STYLE: Dance/Electronic RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 173283-27199 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD EP ITEMS: 1 RRP: £6.00
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
As Yeovil's Southville demonstrated last year, you don't have to be a megachurch to deliver a quality modern worship album. What you do need is time and studio resources. Concerning time - selecting truly memorable songs from the dozens or hundreds of songs a bunch of local church songwriters will pen over a period of time is tough. Let's face it, worship songs requiring as they do simple, singable melodies and with a whole Bible to inspire lyrics are easy to write. It takes discernment to work out whether a particular song has any potential of being heard outside the walls of a particular church. Then there's the question of studio resources. Way too many churches feel that a live recording will suffice to bring a batch of their songs to the church-going public or if they do invest in a studio recording they endeavour to replicate the increasingly tired stadium rock sounds that in years past seemed innovative when applied to songs of praise and worship but today sound stereotypical. Jez Chalmers and the collective of singers and musicians from Stoke-on-Trent's Grace Church may have plumped for an ancient name ("spero" is Latin for "I have hope") but their sound could hardly be newer. A futuristic electronica approach brings their anthems of a saviour nailed to a tree or a shepherd carrying us through life an almost science fiction ambience where ancient history and the eternal vistas of quarks and black holes converge. To take four local church congregational worship songs - two of them "Mercy Sublime" and "Father In Heaven" extremely singable - and introduce them to the streaming and CD-buying public in an experimental worship style light years from how they are, or could be, performed in church may seem a strange idea. But to me it's a daring one. Will 'Mercy Sublime' find a market? Well, for a start, the same electronica savvy music fans who bought the recent Eikon worship project should be pointed towards 'Mercy Sublime'. Surely this EP is one of the most ambitious debut recordings ever produced by a local church.
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