Reviewed by Paul Keeble
ToddO is a Californian singer/songwriter and this seven-song mini-album is his debut. This 25 minute, cunningly titled project begins with piano and sleigh-bells - the first of a number of little details and quirks that keep things interesting, as "Dave" is not a Christmas song. These give way to BIG drums, five-string bass and a catchy riff which sounds like it's whistled. Good start, ending with a bit more sleigh-bell and the old tape-slowing-to-a-stop thing. But this gives a good segue into the ukelele-led intro to "Freedom In You". After a verse and chorus this again erupts into bass and drums, and we have another memorable song. And on through "Made", "Hallelujah Chorus" (big anthemic hook Bono would enjoy), "No, No, No", "Who Is This?" to more uke on the closer "No More In Heaven". All strong songs, with changes in tempo, style and arrangement to keep things varied, but it all works together to make a satisfying whole. ToddO's voice has the husky feel of Bryan Adams and the full production and sound occasionally remind me of Mika. Lyrics are mostly clearly Christian and, refreshingly, steer clear of the Book of Worship Cliches. This from "Freedom In You" for example: "Chains are broken by you, broken in two/Slaves are brothers to you, I am too". The songs are all between three and four and a half minutes and are well constructed and arranged, getting in, doing their stuff and out again without undue frills or a chance to get boring. As well as writing and playing nearly everything, ToddO also recorded these songs himself on a laptop. With that consideration, the sound is excellent, well mixed and with a lively feel that is better than quite a few big-budget pro-studio albums I could think of.
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