Reviewed by Tom Lennie
Tim Hughes is no doubt more than a tad fed up with stylistic and vocal comparisons to his friend and mentor Matt Redman, but let's face it, you'd have to be deaf not to note the similarities. Of course there's a lot more to Mr Hughes than this "Soul Survivor" sound (which, incidentally, pertains likewise to Martyn Layzell and David Gate). His slightly sinewy, ethereal voice, the build-up of intensity and brazen walls of guitar on some tracks on this new album at times appear to draw unconsciously on the influence of Martin Smith and Delirious? (produced in Nashville by Nathan Nockels, this disc was in fact mixed by Sam Gibson, who did same duty for Delirious?' 'World Service'). One thing's for sure, Tim's music is amongst the hottest property in British worship today - the immediate accessibility and direct worshipfullness of his upbeat anthems make for universal popularity. A number of tracks here are already favourites throughout the land. "Consuming Fire", "Name Above All Names", "Whole World In His Hands" and of course "Beautiful One" - which is now on a par with "Here I Am To Worship" as to one of the most-performed worship tunes on both sides of the Atlantic - are wonderfully infectious praise songs that almost insist on your participation. "Joy Is In This Place" is amongst the best "let-it-all-hang-out" dance-worship I've heard, in vein of Kevin Prosch's "Lord Of The Dance" and Redman's own "Undignified". But these are all studio recordings and therein lies a problem. Such upbeat numbers undoubtedly require "live" rendition for best effect; they were created after all for this purpose. Tim's studio versions, which include additional strings recorded in Prague, invariably draw to a close too soon, not giving enough time to reach a deserved and anticipated climax or allowing that climax to see itself through. I guess you have to turn to the annual SS festival recordings for the appeal of the "live" effect. Pity nonetheless. Then there's those gentler moments, such as the piano-based sensitivity of "The Beauty Of Your Peace" and "Nothing In This World", which are deeply rooted in intimacy. All in all, a beautiful disc.
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