Reviewed by Tom Lennie
Perhaps the music of Shane Barnard is something of an acquired taste, or maybe it has matured somewhat since the release of his debut 'Rocks Won't Cry' alongside Caleb Carruth some years back. For while that recording did little for me, I quickly fell in love with his follow up 'Psalms' - the originality of sound, the tenderness of vocal harmonies, the unpredictability of tempo and the almost tangible passion of delivery all making for a thoroughly engaging worship experience. These same qualities are again apparent on 'Upstairs', whose title stems from being recorded in a room above Shane's garage, where he and Shane Everett (himself a noteworthy solo recording artist) were constantly harassed by the noise of local aircraft and school buses! Things "clicked" into place, however, and within days these 10 diverse tracks came into being; a mixture of Barnard songs, some old but mainly new. The lyrics are profound and intimate, the music creative, with interesting, varied percussion overlaid with deft guitar (and a touch of banjo/accordion in places) all topped with this duo's intense, yearning vocals. It's hard to pick favourites as all songs work well, but especially appealing is the tender "Beauty For Ashes", the potent reworking of "The Answer" and the intriguing finale, "Chapter One". Apparently, the enhanced CD also includes 20 minutes of exclusive video as well as chord charts for select songs, but I couldn't access this on my copy. All in all, this has got to be one of the most original and beautiful acoustic worship sounds I've heard. It's thumbs up all the way.
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