STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 157408-23136 LABEL: Independent BGP006 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £10.00
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Despite having been on the live scene for nearly 40 years, it's only recently that this Californian songsmith has started releasing albums. A million miles away from the standard modern worship fare that floods the current CCM market, Contreas' work is very much in the vein of past Jesus music masters Larry Norman, Mark Heard and Keith Green with a plethora of mainstream influences thrown in for good measure. For instance, "Watch The Apple Fall" - a heartfelt ode to the singer's dad complete with ham-fisted harmonica - owes much to Dylan whilst Contreas succeeds in offering up hints of the Eagles in the accomplished "With Jesus, The Giving Is The Getting" (co-written by Cross Rhythms contributor Paul Poulton) before throwing in nods to the likes of Neil Young, Elvis Costello and even the Beach Boys elsewhere. Centred on a basic acoustic guitar, bass and drums sound with the occasional instrumental augmentation plus Contreas' sincere but unrefined vocals, each song takes Scripture as its foundation and even lists Biblical authors such as King David and Paul the apostle as co-writers. Occasionally, this can lead to certain tracks sounding somewhat wordy - although hats off to Contreas for attempting to rhyme the words "squeezes" and "Jesus" in the otherwise fine "We All Need Jesus" - but this does not take away from the fact that the Gospel message is being presented here in a form that is both accessible and fresh. The standout track of this sprawling but satisfying release is "Those Who Go Down To The Sea In Ships" which sees Contreas skilfully adapt Psalm 107 to the backdrop of Harry King's consummate piano and orchestral arrangement.
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