STYLE: Ambient/Meditational RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 77598-15228 LABEL: Salvationist Publishing & Supp 24997 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £13.95
Reviewed by Andy Cooper
Richard Phillips is a pianist with a long career as a musician in the Salvation Army. Richard plays his own arrangements of hymns and songs that inspire him, with friends and colleagues joining in with extra brass, woodwind and occasional percussion. Many of the melodies would be unknown to non-SA members, but a couple are more widely recognised such as Stuart Townend's "In Christ Alone" with a rousing brass intro (though it ends up a bit military sounding with added marching snare drum) and Geoff Bullock's "The Power Of Your Love" which is tastefully reserved as a piano solo. One of the most beautiful moments of the album is right at the start, with an impressionistic (Debussy style) arrangement of General Larsson & Gowans' "Love Cannot Fail". One of Richard's own compositions follows, "Prayer Of Jabez", with a delicate and beautiful oboe solo. The piano accompanies with simple yet fluid arpeggios like a Schubert song. Following this, the musical journey veers off into all kinds of directions (marches, ragtime, light jazz, even an Abba hit) which tend to distract from the more intimate and meditational classical arrangements and hymns. "Somebody Prayed For Me" and "In His Time" are two later highlights which allow space for the listener to relax and absorb the meaning of the unsung words (thoughtfully provided in the sleevenotes). One small irritation for classical hi-fi buffs is the sound quality of the piano recording: it's not bright or clear enough, but instead sounds slightly muffled. But the playing and arranging is masterful.
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