letter. A brilliant album, and a bargain for only £10!

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

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